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What are tzitzit strings made of?

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I'm not sure exactly why, but fairly often we get inquiries from prospective customers asking what our tzitzit strings are made of. Here's one such inquiry we received today:

     What are the Tzitzit made of? Wool, cotton etc? Thanks, Saul M.

About 99% of kosher tzitzit made today are made of wool. According to halacha, you can tie wool tzitzit on any type of tallit or tzitzit garment -- wool, cotton, silk, synthetic -- with the exception of linen.

Some people mistakenly think that you need cotton tzitzit for a cotton tallit. Another common misconception is that wool and cotton are a forbidden mixture. They're not. Shaatnez is a mixture of wool and linen (which is not the same as cotton).

We got this same question about a week ago from a lady named Fran. When I wrote the above explanation to her, her reply threw me for a loop:

     But the tallit I am making is linen...

We really don't have a solution for Fran. I referred her to a lady in Los Angeles (actually I think she may have moved to Oregon) who used to involved with linen tzitzit, although I don't know enough about her or her tzitzit to vouch for their kashrus.

And what are the “cotton tzitzit” you see all over the internet?

The proper name for a tzitzit garment worn all day is tallit katan (“small tallit”) or arba kanfot (“four corners”), but sometimes people simply refer to it as “tzitzit.” They don’t mean the tzitzit strings, but a tallit katan with tzitzit attached. So if that garment is made of cotton (with wool tzitzit), it will be referred to as “cotton tzitzit.”