As the economic crisis looms over everybody, prices are on the increase and they do not seem to be slowing down any time soon. As winter is now in full swing many of us are looking to buy a new duvet or quilt, the choice can be very daunting as there are many varieties of fillings to choose from and the eternal question is which one if right for me?
The main choice when it comes to fillings is from Goosedown or Duckdown, they can be either pure down or a mix of feathers and down but what are the main differences between the two? Cost is the main factor, duckdown is roughly half the price of goosedown pound for pound. So why is one cheaper than the other, well ducks are more readily available in the marketplace than geese and the feathers and down are a by product of the food industry, also duck feathers are harder to clean than goose feathers, it is more oily and once cleaned is not as white and light. The whiteness is preferred due to the colouration when put inside the cover, this is purely from an aesthetic point of view and many users prefer this. The lightness is a very important factor as the down needs to rise when warm air gets trapped inside the fillings, this allows the duvet to cool naturally, keeping the body's temperature maintained during sleeping. Premium quality down such are Hungarian, Siberian and Canadian are much better at this than other cheaper downs.
Duck feathers are also heavier than goose feathers and therefore cannot achieve the same fill power rating, this industry rating is a measurement of the downs loft, the higher the fill power rating the better and lighter the down is. This also ensures you get a well cleaned and thermally efficient filling. Standard pure down duvets will start at around 450 fill power rising to approximately 850 fill power for the best performing duvets. Mixed quilt covers such as goose feather and down will have substantially lower rating than down alone. Longevity is also a very important factor, a good quality goosedown duvet will last for over 10 years, frequent shaking of the fillings once a week will ensure that the down is well aired and maintains its quality for many years whereas duckdown duvets will last approximately 6-8 years of good use before it is time for a replacement. Fillings made from natural goose products are well worth the investment in the long term but fillings from a duck will give you similar results but over a much shorter lifespan.
More and more products such as pillows and mattress toppers are being made from duck feather and down, this is purely due to the rise in cost for the raw material, not only are manufacturers trying to keep costs down with the fillings they are also trying to cut corners in terms of lower quality covers, traditionally casings were made from a very strong and robust high thread count cotton cambric, these cases are designed to be both mite proof and leak proof. Cheaper cases and sateen cases are not as good and do not offer the levels of security and engineering. Look out for cases that are at least 100% cotton and are woven to at least 233 threads per square inch. Branded duvets like the Siberian for example normally are made to higher standards than cheaper duvets so you can buy knowing that all the quality standards have been looked into and taken care of.
Although you do get ducks that breed all over the world it is normally the goosedown fillings that get reserved for use in the branded duvets, like the Hungarian, Canadian etc, as previously mentioned it is the high standards that come with the processing of the down that ensures that the rest of the product is normally up to scratch, although that said, is it best practise to make sure that the down to feather content is pure and not mixed even if it is a 10% mix as this will affect its performance and it is for this reason you buy the more expensive versions in the first place.
European duckdown, for example, the Pyrenean brand duvets do offer better levels of cleanliness and fill power, the natural fillings are harvested ethically and are in line with strict EU guidelines on the use of harmful bleaches and caustic sodas, these processes found outside the EU and the UK are harmful to the product and to the environment. Other bleaching of the down and feathers make them whiter but also dry then out too much making them less effective at the job they are being used for.