Camel Fibre | Types of Camel Fibre | End uses

This is a guest submission from Aditya Mahapatra.

Camel fibre or camel hair is a kind of speciality hair fibre obtained from the camel and belongs to the group called speciality hair fibres. So, to know about camel fibre we first should know what speciality fibre actually is. Any of the textile fibres obtained from certain animals of the goat and camel families, rarer than the more commonly used fibres and valued for such desirable properties as fine diameter, natural lustre, warmth, and ability to impart pleasing hand (characteristics perceived by handling) to fabrics, known as Specialty Hair Fibre.

Go ahead and read the full article to know more about the Camel fibre.

costs made of camel fibre

Examples: Specialty hair fibres obtained from the goat family include,
  • Mohair-Angora goat
  • Cashmere (sometimes referred to as cashmere wool) -Cashmere goat
Fibres obtained from animals of the camel family include,
  • Camel hair- Bactrian camel
  • Guanaco, Llama, Alpaca, and Vicuña fibres- All from members of the genus Llama.
Camel fibre considered as a fine fibre and is sought after mainly in the USA for high-quality coat-fabrics.
Article Contents
  • Types of Camels
  • Production and processing of Camel's hair
  • Camel fibre structure and Properties
  • Supplier of Camel fibres and product manufacturing countries
  • Well-known Camel fibre yarn and fabric manufacturing companies
  • Cost of the fibre
  • End uses of camel fibre

Different types of camel

There are two sub-species of a camel. These are
  • The one-humped dromedary or Arabian camel (Camelus dromedary) found throughout Africa, Arabia & near east, and in other hot regions of Asia.
  • The two-humped Bactrian Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus) which is found mainly in Mongolia and Northern China, in areas bordering on the Gobi desert which is a dry and cold region. The Bactrian camel is used as a means of transport for people and goods, occasionally for a sport as well as a source of textile fibres.
Out of these two varieties, the Bactrian camel produces comparatively superior quality fibres. That’s why most of the fabrics and garments are made of fibres from Bactrian camels especially. China and Mongolia are the most significant suppliers of camel hair. Some camel hair is also produced in Tibet, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, New Zealand and Australia. But they are inferior in quality.

Types of camel fibre

Camel hair available in India has found to be coarser comparatively and contained a high proportion of bearded hair thus has limited application as textiles. These are mostly used as floor coverings, carriage bags and animal coverings as domestic level. However, camel hair - wool blends, in combination with a polyester staple, silk waste can improve the utilization of available camel hair of overcoats, knitwear, blankets and carpets

Production & processing of Camel Hair

Harvesting of camel fibre

As with other animals that produce textile fibres, with the notable exceptions of sheep, alpaca and the Angora goat, the camel grows two kinds of hair, an outer protective coat of coarse (guard) hair and an insulating undercoat of fine hair or down hair. The down hair is finer and softer compared to the outer one.

The fibres are obtained by shearing, by combing and also by collecting during the moulting season. The average yield of an adult female’s under hair is 3.5kg and that of a male is 7kg. When the camel moults it doesn’t lose its hairs all at once. First, the neck hair falls off, then the mane and finally the body hair. The camel moults in late spring or early summer when the fibres form matted tufts which hang down from the head, sides, neck and legs and this moulting process takes over 6-8 weeks. The fibres are harvested by pulling or by gathering the clumps shed onto the ground. Fibres are also obtained by shearing but the hair covering the humps is not shorn as this may make the animals more susceptible to disease.

After harvesting, camelhair is bought directly from the herders by middlemen who in turn sell to larger merchants and dehairers. There the fibre goes through a sorting process for separating the coarse fibres from fine soft hairs, washed to remove dirt and impurities and then dehaired to remove any coarse hair, dandruff and vegetable matters. The hair is sorted according to colour and the age of the animal. It is then sold to private or state-run companies and eventually finds its way to spinning and weaving mills in the USA, Japan and Europe.

Spinning process flowchart of camel fibre

Spinning of camel fibre

The coarser fibres such as the camel manes from Mongolia and third-grade Chinese camel are carded on fairly coarse carding machinery, and thoroughly gilled prior to Noble combing. Owing to a large number of impurities which may not be entirely removed in scouring, a second combing process is sometimes required. The extremes of length found in this type of material usually necessitate the introduction of a ‘reducing’ process before combing. This, in effect, breaks the longer fibres to the required length, and the short tips held in the sliver are removed, together with the noil, during the combing process.

