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Most of us have heard of latex before, but do we really know what it is?
If you don’t, that’s OK.
On a very basic level, latex mattresses are a natural and durable but pricier mattress option.
Latex foam is derived from the sap of the Rubber Tree – Hevea Brasiliensis. A native plant to rainforests in the Amazon, this tree is now found in Southeast Asia and Western Africa.
Some people even call it the “sleeping tree sap” or “latex tree”.
Latex Mattress Benefits
As with all foam, latex is also able to isolate movement, provide pressure point relief and support the spine to stay in natural alignment during your sleep.
What makes latex unique and coveted is its:
- natural ability to ward off dust mites and mold, making it the healthiest option – a huge advantage in humid climates
- open cell structure to allow consistent air flow, so you’ll never sleep hot
- long-lasting durability
- speed to take and regain shape – memory foam slowly conforms to your every curve, whereas latex is quick to indent to the general shape of your body (I guess this could be a pro or a con, depending on how you look at it)
How Long Does a Latex Mattress Last?
That depends on so many factors like what’s in the latex, how often do you use the bed, how much weight do you put on it normally, how well you maintain it, among other factors.
As a general reference, 100% natural latex bed can easily last for 20-30 years.
A Talalay latex mattress, which cannot be 100% natural (keep reading to find out why!), can still last a good 7-10+ years, like a regular mattress.
Downside of Latex
The only two downsides are:
- heavier than other foam
- pricer due to the manual labor process of collecting the tree sap
Can some genius please invent a way to automatic it so we can get the cost down already?!
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Dunlop vs Talalay
There are two methods to process latex:
The foam to air ratio is higher, hence the density is higher, which means it’s typically more firm and lasts longer.
It also requires less processing, so it’s more eco-friendly.
Historically, Dunlop’s firmness has been known to be inconsistent, but with advanced technology, that’s no longer an issue.
The air to foam ratio is higher, so it’s able to better conform to the body.
You WON’T see “100% Natural” or “GOLS certified” Talalay latex because a large amount of air and synthetic materials are added to achieve that “luxury” soft feel.
Typically, it’s more expensive because it takes 4x as long and uses 5x as much energy to produce.
In the market today, most mattresses will use both to form a latex bed – Talalay on the surface for a softer feel and Dunlop underneath for support.
For the cool geeks out there, check out this video on how is latex made!
Latex Mattress Allergy
It’s pretty rare.
You probably don’t have too much to worry about.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, <1% of people in the US are allergic to latex.
It’s the protein in the natural rubber that triggers allergic reactions, ranging from mild eczema to the more fatal anaphylactic shock.
Well, you know what they say.
The best treatment is prevention! So avoid it if you know you are allergic.
If you can’t live without your latex bed, opt for Talalay.
The Talalay method is 4x as long as Dunlop because it has 5 rounds of washing.
It’s also not 100% natural latex (there’s some synthetic material in it), maybe that’s why there are fewer reports of allergy responses.
Some allergies develop over time and by repeated exposure.
Tricky, I know!
If you get any signs of itchy, red spots on your skin, it’s time to chat with your doctor and get an allergy test done.
Impression Load Deflection – What’s That?
Impression Load Deflection (ILD) measures the amount of weight needed for the foam to sink 1″ below the mattress surface.
Basically, this tells us how hard or soft the latex foam is.
ILD and density have a positive relationship – the higher the ILD, the denser (read: firmer) it is.
So, if we are comparing 18 ILD with 24 ILD – the first one is softer.
Makes sense, yes?
It’s not easy getting this certification!!
Having the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certification means the latex contains more than 95% certified organic raw material.
GOLS also governs the entire cycle from manufacturing to processing to packaging.
They require annual inspections, as well as separate storage from regular latex material. This strict regulation makes sure the product is safe, natural and sustainable for me and you to use.
Now you know if a product has the GOLS label on it, it’s the real deal!
Wrapping up here, I’ll leave you with a tip!
A good one that I got from a legend of a mattress salesman. If you ever are choosing a hybrid mattress with latex in it, know this!
“The most important parts in a hybrid are 1) the coil system – this is the support, 2) the latex layer – this is the softness and comfort, and 3) the quilted cover – this is the surface that your body comes in contact with. The rest you don’t really feel.”