There are various types of organic cotton sheets available to buy these days.
This can make it quite confusing when you are trying to work out exactly what you want.
There are different cotton fibers grown in different areas of the world.
There are also different types of weave and fabrics that result from a variety of processing techniques.
The highest quality cotton is Egyptian cotton. This is because the Nile Valley has the ideal microclimate for growing cotton. The soil is rich and fertile along the river banks while the air is warm with a high moisture content.
These ideal growing conditions allow the cotton to grow into what is called a longer staple. You may see the term "ELS" used, this means extra long staple. Egyptian cotton is longer and thinner. The length makes it more durable while the smaller diameter means more individual fibers can be packed tighter together. This results in a superior quality sheet.
Another high quality type of cotton is Pima cotton. This is grown in Peru and in parts of the United States. Like Egyptian cotton Pima has a longer staple. It is not quite to the same standard as Egyptian but it is much better quality than average.
Beyond Egyptian and Pima there are many other types of cotton grown in other areas of the world. American Upland cotton is the other main one.
The weave is is the process that the cotton fiber goes through to become a fabric. Learning these terms can help you differentiate between what is a raw material and what is a process.
The two most common types of weave for cotton sheets are sateen and percale. A sateen sheet is woven with four threads over and one under. This means for every four horizontal threads there is one vertical thread. A sateen sheet has a high level of comfort but its downside is that it is less durable.
Sateen is often confused with satin which is what you get when you weave silk with the same four over one under stitch.
Percale, the other common one, has a one over one under stitch. This is a tighter weave resulting in a more durable although less luxurious product.
There are other less common weaves as well such as pinpoint which is two over one under.
A good quality organic cotton sheet is made up of a lot of factors. First there is the quality of the raw material. Then there is the type of weave it has. Then there are additional factors such as thread count and where it was processed.
Do not use one factor as the main basis to make your decision on. You have to take all elements into consideration. Have a look at my article on choosing sheets for more tips.