Posted on by Amber Merton

Latex Mattress Materials: Putting it All Together | PlushBeds

Buying a new mattress is a big decision. Whether you’re looking for a mattress to last the next five years or the next 25, it’s important to know the materials that go into the mattress you’ll sleep on every night for as long as you own the mattress. If you spend an average of seven hours of sleep per night in bed, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your new mattress over the next few years. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re making the right decision for your needs for sleep, health, and peace of mind. A natural latex mattress can do all of those things for you. Here’s why.

100 Percent Pure Joma Wool

Pure Joma wool is the fire retardant you’ll find in a PlushBeds natural latex mattress. Most flame retardants used in mattresses today contain Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs). These chemicals are the same ones the UC Davis Health System found to be linked to social, behavioral, and learning deficits.

An added benefit of Joma wool is that it allows air to flow through keeping you comfortable and cool throughout the night, as well as protected from combustion.

Organic Cotton

The mattress cover for the Botanical Bliss line of latex mattresses from PlushBeds is made of non-woven organic cotton. Being knit instead of woven, this allows the mattress to maintain maximum elasticity to assist in the exceptional pressure relief the mattress delivers night after night.

Natural Latex

PlushBeds uses all-natural latex from the sap of rubber trees to create the Talalay latex mattress layer as well as the firm Dunlop latex core of the mattress. The Talalay latex layer provides exceptional buoyancy, while the Dunlop layer serves as the mattress’s supportive foundation layer.

Spruce Wood

The orthopedic foundation of your PlushBeds Botanical Bliss mattress is constructed of all-natural spruce to provide adequate support, while allowing the pressure relieving flexibility necessary for restful, healthful sleep.

GreenGuard Gold Certification

We take great pride in the fact that our Botanical Bliss line of mattresses has been awarded GreenGuard Gold Certification. This was once referred to as Children and Schools Certification because mattresses that meet these standards are suitable for use among the most sensitive and vulnerable members of populations (children and the elderly). Products that meet GreenGuard Gold Certification standards are acceptable to use in nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and other places that house children, the elderly, and the infirm.

While it’s always wise to know what’s in your mattress, it’s also a good plan to pay attention to what’s not in your mattress. When you purchase Botanical Bliss mattresses from PlushBeds, you aren’t buying:

  • Chemical Retardants
  • Glues
  • Formaldehyde
  • Carcinogens
  • Synthetic Blends
  • Petroleum Fillers
  • Harsh Chemicals
  • Pesticide-Treated Cottons
  • Anti-Fungicides

What you are getting is a mattress made from materials you can sleep on with a clear conscience and real peace of mind that you’re making a good choice for the sake of your health, your planet, and your home.

Types of Latex

Latex beds come in more than just one type. You can choose from a few types of latex:

  • Natural latex mattresses: These are constructed from rubber tree sap. There are two forms of natural latex that make up the latex layers and comfort layer: Talalay latex and Dunlop latex.
  • Synthetic latex mattresses: These are constructed with chemical compounds to help imitate the feel of real latex. This form is a bit less durable than natural latex. Because it's constructed with synthetic materials, it shouldn't trigger you with a latex allergy.
  • Blended latex mattresses: This is a mixture of synthetic and natural latex. It costs less to make than all-natural latex, and is more durable than synthetic latex. Frequently, it has more synthetic material in it than natural material.

Natural latex is frequently thought of as the best type of latex. This is because a natural latex mattress is frequently one of the more eco-friendly and long-lasting mattresses.

How are Natural Latex Mattresses Made?

While it's widely known the benefits of a 100% natural latex mattress, like its certified organic cotton and wool, the comprehensive details of the process involving their fabrication are not as understood. The final delivery of your new latex mattress to your home ends the entire journey that starts on an Hevea Brasiliensis rubber tree plantation in a tropical climate.

