Where Does Natural Latex Come From?
Natural latex is a wonderful product whose uses and benefits are varied and plentiful. Latex is used for gloves, balloons, clothing, and yes even mattresses! Natural latex comes from many different plant species, though most of them are not useful for their latex. One of the best sources for natural latex, especially for the natural latex mattress, is the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis. The reason why this particular tree, generally referred to as the paraba rubber tree (or more generically as just a rubber tree), is used almost exclusively for the production of latex mattresses is because of the extremely flexible and elastic properties of the latex that comes out of it, its durability, and the natural chemical makeup of it that prevents against molds and mildews as well as being dust mite resistant and less prone to being inhabited by bed bugs.
The para rubber tree is tapped, or incised (a very thin portion of the bark is shaved off), to make an opening for the natural latex sap to exude from within it. The tree reacts to this “wound” by allowing the latex to flow forth as a coping mechanism. A cup or bucket is placed below the shaved part of the bark to collect the dripping latex material. It is interesting to note, however, that the tree is not harmed by the process, and continues to grow normally even being available for tapping again year after year. The harvesting of the latex begins when the tree reaches between 5 to 7 years old. Harvesting of natural latex occurs quite regularly, but is spaced out so as not to stress the tree. There is generally only two months out of the year that a mature rubber tree is not tapped – the dry season in which the leaves fall off. A most excellent resource providing diagrams and very explicit instruction on how tapping is done to collect latex can be found at http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/006/AD221E/AD221E06.htm. This resource explains in detail the timing of the day and spacing out of the tapping, the exact methodology, and the expected harvesting life of the rubber tree plantation.
Some of the very best natural latex for mattresses comes from the tropical mountainous climate of the country of Sri Lanka. At Plushbeds.com we sell only the finest botanical latex mattress, which is certified 100% natural latex. Our latex foam mattresses in our Botanical Bliss collection are very luxurious and customizable for comfort levels according to your preference for latex mattress ILD rating.