Latex Mattress Reviews 2023: Non-Toxic Alternative To Petroleum Based Foam Mattresses?
A Natural Latex Mattress Is Hypoallergenic, Contains No Chemicals, Repels Dust Mites And Microbes, All While Offering Superb Back Support. Read our latex mattress reviews to see which brands we recommend based on pressure and pain relief, comfort, and support.
If you’re looking for a mattress that doesn’t sink and offers buoyant, uplifting support, and is more effective at relieving pressure points, it might be time to consider switching to a natural latex mattress option. I personally tested, analyzed, and rated some of the best selling latex mattresses sold on the web- so you don’t have to.
My latex mattress reviews are backed with 25 years of industry experience, designing and manufacturing my own line of latex mattresses, so I search for the best quality natural latex used, where companies source their latex, the configuration of the layers, density, textiles used in outer coverings and in comfort elements- I even evaluate shipping reliability, warranties, trial periods and performance by various companies after you buy your mattress.
Natural Latex Mattresses are truly the only chemical free, non-toxic material that you can sleep on. I get a lot of questions from people with chemical and fragrance sensitivities, allergies, and compromised immune systems.
Because of its hypoallergenic properties, it’s often the last option available for people who can’t cope with the off-gassing and fumes often associated with memory foam mattresses and other all petroleum based foam beds.
An article in Medical News Today explains the differences between sleeping on natural latex vs. memory foam and warns about the off gassing problems posed to sensitive individuals.
Natural latex, unlike synthetic polyurethane foams commonly used in mattress making, has inherent antimicrobial properties, which means it naturally resists the growth of microbes, such as bacteria, mold, and mildew. There are several reasons why natural latex exhibits these antimicrobial properties:
- Latex Composition: Natural latex is composed of a unique blend of organic compounds, including proteins, starches, and oils. These compounds, along with the physical structure of latex, create an environment that is inhospitable to many types of microorganisms.
- pH and Moisture Regulation: Latex has a slightly acidic pH level, typically ranging between 4 and 5. This acidity helps inhibit the growth of microbes, as most microorganisms prefer a neutral or alkaline environment. Additionally, natural latex has the ability to regulate moisture by wicking away excess moisture and promoting better airflow. Moisture control is crucial in preventing the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria, as these organisms thrive in damp environments.
- Allergenic Protein Reduction: One of the reasons latex is naturally resistant to microbes is because of its unique proteins, which can have an antimicrobial effect. However, some individuals can develop allergies to these proteins, known as latex allergies. To minimize the risk of allergic reactions, latex used in mattresses typically undergoes a thorough washing process to remove a significant amount of the allergenic proteins, making it safe for most people.
It’s important to note that while natural latex has inherent antimicrobial properties, it is not completely immune to microbial growth, but offers relief for many people suffering with allergies by calming their immune systems. Regular cleaning and maintenance are still necessary to keep the mattress clean and hygienic. This means making sure you do things like maintain a clean mattress protector, and washing your sheets and pillow cases frequently.
Additionally, if you have specific concerns about allergies or sensitivities, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider.
chemical free natural latex is hand collected as a liquid then converted to solid form
To make a natural latex mattress, pure botanical latex in liquid form is collected on sustainable plantations, typically in Asia, South America, and Sri Lanka. Trees are tapped by hand by the thousands, and the liquid latex is harvested, poured into large vats, then trucks transport the raw latex “milk” or “sap” to nearby production facilities that process the latex.
To be converted into conventional mattress sized “cores” that are about 6″ thick, the liquid latex is whipped with bubbled air create a frothy mixture.
The mixture must be rapidly heated with steam to prevent scorching, and the liquid mixture converts to a solid material in a process called vulcanization.
This is the same process used to make most rubber products, including automobile tires, latex exam gloves, and rubber compounds used in various industries.
The liquid latex rubber is poured into what resembles giant Belgian waffle irons with multiple pins that rapidly spread heat to cause instant solidification without burning the latex.
There are actually two different methods of latex processes, one of which is called The Dunlop Method, and the other called The Talalay Process. Each is similar, but Talalay latex involves a flash freeze step that instantly suspends much smaller air bubbles in the mixture just before it is solidified under intense steam pressure.
You’ll see Talalay latex being marketed as superior, however my personal opinion is that they both feel so similar that it would be difficult to tell them apart unless you were an expert. We’ll get into some more in-depth detail below, if you want to learn more. You can also check out more resources about natural latex on our site here.
WHY A NATURAL LATEX MATTRESS IS HEALTHIER, SAFER, AND BETTER FOR YOUR BACK
Many people have had serious skin reactions from memory foam and other petroleum based foam products that contain formaldehyde, heavy metals, VOC’s (volatile organic compounds that emit fumes), and other substances.
Did you know that natural latex is the only bedding material that resists dust mites, mold, and mildew? Due to its acidic pH, many harmful organisms simply cannot live inside, or even near, a pure botanical latex mattress. the catch is, though, that you have to make sure you are buying a pure natural latex mattress, and not one that contains a synthetic, so-called latex, made from SBR, or styrene butadiene rubber- a petroleum based compound.
