A blanket is a type of bedding, generally speaking, a large piece of cloth, intended to keep the user warm, especially while sleeping or lying down. Blankets are distinguished from sheets by their thickness and purpose; the thickest sheet is still thinner than the lightest blanket.
Blankets are generally used for warmth and comfort, while sheets are for hygiene, comfort and aesthetics. Blankets are subdivided into many types, including quilts, duvets, and comforters, depending on their thickness, construction and/or fill material.
Blankets were traditionally made of wool because of wool's warmth, breathability and natural fire-retardant properties, while sheets were made of cotton or linen or silk, which are less irritating to the skin. Nowadays, synthetic fibers are frequently used for both. Throw blankets are smaller blankets, often in decorative colors and patterns, that can be used for extra warmth and decoration on the outside of bed. Blankets are sometimes used as comfort objects by small children.
The term arose from the generalization of a specific fabric called Blanket fabric, a heavily napped woolen weave pioneered by Thomas Blanket (Blanquette), a Flemish weaver who lived in Bristol, England in the 14th century. Earlier usage of the term is possible through its derivation from the French word for white, blanc.
Blankets may also be used on the ground for a picnic or other places where people want to sit in a grassy or muddy area without soiling their clothing. Temporary blankets have been designed for this purpose, although their inherent wastefulness is a chief concern of several environmental groups.
Specialized blankets known as fire blankets may be used by firefighters to protect furnishings from water or smoke damage during firefighting. A fire blanket is made of fire-resistant material such as fiberglass and is used in smothering a fire. Firefighters often wear specialized variants of the fire blanket to protect themselves as well.
A warming coat for a horse is called a horse blanket, intended to prevent the development of a shaggy winter coat of hair. A small saddle blanket protects the horse's skin from chafing from the pressure points of a saddle.
Keeping heat within the body
To keep warmth inside the body, a blanket can be used to cover one's skin and keep the warmth in. Many kinds of blankets, such as wool are used because they are thicker and have more substantial fabric to them, but cotton can also be used for light blankets. The term blanket is often interchanged with comforter, quilt, and duvet, as they all have similar uses.
Blankets have been used in the military such as the army for some time. Most militaries have blankets as compulsory for sleeping quarters in preference to duvets. Militaries are some of the biggest single consumers of woolen blankets. Military blankets tend to be coarse grey with a high level of microns, usually over 20. Suppliers include J. E. Ashworth & Sons and Faribault Woolen Mills who made half of all blankets in America at one time. Wool blankets are also relatively slow to burn compared to cotton.
Types of blankets
Blankets can be classified into different types based on their thickness and that is what differentiates blankets from sheets – the thickest sheet is thinner that the thinnest blanket. Woven acrylic, Knitted Polyester Mink, Cotton, fleece, wool and electric being the most common types, blankets also come with exotic crafting and exotic material like crocheted afghan or a silk-covered blanket.
- "Origin of Blanket". The New York Times. 24 March 1901.
- "Factors in the Development of the Cotswold Woollen Industry". JSTOR 1787694.
- "blanket". Podictionary. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary: blanket". Etymonline.com. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "Fire blanket". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
- "Horseblanket". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 26 May 2012.