You have no items in your shopping cart.
Here at Brand Name, all of our luxury bedroom accessories are made from the highest quality natural latex. What does this mean? Well, it means that when you are buying a Brand Name product, you can be sure that you have chosen the best option on the market.
However, you don't just have to take our word for it. If you're new to the bedroom furnishing game, you might not know a whole lot about natural latex. In fact, the word "latex" might make you think of the cold, stretchy material used to make medical gloves, children's toys or skintight waist training garments such as corsets or wraps. And indeed, until recent years, latex was more heavily associated with utility than comfort - it was the material of choice for one size fits all gloves or water resistant rain gear, not warm blankets or soft and fluffy mattresses and pillows.
But, as it turns out, natural latex has a wide variety of uses above and beyond simply "practical items" - and, yes, many of them can be found in the bedroom. When properly treated, natural latex can be used to make mattresses (and pillows, and toppers, and pads, and more!) which are not only sturdy and long lasting, but also soft and comfy enough to provide you with night after night of restful, uninterrupted sleep.
In fact, natural latex has come to be regarded as the number one choice for mattress manufacturing materials for an incredible, practically uncountable number of reasons. It's soft, but it's also incredibly supportive, capable of bolstering key parts of the body and preventing the pain or strain caused by weight distribution of certain sleeping positions. It's durable, but it doesn't only resist natural degradation, wear and tear - it also possesses the inherent ability to fight off natural dangers such as insects, mold and bacteria or human-caused ones such as fire and extreme temperatures. It can come in a wide range of hard or soft textures and densities in order to cater to the individual needs of sleepers all around the world. And, if manufactured properly using the correct process, natural latex can even be made to be hypoallergenic and considered safe even for sufferers of the latex allergy!
All in all, natural latex truly deserves its hard-earned spot as the best, most effective and highest quality mattress manufacturing material available. So join us on a journey of discovery as we introduce you to this unequaled material in even greater detail. And, when you're done reading all about our amazing natural latex mattresses and other bedroom products, you can head over to our catalog and start shopping around for YOUR perfect mattress today!
Let's start with a simple definition. The term "natural latex" refers specifically to a substance which is produced in the natural world by the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). This is a sturdy tree which is native to the Amazon rain forests of South America but can also increasingly be found in plantations and in the wild across Southeast Asia - including but not limited to the countries of Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand.
The rubber tree produces natural latex in the form of a thick, slightly sticky, milky white liquid similar in consistency to sap. However, this natural latex performs an important function for the tree far and above that of standard sap. Secreted just below the outer layer of bark, the liquid latex prevents the tree from catching on fire and burning down. It also protects it from the "invaders" of the natural world - insects, mold, rot, and various bacterial and fungal diseases. Thanks to the efforts of natural latex, an average rubber tree can have a functional, productive lifespan of several decades.
Best of all, that liquid natural latex can be safely and sustainably harvested without damaging the rubber tree or interfering with its normal life cycle in any way. Typically, natural latex is harvested from rubber tree plantations which are primarily found in Southeast Asia countries, with Sri Lanka and Malaysia being the highest producers of latex in the modern world.
The latex is harvested in a similar manner to maple syrup - a process commonly referred to as "tapping". A small hole is drilled in the bark, and the latex is allowed to slowly drip out over the course of several hours to several days. Latex is collected in a bucket; these buckets are then collected and replaced by plantation workers. A small enough amount of latex is taken from each tree to allow the rubber tree to continue functioning normally without sustaining any damage. After a certain amount of latex is harvested from each incision, a new incision is made in a different area of the tree's bark, allowing the rubber tree to fully heal the first one.
The average rubber tree can begin producing natural latex when it is only a few years old. Although the period of time during which it produces enough latex to be successfully harvested varies from tree to tree, the average duration is approximately 30 years. Once a tree has finished producing usable latex, it is typically allowed to continue the rest of its natural life in peace. Therefore, the harvesting process is one hundred percent fully sustainable, with the trees not being damaged or disturbed in any way. To further enhance the environmentally friendly nature of natural latex harvesting, once a rubber tree has fully died, its wood is then harvested and used either as fuel or in the manufacture of sturdy, high quality furniture.
Of course, you're probably asking yourself a very important question right about now - natural latex starts as a liquid, but mattresses are solid! How does that happen? How does a thick, milky, sticky liquid end up becoming a soft, fluffy, comfortable yet sturdy solid?
