Gear Question

what gives these socks their anti-odour...

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what gives these socks their anti-odour property? is merino naturally anti-odour or is there some sort of chemical treatment applied to the socks? are the silver fibre socks better at inhibiting bacteria and odour?i'm hiking the inca trail in june and i'm packing light so ideally just one or two pairs of socks at most.

Responded on

Merino (and wool) are naturally good at blocking odor.

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There are a number of aspects of the physical and chemical structure of Merino that make it naturally more resistant to odors than other textiles, especially synthetics.

Moisture Transport - While sweat itself has no odor, if it remains on the skin in time bacteria develop and create unpleasant body odors. Merino reduces the opportunity for odors to generate because it is more efficient than other textiles at absorbing sweat and evaporating it into the air.

No Microbial attraction - Studies have shown that bacteria are more attracted to the smooth, positively charged surface of a synthetic fiber than the scaly surface of a Merino fiber which carries no charge.

Moisture Absorption - The Merino has a much greater capacity than other fibers to absorb moisture. In fact, it can absorb 35% of its own weight in liquid. The moisture is bound within the structure, and so is not available to microbes, which are unable to penetrate the scaly surface of the fiber.

Glass Transition - In water and conditions of high humidity, Merino passes through what is termed a glass transition at which point it dramatically increases its rate of absorption and dispersion.

Trapping Odors - The rate of diffusion of small and large molecules into the fiber increases and it is able to absorb odors faster. When the temperature drops, and the fiber once again falls below the glass transition, the odors are trapped within the structure even if the moisture evaporates. Later, during laundering, the garment again passes through the glass transition point and the odors are carried out of the structure by the water. Synthetics are not able to benefit from this same effect because they do not pass through glass transition during normal wear.