By Autumn Beck on September 5, 2008

There is no end to the eternal quest for a more absorbent cloth diaper that remains trim.  We’ve all packed all poor baby in a diaper that is 6″ thick preventing her from bringing her legs together.  But that is certainly not done out of preference.  It’s sometimes a necessity just to get a few hours sleep at night.

However, there are products that do allow for less layers.  Hemp, microfiber and bamboo are all great options especially when used in combination with each other (ex.  microfiber on top of hemp).  But, hemp stinks, microfiber leaks, and bamboo isn’t quite absorbent enough for me.

There is a new soaker fabric available though. Recently, Wazoodle‘s cutting-edge textile design department developed a super absorbent product called is a huge online retailer of all diaper making (or non diaper making) fabrics and supplies.  It is their mission to improve the overall performance of a cloth diaper.

Although the hype has been growing since earlier this year, one question or doubt has loomed: What IS zorb??

One mama put it best when she said, “I’m still waiting to hear WHAT exactly it is … it sounds ideal for my heavy wetter, but I won’t take a chance if we’ll find out in 3 months that it’s something like ground up tires, bleached in acid and mixed with a polycarbonate resin that has been hydrolyzed to a fabric-like consistency.”

Speculations flew and the “too good to be true” mentality rose, until Wazoodle finally answered our questions.  I am quoting Mike the head of textile design at Wazoodle:

“Hopefully I can answer a few of the most common question, and debunk some of the common rumors and misconceptions.

1) What is it made of?

I can tell you with great certainty there are no “ground up tires bleached in acid and mixed with a polycarbonate resin”. We’re known for a lot of things good and bad, but when it comes to innovative diaper making textiles our attention to innovation, environmental and product safety, is second to none.

Zorb contains only tangled cellulose fibers from bamboo/cotton/viscose and poly micro fiber, the same fibers found in virtually every AIO diaper on the market – nothing else. These non-allergenic fibers are non-allergenic, durable and easy to sanitize We manufacture Zorb in the USA and Canadian in modern facilities that are safe & friendly for workers and the environment.

We keep the exact formula and manufacturing process a secret.

2) Is it thick?

That depends on how you compare things. Soaker layers are built up from 3-8 layers which generally produces a thick wad of fabric. One key goal was to reduce the overall thickness of the absorbent part of a diaper, AND to minimize the number of layers needed.

The best overall thickness for Zorb proved to be about the same as Sherpa or velour. Even though Zorb is thicker, you use far fewer layers which will always makes the diaper trimmer. Fewer layers also reduces cost and cut/sew time.

This enabled some completely new designs (you should see them hit the market soon) that are trimmer than anything currently available.

For a head to head comparison on thickness, stacking Zorb on a desk against the common fabrics will show you something like this. 1 layer of Zorb is the same as:

  • 3 layers of flannel
  • 2.25 layers of French terry
  • 1.3 layers of cotton fleece
  • 1 layer of sherpa.

Now, to get the same absorbency, as 2 layer of Zorb, you will need:

  • 8 layers of flannel
  • 6 layers of French terry
  • 5 layers of cotton fleece
  • 4 layers of sherpa.

When you’re diaper is finished, it should be trimmer and softer handed using Zorb. You should save material cost and some cut/sew time.

3) Does it wick under compression (leak off)?

Less than anything else. We spent a lot of time looking at leak off under compression, both with Zorb
and typical natural fiber fleeces. Compression leak off occurs when a fabric reaches saturation and cannot distribute moisture from the ‘squish’ area to other parts of the absorbent web. Zorb cures this problem in a 2 ways.

First, Zorb is extremely fast at moving moisture around. Assaults are quickly spread over a wide area to minimize saturation and leak off in the area that is peed on. To see this drop a swatch into water, you will see the moisture moves instantly through the fabric.

Next, the ability to resist leak off depends on the resiliency of the fabric’s web. Zorb is considerabley more resilient than fleeces and terrys, and way, way more resilient than microfiber toweling. When you squish it using the typical pressure of a baby (around 5psi), moisture simply moves to another part of the Zorb web. Natural fiber knits are slow to move moisture around, so pressure creates a leak off channel, polyester fleeces (micro and polar) and microfiber terry towell have weak webs that collapse under any pressure, they have the most trouble with leak off.

4) Why is shipping so expensive?

Zorb is a lofty fabric so carriers calculate the shipping cost based on volume, not actual weight. 6 yards of Zorb weighs 8lbs, but the roll size cubes out to 21lbs, so that’s what UPS they charges us to carry the package. It isn’t so bad if you look at it this way: the cheapest diaper shop we found on the net charges $213.30 to ship 20 yards of hemp 54″ FT to ZIP 90210 including freight. 6 yards of 74″ wide Zorb does the same job at a cost of $72 including freight.

We have a vacuum packager that compresses lofty fabrics, unfortunately it handles rolls up to 30″ long – but we’re working on it!

5) Is it Hemp Free?

Absolutely. For those of you who know us, we are not advocates of hemp for use in diaper or healthcare products. We never use hemp fiber in our products.

Hope that helps a little.”