Down is the light fluffy coating beneath the feathers of ducks and geese. Each down cluster is made from thousands of tiny fibers, like little cotton balls between the bird's skin and feathers. Mother Nature created down to keep water fowl dry and warm when they swim around in the water. One down comforter provides the warmth and temperature control of 14 wool blankets, but because of down's natural ability to pull moisture away from the skin you never wake up hot and clammy in the middle of the night.
High quality down comes only from ducks and geese. Chickens and other birds do not produce down because they do not spend a significant portion of their lives in the water. 85% of the world's production of down and feathers comes from Asia; the remaining 15% is generally produced in Eastern Europe. Farmers who raise ducks and geese for their meat sell the unprocessed feathers and down to processing companies around the world, so no usable part of the bird is wasted.
Down clusters are naturally very durable, it is not uncommon for people to use a down bedding product for a dozen years or more before replacing it. Down is also naturally flame retardant, making it an excellent choice for safe sleeping.
Down and feathers come in various shades ranging from pure white to black speckled gray. There is a premium on pure white down and feathers because of their ability to visually blend better when filled into white bedding products, but the color does not affect the down's loft or warmth. As consumer taste for lighter bird meat increases, white down and feathers are becoming more abundant.