1. Raw Material Collection

Along with the certified organic cotton and wool, the primary ingredient used in constructing a natural latex mattress is taken from the Hevea brasiliensis tree (rubber tree). This rubber tree is cultivated on a larger scale in West Africa and Southeast Asia where the tropical climate is great for growth. The rubber tree can grow to 100 to 130 feet tall in the wild, and could live up to 100 years. It's the sticky white sap that's the actual latex by the rubber tree when the tree's trunk is cut.

The sap harvesting process starts with the creation of deep spiral incisions into the rubber tree's trunk. Then, a vessel is put at the end of the spiral for collecting the oozing latex from the tree. Extracting latex doesn't harm the tree. For a few hours, the latex flows steadily along the incisions into the vessel. When exposed to direct sunlight, latex undergoes coagulation, causing it to prematurely harden which makes the processing cycle complicated. To keep this from occurring, latex is typically harvested in the early morning or during the night when the sun isn't out.

2. Processing the Latex

When exposed to direct sunlight or open air for extended periods, liquid latex goes through a rapid coagulation process. So, it's essential to transport the harvested latex to the processing facility in the shortest time possible. To reduce the likelihood of untimely coagulation, the latex is typically transferred into big airtight buckets, and then taken to the closest processing plant with 24 hours of being harvested. Sometimes, small amounts of ammonia might be added during the transportation of the latex, which helps delay the coagulation onset.

After the liquid latex is brought to the processing factory, it's poured into a big cylindrical tank through a sieve that takes out coagulated lumps, and unwanted particles. This tank has a shaft on it that spins quickly to combine air with the latex, producing a thick, foamy paste. To ensure the mattresses are constructed spongy, air particles are incorporated into the latex. Mattresses would wind up densely packed and stiff if this process was skipped. They would be uncomfortable and hard to sleep on.

3. Molding the Mattresses

During this stage, the blended liquid latex is turned into a solid mattress either through the Dunlop latex or Talalay latex method.

These methods make a latex mattress with slight property differences.

Dunlop Latex Method

With the Dunlop latex method, the latex foam goes into a big rectangular mold that contains a few vertical rods that create perforations in the finished mattress. These perforations create natural airflow around the mattress to keep the right temperature for anyone using it. The mold then goes through a vulcanization process where it's shut, and heated to high temperatures. The vertical rods that run through the latex help ensure this temperature is distributed evenly around the mold.

The latex is then taken out of the mold once it's gone through the vulcanization for a certain time period, and sprayed with water to help clean up any soapy compounds that might have formed on the surface. It's at this point where the latex is turned to a rubbery mattress with a few perforations running through it. After the mattress is washed, it's placed into an oven, and baked to eliminate excess moisture.

Talalay Latex Method

During the Talalay latex method, the latex is put into a mold that contains vertical rods, similar to the Dunlop latex method. But, instead of heating the mold, it's attached to a vacuum pump that sucks the air bubbles out from the mixture while ensuring the latex is distributed evenly within the mold.

The liquid carbon dioxide then covers the mold to quickly freeze the mattress inside. This is done to keep denser particles from settling at the bottom of the mold where it could result in the mattresses being produced with uneven densities across the latex layers. Then the mold is heated, so the mattress rises to the desired level of thickness before it's taken out.

4. Grading and Quality Inspection of the Mattresses

Occasionally, defective products could come out of bigger-scale production lines. This is normal. Natural latex mattress manufacturing is no exception. Every mattress that's extracted from the mold must go through a stringent inspection process to make sure quality is consistent. Any defective mattresses found are taken out of the production line immediately, and discarded.

5. Stitching the Cover and Detailing the Mattresses

The mattresses are still not completed and ready to be used even after the completion of the quality inspection process. During this fifth stage, they are really still only solid rectangular pieces of natural latex. Some mattresses might even have minor inconsistencies on the edges that would have to be trimmed. The latex beds are placed on a calibrated table, and trimmed carefully to provide them with a sharply defined outline as well as ensure their overall dimensions are accurate.

Each mattress is then upholstered with a fabric certified organic cotton and wool cover, and inserted into the mattress cover. Then flanges are stitched around the mattress's edges to secure the cover firmly in place.