Natural latex has more springiness, faster response time, and won’t cause your spine to bow or arc, unlike memory foam mattress, or really hard polyurethane foam mattresses.
Because natural latex rubber is spongier but also springs back fast, it tends to push upon your body and has a floatation like effect, which also means less pressure on your back, neck, hips and shoulders.
Natural Latex Is 100% Plant Based, Is A Sustainable Product, And Can Last 50 Years
Because it is a plant based, natural material that contains no petroleum based products, botanically derived natural latex has become one of the most popular options for bedding, especially for folks who are looking for the healthiest mattress they can find.
There are dozens of companies selling latex mattresses, but how do you choose the right one? Why would you buy one vs. a conventional mattress like an innerspring, or a memory foam mattress? And which brands are better than others?
Read on to discover everything you need to know about latex mattresses, and we’ll arm you with all of the information you need. I’ve seen latex mattresses make a roaring comeback in the last few years, and I mentioned, I think a lot of it has to do with consumers searching for mattresses that are cleaner and greener, made using safer ingredients that don’t contain petroleum base ingredients.
It’s also an extraordinary material too, being highly responsive, cradling and soft without that sinking in sensation that memory foam delivers, it’s resistant to dust mites, mold and bacteria, and it’s very sturdy, not prone to bucketing or depressions. Natural latex, especially, outperforms almost every other kind of foam with regards to durability and lifespan.
A natural latex mattress is not built like conventional foam mattresses. Instead of using a block of inferior polyurethane foam as the foundation or underlying support layer, the entire mattress is made using successively softer layers of pure latex from bottom to top.
Firmer layers beneath help establish the lateral pressure distribution that spreads weight and load sideways rather than in a hard, downward, pinpoint direction. This is why sleeping on conventional mattresses create pain.
We all know the feeling of the railroad spike poking us from below. A natural latex mattress eliminates this sensation and results in deeper, restorative sleep.
The best benefits that a pure, botanically derived mattress can deliver are unique to the material, and you won’t get these benefits with any other kind of mattress. Pure latex is naturally anti-microbial, resists dust mites, mold, and mildew, because of the acidity of latex, and the scent, which smells more like baked goods to humans, sends microbes, dust mites, and mold spores running for cover.
In fact, the video below will reveal how a block of pure latex rubber looks after 50 years, with no mildew, mold, discoloration, or even loss of texture and squishiness a half-century later.
Because of its unique cellular structure, latex foam does not compress, ever over long periods of time. It retains its wonderful springy and buoyantly spongy qualities for decades longer than synthetic foams, making it the most durable material available for bedding use.
It won’t turn yellow, which is a by-product of oxidation, and it won’t spill or dry out over extended periods of twenty years of more. Ever open a couch cushion and notice the yellow crumbs and the brown edges?
As shown in the photo above, side sleepers love a natural latex mattress because it fills in void areas that most other mattresses don’t support, forcing your muscles to cantilever all night long like a suspension bridge holding up a long span of concrete (your back) The result is pain and muscle soreness upon awakening.
Truly, natural latex is the most pain-relieving and naturally supportive material whether you are a back, side, or even a belly sleeper!
And, a natural latex won’t rot or dry out over time like other foam mattresses. Check out this video, filmed by the Arizona Premium Mattress Company, that shows a fifty-year-old natural latex mattress being cut open. It’s almost unbelievable to think that after half a century, the pure latex foam inside is still in perfect condition.
Interestingly, latex mattresses have in fact, been around since the 50’s, and many Americans grew up on Sears latex mattresses, which were carted home by the millions as the baby boomer generation was coming of age.
It can be synthetic, a blend of natural and synthetic or all natural, but in any form, it is bouncy, elastic, stretchy, yielding, and you don’t get hot, and you don’t have to dig your way out of it.
Latex mattresses offer excellent pressure relief, and distributes weight loads laterally, or sideways, rather than straight down. That’s what provides the unique, signature floating like sensation you feel with pure latex.
It’s excellent for side sleepers, back sleepers, or belly sleepers, because it pushes up against your body rather than permitting it to sink, it doesn’t sleep hot, and is the best pressure relieving sleep surface imaginable.
You can buy natural latex or the synthetic variety, and they tend to be indistinguishable, although folks looking the botanically derived variety can find it several places online.
A pure, botanically derived latex mattress, or a natural latex mattress, also has many added benefits that petroleum based mattresses do not. Natural latex is anti-microbial, repels dust mites, will not turn yellow and begin to crumble over time like polyurethane foam beds will always do, and will not develop indentations or ruts over time.
Best of all, you won’t have to deal with that chemical smell often associated with non-latex mattresses. Years ago, natural latex was expensive, but thanks to new plantations and better technology for processing the liquid latex harvest from the rubber trees, the prices for pure latex mattresses have slowly dropped over the last few years. So why buy a chemical bed, when you can get a safe, clean, eco-friendly mattress that won’t make you sick?
DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT LATEX MATTRESSES AND WHY THEY RELIEVE PAIN
While we’re talking about hazardous substances used in mattresses, I would say that the greatest concern when you buy any mattress has to be the use of toxic adhesives, which set very rapidly, rather than drying slowly, because in high volume production operations where you are stamping out hundreds of mattresses a day, efficiency and minimal time invested means more money to the manufacturer.
Pure latex mattresses can be laminated using water based adhesives, which do not contain formaldehyde, VOC’s, or heavy metals. They take some skill to work with, but when you buy a natural latex mattress, you should buy it with a clean adhesive, as well. When we ask for samples for our latex mattress reviews, we typically steer clear of hazardous products.
In the end, I think that latex is really about the most comfortable sleep surface out there – supportive yet cushy at the same time. It also does not sleep hot, a real problem with many consumers. It is great for side sleepers with painful joints, perfect for back sleepers, since it does not have the wet sand feel of memory foam. It doesn’t mash down like quilted innersprings and other mattresses stuffed with poor quality foam layers or other filler.
Latex has much more of a buoyant, uplifting quality to it than other materials, which keeps you from having to dig your way out of a rut or gulley when you want to turn over on your bed.
For quality of sleep, Natural Latex allows you to effortlessly roll from side to back or side to belly, which prevents disruption of natural sleep patterns. Side sleepers, or people who toss and turn tend to sleep much more deeply in consistent REM sleep, because latex properly supports and distributes weight, relieves pressure points by spreading load horizontally rather than downward like cheap urethane or high density slab foams, increasing pressure and pain.
And, if you buy a pure latex mattress from a smaller, boutique vendor without a lot of overhead, you’re going to get a better bed, because they don’t need to compensate all of the middle men, distributors, and factory reps, who drive mattress prices through the ceiling. The big foam mattress companies also have limited warranties and return policies, too, another red flag.
Latex is made using a very unique process called vulcanization, meaning using steam to rapidly solidify the liquid foam into the wonderful, jiggly solid version. We’ll get into the nitty gritty on that below.
How To Shop For A Latex Mattress…What To Look For
If you start shopping for a latex mattress, you’ll want to know a little bit about foam density to feel a bit more confident when talking to sales people. The unit of measurement which gauges the softness or firmness of natural latex is ILD (Indentation Load Deflection), which is a term that’s tossed around a lot, but don’t be intimidated by it, as it is the one tool you can use to compare one manufacturer’s mattress to another.
It basically is the amount of weight it takes to depress a piece of latex one inch when one square foot of weight is placed on it.
Most manufacturers use natural latex ranging from 18-19ILD for a softer feel (especially the top layers), and 26-30ILD, for a firmer feel on the bottom, but often manufacturers use combinations of various layers to create more specific sensations of support. Many times, these ingredients and their combinations are trade secrets with many companies.
Two Options: All Latex Top To Bottom, Or Hybrid Version With Latex And Pocket Coils
An all natural latex mattress can be more expensive than conventional options because of the increased cost of botanically derived latex which has to be imported.
It is only grown and processed in specific climates, and has to be hand made. The individual “core” layers are then shipped to manufacturers in the USA for assembly into specific models, each of which has various performance qualities, and degrees of softness or firmness.
Natural latex can be created in an array of densities by controlling the amount of air that is bubbled into the mixture during the solidification process.
Latex hybrid mattress options are becoming increasingly more popular and I’ve tested and reviewed several that offer the highly responsive, bouncier feel you get with latex, along with the support you need with a pocket coil suspension.
For couples, bigger bodies, and for intimacy, a natural latex hybrid is a great option. Edge support is generally improved quite a bit with a hybrid version as well.
We’ve included several below in our list of best natural latex options. Generally, they are a little less expensive than the 100% all natural top to bottom versions since you save on the cost of multiple layers of natural latex.
Also, many people get concerned about allergies from being exposed to latex. Synthetic latex and natural latex both tend to be hypo-allergenic, and far more people have negative responses to urethane (memory) foams that latex, because of chemical sensitivities rather than allergy issues.
And, there are now companies who are creating mattresses designed to be more price sensitive by offering a hybrid mattress, which will have a section of latex on top as the comfort layer, and a supportive base layer which provides the foundation for the mattress.
Though we generally recommend a pure latex mattress that is made without coils or other types of foam, there are a few excellent latex and coil combinations, including The Nolah 11″ Latex Hybrid Mattress. Because of the popularity for hybrid mattresses that offer better support and longer lifespan, mattresses using natural components adds to their features and benefits.
On a hybrid version of a latex bed, the supportive base layer is typically a piece of stiffer polyurethane foam, which doesn’t offer the top to bottom elasticity and buoyancy that a pure latex mattress offers, but they are typically less expensive. If you want the total experience, and you want to get the uplifting and levitating effects that latex can offer, it’s worth paying for a 100% natural, or pure, latex bed.
Our latex mattress reviews focus on options that coach you to buy a mattress that contains as much botanically derived latex as possible. If you can opt for an all latex mattress, you’ll reap the benefits for decades to come, including the anti-microbial, anti-dust mite, and anti-fungal qualities that only botanical latex can offer.
