As discussed earlier, the oils on the surface of goose down and duck down differ, and most of the bedding and jackets purchased in the past were mainly filled with duck down. This could occasionally result in a slight but detectable gamy smell. Though some manufacturers claim they use real duck down, people sometimes wonder: does duck down always have such an odor, and can this smell be removed?
Ducks raised for their meat are divided into two types: centralized breeding and free range. Of these two types, centralized breeding does not include ponds and keeps ducks in a shed for concentrated feeding and living purposes. Free range breeding, on the other hand, requires more land and provides ducks with ponds and more expansive living space. The feathers and down materials collected from free-range ducks after slaughter are cleaner. These materials are primarily imported from Europe. In contrast, the feathers and down materials collected from ducks which are raised using centralized-breeding methods, due to their crowded environment and lack of ponds, contain more dust and debris. The majority of these types of ducks are bred in Southeast Asia.
In terms of the source, duck down of European origin is relatively cleaner and normally does not have the odor associated with closed breeding environments and concentrated feeding; on the other hand, duck down from Southeast Asia is prone to having a strong smell. However, most of the residue and oils in duck down are removed during the process of fine washing, and freshly-produced down is odorless after drying and sterilization. Therefore, it is likely that a poor back-end storage environment is the culprit for reintroducing unpleasant odors into down materials.
Kwong Lung is equipped with specialized equipment rooms for analysis, and we use specialized equipment to analyze the causes of undesirable odors in duck down. After analyzing smelling and non-smelling duck down, and we discovered that rancidification of the surface oils and growth of microorganisms are the main reasons for producing unpleasant odors.
One of the reasons why the quality of goose down tends to be better than duck down, and why goose down is accordingly more expensive, is because the main ingredient of goose down is wax, whereas in duck down the main material is composed of fatty acids.
Therefore, when purchasing down products, always be sure to first do a quick smell-test of the product. If growth of microorganisms or the smell from rancidification of oils is found due to extended storage in a humid environment, it is recommended to place the product under the sun or dry the product first before use in order to prevent the odor generated due to high humidity in Taiwan.