Everything About Latex Mattresses
What is Latex?
Latex is a natural form of rubber. It’s a versatile material used in a variety of applications in bedding; the latex derivative is highly conforming. It’s made by processing the sap from a rubber tree, and it results in a very neutral sleeping surface. Latex mattresses also offer a more responsive, traditional feel with better support compared to others.
Compared to memory foam, latex does not exhibit any “memory” characteristics as memory foam. Natural latex has an advantage if you prefer a more traditional yet highly conforming feel. It also poses a unique benefit or those with decreased mobility. Unlike some memory foam – which requires body heat to “activate” – latex mattresses offer a more consistent feel and are made of a temperature neutral material. Additionally, latex mattresses have a higher resistance to body impressions and caving.
Springs, due to the size and surface area serviced by each one, are inherently inferior to the conforming and contouring characteristics of a latex mattress. Moving from springs to latex, you’ll feel a much higher level of pressure point relief. Furthermore, a latex mattress will have a much longer lifespan than an innerspring mattress.
What is organic latex rubber made from?
Rubber trees (Hevea Brasiliensis) which are produced in vast fields primarily in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. By tapping the tree, a thin layer of bark is removed in a small area which allows the raw material to flow into a receiving container. To keep the rubber sap from coagulating (forming clumps a small amount of ammonia is usually added to the collection containers as a stabilizing agent. Without this, the material wouldn’t be in a suitable form for processing.
This is where latex production differentiates itself from rubber production. To make latex the raw material is sent to a processing station. There, it’s strained to remove particulates and then concentrated. After that, the latex is placed in a centrifuge to help further concentrate the rubber by removing some of the water. At this point, the latex will be made into what you’ll find in a mattress with the dunlop or talalay processing method which includes vulcanization.
History of Latex
The process of vulcanization was first patented by an inventor named Thomas Hancock on November 21, 1843.
The process involves using sulfur during vulcanization to help stabilize the resulting product and increase durability. This addressed the foremost concern of rubber and latex products in that period.
The addition of sulfur modifies the rubber polymers by forming crosslinks between the chains. With the crosslinks, the resulting vulcanized materials have a more durable structure and are less sticky. Other types of products made from this process include tires, shoe soles, and hoses. Without the vulcanization process, the rubber or latex would be very sticky, deform easily, and become brittle in cold weather.
Since then, there has evolved two different processing methods for latex mattress material. Both include the initial use of sulfur with the addition of catalysts and anti-degradants to help accelerate and improve the level of crosslinking during production while preventing degradation of the vulcanized product.
The talalay process is more consistent densities and end products. Due to the improvements in the process, gelation reagents (used in the dunlop process to raise viscosity is not needed.
The latex is aerated to produce bubbles to give a spongy feel. Once aerated, the solution is frozen to -20°F quickly to help maintain the consistency throughout the foam. The speed of freezing prevents the chance of bubbles migrating toward the top of the layer which would otherwise result in an uneven distribution of firmness. During the freezing process, carbon dioxide is introduced into the mixture to form carbonic acid (lowering the pH from 10 to 7). This change in pH causes the foam to “gel” in place. After the freeze, the latex is exposed to high temperatures (230°F) for a time, usually 60 minutes. The foam is then washed and dried to remove residual moisture.
The dunlop process is different from talalay in that it does not include the vacuum chamber and the flash freezing process. Without these two steps, the latex made from this method tends to feel Less Springy to the consumer. But it tends to have less buoyancy creating an excellent feel, the best way to describe this: Talalay latex with its more buoyancy has a light, springy feel, whereas the dunlop has more of a Stable Creamy feel This is because the dunlop process doesn’t incorporate the flash freezing process. Also, the dunlap latex offers "Organic certification; this is where our dunlop process is considered better.
Natural vs. Synthetic Latex
There are two types of latex, natural & synthetic. The difference between synthetic and natural latex begins with the origin of the compound. Natural latex is from the sap of a rubber tree while synthetic latex is created in a chemical lab. The result is a natural rubber compound that is processed and rinsed to leave behind a hypoallergenic latex mattress. Some latex mattresses have a blend of synthetic and natural latex. This is adequate for most consumers. However, the best results tend to be a natural latex product.
Natural vs. blended Latex
Natural latex does not contain any latex that is derived synthetically. In contrast, blended latex contains a mixture of both natural and synthetic latex (usually ~80% synthetic and ~20% natural). Blended latex also accounts for the majority of latex produced (around 70%). If in doubt, ask the question, “Is the latex 100% natural or is it any part of a blend?”