BUY A PROPERLY MADE MATTRESS, NOT A BAG FULL OF PADS THAT SHIFT CONSTANTLY
Very importantly, I recommend a company that laminates or glues their layers together using a non-toxic adhesive. Many companies employ a scam which is quite deceptive, when selling their latex beds – they sell an unglued mattress which contains several layers that stack one on top of the other, so you can “switch out the layers” to get different feels and combinations. Cheaper to make, cheaper to sell.
It all sounds good until you get this bag full of layers of latex delivered, stack them inside the accompanying bag, and sleep on it for a few nights. You’ll find yourself unzipping the cover, and constantly restacking and realigning the layers because of shifting during the night.
I suggest buying a finished product. I’ve read a lot of complaints about these kinds of beds, and because latex is highly flexible and stretchy, it only makes sense to buy something that is properly glued together to prevent migration and shifting.
BUY FROM A COMPANY THAT GIVES YOU A DECENT TRIAL PERIOD AND A ROCK SOLID WARRANTY
Since there are so many choices on the web selling latex mattresses, it all comes down to a few things to consider- but without a doubt, the best choice, usually has something to do with a money back trial. Most companies now offer them, typically 90 or 180 day trial periods. Look for a company that gives you the longest amount of time, and allows you to return the mattress for whatever reason, without questions.
Pure Natural Latex avoids many issues related to the use of poor synthetic substitutes. Natural Latex allows you to effortlessly roll from side to back or side to belly, which prevents disruption of natural sleep patterns.
Side sleepers, or people who toss and turn tend to sleep much more deeply in consistent REM sleep, because latex properly supports and distributes weight, relieves pressure points by spreading load horizontally rather than downward like cheap urethane or high density slab foams, increasing pressure and pain.
Harvest from a tree called Hevea brasiliensis, the raw, liquid latex is converted to solid form using a unique technique, called vulcanization, which employs massive Belgian Waffle style machines using steam to rapidly solidify the liquid foam into the jiggly solid version.
The Dunlop Method of Latex Processing
The most time tested and standardized technique is the Dunlop method, which yields a more supportive and slightly firmer latex, ideal for bottom layers that provide underlying support. The Dunlop method of solidifying latex has been around for 60 years, and you can find Dunlop mattresses still out there today that are in perfect, factory like condition.
The newest technique, called the Talalay process, is essentially the same general technique, except it includes a flash freeze step which suspends smaller air bubbles in the mold immediately before it is rapidly heated to solidify the latex, resulting in a slightly softer, but equally supportive feel. Ideal for those top comfort layers and provides a softer, cushier, and wonderful velvety finished feel.
Also, many people get concerned about allergies from latex, especially latex. Both synthetic latex and natural latex both tend to be hypo-allergenic, though the pure, natural version is ideal, and because it is typically rinsed with drinkable water and squeezed multiple times after it is manufactured, the small, powder size latex proteins that cause latex allergies are washed away, making it the perfect hypoallergenic sleep surface.
Understanding The Difference Between Talalay And Dunlop Latex
Our latex mattress reviews make shopping for pure latex mattresses a bit easier, especially considering there are far fewer options than the mass produced synthetic foam beds that are now flooding the marketplace. You’ll find that there are two different “types” of latex. Keep in mind that they are made from exactly the same sources.
Liquid latex is tapped from rubber trees, collected and transported to large facilities where the liquid rubber is heated up in what looks like a giant, steam powered Belgian waffle press, where it is vulcanized into a solid. The solid form is the finished product, and retains its jiggly, giving, buoyant, and uplifting characteristics that make it so desirable.
Dunlop latex is the most tried and true method of making latex cores, or the rectangular blocks that are cut into various sizes. It is converted straight from liquid to solid, rinsed, squeezed, and then sent off for production. Talalay latex starts out the same way, but the ovens are equipped with a flash freeze apparatus that immediately solidifies the latex after it has been vulcanized by steam into its solid form.
This allows for greater control over the bubble size that forms in the Talalay material, thus allowing the manufacturer to better control the densities and formulation. That is why Talalay makes a better top layer, or direct body contact layer, since it can be of varying precisely controlled densities.
Dunlop latex, because it is the battlefield tested variant of natural latex (as shown in the above video) make an ideal base layer to the perfect latex mattress.
Also, there are now companies who are creating mattresses designed to be more price sensitive by offering a hybrid mattress, which will have a section of latex on top as the comfort layer, and a supportive base layer which provides the foundation for the mattress. These are also worth looking at, though, if you can spring for an all latex mattress, since you get more of the good stuff top to bottom.
Buy From A Company That Gives You A Decent Trial Period And Warranty
Since there are so many choices on the web selling latex mattresses, it all comes down to a few things to consider- but without a doubt, the best choice, usually has something to do with a money back trial. Most companies now offer them, typically 90 or 180 day trial periods. Look for a company that gives you the longest amount of time, and allows you to return the mattress for whatever reason, without questions.
