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Goose Down Vs Duck Down: What’s The Difference

Everyone loves cozying up in the cocoon of the warmth of a soft-down comforter after a long day at work, enjoying a luxurious sleeping experience. Duck down and goose down are two of the most widely used natural fill materials in comforters, fluffy pillows, and other bedding products that offer you a night of calm sleep. A light and fluffy coating — down is a natural product made from the soft plumage of waterfowl species like geese, ducks, and swans. Due to its lightweight nature and breathable ability, down regulates your body temperature by keeping you warm in colder climates and cool in warmer climates.

However, there is always a discussion in the bedding industry on which down is better — duck down or goose down. Even though goose down is widely popular as a high-quality down than duck down, there’s more to the story. There is no major difference in the insulation level provided by the two types of down as they have the same core construction, which is crucial to their adequate insulation properties. However, let’s discuss a few parameters considering duck down and goose down, so you can make an informed decision as per your personal preference.

Fill Power

Fill Power is the cubic inches of loft one ounce of down fill produces. It is the most important factor in determining the warmth and type of insulation of a down-filled product, which relies on a range of factors, such as the size and age of the bird. Older, mature, and larger birds are more likely to develop larger clusters of down that, in turn, enhance the warmth level of the comforter or bedding product. Also, geese are more mature when they reach harvest age than ducks. The goose-down clusters have time to develop fully and the geese naturally live in colder climates, so the down is larger. 

Today, the maximum fill power of goose down is estimated to be approximately 1000 FP, which has a limited supply and is quite expensive. However, in comparison, the highest fill power and most expensive down available today are sourced from Eider Duck down, which has a fill power of around 1200. The typical fill power range for goose down and duck down varies between 450 and 850 FP. In addition to that, the sorting process plays a significant role to ensure optimum fill power of down, as the large clusters are sorted out from the smaller ones, and bird feathers are removed, to make sure that the best quality of down is used in the process.

Odor

Natural oils and fats present in the down that are essential to make them resilient and pliable aid in the scent of down. People with an acute sense of smell may encounter a faint odor, regardless of how clean the down is. The scent difference between goose down and duck down is minimal, depending on their living conditions and feeding habits. However, the slight odor of duck or goose down wears off over time.

One hot tip is to keep your down-filled product in the sun for a few hours before use. 

Durability

Down’s durability is largely determined by its fat and oil content. How? They contribute to improving the durability of the down by keeping it more pliable, weather, and water resistant. Certain birds are naturally rich in fat and oil. Although down is an organic product, regardless of the bird, its quality varies depending on its harvest season, the climate, living conditions of the bird, its diet, genetics, health, etc. All these factors play an important role in shaping the quality of down.

When down is over-washed, it is stripped of excess oil and fat, making it brittle and easy to break. Consequently, the soft fibers will have fewer air pockets to trap body heat, resulting in decreased fill power. Manufacturers achieve high quality down by only sufficiently processing them to retain their natural fat and oil content, thus ensuring longevity.

Color

Duck and goose down can be found in white and muted gray colors. However, the color doesn’t affect the performance of the down, in terms of its resilience, durability, fill power, compressibility, and warmth. White goose or duck down, however, is preferred by the bedding industry and manufacturers since it is less noticeable when shed from a light-colored bedding fabric.

Final Thoughts

Irrespective of the above-mentioned parameters, a duck-down comforter will perform as efficiently as a goose-down comforter. The quality of down heavily depends on the natural environment of the bird, living standards, feeding habits, harvest season, and genetics of the bird. If the down-filled product is brought from a reputed manufacturer and well maintained as per proper care guidelines, it will offer you the perfect level of warmth and loft needed for a comfortable sleep for years.

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