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Drymax Fibers vs. Wicking Fibers   
Anybody can claim their socks keep you dry. You’ve seen the claims & fancy illustrations on sock packaging and advertisements, but marketing hype can't change the facts. Instead of giving you more of the same, we’re giving you the facts so you decide who is telling the truth.

Let’s start by taking a look at the properties of water. We’re using water in place of sweat, since sweat is about 99% water.

On a molecular basis, water is known as H2O.

This means a water molecule has two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom joined by a single Covalent Bond.

 

The smaller Hydrogen atoms each carry a positive charge, while the larger Oxygen atom carries a negative charge. Water is POLAR, because it is positively charged on one end and negatively charged on its opposite end.

Since opposite charges attract, water molecules tend to stick to each other because their oppositely charged ends are attracted to each other.


 
 
This intermolecular attraction between water molecules is known as COHESION. Cohesion is why water sticks to itself to form drops. When one water molecule attaches to another it is done by a hydrogen bond. Collectively the hydrogen bonds hold water together.

Wicking fibers are said to be Hydrophilic (water liking) because they have positive & negative charges on their surfaces. This attracts the negative & positive charges of the water molecules. Water’s attraction to a fiber’s surface is called ADHESION.

It’s the combination of the COHESION between water molecules and water’s ADHESION to the charged fiber surfaces that produces CAPILLARY ACTION or what you simply know as WICKING.


COHESION + ADHESION = CAPILLARY ACTION (WICKING)



Wicking is part of the problem, not the solution
As you learned above, for wicking (Capillary Action) to take place, water must first stick (adhere) to the fiber’s surface. Once wicking fibers get wet, they stay wet and so do you, until long after you stop sweating.

Science and common sense tell us if moisture is attracted to a fibers’ surface and the fiber is next to the skin, the fiber will actually hold the moisture next to the skin ensuring the skin stays wet.

They are trying to fool you!
Several manufacturers brag that their wicking fiber socks, “Dry 4 times faster than cotton socks.” In saying this they admit their socks get wet and need time to dry. If it takes about 4 hours for an all cotton sock to dry, then it takes about 1 hour for their wicking fiber socks to dry. When in the middle of a tennis match, basketball game or run do you get an hour break to take your socks off and allow them to dry?

Manufacturers of wicking fiber socks never refer to how dry the wearer’s skin stays, or how dry their socks are while someone is actually wearing their socks. When they do talk about how long it takes for their socks to dry, the results are collected in a laboratory where the foot is no longer secreting sweat into the sock. In order for the foot to be dry, socks need to be dry while they are on the feet!


What's the full story?
Wicking fiber sock manufacturers say their socks wick moisture “away” from the skin, but this is only part of the story. Wicking fiber socks also wick sweat towards and across the skin, which keeps the skin wet.

Some manufacturers show graphs or charts of how fast or far their fibers wick moisture. The rate of wicking or the drying time is irrelevant if the sock’s wicking fibers are wet while you are sweating!

Wicking fiber socks do not work well inside shoes
Wicking fibers are used to help spread the sweat in all directions in hopes that evaporation will take place. Evaporation might effectively work in a shirt that is completely open to the air, but the process of evaporation can not effectively take place when the sock is inside a shoe.

Wicking means to stay "completely wet"
The term wicking was derived from the wick inside of lanterns like the ones used for camping. Wicking is the process by which the fuel oil spreads itself throughout the wick keeping the entire wick wet allowing the flame to continue to burn. The only reason the lamp stays lit is because the entire wick stays wet! Why would anyone use the term “wicking” to describe a sock that is supposed to be dry, when wicking actually is a process that keeps something completely wet?

 


Is there a difference between wicking fiber products?
There are a lot of fancy brand names for all the different wicking products. These names imply that one wicking product will keep you drier than another, but their products all work about the same. Why shouldn’t they, they’re usually made from the same 4 fibers (polyester, acrylic, nylon or wool). Wicking should be described as different levels of wetness and not different levels of dryness.

Drymax fibers keep you dry
Look at the (blue colored) water drop. The drop is actually bending around the Drymax fiber, rather than sticking to its surface. This happens because Drymax fibers do not carry surface charges, so the negative & positive charges of water are not attracted to Drymax fibers.

These unique characteristics give Drymax a tremendous advantage over wicking fibers.

You can see the difference between socks made with Drymax fibers & wicking fibers. We turned the socks inside out and put them on the end of a faucet.

 

Notice the water exits the Drymax Fiber socks as whole droplets? When sweat droplets move through the Drymax fibers they stay together and move instantly through the fibers. Drymax stays dry and therefore needs no drying time to keep the skin dry.

Notice on the wicking fiber sock how the water clings to the sock. Because sweat clings to wicking fibers, the foot remains wet when wearing socks made of wicking fibers. Also the process of wicking must rely on evaporation for the fibers to dry out. Evaporation is a relatively slow process, especially in humid environments such as inside a shoe, where evaporation takes place at a much slower rate than sweating.







Click here for details on the molecular differences

 Learn More About Sweat & Evaporation