Typically, there may be a small return fee, of $50 -100, which is fair, since the retailer has to pay someone to come to your house and pick up your mattress.To sum it all up, here’s a quick bullet point list that will help you quickly determine what to look for to help you get the best deal on a pure, plant based, all natural latex mattress:
Make sure you are offered a decent return guarantee, at least 90 days.
Get a latex mattress with a breathable outer cover, like cotton or bamboo.
Buy a latex mattress that uses non VOC adhesives to avoid fumes and toxins.
Get a respectable warranty, I’d say at least 15 years, with 5 years minimum free replacement if the mattress fails in any way.
Consider sites that offer true third party reviews that link to outside sources.
Buy from a site that is at least 10 years old- many sites go out of business in 2-3 years, and then you are stuck with a warranty that is useless.
Preferably, buy a pure latex mattress with a Dunlop base layer (so it’ll last 50 years!) and a Talalay latex top layer or layers.
- Buy a latex mattress that is top to bottom latex with no synthetic foam base, to insure you get the maximum benefit all the way down, and don’t bottom into something that will break down over short periods of time.
If you do consider a Hybrid, made using a combination of latex and synthetic foam, make sure the warranty covers it for 10 years or more to protect you against the failure of any non-natural components.
Most importantly, find a company that has strong BBB ratings, preferably an A rating, with good third party reviews. If you have chemical sensitivities, allergies, or are prone to get headaches caused by fragrances or odors, a natural latex mattress, top to bottom, might be your best choice. Migraine sufferers also tend to do very well on a latex mattress.
Why You Should Consider A Pure Latex Mattress…From An Industry Veteran And CEO Who Designed And Sold Latex Mattresses For Decades
If you’ve just your quest for the perfect mattress online, you’re probably looking at a lot of foam beds, including the big name “bed in a box” brands that chase us all over the internet, on social media, and even to our offices and homes. One think you may not notice, that I do, from being in the bedding business for more than 20 years, and inventing and designing, then marketing and selling dozens of foam beds online myself, is that they are kind of all the same.
A big slab of polyurethane foam on the bottom, padded with a really cool mint green layer of memory foam, which is still polyurethane foam, and then another layer of “graphite infused” cooling gel foam, which is, you guessed it, yet another slab of polyurethane foam. There are probably 50 of them that are prominently featured in search results on Google, and they basically all feel the same.
Did you ever consider that all of these beds are made from petroleum based materials, and are glued together with a petroleum based adhesive? Wrap it up in a polyester cover and you’ve got what I call the perfect chemical bed. I’m not going to say they are toxic, though in my years selling pure latex beds I spoke to many people with allergies to synthetic foam, formaldehyde based adhesives, and smell sensitivity, who would tell me often, “I had to return my polyurethane mattress because it was making me sick and giving me hives”.
If you are sensitive to chemical smells, or breakout in strange rashes when exposed to bedding products, synthetic clothes, and you are looking for a safe, clean, “non-toxic” mattress. I urge you to consider an all natural latex mattress.
There are a few different reasons behind the rising interest in all natural latex mattresses. One theme we hear is from people interested in a “green” mattress option. This can include those that want a mattress made of all natural ingredients, those wanting to buy a mattress made from sustainable materials, or those that want to assure that their bed isn’t off gassing any unnatural materials into their bedroom.
And while there are other materials that offer some of these “green” qualities, such as organic cotton or wool, none of them have the same buoyant and elastic characteristics that a latex mattress offers. Cotton mattresses, much like futon mattresses, pack down over time and get much firmer, and while wool makes a very nice comfort layer, you still need a good mattress “core” or base, to layer the wool on top of.
Others find Natural Latex interesting because of its hypo-allergenic, anti-bacterial, and anti-dust mite qualities. These organisms do not thrive in natural latex, and it’s the only bedding component that has these amazing qualities. Almost everyone is allergic to dust mite feces and egg casings, which accumulate on polyurethane mattresses by…you got it, the millions. The only dust mite free sleep surface is an all natural latex mattress.
And finally, there are a fair amount of people that just haven’t been able to find a comfortable bed. Since all of the popular polyurethane foam beds basically feel the same and do not offer anywhere near the pressure relieving qualities and buoyancy and levitating feel that only pure latex offers, why are they even considering them as an option? Often they have specific pain issues they are trying to address, but others have tried all sorts of other mattress options and just can’t get a good night’s sleep.
And the truth is, that despite all the hype in the industry about latex, it really is a great option for these different kind of customers. There is no “greener” mattress than an all natural latex mattress, and it can be a very effective choice for those that have chemical sensitivities or other allergy concerns.
The most important reason latex has become the current “hot” product, though, is that it is a uniquely comfortable sleep surface. Latex is both a very dense surface, but also because of its elastic properties, still has a yielding, giving, and conforming quality. So for those that just haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep or have unrelieved pain issues, a latex mattress is a top of the line alternative that has a very different feel, offers unparalleled comfort and support, that may well do the trick.