Now the production stage is finished once the flanges and certified organic cotton and wool cover are stitched on each mattress. Labels can now be put on each mattress, which provides details on their:

  • Care instructions
  • Specifications
  • Warranty details

Finally, the natural latex mattresses are then placed in clear plastic covers, and shipped off to their point of sale.

How Latex is Different From Memory Foam

A memory foam mattress is a man-made, synthetic product. Latex, on the other hand, is pure and comes from the sap of rubber trees. It's natural, unlike memory foam, which is chemical.

Initially, a memory foam mattress offers great pressure relief — initially is the key word.

It retains your body heat which allows the mattress to hug your pressure points, and move with you. This will not only make you sleep hot, but memory foam eventually has problems bouncing back. Sags and dips are quite common with a memory foam mattress.

Advantages of Latex Materials

There are many benefits of latex layers materials, including:

Cooling

Latex is a cool material, naturally, and a lot of manufacturers help improve its breathability by adding in aerated channels. Latex typically doesn't conform closely to cut off airflow, which allows the air circulation to carry body heat off before it has a chance to build up and interrupt your sleep.

Eco-Friendly

Because natural latex comes from rubber trees, and doesn't require a lot of additives to whip it into foam, it's an amazingly eco-friendly material. A lot of mattress companies use other types of natural materials like organic wool or cotton to manufacture a completely organic mattress.

Durable

Natural latex is also very durable. A lot of owners are still sleeping comfortably on their latex beds after 15 years of use. This only applies to all-natural latex mattresses, however. Blended and synthetic latex has a shorter expected lifespan, and can break down after several years.

Flame Retardant Properties

A lot of mattresses today on the market have flame retardant properties to keep the mattresses from easily catching fire. If you're looking to buy an all-natural mattress, however, you likely don't want a chemical layer laced in its surface.

Fortunately, many latex mattresses can still meet the flame retardant laws of the country, since many include wool barriers (a natural flame retardant material) to enhance their flame resistance. So, you can still sleep on a safe mattress that doesn't have those unwanted chemicals.

You'll want to check the mattress's label before you purchase it to see which flame retardant the mattress is using.

Motion Isolation

Certain mattresses handle motion transfer better than others. Motion transfer is where you're sleeping comfortably on your side of the bed, and then you're jostled by your partner's movement on the other side. This is a big reason why spring mattresses are very outdated. They offer the least amount of motion isolation.

Since latex is so supportive, motion transfer might not disrupt your sleep as much as other mattresses would. In fact, you’ll likely experience zero motion transfer. Latex has outstanding motion isolation, which means when your partner moves on their side of the bed, you won't feel it on your side.

Where PlushBeds Gets Our Latex

PlushBeds partners directly with farmers, so they're able to source single-origin latex, enabling them to accurately calibrate its firmness to a specific degree others can't. Plus, PlushBeds only uses global organic latex standard certified organic Arpico natural latex, which is recognized as the industry's standard for quality.

Is Latex Recyclable?

A natural latex mattress is constructed with recyclable materials like botanical foam. Depending on which type of latex mattress you bought as well as what other materials were used in the construction of your mattress, it should be 100% recyclable.

At a minimum, you should be able to recycle most of your mattress, which can still significantly reduce the effect on local landfills when you're ready to dispose of it.

You'll find local recycling centers in most communities that will recycle your old mattress. You can call the waste management facility in your area to learn where the mattress recycling centers are in your city. You'll also want to inquire about curbside services.

What About Sleeping Positions?

Many individuals prefer one of a few sleeping positions, and fall asleep on their back, stomach, or side. Try and determine how you fall asleep, and the position you find yourself in when you wake up.

  • Side sleepers frequently need the most pressure relief because pressure points often build up in their hips and shoulders. Otherwise, they may end up waking up with back pain, if their spine should slip out of its alignment, or stiff joints. The ideal mattress for side sleepers typically has a soft to medium feel to it to offer you more conforming and pressure relief.
  • Stomach sleepers are at risk for spine misalignment when sleeping in this position. When you're lying on your stomach on a soft mattress, gravity typically will push your stomach into the mattress. This could overextend your spine. The best bet is a firm mattress for stomach sleepers, which can decrease the chances of sinkage.
  • Back sleepers should purchase a mattress that provides them with enough firmness to offer consistent back support, but is still soft enough that it molds to their back's curves. The mattress should provide a medium-to-firm feel for back sleepers.

