Rayon is a synthetic fiber, made from natural sources of regenerated cellulose, such as wood and related agricultural products. It has the same molecular structure as cellulose. Viscose can mean:
A viscous solution of cellulose
A synonym of rayon
A specific term for viscose rayon — rayon made using the viscose process
Many types and grades of viscose fibers and films exist. Some imitate the feel and texture of natural fibers such as silk, wool, cotton, and linen. The types that resemble silk are often called artificial silk. The fibre is used to make textiles for clothing and other purposes.
Rayon production involves solubilizing cellulose. The viscose process, which uses alkali and the neurotoxin carbon sulfide, is the most common. A second method, the cupro process, uses ammoniacal solutions of copper salts, and is largely historic. A third method, the lyocell process, dissolves the cellullose in an amine oxide; less toxic but more expensive.