ALL LATEX MATTRESSES AREN’T CREATED EQUAL
Be warned, though, that not all mattresses called “latex mattresses” are the same. How can this be? Well, it is a long story that boils down to this – synthetic latex was created during World War II (to help deal with shortages of the natural latex needed for the war effort), and these days a mattress is considered latex regardless of whether it is made of natural latex (made from the sap of the rubber tree) or of synthetic latex (made from petrochemicals), or more commonly a mix of synthetic and natural latex (referred to, in the industry, as a “blend” of latex).
Why should you care about this? Well, if you are interested in a latex mattress because of its “green” or natural properties, you would want to make sure that the “latex” mattress you are looking at is made of natural, plant derived latex (rubber tree sap) and not chemicals.
Further, while natural and synthetic latex may look the same under the microscope, in real life they have somewhat different feels and, some claim, differing levels of durability (although, to be honest, I’ve heard the natural and synthetic latex purveyors both argue that their product is more durable, and not having a degree in chemistry I just don’t which side has the more compelling argument).
SO WHAT DO I RECOMMEND? FOR BOTH COMFORT AND A CHEMICAL FREE SLEEP, GO WITH NATURAL LATEX
After looking at a variety of natural and synthetic latex mattress offerings, based on pure comfort I strongly prefer natural latex. I’ll be honest with you though, when you start to look critically at latex you step into very deep water. While I’ve mentioned the basic difference in latex, natural vs synthetic, you also get into how the latex was actually manufactured.
There are two methods, the original Dunlop method, which is the longstanding, traditional method and primarily used for making natural latex, and the newer Talalay method, which is primarily used for making synthetic latex (although, to add to the complexity, you can find some natural Talalay latex, but a real premium price to natural Dunlop latex).
Without trying to put you to sleep, here is a very short description of how latex is made — understanding this a bit will make you much more informed consumer and give you a much better understanding of just what to look for when buying a latex mattress.
REVIEW: HOW NATURAL LATEX IS MADE
Natural latex is collected in liquid form by hand, then poured into large vats where it is filtered carefully to remove particulate matter. It is then poured into large molds, emulsified with water and air bubbles, then it is slowly heated and vulcanized, a process where the liquid latex rubber converts to a flexible, solid state.
As I mentioned above, there are two methods of vulcanization used to produce solid latex. The oldest technique, and the most time tested, is the Dunlop method, which yields a more supportive and slightly firmer natural latex. The newest technique, called the Talalay process, is essentially the same general method, except that it includes a flash freeze step which suspends smaller air bubbles in the mold immediately before it is rapidly heated to solidify the latex, resulting in a slightly softer, less supportive feel.
Here’s my bottom line: natural latex made using the Dunlop method has a somewhat firmer and more buoyant feeling that Talalay latex. And since Dunlop latex is less expensive than Talalay, you get a cost savings as well. So for these reasons, I prefer my latex natural and Dunlop. One caveat: you can get a bit of the best of both worlds if you make a combo mattress with a core of Dunlop and a top layer of Talalay (the Dunlop “core” gives you the good support and basic comfort, and the softer Talalay top gives a softer, more luxurious feel, right up next to you).
OTHER ADVANTAGES OF NATURAL LATEX
Another plus of natural latex is that it doesn’t sleep hot, and dust mites and other microbial organisms do not thrive in the material due to its unique organic properties. Natural latex is also durable, resists packing down, and forming body impressions as well. Because of its buoyant and highly elastic qualities, it allows you to easily roll from side to belly or side to back, which prevents disruption of natural sleep patterns.
Why, then, with all these benefits of natural latex, do most mattress manufacturers use cheaper synthetic latex in their mattresses, or blend natural latex with the less expensive synthetic latex? There aren’t any real benefits to synthetic latex over natural that I found to the user (although some manufacturers claim synthetic latex is a bit more resilient). And there are a lot of detriments (synthetic latex isn’t made of natural ingredients,
I like the consistency and feel of natural rubber over synthetic, natural has anti-bacterial and other hypo-allergenic qualities, etc). The bottom line is cost. It is just less expensive for manufacturers to make a latex bed using synthetic latex or a blend of natural and synthetic than an all natural latex mattress.
By the time the mattresses are sold to the consumer, though, there isn’t a whole lot of difference in price between the synthetic or synthetic blend latex beds and the all natural latex beds (just better margins for the manufacturers by using synthetic latex). But since there is a real difference in the comfort, hypo-allergenic and eco-friendly properties of the mattresses, I believe that all natural latex mattresses are by far the superior product and a better value.
HOW TO SHOP FOR A LATEX MATTRESS
Ok, so in a nutshell, here are my 8 Bullet Points to consider when shopping for a great latex mattress. These are the important considerations you should be looking for to get a decent deal on a well crafted latex mattress.
I prefer 100% natural latex over synthetic or blended beds — natural latex just has a livelier, more responsive, and has more elastic qualities than the synthetic or blended mattresses. Natural latex just has a more comfortable feel. In addition, natural latex, is durable, resists packing down and forming body impressions. It offers other advantages that the synthetic Latex doesn’t have, such as the naturally anti-dust mite, anti-mold and anti-mildew qualities, the hypo-allergenic qualities, and it is a chemical free bed that will does not off gas.