If you're a combination sleeper, you likely move between a couple of these positions, or all three as you're sleeping. Material responsiveness and motion isolation are essential in a mattress when you're a combination sleeper. This allows you to shift positions easily without disrupting the sleep of your partner.

FAQs

1. Can Latex Mattresses Cause Allergies?

According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, up to 50 million individuals have allergies. This is equivalent to one in five people living in the United States. While certain individuals when exposed to latex do develop latex allergies, a natural latex mattress's latex doesn't come into direct contact with your skin. Therefore, there's less of a chance of you developing a latex allergy from the mattress.

But, if you already have a latex allergy you already know about, you should call your physician to go over any risk factors of latex, whether you're sleeping on it, or even just owning a natural latex mattress. 100% natural latex mattresses are naturally hypoallergenic.

2. Is a Latex Mattress Susceptible to Bed Bugs?

Although natural latex is bed bug resistant naturally because of its dense construction, there's no such thing as a mattress being totally bed bug resistant. But, if you're taking preventative measures of avoiding bed bug exposure, and you own a natural latex mattress, it will be easier for you to avoid a bed bug infestation in your bed.

3. Can Latex Mattresses Make You Sick?

Although certain individuals find opening up their new latex mattress produces a slight vanilla-like smell, natural latex mattresses shouldn't make you sick, unless you're allergic to latex, and you come into direct contact with it.

When you own a PlushBeds natural latex mattress, the mattress is 100% natural latex, pure natural wool, and organic cotton to ensure no harsh substances inside.

4. How Long Do Natural Latex Mattresses Last?

It's not uncommon for all-natural latex mattresses to last well over a decade. Many offer comfortable support for more than 15 years — some even 20 to 25 years. This is due to the rubber being great at bouncing back into shape when you climb out of bed. PlushBeds offers you a 25-year warranty.

Because blended latex mattresses also contain some synthetic materials, their lifespan isn't as long as natural latex mattresses.

5. Does a Latex Mattress Smell?

If your latex mattress contains any synthetic materials, you could notice a chemical smell when you initially take your mattress out of the box. This is due to off-gassing. Off-gassing is where volatile organic compounds (VOCs) start breaking down at room temperature. Typically, this odor goes away after about a week.

An all-latex mattress might have a vanilla-like smell to it for the first several nights. Some people have said the organic wool component of the bed (common in latex mattresses) has an unpleasant animal odor to it.

If you notice a rubbery or musty odor to your mattress, you can encase it in a waterproof mattress protector, which doesn't just keep liquids out, but also odors.

6. Does a Latex Mattress Harbor Dust Mites?

The nature of latex mattresses makes them uninviting to dust mites, helping to not only eliminate the chances of your mattress becoming filled with dust mite debris, but also helps to decrease the risk of asthma attacks and allergic reactions that frequently occur from dust mite exposure, or from being exposed to the debris they leave behind.

7. Does Mold Grow on a Latex Mattress?

A natural latex mattress is naturally mildew and mold resistant. But, this doesn't mean mold can't grow on latex mattresses. It only means it's unlikely for mold to grow on them, if you properly use and care for them. It is recommended that a latex mattress not be placed directly on the floor.

8. What's the Difference Between Natural Latex and Synthetic Latex?

Latex mattresses aren't all 100% natural. Synthetic latex could be constructed of a variety of materials, but are usually constructed with a specific type of plastic known as Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR), which is used commonly as an alternative for natural rubber. This plastic is frequently used for children's artificial turfs, and it's a "safe" chemical, but there is controversy surrounding it.

Synthetic mattresses probably won't have the durability of all-natural latex mattresses, either. They also won't have the same springiness that many people look for in natural latex mattresses.

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