Well, the answer is in fact a several step manufacturing process which uses safe, environmentally friendly and primarily chemical free techniques to gradually transform the buckets of liquid latex into the familiar thick, rectangular shape of a mattress (or other bedroom item). Typically, the first step involves heating up the liquid latex and making sure that it is free from any impurities which come with being part of the natural world - such as dirt, leaves, or bits of bark from their original rubber tree home.
Once the latex is clean, the next steps involve gradually shifting it from a liquid form to a solid one. Although, perhaps "solid" may not be the most accurate of terms. The natural latex used in the manufacture of mattresses is a lightweight, aerated foam which contains lots of holes or "bubbles" allowing air to pass through the final product. This is extremely useful for mattresses because air passing through their structure during the night prevents the mattress from retaining heat and helps to keep sleepers cool throughout the night.
Natural latex can be converted to a foam-like solid in a number of ways. When it comes to making mattresses, the most commonly used method is referred to as whipping. It is an extremely simple process which primarily involves the latex being stirred at an extremely high velocity until it is fully converted to foam. Whipping is also beneficial because it allows any lingering impurities (such as the aforementioned dirt, leaves or bark) to be pushed to the top and easily skimmed off of the final product so that any mattresses are guaranteed to be 100% pure.
Another alternative is vulcanization, in which the natural latex is exposed to and allowed to react with the mineral sulfur at extremely high temperatures, which causes the formerly liquid substance to solidify and settle. Vulcanized natural latex tends to be significantly denser than foamed, and is usually used in the manufacture of items ranging from rain jackets to children's toys to the soles of sneakers.
Once the latex has been whipped into a foamy solid, there are actually two similar yet distinct mattress manufacturing processes. Each has their own benefits, as the final products will offer small but significantly differences from one another.
The two methods of making a natural latex mattress are known as the Dunlop Method and the Talalay Method, named after the individuals who first invented them. Both involve the natural latex being poured into a mold in order to give it the traditional solid rectangular shape associated with mattresses. However, what happens once the liquid latex has entered the mold is extremely different and is what produces the varied properties unique to each process.
Because a Dunlop mattress will differ from a Talalay mattress in a number of important ways, we recommend that our customers educate themselves about the two manufacturing methods before choosing which type of mattress to make their final purchase. Which type of mattress will work best for you will vary from person to person - and the only true way of determining that is through careful research and reading up on just how your mattress was made.
Although it is commonly used today in the manufacture of mattresses, the Dunlop Method in fact had its origins in the making of pillows. It was developed in 1929 by the United Kingdom-based company Dunlop Rubber, which hoped to diversify their markets and expand beyond the manufacture of automobile tires. They used their new manufacturing method to make a dense, sturdy pillow which they advertised as a more durable alternative to the then-omnipresent feather stuffed pillows. The "Dunlopillo," as this new product was called, proved to be so popular that it continued to be manufactured and sold for several decades after the original tire division of Dunlop Rubber was forced to close down for lack of sales. In addition, companies and manufacturers all around the world began to adopt the new Dunlop Method, as it was christened, for making a wide range of durable and sturdy natural latex products.
The Dunlop Method begins by pouring the foamed natural latex into a large rectangular mold, typically made from metal. Observers of the process have described the mold as looking like nothing more than "a giant waffle iron stuck through with pins". (The pins help the latex to retain its foamed, airy texture rather than "clumping up" and becoming too dense during the solidification stage of the process.) The latex is poured so that it fills the mold almost completely, leaving minimal empty space as not much expansion occurs when using the Dunlop Method.
Once the latex has filled the mold, the mold is closed and securely sealed. From there, most manufacturing plants with a large capacity will place the mold onto a conveyor belt. The mold, filled with liquid latex, will then travel into a large oven typically referred to as a "Dunlop oven" or in some cases a "vulcanization" or "solidification oven". Inside the oven, the latex-filled metal mold will be baked at a high temperature for several minutes. Although the exact temperature used can vary depending on the individual manufacturer, the most common value encountered is 230 degrees Fahrenheit (or 115 degrees Celsius). This bakes the latex into a solid form, representing the shape of the mold, and causes it to settle.
The last step in the Dunlop Method is to wash the completed mattress in order to fully ensure that all traces of both chemicals and natural dirt or debris are removed before the mattress is packaged and sold. Originally, the method as developed by the Dunlop Rubber company used only a single, high-intensity wash cycle before declaring the mattress complete and ready to be shipped off to warehouses, stores or other distributors. However, nowadays, some manufacturers which rely on the Dunlop Method have begun adding additional wash cycles to the process in order to eliminate the proteins which are known to cause reactions in sufferers of the latex allergy. This is part of an ongoing effort to ensure that natural latex mattresses and bedroom accessories are truly and fully hypoallergenic. It is also possible that the mattress may now be inspected by quality control staff as a final test for the presence of chemical traces or debris.