Look for simplistically designed, uncomplicated natural latex mattresses. This will minimize problems with shifting layers and migration of contents. Avoid mattresses with excessive zones or “cut up” designs.
Dunlop natural latex on the bottom, Talalay natural latex on the top, if you are going to go for a mattress with multiple layers. The Dunlop layer provides a good foundation or substrate layer, offering support, while a Talalay latex top layer offers a luxurious feel to the mattress.
Look for a breathable outer covering, preferably a wool blend that contains no chemical fire retardants. Also, the covering should not be excessively thick or quilted, so that you remain in close contact with what you are paying for…latex.
Buy from a reputable company, with easily accessible, independent third party reviews, so you can read what other people are saying who have already purchased latex mattresses from this company. That way, you can avoid the litany of trials and tribulations I often hear about from people who have spent a lot of money on a mattress, only to find that if it isn’t working out for them they have no recourse.
Search for genuine reviews on third party review sites, like Google, or TrustPilot, or SleepLikeTheDead.Com, and not fake review sites.
Most natural latex dealers also have great organic fabric coverings, like bamboo, organic cotton, or blends of New Zealand wool. Hemp is now becoming more popular as a fiber used in mattress encasements or ticking.
Look for a solid BBB rating, generally A or A+ and make sure you can click on the image to go directly to the BBB.org page.
I hope this sort of thing never happens to you, but I hear all the time from people that have had a bad experience with mattress retailer and/or company — and feel they have been really taken advantage of. Sometimes it is that they can’t get their money-back from the retailer for their brand new mattress that, unfortunately, just isn’t working out for them.
To late they learned that most retailers offer no comfort guarantee, and those that do offer something offer only an in-store “merchandise credit” — less a return cost, etc. And since there is often not another mattress at that store that really is of interest, all too often this is just lost money.
So please, don’t fall into these sort of traps that other customers have fallen into. Look for third party verification of a mattress retailer, so you know upfront if this is someone who will take care of you, and not fall back on the “standard of conduct within the mattress industry” that may leave you high and dry.
After my own disappointing experiences with mattress manufacturers (not living up to their agreement, shutting down operations suddenly with no provision made for past customers, etc.), I can only urge you to try to look for this sort of third party verification of a retailer before you spend what can easily be thousands of dollars on a new latex mattress. If it doesn’t work out for you, or you have warranty issues, it is really important that you picked a dealer that will make things right so you don’t end up getting stuck.
Look for a solid warranty, at least 10 years, with full replacement guarantees for at least several years. A reputable dealer will back up their product. You should be able to easily obtain a copy of the warranty.
A trial period that allows for returning the mattress should you decide it just doesn’t work for you. At least 60 days, preferably 90 or more, is a respectable time frame to give you time to evaluate a mattress thoroughly.
Freebies and extras that encourage you to buy, are nice to have. Latex pillows and other products that further enhance your mattress will only add to your experience.
Think about buying an all natural latex mattress..for your health.
Benefits You’ll Get From A Natural Latex Mattress You Won’t Get From A Polyurethane Foam Bed…
Latex is a natural material that comes from the sap of the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) and possesses elasticity unlike any other substance that can be formed into a configuration suitable for sleeping on. It is this elasticity which allows the mattress to conform pleasantly to your body shape.
Those who have slept on a latex mattress report that it feels wonderfully soft at first touch, but ‘firms up’ as your body settles deeper, giving the body full support. It is no surprise then that many people with musculoskeletal ailments such as back pain find relief with a latex mattress.
Side sleepers who need to be slightly nestled to be supported comfortably also claim that only latex delivers this kind of quality. Back sleepers claim it allows for just the right amount of hip immersion to relax muscles in the lower back to eliminate back pain and allow muscles to rest properly.
WHY SO MANY PEOPLE ARE HARD CORE FANATICS ABOUT NATURAL LATEX
A latex mattress offers you many benefits and a high quality sleep experience that you just won’t get with any other kind of mattress, explaining its popularity. The first of these benefits is its unique balance of soft and buoyant comfort with proper support for your spine. Only latex lifts you from the surface of a bed, providing a floating sensation that can only be described as “levitating”.
A latex mattress is also naturally resistant to dust mites, mold, mildew, and bacteria without the use of added chemicals, and this benefit is very appealing. Why? The pH of natural latex is acidic, naturally deterring these organisms from establishing a foothold as you sleep.
Also, excellent air circulation is provided by the open-cell natural structure of latex and by pinhole patterns purposefully created during manufacturing. This allows for good breathability, resulting in a comfortable sleeping temperature. This is important in warm humid climates such as that of Singapore.
The superb body pressure distribution properties of latex mattresses are also frequently recommended by medical professionals such as chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths as a way to counteract backaches and muscle-aches. An additional benefit of a latex mattress is that it does not transmit movement easily, meaning that if you sleep with a partner, you won’t feel their movements on your side of the bed.
Lastly, it is important to note that latex mattresses are one of the most highly durable mattress types available. If you are going to be purchasing a mattress, it makes financial sense to purchase one that will last you for a long time. In fact, expect latex mattresses to last up to ten times longer than a conventional polyurethane foam mattress such as the big selling brands on the web today.
