Last summer, after going for a swim in the lake, my little boy broke out in hives. Itchy red splotches were covering the poor kid. He looked like a Dr. Seuss character, some Who from Whoville painted in haphazard polka-dots. It wasn’t the first time, but it was to be the last. His mom made him an appointment with an allergist. Just a few days later, he received a blood test. The results? He was allergic to grasses, trees, sesame seeds, peanuts, wheat, and corn.
He was allergic to the world.
As dutiful parents, we set out to change our family’s diet. Research was conducted, menus were assembled, ingredient lists were compiled. Armed with smart phones and Google in the grocery store, we came to the shocking realization that food shopping was now near the impossible end of the spectrum. When a product is corn free, it usually has wheat. Wheat free usually has corn. Corn, in fact, is used in just about everything. In food, corn is often times used as a binding agent (a good rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce a listed ingredient, it’s probably corn). I dare you to make a pie crust without corn or wheat. Go ahead. I double dog dare you.
Anyways, long story short, we dodged that bullet. After two weeks of attempted corn free, wheat free living, a scratch test for allergies revealed that several of the previously identified allergens were false positives. He had no allergy to wheat or corn after all.
It was an eye opening experience, however, in particular when it comes to our relationship with corn. Corn is in everything, man, it’s about as versatile as it gets. Besides food products galore, you’ll also find corn in sunscreen, lipstick, gasoline, plastics, and even in the carpeting between your toes. For obvious reasons, this was of professional interest to me.
After my experience with the little dude, the subject of corn carpet kept cropping up in conversations with my coworkers and clients. Mike Sheridan, Randy’s Carpet Care’s senior-most technician, recommends it with a near religious fervor. Clients who own it are proud owners, like someone with a Best-In-Show Golden Retriever. Clients who haven’t heard of it, are shocked and awed by it’s very existence. “Does it feel harsh?” they ask. “Can you tell the difference from regular carpet?” they continue. “Why would I want carpeting made from corn?”
I’ve gone back to research mode, and I wanted to share my findings with you. In short, “corn carpet” is kind of a misnomer. The fibers made from corn and used to manufacture carpet are actually called Triexta, manufactured by DuPont and made into carpet by Mohawk and Godfrey Hirst as the brand names “SmartStrand” and “EcoPlus,” respectively. While corn is a component, Triexta’s constituent parts include about 30% corn sugar, which is used as an alternative to oils to make a plastic not unlike polyester but with the added benefits of stain and wear resistance. These fibers are then used in the typical manufacturing process. Mike holds this carpet in such high regard because it cleans up so nice and has impressive staying power.
Let’s dig deeper, shall we?
First, what is corn? A fruit? Vegetable? Grain? Alien shape-shifter? Try this link for answers: http://www.newhealthguide.org/Is-Corn-A-Vegetable.html
Second, what is made from corn? Here’s a list: http://www.bcps.org/offices/lis/models/slamdunks/amaizeingdebate/Assignment_9_McCall_Products_That_Use_Corn.pdf
Third, can carpet made from Triexta stand up to three weeks of abuse from zoo animals? Check this out: https://www.electrodry.com.au/a-smelly-lounge-no-more/
Finally, what do other industry professionals think? Here’s the skinny from the Carpet Captain: http://www.carpetcaptain.com/smartstrand-carpet/
Funny how a negative experience can lead you down a path of positive discovery. Have you ever dove into a rabbit hole in this manner? Do you have carpet made from Triexta? What has your experience been? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.