Natural Latex vs. Synthetic Latex Mattresses

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With so many options from which to choose, a mattress purchase can become a confusing or daunting task. Among the myriad choices, albeit more expensive than traditional mattresses, latex types are popular because they are hypoallergenic, durable, dust mite resistant, water repellant and biodegradable. Now, consumers just need to determine if they should get a natural latex mattress or a synthetic latex alternative.

Benefits

  • Unlike conventional mattresses, latex alternatives are breathable, keeping owners warmer during cold temperatures and cooler during the warmer season. Latex mattresses minimize pressure points by conforming to a person’s body shape and afford better slumber by absorbing movements.

    There are additional benefits to using natural latex mattresses instead of synthetic latex. Natural latex mattresses have no polyurethane foam, which is made with carcinogenic chemicals that are emitted into the air as the foam breaks down, plus other cancer-causing toxins such as formaldehyde or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (boric acid). Additionally polyurethane foam does not resist moisture, making for a suitable haven for dust mites, mold and mildew.

Types of Latex

  • There are two types of latex. Natural latex is free of any manmade materials. On the other hand, synthetic or blended latex can be wholly or partially comprised of chemicals and petroleum with a similar cell structure. Synthetic latex lacks the proteins found in its natural counterpart. Scientists developed polymer-based latex during WWII. At that time, supplies of natural latex from the Far East were limited, necessitating a synthetic version.

Production Methods

  • Latex is produced using the Dunlop or Talalay methods. Utilized since 1929, the Dunlop method is the traditional manufacturing process that entails whipping the white latex secretion in a centrifuge, which is then poured into a mold, covered and baked. Dunlop layers are a bit firmer on the bottom side where natural sediments have settled. Using the Talalay method, latex is poured into a mold, sealed, continues in a vacuum and then flash frozen to stabilize the material. With a more consistent cell structure throughout, Talalay latex commands a higher price than Dunlop types.

History

  • The rubber from latex mattresses come from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand. At one point, Brazil provided the rubber tree?Hevea Brasiliensis. However, Brazil no longer plays a vital role in the natural rubber trade. Instead, seeds were exported from the Amazon to London, UK where the seeds were germinated and exported to countries such as Sri Lanka and Singapore. The technique of tapping latex from the rubber tree eliminated the need to cut them down just for latex extraction. Tapping entails carefully cutting the bark of the rubber tree to allow the flow of the white milk-type juice secretion without damaging the tree.

Tips

  • To extend the life of a latex mattress, make sure the box spring has solid support.

    Rotate the mattress every few months. Flip it over twice yearly for even wear.

    On average, the mattress should last from 7 to 10 years. However, with proper care, a latex mattress could even last over 20 years.

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