Published on May 2nd, 2013 | by tmgadmin0
How is a latex mattress created?
In order to understand how a latex mattress is made we first need to understand what latex is. Essentially it is a mixture of water, fats and a creamy white liquid, which is composed of rubber particles from either natural or synthetic sources. Much like you would whip egg whites to form the meringue, this latex mixture also gets whipped into a foam and then processed to create the latex material used in beds. All natural latex comes from rubber trees and is simply just mixed with water and non-toxic agents that aid the foaming process. This makes the bed natural, free of harsh toxins and petroleum products, and hypoallergenic.
The Creation of a Latex Mattress
- The first step consists of taking liquid latex, frothing it into a foam and pouring it onto a mold.
- Talalay latex is made in pressurized molds and the air is vacuumed out. This in turn makes all of the cells consistent shapes and sizes. It also aids in the distribution of the liquid foam throughout the mold, resulting in a more consistent feel. Dunlop latex is poured into non-pressurized open molds.
- Most mattresses in the latex category are made in molds with rods that go through the foamed rubber material. These will eventually become the air vent holes, but also serve to aid the cooling and heating process. In Dunlop foam, the foam is vulcanized (heated) to set it. In Talalay foam, the material is flash frozen to preserve the cell structure then heated.
- After setting and curing, the latex is thoroughly washed to remove any trace residues or impurities. Dunlop material is typically washed once and Talalay material is typically washed 5 times.
- Next, the latex foam is dried either by air or heat and left to cure a set number of days.
- Finally, the mattress layers are assembled according the retailer’s specifications, often with a latex core and one or more upper latex layers for enhanced comfort. The layers might be glued together depending on the manufacturer, then the bed is encased inside a cover for a finished appearance and packaged.
If you prefer a more visual explanation of this process, latex mattress retailer Astrabeds.com produced an animated video showing how their 100% natural Talalay latex mattresses are made. The video is embedded below:
Benefits of Natural Latex Mattresses
Now, in addition to the distinction between Talalay and Dunlop latex, there are also variations between 100% natural, natural, blended and synthetic latex. 100% natural latex is that derived from nature, from hevea trees. Synthetic latex is man-made from chemicals to resemble the natural product. Blended latex is a mix of both, and latex can also be called “natural” when it contains a portion of natural latex (sometimes even as low as 30%). Synthetic mixes often contain petroleum products, and detract from many of the benefits offered by natural latex. We recommend beds made of 100% natural latex based on the following benefits.
No Odors or Harmful Chemicals
One of the first things people notice about a natural latex mattress is that it does not emit the harsh smells that most memory foam mattresses have upon unpackaging. This is because memory foam mattresses are usually petroleum-based products with a wide range of odorous chemicals used in the foams and adhesives which break down and cause odors, much like new paint and materials in new vehicles.
With an all natural latex mattress, you will not introduce unbearable chemical smells to your bedroom, or be required to air out the mattress for 24 to 48 hours like with many petroleum and polyurethane based mattresses. However, synthetic latex and synthetic blends of latex are not immune from these issues. Mattress adhesives also contain some of the most concerning chemicals and volatile organic compounds, so opt for a natural bed with unglued layers if this is a concern for you.
Latex material offers a resilient surface that supports the sleeper and prevents pressure points simultaneously. It does not require foam core or spring support systems like other materials, rather latex is capable of offering gentle contouring and buoyancy that cradles sleepers and supports alignment. Unlike memory foam, this material responds instantly to movements, ensuring you never feel stuck in bed. It is also good at preventing motion transfer between partners, and the pin-core design keeps air flowing freely.
Durability & Longevity
Eventually many innerspring and memory foam mattresses tend to sink in where sleepers spend the most time. This is simply because of the weight of the sleeper and nature of the materials. Soft foams and fibers compress overtime and lose resiliency. Quality latex mattresses, especially those made with Talalay process foam, are very durable and can last 10, 20 even 30 years without compromising comfort. The average spring mattress, on the other hand, lasts only 5-7 years. Latex also tends to outlast polyurethane foams in terms of impression resistance and firmness. If you opt for an unglued bed, you can also swap out individual layers down the road rather than buying an entirely new bed.
Latex Mattresses are Eco-Friendly
A natural latex bed is about as Eco-friendly as you can get. The product comes from mother nature, is minimally processed, and does not leach harmful toxins into the environment. Today, a majority of latex plantations use sustainable harvesting methods because they are good for business. Manufacturers that use this process tap the latex sap from living trees which continue to grow and clean the air, and new trees are planted to replace old ones. Because the beds prove durable, they will also need to be replaced less often, thus creating less waste. And, at the end of its lifespan, this material is both recyclable and biodegradable.
Latex is also dust mite and mold resistant and antimicrobial, meaning little critters do not enjoy nesting in your latex mattress. Dust mites cause severe allergies in those who are allergic, and traditional mattresses are havens for them due to large open spaces and hospitable materials. Even those who have latex contact allergies have reported no known cases of reactions to latex foam rubber in mattresses. This is because the proteins on latex (the allergy source) are removed during the manufacturing and washing processes.
Are there any Drawbacks to Latex?
Although latex does have numerous benefits that set it apart, there are few factors some consider drawbacks. Arguably the biggest complaint among customers, when it comes to latex mattresses, is the weight of the mattress itself and the cost.
But why are latex beds so heavy? Quality latex foam and latex mattresses are made with dense and thus heavy material. Innerspring beds contain wire springs and plenty of open space which decreases the weight, and polyurethane foam mattresses typically have lower-density cores which reduce weight. Even so, a latex mattress can still rotated and maneuvered by two people.
As far as costs go, latex can be more expensive than low and mid-range innersprings and some memory foam mattresses. Natural materials tend to be more expensive to source and the production of Talalay foam requires more labor. Both of these factors raise the cost of latex when compared with polyurethane or springs, however the material’s durability means your mattress will not need to replaced as often. Furthermore, the latex beds have become much more affordable in recent years, and today many brands are on par with quality spring and foam mattresses.
Latex mattresses were initially created for royalty, though in the last few decades the technique has been perfected and made affordable enough for the average consumer. Latex continues to gain popularity with shoppers as we seek out greener and more sustainable products. From trees to your bedroom, few other mattresses can match the eco-friendliness, healthiness, durability and comfort this type of bed offers. Overall a natural latex mattress is one of the best choices if you are looking for a good nights’ sleep that won’t harm you or the environment.