When the Dunlop Method was first developed, the Dunlop Rubber company advertised its products for their unique strength, sturdiness and durability when compared to other bedroom goods on the market at the time. They claimed that their one of a kind "Dunlopillo" would last longer than any fabric-bound, cotton- or down-stuffed alternative - and they were correct. Today, that sturdy, dependable durability is still the primary selling point of mattresses made from natural Dunlop latex. Dunlop mattresses have obtained distinction for their extremely long lifespan; sleepers report that these mattresses do not begin to tear or sag even after many years of use.
In general, natural latex mattresses molded using the Dunlop method will be firm, dense and rather heavy with an average indentation load deflection on the higher end of the scale. Typically, fans of firmer mattresses will gravitate towards Dunlop-manufactured products. They will find that these mattresses provide good support for areas of the body which receive high amounts of pressure during the night, such as the hips or shoulders.
On the other hand, those who prefer softer, more comfortable mattresses with a "springy" feel may find that Dunlop products are simply too hard for their liking. If you like mattresses with lower indentation load deflection values, a Dunlop natural latex item may not be what you are looking for. However, if you do own or intend to purchase a Dunlop latex mattress and wish to make it softer, you can give its comfort levels a boost with a natural latex mattress pad or topper - head here or here to learn more!
However, Dunlop natural latex mattresses are not entirely without their drawbacks. As mentioned previously, this method is often incapable of making mattresses on the softer side of things. The Dunlop process specializes very narrowly in firm, supportive mattresses. Unfortunately, in exchange for this excellent body support and firm feeling, these mattresses are often dense, thick, bulky and most of all heavy. As a result, they can be extremely difficult to move and maneuver due to their higher weight when compared to other similar mattresses. Getting your Dunlop mattress into place in your bedroom and removing it once it has served its full lifespan can be a tedious, difficult process requiring multiple people to carry out. If you are going to be moving soon or relocate frequently enough to require a mattress which is easy to transport, a Dunlop natural latex product is probably not right for you.
In addition, the baking process utilized as a key part of the Dunlop method can have some unfortunate side effects even when carried out under careful supervision. If the natural latex is not uniformly dense, the denser, heavier parts - even including, in some cases, bits of trapped debris which were not caught and removed properly during cleaning - can sink and "settle" at the bottom of the mattress. The result is a product with uneven distribution of material, which will be thinner and softer on top and denser and thicker on the bottom.
In most cases, sleeping on top of the denser "bottom" side of the mattress can result in unfortunately high levels of heat retention, especially when compared to other, more lightweight, natural latex mattresses. This can result in the uncomfortable condition referred to as "sleep hot," in which the quality of your nightly sleep declines because you are regularly overheating as heat is trapped in the mattress and unable to be released into the surrounding atmosphere. While some manufacturers lessen the effects of this problem by using Dunlop latex as the sturdier bottom layers of a multi-layer mattress design, many still shape mattresses entirely from Dunlop latex despite this continuing issue.
And this is only the best possible situation - in the worst case, the "bottom" of the mattress will be so thick, dense and uncomfortable that it will not be suited for sleeping on at all. As regularly flipping your mattress and sleeping on both sides results in a number of benefits including keeping the mattress cleaner, discouraging heat retention and expanding its lifespan, Dunlop mattresses with only one working side will wear out and need to be disposed of after a significantly shorter period of time than mattresses which can be "flipped" as intended. We recommend that you thoroughly inspect both sides of a Dunlop-made mattress before choosing to purchase one for you or your family member's bedroom.
Just over a decade after the initial development of the Dunlop Method, a competing natural latex manufacturing process emerged. It was first developed and tested in the year 1940 by the Netherlands-based engineer Joseph Talalay and his two sons, Leo and Anselm. The Talalay men were familiar with Dunlop-made latex, as the "Dunlopillo" was experiencing international acclaim at the time. However, they had also begun to hear complaints regarding the supposedly revolutionary product - that Dunlop latex was too stiff, too uncomfortable, and did not "breathe", leaving sleepers feeling hot and stifled throughout the night.