Medium qualities are usually processed in the same way as Alpaca (The fibres are combed on rectilinear combs, ratio of top to noils being about 90/10) but better qualities have to undergo a much finer type of carding operation, and the combing is done on a Noble comb of similar pin action to that used for Merino wool.

Frequently, to achieve a greater fineness and lustre, the fibres are combed again on a Lister comb, and the large noil which represents the bulk of the finest fibres is used again as the raw material for carding and combing to produce a ‘superfine top’. After carding and combing finally, the yarn is spun and used for both weaving & knitting.

Scouring of camel fibre:

Camel fibre exhibits more sensitivity than wool. So scouring of camel fibre should be done with neutral soaps or milder alkalis like NA2CO3, NH4, (NH4)2CO3.


The colour range is limited by dyeing to mid- and darker shades although most fabrics are produced in the fibres’ natural colour, known as ‘camel’. Some are dyed to a darker shade of brown.

Camel fibres can be dyed using Acid Dye, Reactive Dye or Metal Complex dye in the loose form, hank form or fabric form. Dyeing process of camel fibre similar to that of the wool.

Anti-Felting finish:

Anti-felt finishing is applied in order to provide anti-felt properties, to prevent shrinking of the finished product when it is repetitively washed in a laundry machine.

Here good anti-felting effects can be obtained by the use of diamines dissolved in dimethyl formamide. All water-soluble diamines are suitable, for example, ethylene diamine, hexamethylene diamine, dicyclohexyl diamine etc. Generally, as little as l to 10 mg of amine per gram of animal fibre (amine calculated as NH and NH group) with heat applied is sufficient to give the required effect, a treatment time of about 10 to 30 minutes being sufficient.

Fibre Structure and Properties

Fibre structure:

The fibres of Bactrian camel contains on an average:
a. Sand & dust 15-20%
b. Fat 4-5%
c. Fibre 75-80%

For purified camel hair:
a. Sulphur 3.47%
b. Nitrogen 16.48%

Fibre Diameter & Length:

Bactrian Camel- Dehaired down fibre diameters range from 16 to 20microns, intermediate hairs from 20 to 29 microns and guard hairs from 30 to 120 microns.

Fibre lengths of down fibres range between 2.5-12.5 cm, and guard hairs can reach up to 37.5cm.

Baby camelhair, which is the finest and the softest, has a diameter of about 16–17 microns & its length is similar to that of adults.

Indian dromedary Camel- Down fibre diameter range from 20-35 microns and guard hairs from 30-65 micron.

Fibre staple lengths range between 5-8 cm.

Camel Fibre
The outer appearance of camel fibre

Tensile Strength:

Bactrian Camel- 15.7 cN/Tex (16g/tex )
Indian dromedary camel- 21.9 g/tex


Bactrian Camel: 39-40 %
Indian Dromedary Camel: 31.7 %

Elastic Properties:

Elastic recovery from
50 per cent breaking load- 0.8
50 per cent breaking extension-0.7
Work of rupture- 4.6 cN/Tex (4.7 g/tex)
Initial Modulus- 294cN/Tex (300g/tex)

Specific gravity: 1.32
Moisture regain percentage: 13

Effect of heat, age, sunlight, chemicals, organic solvents, insects, micro-organisms:

These properties are quite similar to wool.

Effect of acid on camel fibre- Strong acids hydrolyse the peptide groups but do not affect the disulphide bonds, which cross-links the hair polymer. The fibres get damaged in nitric acid and sulphuric acid at higher concentration (80 and 100%). Nitric and sulphuric acids lead to fibre tenderness and discolouration. Hydrochloric acid and acetic acid does not show any remarkable change in the fibre structure even at 100 per cent concentration. Although the polymer system of animal hair is weakened in acidic solution, the fibre does not dissolve completely (Gohl and Vilensky, 2005).

