What is "baked straw" hat material?

I got a white straw Western style hat. Someone at the hat company felt confident telling me it was made of baked straw, but could not tell me exactly what baked straw is. It looks like it’s been heavily shellacked, so I suspect that more than just straw and heat went into making it. Anyone know just what is this “baked straw?”

This is what the hat looks like. To my wife it seemed to be made of plastic, but the weave of the straw can be seen. I’m assuming it has a baked on coating of some sort, but I’d sure like to know what that coating is.

Here is a link to a youtube video about a baked straw artist.

How was that applicable?

It might be a place to start looking for additional information about baked straw. It was interesting, too.

Next time I will insert a warning “do not click this link if have a fear of informational tangents.”


I have a western straw hat that I’ve had for about 30 years. I know the feel you are talking about. I couldn’t find anything more detailed than this:

I’m pretty sure it’s real straw, coated with the above mentioned resin.

You could have fought my ignorance without the third sentence of snark. But thanks anyway…

Thanks for the effort, Tris, and Jain, thanks for the info.

Jain (or anyone else with such a “lacquered” hat), what really matters to me how the hat endures rain and how hot it feels in summer weather. What has your experience been?

After several tries today, I finally reached someone at the hat manufacturer who said the coating was B-5 shellac. This would appear to be Hydrolac B-5, a trade name for one company’s powdered mix-with-water shellac product, offered as a felt stiffener. I guess it works as a straw stiffener, too. :cool: The MSDS sheet for the product describes it as a natural resin.

The fellow I talked to said it would hold up in rain, but not submersion for very long. He said it didn’t transfer/absorb much heat, and was comfortable in the sun, though a well ventilated loose-weave straw would be cooler.

I’d still be interested in anyone’s personal experience.

For the first several years I babied it but after it started showing a little wear and tear (read: my rough handling) it got relegated to my hiking hat. In that role it has been subjected to lots of rain, mud and more rough handling. Other than being out of shape due to being shoved in packs etc, the coating seems to be as good as ever. I’ll try to post a pic when I get home.

Looks like your basic summer cowboy hat. I’ve had one for years, but I only wear it in Chicago when it rains. I call it “nature’s umbrella”. It’s held up fine, except when I left it out overnight in the dew. Ever since then, it’s looked a little more worn down. I could probably take it to a hat shop to get reset with steam, but I think a cowboy hat should look a little roughed up.