In response to these complaints, Joseph Talalay and his sons developed a process which focused on adding air to the liquid latex, creating a light texture often described as "foamy". Additionally, they removed the step in which the liquid latex is baked in its mold, hoping that the switch from oven baking to another technique would remove the common issue of denser material "settling" towards the bottom of the mattress. Soon, a mattress company, Vita Talalay - named for the revolutionary process and its clever inventors - was established in the Netherlands and began manufacturing a wide range of bedroom accessories to compete with Dunlop's former market stranglehold. Many other companies which worked with natural latex also began to choose the Talalay method; foremost among them was Goodrich, an American maker of rubber hoses, automobile tires and, eventually, the space suits which would be worn by NASA astronauts during their travels to the moon.
Like the Dunlop Method, the Talalay Method begins with the natural latex in its liquid form, freshly harvested from the rubber tree plantations and thoroughly cleaned of dirt, leaves, bark or other bits of leftover debris. The liquid latex is thoroughly stirred - a process better known as "whipping" - and air is introduced to "foam" the liquid into something more lightweight, featuring a large number of bubbles and pockets through which air is allowed to travel.
Next, the liquid latex is poured into a mold. Typically, Talalay and Dunlop molds appeal very similar to one another, with both being large, usually rectangular and typically made from a lightweight yet sturdy metal. However, the two processes begin to differ significantly from one another when the liquid latex is poured into the mold. In the Talalay Method, the mold is only partially filled, leaving a large amount of empty space. This allows the latex to expand as it solidifies, maintaining the presence of air bubbles and pockets and creating a lightweight product which will typically be lower in density than something made in the Dunlop tradition.
Once the liquid latex has filled the mold, remembering to leave plenty of space for expansion, the mold is closed and a vacuum is applied. This sucks any and all remaining air out of the closed mold, leaving only the liquid latex itself. In response to the vacuuming, the liquid latex then expands to fill the space left behind by the removal of air. The resulting product is foamy and light, filling the space and giving the mattress its traditional rectangular shape but keeping the density low.
Next, another vastly different step occurs. Instead of being heated, the mold is rather frozen - exposed to extremely low temperatures, usually in the vicinity of -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-28 degrees Celsius). Typically, carbon dioxide is used to help obtain these low temperatures. Because the mold is frozen very quickly by exposing it to an intensely low temperature for a short period of time, this part of the process is usually referred to as "flash-freezing".
Flash-freezing, rather than converting the latex directly from liquid form to solid form as baking does, instead creates a sort of gel. The introduction of a gel stage means that the final product will have a universal, consistent density and that no higher density "chunks" will remain to "settle" to the bottom of the mold as frequently occurs during the Dunlop manufacturing process.
Finally, only after the flash-freezing step is completed is the mattress allowed to be exposed to heat so that it can solidify. However, because of the additional vacuuming and flash-freezing elements already creating a gel, the temperatures needed for this stage of the process are much lower - and the necessary time significantly shorter - than what the Dunlop Method requires.
Like its counterpart, the Talalay natural latex manufacturing process ends with the product being thoroughly washed and cleaned to remove all traces of dirt, debris, chemicals, and proteins which can potentially induce a reaction in sufferers of the latex allergy. (To learn more about how to find out if you might have a latex allergy and what symptoms you might experience, see our article here.) Each Talalay latex mattress is washed a bare minimum of five times, as cleanliness and a nontoxic, healthy, chemical-free product are important tenets of the Talalay manifesto. This efficiently removes all chemical agents used in any part of the process, from foaming to flash freezing to even soaps used in the washing itself.
It is important to note that this five-part wash cycle does mean that, on average, the time needed to make a single Talalay mattress is longer than the time required to produce the equivalent amount of its Dunlop counterpart. However, the extensive process of washing Talalay mattresses means that each unit can be labeled as hypoallergenic with one hundred percent accuracy, and can safely be used even by sufferers of the latex allergy. (However, if you are a latex allergy sufferer and are concerned about the possible health effects of sleeping on your Dunlop or Talalay natural latex mattress, you can protect yourself further by securely zipping your mattress into a protector made from a hypoallergenic fabric such as cotton or bamboo - read more here!)
When it comes to advantages and high points, those attributed to Talalay latex mattresses are almost the exact opposite as the qualities typically associated with Dunlop-made products. Due to its "foamy" or "fluffy" texture and the presence of abundant air bubbles, Talalay natural latex is typically extremely lightweight, soft, low in density and, of course, extremely comfortable.