Effect of alkalis on camel fibre- Camel fibres get completely dissolved in 25 per cent concentration of sodium and potassium hydroxide. Because these alkalies hydrolyse the disulphide bonds, hydrogen bonds and salt linkage of animal hair and caused the polymers to separate from each other in turn resulting into the dissolution of fibres. Mild alkalies like sodium like NA2CO3, NH4, (NH4)2CO3 do not bring any remarkable change in fibres. Further, prolonged exposure to alkalies lead to hair polymer fragmentation and complete destruction of the hair fibres (Gohl and Vilensky, 2005)

Effect of organic solvents- Camel fibres are insoluble in organic solvents like acetone, carbon tetrachloride, ether and phenol even at 100 per cent concentration. The present results are confirmed with the findings of Smith and Block (1982) who mentioned that the animal fibres are resistant to organic solvents

Microscopic & Outer Appearance of the fibre: 

Camel fibres are not so fine as cashmere. The surface of the fibre is covered with a scale which can not be easily seen under the microscope. The scales have diagonal edges. The fibres have medullae which are often fragmentary, a hollow, air-filled matrix in the centre of the fibre that makes the fibre an excellent insulator. Seen in cross-section the fibres are circular or oval.
Microscopic appearance of camel fibre

The cortial layer of the camel fibre is marked by striations due to strings of coloured pigment that gives the fibre its characteristic pale red-brown colour. The most common colour is reddish brown with variants from brown to grey. Chinese hair tending to be lighter in shade and finer than Mongolian hair. The white fleeces are most valued but it’s rare.

Supplier of Camel fibres and products manufacturing countries

World production has been documented in the past at 4500 tonnes of greasy hair it has decreased over the last decade. Present production somewhat lower, at 3000– 3500 tonnes. Production is evenly divided between China (Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Gansu and Ningzia) and Mongolia mainly, and has been decreasing over the last decade, principally because, in Mongolia, Bactrian camels are being replaced by motor transport as carriers of goods. Some camel hair is also produced in Tibet, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, New Zealand and Australia. But they are inferior in quality.

The principal manufacturing and consumer market of camel fibre products (yarn, fabric, garment) is the USA, which accounts for 70% to 75% of fabric production. Some camelhair and camelhair-blended fabrics are also produced in the UK, Italy and Japan. In Europe, the finer qualities of camelhair are also used, to some extent, in knitwear, mainly for men. A market is developing in Italy for baby camelhair as an alternative to cashmere in knitted garments but knitwear accounts for only a very small share of the total market.

Some renowned camel fibre yarn and fabric manufacturing companies

1. American Woolen Company (USA)
2. DanRoy dva Shinto LOC (USA)
3. Fukaki Woollen Textile Co. (Japan)
4. South Trading Limited (Hong Kong)
5. Todd & Duncan (UK)
6. Z. Hinchliffe & Sons Ltd. (UK)
7. Toyoboshi Kogyo Co. LTD
8. Cariaggi Lanificio S.p.A. (Italy)
9. Hongkong Sales (Knitwear) Ltd
10. Ezma Luxury Division of Essma Felts Limited (India)
11. Johnstons of Elgin (UK)

Cost of the Camel fibre

According to the report of Centexbel prices for camel fibre are as follows,

  • Knitting grade fine down hair - US$24 per kg,
  • Dehaired first weaving grade down hair (consisting of shorts and partly coarse outer hair)- US$12–13 per kg.
  • Dehaired second weaving grade qualities - US$9 per kg.

End Uses of Camel Fibre

Camel's hair is also a fibre that supplies warmth without added weight. The hair contains thermostatic properties which can protect and insulate the camel from the extreme cold conditions as well as keeping them cool in the desert. The same properties and characteristics are transferred when making fabrics woven from camel hair.
  1. 100% pure camel yarns are used for the production of a wide range of high-quality garments - overcoats, suits, coats, blazers, jackets and sweaters - and winter accessories such as gloves, caps and scarves.
  2. Since it is a premium fibre, camel hair is usually blended with wool to make it more economical and used for making winter garments.
  3. Nylon is sometimes used with virgin quality camel hair in hosiery and other knitted products, while camel/cashmere blend is targeted at the luxury market. Guard hairs are used for ropes, tents, carpet backing, bedding and heavy outer garments. The traditional tents and outer garments used by the nomadic peoples of Central Asia are made from felted outer hair.
camel fibre end use
End uses of camel fibre

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  • Anjali Sharma, Suman Pant, 2013 Properties of Camel Kid Hair Chokla Wool Blended Yarns and Fabrics
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  • JD LEEDER, B A MCGREGOR, RJ STEADM 1998. Properties and performances of goat fibre. A Report of Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. RIRDC publication no 98/22
About the Author: Aditya Mahapatra is a graduate in Apparel Production Management and currently pursuing his master degree in NIFT, Delhi. He has expertise in PMTS and has experience in the province of production in India and abroad. His main interest areas include PPC, Industrial Engineering, PMTS, Ergonomics in the garment industry.

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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