Winter in Mongolia is long and harsh, with temperatures ranging from -20°C to -50°C. Mongolian yaks are adapted to survive in this extreme weather condition with the help of their warm undercoat of hair which we call 'yak down’. In late spring, yaks shed their down naturally to prepare for the warmer temperature of summer months. This is when the nomadic herders hand-comb the yaks to source this precious quality fiber.
Cashmere is known in the textile industry as the softest wool with a fiber diameter of less than 18.5 microns. The diameter of the yak down fiber also ranges between 16–20 microns making its softness comparable to that of cashmere.
It is also inherently fire resistant because of its high nitrogen and water content. Therefore yak wool requires higher levels of oxygen in the surrounding environment in order to burn. This property makes it an ideal fiber for home textile products such as curtains, throws, upholstery and bedding as this will reduce the risk of fire spreading within a house.
Contrary to the popular belief, yaks have little to no detectable odor. Yak wool is even naturally odor resistant. The anti-microbial properties of yak down prevent bacteria from thriving on sweat thereby considerably reduce odor.
The breathability factor of a material depends on its ability to absorb moisture relative to its weight and then release it into the air. The higher the absorption value the better the textile is at adapting to different humidity level. Yak wool can absorb moisture equal to 30 percent of its weight, which is greater that cotton (25 per cent) and far greater than most man-made fibers such as polyester which can only absorb moisture by 1 per cent of its weight.
Yak wool regulates the body temperature the same way as it does on the yak. As the body temperature rises the wool has the ability to transfer heat and moisture along every fiber and release it into the cooler, drier environment, and when the temperature drops it keeps the heat in.
Lanolin is a greasy yellow substance made from secretions from the skin glands of wool-bearing animals to condition their wool. Despite being a common ingredient in a number of products marketed to help heal problematic skin, the incidence of lanolin allergy is rapidly increasing.
Unlike most wool, the yak's coat does not contain lanolin and is therefore relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. It’s resistant to mould growth, and it inhibits dust mites.