FAQ's

SOME FACTS ABOUT DOWN & FEATHER

Answers to the questions we get asked most.

DOWN vs. FEATHERS

What is down?

Down is a three dimensional cluster with thousands of tiny fibers, but no quill. Down is the light fluffy coating clustered beneath the feathers of waterfowl ducks and geese, as this is the part that is exposed to water and must keep the bird warm. In every pound of feathers there are only four to five ounces of down. As nature's most efficient insulator, down is warm, yet light and lofty. It takes 14 wool blankets to equal the temperature control of one down comforter. Additionally, down has a marvelous ability to breathe, lifting away perspiration so you don't experience the clamminess which often occurs with synthetics.

What are Feathers?

Feathers have quills and are two-dimensional. They are the rigid plumage found on the outside of waterfowl, and can range in size from 5cm to several inches. Smaller feathers are often used in bedding products such as feather beds, decorative pillows, and various feather and down blends. In bedding, feathers do provide some insulation, but are mostly used for support.

FTC Guideline-

Any product with at least 75% down clusters may be labeled as "Down". The remaining 25% are mainly comprised of down and feather fibers and small feathers (from 3cm - 6cm).

SPECIE & COLOR

Duck vs. Goose?

The down and feathers used in consumer bedding is derived from goose and ducks. Geese, which are larger birds, generally have bigger down clusters. As a rule of thumb, the larger the bird and the colder the climate in which they live-the larger the down clusters and the higher the fill power (more on fill power later) of the down. High quality down can be found in both ducks and geese, as the age and climate of the bird from different parts of the world dramatically affects its quality. Duck down and feathers are generally less expensive than goose down and feather for two primary reasons: Its fill power is generally not as high and the worldwide supply of duck far exceeds that of geese.

Grey vs. White?

Down and feather can come in various shades ranging from pure white to black speckled grey. Typically, the industry has placed a premium on white feathers and down due to its ability to visually blend in better when filled into white bedding products. American perception has also reinforced this premium on white down over grey; however, there are many grades of grey down that rival the best white down, as color of the feathers and down has no relevance to its quality. Additionally, a newer trend abroad is that consumers are favoring lighter colored bird meat and this is causing white down to become more available than in the past.

Some Common Terms Explained

FILL POWER

Fill Power:

Fill Power is a measure of how "fluffy" or "lofty" down is. The higher the fill power, the more it traps air, and its trapped air that keeps the sleeper warm. The actual test involves weighing and filling a cylinder tube with 28.4 grams of down. A specially calibrated weight is then placed on top of the cylinder and its weight is slowly allowed to fall onto the down for 60 seconds. The tester will observe the markings on the side of the cylinder where the weight stops. The higher the fill power, the loftier the down is and the better an insulator it is. The test is performed again 3 to 5 days later and the results are compared and averaged. The typical fill power is approximately 550 and can reach as high as 800 or more in premium bedding or special sleeping bags. As fill power increases, the value of the down goes up significantly. Fill power can be influenced by a variety of factors such as: sitting in transit, humidity, temperature and static electricity.

Fill Power and Weight:

The fill type, fill quality and fill weight all dramatically effect the quality, functionality, appearance, and price of down products. Roughly 60-70% of the cost of a finished down product is in the fill, so this tends to be the most important element. The more weight and the higher the fill power of the down the more it insulates. Often, these two figures are adjusted in tandem to make the desired warmth level and density of the product. Note: Premium down bedding is best produced in the USA due to trans-pacific travel effect on Asian goods. Generally any down bedding with a fill power higher than 600 is best made and shipped within the U.S.

FILL TESTING

Turbidity Test:

The turbidity test measures the presence of dirt, dust, and other particulates. The technique involves measuring 10 grams of down and placing it into a special beaker with 1 liter of water. The beaker is then sealed up and vigorously shaken for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, the mixture is strained using a special filter and placed into another long tube. The tester will visually look down into the opening of this cylinder and see if a pair of crosshairs on the bottom is visible. On the outside of this clear cylinder are markings with measurements that indicate the amount of liquid in the container. The cylinder is filled to the top where the marking is 550 - this is an excellent level and the highest as typically measured in the United States (300 is considered acceptable in the United States). If the tester has trouble viewing the crosshairs the beaker is emptied until they are visible from the top. In essence, the higher the Turbidity number, the 'cleaner' the down.

Oxygen Test:

The oxygen test is a technique where the presence of organic materials is measured. Organic materials are found in unwashed products that come from the processing plants. The test is somewhat complicated but basically involves applying specially measured chemicals to the same water used for the turbidity test. The lower the Oxygen count, the less organic materials than are present in the finished product. A good Oxygen test measures around 4.8 or lower.

Note: Our internal standards are far stricter than those set by the FTC and USDA, and we are universally known for using only the highest quality down and feather products

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