LooseCrew-JeffO: Things not to do to Drymax socks


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Things not to do to Drymax socks

The air in Denver is very dry. In winter, it gets drier than dry.
I'm a "Computer Mad Scientist", as a friend defined me after seeing my lab. You know in the movies, or in TV shows, when they show a super-geek's home (a.k.a. "lab"- because for a true geek, "lab" = "home"). More than a dozen computers, many with the guts hanging out, parts and pieces everywhere. That's my living room.
Dry air is horrible for static electricity. Static electricity can mean death to electronics. So I have an ultrasonic humidifier.
Still, my clothing clings without mercy when I take it out of the drier. So I started using Target's knock-off of Bounce in the drier. This stuff works!

And it ruins Drymax socks.

Drymax didn't fail miserably at the Rock Canyon race. I failed to follow the directions on the packaging that clearly states not to use fabric softener. Yes, I did read the packaging. No, that info was the furthest thing from my mind late on a Friday with the clock ticking and me having to drive to Pueblo in the dark, and still find a place to sleep in the back of my CR-V, and get to the race on time the next morning - a place I'd never been to before.

How can something so minor cause such a drastic performance/behavioral change in socks? The answer is all in molecular chemistry. I've opened a can of worms. Being a techie, and an agnostic, when I get hold of a mystery like this, I'm like a dog with a bone.

So I'm not done testing and racing in Drymax. I mistakenly ruined the molecular behavior of the product, so it wasn't a fair test. Basically, I rendered a high-tech sock down to the level of a cotton gym sock. I'm a bull-in-a-china-shop!

So now I'm doing homework. I'm looking at all kinds of things that have been foreign to me: Valence bond theory, covalent bond, van der Waals force, London dispersion forces, etc. My head is spinning and I only just started. Problem is, you can't define most of these terms without using several of the other terms - which I also don't understand. It's like trying to learn a foreign language by having someone speak to you in the foreign language you don't understand. Yikes. My brain hurts. But like with racing, it's supposed to hurt!
I just hope I don't have fabric softener on my brain, lest I get brain-blisters.


At 4:32 PM, Blogger Talon said...

Really? The dryer sheets did it? I always thought when it said not to use fabric softener that it meant the liquid, not to avoid dryer sheets! Goodness!

At 4:48 PM, Blogger JeffO said...

Talon - Ha! That's what I said! I'll bet the wash-in type is even worse. The fact that I ran so hard and fast was probably a contributing factor, too. I had already gone running over 26 miles in these same socks during one training run with no hint of problems, so half that distance shouldn't have done any harm.

At 4:57 PM, Blogger olga said...

Man, that's heavy chemistry here! But thanks for the warning...not that I ever afford to use a fabric softener...in fact, most of the time I dry clothes on hangers!

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Derek Griffiths said...

We use the liquid fabric softener all the time and I have not noticed a difference. Maybe I should pay more attention to the socks. What exactly happened to them?

At 10:38 AM, Blogger JeffO said...

Derek - Well, listing all the variables I could think of, the fabric softener dryer-sheet was the only no-no. Blisters are traditionally caused by dehydration,

hotspots, debris inside the shoe, shoes that are too loose, too much water or moisture, or changes in what you're used to. I ran faster than I ever have

before. At Rim Rock, I also developed a blister on my left foot, but not until mile 17 (I wore Wright socks with no lube). Both at Rim Rock and Rock Canyon,

I ran faster than I was used to, so that had to increase the stresses beyond my conditioning.
It had to be these two factors, fabric softener + increased speed, that caused the blisters. It doesn't sound like it would be enough, but it had to be.
Many of the products we buy these days are treated with "water-hating" chemicals like teflon or chemicals similar to teflon. Plus there are other chemicals

with special behaviors. The behavior of these chemicals is dramatic way down between the molecular and even sub-atomic level. So small things like fabric

softeners can change the behavior. Once the benefit of these high-tech treatments are lost, your socks will behave nearly as bad as cotton gym socks.

At 5:30 PM, Blogger Ultra Okie said...

Hey thanks JeffO. I am going to try and step up the training again and also try to drop the extra weight I have put on over the past year or so. Looking forward to my next 100 mile attempt.


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