However, latex manufactured using the Talalay Method is also fairly versatile (usually more so than Dunlop natural latex) and can be produced with a wide range of density, thicknesses and levels of hardness or softness. Because of this versatility, if you intend to purchase a Talalay latex mattress, it is very important that you check its indentation load deflection (ILD) value before making your final decision. To learn more about what ILD values signify, how they are measured, and how to interpret them, you can visit our informative guide found here.
Customers regularly describe Talalay natural latex mattresses as extremely soft and comfortable; reviewers and advertisers both regularly compare them to sheep's wool, cotton and even clouds. Other frequently seen adjectives include "bouncy" "springy" and "gently cradling". On a Talalay mattress, you will sleep in luxurious comfort for night after peaceful, undisturbed night. The material will comfortably and snugly embrace key parts of your body - typically your shoulders, back, stomach or hips, depending on your preferred sleeping position - without forcing you to "sink" into the mattress as some less sturdy synthetic foams (including memory foams) often do.
This property is also the reason why Talalay natural latex mattresses are typically recognized for their durability and long, functional lifespan, as they can be safely used for years and years without risk of developing a body-shaped "imprint" on the part of your mattress on which you most frequently sleep. Combined with natural latex's inherent resistances to wear and tear - in particular, its excellent elasticity and resilience (learn more here) - this means that most Talalay latex mattresses will safely last for years and years - possibly even up to a decade or more - before needing to be replaced.
Because of their open-cell structure filled with pockets and bubbles for air to pass through, Talalay natural latex products are considered to be entirely resistant to the dreaded "sleep hot" scenario. Air can freely and easily pass above, below and through the mattress, meaning that there is no chance that it will become trapped even on the hottest of nights. Even those who live in warm, humid or tropical climates will be able to comfortably enjoy their Talalay mattress from the depths of winter to the middle of summer.
As an added benefit, the open, airy structure of Talalay natural latex helps the mattresses produced using this method to keep themselves clean and dry, meaning that customers have to put in less effort than ever before to keep their mattress looking, smelling and feeling fresh and clean. Moisture such as water, sweat, urine, blood, spilled drinks and other liquids will also travel easily through the foamed mattress without becoming trapped and causing a funky smell to linger or your nightly sleeping experience to grow uncomfortably damp. And, of course, the absence of moisture means that mold, mildew, rot, bacteria and small insects such as dust mites or bedbugs will not find any home in your mattress.
Cleaning your Talalay mattress will be a simple affair - especially because its consistent density throughout means that it can be regularly flipped and both sides can be slept on without experiencing any significant difference in the quality of your sleep. Just make sure to dry it thoroughly and keep your bedroom well-lit, aired out and as close to normal room temperature as possible to allow your Talalay latex mattress's natural cleaning abilities to truly shine.
While Talalay natural latex is generally considered to be more comfortable, tends to see wider use and is certainly more versatile, there are still some sleepers who find themselves preferring mattresses made from Dunlop natural latex instead. Still other customers like to opt for what they consider to be a "best of both worlds" approach and choose a layered mattress with soft, springy Talalay at the top and sturdy, supportive Dunlop down below. Purchasing a mattress is a highly personal experience and you should always make sure to make your choices based not only on research articles such as this one, but also on your on your own needs and preferences - as well as those of anyone else with whom you are regularly intending to share a bed.
As we move on from harvesting strategies and comparing and contrasting manufacturing techniques, it is time to address one of the most common questions which we hear from our customers here at Brand Name: is latex safe? As more and more mattress materials are becoming available for purchase, customers are increasingly interested in ensuring that they know exactly what their new bedroom purchase is made from. Factors such as sustainability, environmental friendliness and the presence or absence of human health risks are all considered to be key parts of the definition used to determine whether or not a mattress is "safe".
It's a seemingly simple question, but one with a surprisingly complex answer. Luckily for you, this article will explain the exact truth in careful detail:
Natural latex is generally safe, due to its organic, chemical-free nature, its safe, sustainable harvesting process and the absence of harsh chemicals used in any part of the standard manufacturing process (as natural latex possesses a large list of inherent resistances to many common dangers including fire, bacteria, mold and insects.) However, it is an allergen, and those who suffer from a latex allergy may experience a wide variety of symptoms when regularly exposed to natural latex products if they have not been properly washed, cleaned and treated (See more later in this article, or go here for an even more in depth look).