Natural vs. organic Latex
The word “organic” is used to define a product or material that is harvested from farms that do not use fertilizers and other additives that help growth and resist insects or fungi that cause damage to the crops. While it may be possible to have organic latex before production, the benefits are minimal when considering that, during the manufacture of both “organic” and natural latex, a variety of the same chemicals are introduced and washed away. Essentially, the result is nearly identical.
Types of Latex
The two kinds used in mattress manufacturer is
talalay & dunlop, the processes which are used to make the dunlop and talalay latex.
Dunlop is the traditional process, which has been advanced over the last ten years which marks a change in improved consistency and a wider range of firmness ratings.
Those suffering from latex allergies must understand that it’s the proteins in the latex that cause the allergy. When the latex goes through a process of vulcanization (exposure to high heat), the proteins experience denaturation. The denaturation results in the loss of secondary and tertiary structure thereby altering its characteristics. An example of this process can be seen when cooking egg whites. The reason they solidify and become firm is that the proteins that exist in the egg whites are denatured.
How to choose the right firmness
Indentation Load Deflection (ILD) is a measurement used to describe the stability /support of latex.
A higher ILD number is firmer, whereas a lower number is softer. Firmer samples of latex have an ILD nearing 40 -50 while a softer sample has an ILD nearing 19.-22 This can be interpreted into the feel of the mattress. For example, a mattress made of latex with an ILD of 19 will be much softer and allow you to sink further into the mattress. You’d be sleeping more “in” instead of “on” the mattress.
Customized layer firmness is an advantage of a well-designed latex mattress; the ability to highly customize each top and supporting layer satisfies very specific comfort needs.
Does thickness matter
No, you can sleep comfortably on a 6" Latex mattress as well as a 9' inch mattress the 9-inch mattress will feel slightly plusher having more buoyancy.
A thicker mattress allows for a more customized feel and additional cushioning.
A thinner mattress offers fewer customization options and cushioning.
Benefits of an Organic Cotton Cover
The benefits of organic cotton A healthier product to a minimized effect on the environment,
You can feel good about purchasing a mattress that uses a cover made of organic cotton. Nearly all fabric used for bedding covers is woven (vs. non-woven). Non-Woven fabric is ideal for this application because it maintains the contouring characteristics of the material underneath by stretching. Woven fabrics do not offer the same level of contouring since the fibers are usually kept together with a hot melt adhesive.
Ultimate comfort customization
Naturelle offers a broad range of comfort levels. Manufacturing our latex mattresses gives us the edge over other internet retailers. Why limit yourself? Other retailers only offer single firmness beds that facilitate one sleeping preference. Every latex mattress we carry through Naturelle is available in four different firmness levels for the ultimate in comfort customization. Have a request? We'll accommodate it; your bed is custom built. Give us a specific height and firmness (ILD), and we'll take care of the rest.
Wool as a flame retardant
at Naturelle we DO NOT use synthetic fire retardants in our mattress covers
Instead of using a mixture of chemical sprays or less environmentally friendly polypropylene, wool can be used as an effective fire retardant. Most organic wool comes from either New Zealand or Australia. In addition to its excellent temperature regulating abilities, wool is static and fire resistant. It’s also renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable. Essentially, wool is healthy for the environment, pets, baby, and yourself.
Bonded vs. floating Layers
Bonding latex layers require the use of chemical glues. (Not Good) Typical adhesives used include spray or hot melt glue. The types used for this purpose are pressure sensitive adhesives (PSA) and make use of an elastomer in combination with a tackifier. The most common PSA used in mattress construction is Styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS).
Instead of bonding the layers, we recommend allowing them to float atop each other inside the mattress cover. Due to the surface area and weight of each layer, the movement is minimal and not noticeable. The mattress cover is made to be capable of keeping them aligned. A benefit of floating layers includes the ability to switch a single layer for another should the mattress require a slight comfort adjustment.
Can you use your existing foundation?
You can use your existing foundation with a new latex mattress so long as the following is true:
It has a uniform and flat surface.
It has a rigid structure and does not incorporate the use of springs.
It is still structurally sound (no cracks, splinters, or breaks in the supporting wood).
When should you replace?
Typically a foundation requires replacement after approximately 8 -10 years, sometimes earlier. If in doubt, it’s best to invest in a reliable substitute.