The main differences between synthetic and natural fiber ropes are the materials used during construction. Each material can greatly affect the use and longevity of each product, making material selection an important decision before purchasing and using.
Synthetic rope is constructed of materials such as polypropylene, polyester, and nylon. Most natural fiber ropes are constructed from cotton, sisal, and hemp fibers. There are ropes with blends of both fibers.
Synthetic rope has a 30 percent longer life span than natural fiber rope. It is stronger than natural fiber rope and is resistant to water, mildew, and UV rays.
Synthetic rope is lightweight, and has a 20-percent stronger tensile strength than natural fiber ropes. Synthetic rope does not shrink when wet, like natural fiber ropes. It will melt though when exposed to heat, unlike natural fiber ropes that are damaged only by direct contact with fire.
Synthetic rope has higher elasticity rating and increased shock absorbency, making it ideal for towing, lifting, and marine applications. Natural rope is designed for lightweight applications like packaging and has a better grip, making it ideal for tying and knotting, unlike synthetic that is prone to slipping.
Synthetic rope is created using plastics with dangerous chemical byproducts, while natural fiber ropes are woven from jute, sisal, and, hemp--all renewable and biodegradable resources with no chemical byproduct.