However, we must also consider synthetic latex. Although synthetic latex has been around for approximately one hundred years, in recent years, some manufacturers have begun aggressively advertising it as a cheaper, quicker-to-manufacture alternatives to natural latex. Synthetic latex is made entirely from chemical components, while blended latex mixes synthetic and natural latex together to create a final product. Neither of these materials can be considered to be safe, as synthetic latex is typically made with a number of harsh chemicals which can both negatively affect the health of sleepers and cause potential damage to Earth's land, water and atmosphere. When it comes to the purchase of bedroom accessories, both synthetic and blended latex should be avoided at all costs, as prolonged exposure to their ingredients caused during the average nightly 7-8 hours of sleep will be extremely detrimental to the health of you and your family members.
Natural latex is one hundred percent chemical free - and, more than that, it is the ONLY type of latex which can proudly make that guarantee. No chemicals are used to remove it from the rubber tree, no chemicals are added during the manufacturing process, and it doesn't even need to be treated with chemical additives such as flame retardants, insect repellents, texture enhancers or adhesives. Any chemicals which may be added in small doses during the manufacturing steps themselves, to help the process along - such as the mineral sulfur, which is used in the vulcanization or solidification of the liquid latex - are thoroughly washed off and removed entirely during the washing cycle which is carried out before the mattress is deemed fit for sale.
Only natural latex can last years and years without ripping, tearing or beginning to wear down or degrade in quality. Only natural latex comes with inherent protection from fire, bugs, bacteria, and more. And only natural latex can offer you a one hundred percent guarantee that the product which you are receiving is organic, nontoxic, chemical free, all natural, environmentally friendly, sustainable - and even vegan!
Synthetic latex was developed with the intention of creating a less expensive alternative to natural latex which was also less time consuming to gather and process. It was also intended as a solution to what was seen at the time as a major problem - the concern that the rubber tree plantations from which natural latex was harvested were in limited supply and might disappear within the near future. (Due to the expansion of said plantations throughout South America and especially East and Southeast Asia, currently, these concerns are not held by scientists or latex harvesters, and natural latex is no longer considered to be a limited resource.)
The first synthetic latex was developed by German scientists during World War I. The British forces, which held India and several other Asian colonies, stationed ships in Asian waters with the goal of cutting their opponent, Germany, out of the Asia-based rubber trade. The British believed that cutting the Germans off from their supply of natural latex would have a drastic negative effect on their war efforts, as they would not be able to manufacture key items such as vehicle tires. However, the Germans responded not by giving up, but rather by creating a brand new "latex" all their own.
Synthetic latex is made from a mix of chemicals, often petrochemicals - a term used to describe any chemicals derived from petroleum. Different companies or manufacturers may have their own slightly different formulas for creating synthetic latex; therefore, not all synthetic latex products are exactly the same in chemical makeup. However, some chemicals are used more commonly then others, particularly styrene, butadiene, polychloroprene, and nitrile. Some companies will be forthcoming and openly advertise the component parts used to make their synthetic latex, while others will endeavor to keep their recipes a secret.
These petrochemical-derived latex alternatives will begin their life as liquids and be vulcanized (solidified) and molded into their final shape in a manner similar to how natural latex is processed. Both the Dunlop and the Talalay methods described above can technically work with synthetic latex, although the Dunlop is significantly more popular due to synthetic latex typically being thicker and denser than natural.
In general, synthetic latex products will look visually similar to those made from natural latex. Synthetic latex shares many of the properties of its natural counterpart - it is elastic with a "springy" texture and a smooth, "shiny" outer appearance. It can also be used to make a wide variety of products and can be found in a wide range of colors, from neutral white to stark black to brighter tones.
However, many customers find themselves able to distinguish synthetic latex from naturally harvested by the smell. Unlike natural latex, which is fairly odorless unless it contains a specific scented additive, synthetic latex has been known to possess a strong, sharp, distinct chemical smell - often described as both unpleasant and difficult to get rid of. In a small, enclosed area such as your bedroom, which often uses recycled air that is repeatedly circulated throughout the house, such smells can quickly grow overpowering and make the entire house extremely uncomfortable to be in for long periods of time.
Today, synthetic latex has gained popularity far beyond its original German roots. Companies all around the world use synthetic latex in the manufacture of medical gloves, clothes, children's toys, vehicle tires, sports balls, protective gear - and, of course, mattresses and other bedroom accessories. Studies conducted in recent years indicate that, as of the early 2010s, approximately 2/3 of all latex goods worldwide are produced using synthetic latex rather than natural. It is clear that synthetic latex has found its niche in the global marketplace and that it will not be going away anytime soon.
However, just because synthetic latex is seemingly everywhere these days, does not mean that you simply have to roll over and accept it. The truth is, while synthetic latex may look, feel and behave like natural latex, the differences between the two materials are in fact enormous.
While natural latex is an organic, chemical free, environmentally friendly material which poses no significant health risks even for infants or young children, synthetic latex is typically composed of many harsh chemicals which have been proven to cause damage both to human health and the surrounding land, water and air. In addition, synthetic latex, no matter how sophisticated the manufacturing process becomes, has been continually unable to accurately mimic the many strengths and advantages of its natural counterpart. It may look and feel like natural latex but, after you've used it for even a very short while, the differences will very quickly become apparent.
The petrochemicals which make up synthetic latex are incredibly harsh and frequently contain a type of chemical referred to as "volatile organic compounds" - usually shortened to VOCs. What makes these chemicals "volatile" is the fact that they break down and convert from a solid or liquid form into a gaseous one at extremely low temperatures. What does this mean for you? Well, if you purchase a synthetic latex mattress, you and your family will be breathing in its broken down chemical components for 7-8 hours a night - even at normal, average room temperature. Given that the average house is a closed environment which makes frequent use of recycled air, these airborne chemicals will quickly escape your bedroom and spread throughout your entire house - and possibly even escape to the outside to do further damage.
But just what do these VOCs and harsh petrochemicals truly do to the human body? There is no single answer to this question, as they can have a wide, varied range of effects which can differ even from person to person within the same household. Even at their mildest, they can cause irritation within the respiratory system each time they are breathed in, leading to symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, scratchy throat and shortness of breath. Sufferers of asthma will often find their symptoms becoming worse than ever before, while people who did not previously have asthma may even find themselves developing it after prolonged exposure to a synthetic latex mattress in their bedroom.
Of course, that's only the mild end of the spectrum when it comes to possible symptoms. Some people have also reported experiencing dizziness, nausea, headaches, vomiting, and a feeling of lightheadedness which causes them to lose their balance. Taking another step even further towards the "severe" side of the scale, these chemicals can even permanently damage several delicate internal organs, including but not limited to the lungs, liver, kidneys, esophagus, and central nervous system. Over time, if not caught and treated immediately, this damage can even prove to be fatal.
Lastly, several chemicals sometimes used in the manufacture of synthetic latex, such as formaldehyde, have been positively identified as carcinogens. This means that prolonged exposure to them may cause cancer in various parts of the body. Every year, many cases of cancer around the world - including lung cancer and liver cancer - have been positively linked to the presence of goods and accessories made from synthetic latex found in the sick individual's home.
Unfortunately, the damage which they cause to humans does not represent the full extent of the dangers associated with synthetic latex and its chemical components. VOCs and other similar chemicals are extremely toxic to plants and animals as well as humans. If they are allowed to leach into the soil or groundwater surrounding your home, they can result in the illness or even death of both plants and local wildlife. Once these chemicals have successfully polluted the groundwater, they are capable of traveling to rivers, lakes and even the ocean, where they result in the death of fish and other aquatic wildlife. They can even return to cause yet another round of damage to the human population, as infected fish swimming in tainted water are caught and eaten by humans.
In addition, many of these chemicals have also been positively identified as ozone depleters. What does this mean exactly? It means that, once they reach the outside air, they travel upwards until they reach the ozone layer, a very important layer of Earth's atmosphere which protects the planet below from the extreme heat and harsh radiation emitted by the Sun. The airborne chemicals attack and destroy this atmospheric ozone, leaving all of that dangerous radiation completely free to travel directly to Earth's surface.
The presence of ozone depleters in household and industrial goods is believed to be the primary cause of the hole in Earth's atmosphere discovered over the Antarctic region in the 1970s. International regulations regarding the emission of VOCs and ozone depleters by vehicles and factories have helped that hole to shrink in size over the years, but the danger is not completely gone. If we continue to use synthetic latex and other similarly harmful materials in our homes, we could re-open that hole - or even create multiple larger ones all around the world, an extreme danger which should be avoided at all costs. If you want to do your part to help keep yourself, your family and your planet healthy, skip the synthetic latex and go for a natural latex mattress instead!
Of course, you're probably asking yourself right about now - what about blended latex? It's not nearly as bad as synthetic latex, but it's still way cheaper than always buying full natural latex, right? Unfortunately, that's a bit of false advertising at work. Blended latex is usually advertising as being "the best of both worlds," creating the perfect happy medium between environmentally friendly natural latex and affordable, easy to obtain synthetic latex; however, in actuality, the truth is unfortunately not that simple.
The most important thing to understand about blended latex is that there does not currently exist one established standard for what constitutes a "blend". That is to say, any latex product which contains ANY natural latex mixed in with the synthetic whatsoever can be legally advertised as "blended latex". There is no legal minimum of natural latex or maximum of synthetic latex which must be followed.
In addition to this, many manufacturers and companies are very secretive about the makeup of their blend - usually a sign that they are attempting to hide just how little natural latex is truly contained within. While some manufacturers may try to always use a 50-50 or 60-40 blend (measured in percentages), which mixes the amounts of synthetic and natural latex roughly evenly and tries to keep them balanced, other companies will opt for a 70-30, 80-20, or even a blend which contains as little as 5 to 8 percent natural latex and well over 90% synthetic.
This means that blended latex can be extremely inconsistent in quality, with some being basically indistinguishable from synthetic latex while others genuinely exhibit some of the superior properties of natural latex. If you are interested in purchasing a blended latex mattress or other bedroom accessory, it is extremely important to do your research before making a final decision in order to learn as much as possible about just what each blend contains. Yes, we know that "do your research" is a fairly trite piece of advice which we bring up often - but, in this case, we genuinely believe that it is the most important element of the purchasing process, because otherwise, you can never truly know what you're going to get!
Even if you do manage to find a blend which contains an acceptably high amount of natural latex in proportion to synthetic, another unfortunate truth is still lurking. While blended latex may possess some of the advantages of both synthetic and natural latex, it also contains the drawbacks of each of its individual elements. Sure, a blended latex mattress will almost certainly cost less than a fully natural latex alternative, and it may be somewhat softer, more comfortable or more durable than one made entirely from synthetic latex, but it will also bring with it an entire host of negative qualities which you might not have ever even considered.
For example, blended latex will never be quite as good as 100% natural latex, no matter how balanced the blend that is used. It will never be AS strong, AS elastic, AS soft, or AS springy as the true naturally harvested product. You will be paying less, sure, but you will be obtaining a lesser product in return for your lesser investment. In general, your product will be more similar in durability, strength and even elasticity to a synthetic latex mattress than a natural latex one.
Additionally, blended latex will bring with it all of the drawbacks associated with synthetic latex listed in earlier sections of this article. It will still be made at least partially from petrochemicals, and will be capable of causing severe health effects in humans, especially young children, infants and the elderly. When sleeping on a blended latex mattress, you may still experience symptoms of asthma such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, dizziness or lightheadedness as well as additional symptoms not connected to asthma such as nausea, migraines or vomiting. It is even possible to develop cancer from exposure to carcinogenic chemicals such as brominated ethers or formaldehyde, as they are extremely effective on the human body even in very small concentrations.
Of course, this means that blended latex mattresses are also capable of causing damage to the environment through leaching into the soil and groundwater and affecting the health of plants, animals and Earth's atmosphere. Synthetic and blended latex mattresses are especially dangerous if they are disposed of in landfills, where they are typically allowed to sit for years, fully in contact with the soil and groundwater while they are waiting to decompose.
Lastly, blended latex mattresses typically do not contain enough natural latex to inherit the number of resistances and protective functions which 100% natural products are able to offer. Natural latex on its own is able to resist fire, insect damage, mold, mildew, and any number of dangerous infectious bacteria. However, neither synthetic nor blended latex possess these properties. This is in fact yet another way that synthetic and blended latex mattresses can be considered unsafe for human use, as they must be treated with chemical additives such as flame retardants and insect repellents. These additives are often made with harsh chemicals such as those described in earlier sections - volatile organic compounds, ozone depleters, and even carcinogens.
In short, blended latex mattresses may be advertised as offering the best of both worlds but, upon closer inspection, might seem a bit more like the worst. They can be purchased at a lower price, true, but they come with all of the drawbacks of synthetic latex and almost none of the advantages of natural. In addition, no blend contains enough natural latex to be considered organic, nontoxic, or chemical free or be able to achieve the GreenGuard Gold Certification (read more here) - another very important factor which you shoulder consider when purchasing a mattress.
Natural latex is the safest, healthiest, least toxic and most environmentally friendly mattress material currently available for purchase. Nothing else is as strong, as soft, as comfortable or as versatile AND avoids any harmful chemicals either in its makeup or added during its manufacturing process. And now, Brand Name offers natural latex mattresses and bedroom accessories at lower prices than ever before! So what are you waiting for? Head on over to our catalog and purchase YOUR brand new natural latex mattress today!