WHAT TYPE OF LATEX MATTRESS DO I NEED?
While these questions could each require considerable further discussion, there are some generally accepted guidelines. When it comes to all-natural latex vs a blend with synthetic latex, the all-natural is considered the better option if you strongly believed in buying products with its raw material derived from nature. However, a synthetic-natural blended latex mattress is not necessarily inferior to a natural latex mattress.
To achieve the perfect combination, as well as consistency for both comfort and support, some leading manufacturers continue to produce synthetic-natural blended latex mattresses. Just like when shopping for a new natural latex mattress, make sure that the synthetic-natural blended latex mattress you are buying has also undergone various stringent tests and has achieved certifications of international standards – such as Oeko-Tex, Eurolatex, LGA and Morton Thiokol – to certify that the latex core excels in elasticity and durability, and does not contain any harmful substances.
Likewise, when comparing 100% latex vs latex containing other materials, the 100% latex is considered better. This is mainly because the ‘other materials’ typically consist of polyurethane foam as part of its mattress core, which tends to off-gas or emit an unpleasant chemical smell. Moreover, 100% latex mattress enjoys all the advantages as explained above.
The Dunlop and the Talalay processes refer to the two alternative ways that the latex is processed to create mattresses. In that instance, there is no ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’ option, but instead the two methods simply result in different mattress properties.
The major difference you should be aware of when shopping is that the Dunlop process tends to produce a firmer mattress while the Talalay process creates a softer mattress. There is no right or wrong. Ultimately, it comes down to which mattress feels most comfortable for you.
HOW CAN I BE CERTAIN OF FINDING THE PERFECT LATEX MATTRESS?
With the different types of latex mattress described above, you may be thinking that finding the perfect mattress sounds complicated. Fortunately, all you have to remember is that your comfort is the key. You can only do this by trying out the mattress yourself. Reputable mattress dealers, both online, and in brick and mortar settings, will allow you a free in-home trial of your mattress for up to 100 days, which helps ensure you find the perfect mattress. If the mattress does not suit you, you can change it out for a softer or firmer one, for example.
You spend more time on your mattress than on any other piece of furniture, so it’s worth it for you to explore your options when mattress shopping. Don’t feel rushed into making a purchase. Ask questions, a reputable mattress seller should be properly knowledgeable about the product he or she is selling.
Regardless of whether you are simply replacing an old mattress, looking to relieve back pain, or seeking to enhance your overall wellbeing, a latex mattress will leave you feeling refreshed and rested.
What I Learned After Designing My Own Pure Latex Mattress For 15 Years As A Manufacturer
I spent years refining and perfecting my own natural latex mattress line, and my companies were vacuum packaging, rolling and shipping “bed in a box” pure latex beds long before companies like Casper, Purple, and others were even created.
For one, I was very particular about sourcing only the finest botanically derived latex, and avoiding the use of synthetic latex, called SBR, short for Styrene Butadiene Rubber, which is petroleum based. I strove to offer a purely natural bed which contained zero VOC or petroleum based compounds.
In 2007, I launched a lineup of three models, and my customers loved the clean, green, wonderful bouncy and elastic feel of my mattresses, which we sold in several thicknesses. Even the glue that was used to lightly attach the layers of my Habitat lineup together, was water based, and not a formaldehyde based glue. I eventually added pillows, topper pads, and all kinds of bedding accessories that were also clean, green, eco-friendly and natural.
Today’s bedding and mattress options are a far cry from what they were even a few years ago. You can buy a polyurethane foam mattress with a really cool outer fabric and a mascot, and feel like you’re joining a club when you today’s biggest selling beds.
Most of these companies are less than five years old. Polyurethane foam doesn’t last forever. When I asked a CEO with one of the big bed in a box foam mattress companies at an industry expo recently whether quality really mattered anymore, the answer he received was deafening.
“Doesn’t matter any more. I can sell a queen mattress for $850 and if it mashes and compresses and folds up around the user, they’ll simply toss it and buy another mattress, maybe a different brand with a really cool logo and character on the box..but I’ve made my money”, came the response.
As incredible as it seems, buying a really high quality mattress like a pure latex bed is almost off the radar, and admittedly, a purely botanical latex bed, for a decent queen model, does cost more, around $1400 or so. Marc goes on.
“Pure latex rubber is collected by hand, hand poured into large steam ovens that solidify the ingredients. It is heavier than cheap polyurethane foam.
It requires more labor to move it, and more dollars in freight to get it to your door. But, it’s naturally anti-microbial, anti-dust mite, anti-fungal, and cannot be imitated by any other kind of foam on earth.
It spreads weight sideways, like pizza dough being spread across a pan, it offers support without being too hard, you tend to float on it, rather than get swallowed by it. In short, it’s magical”.
Only a handful of purveyors online offer a truly all botanical latex mattress. There is however, a huge following of natural sleep product owners who wouldn’t sleep on anything other than a chemical free mattress. “You can tell the difference between a pure latex bed, and a stiff polyurethane foam mattress that has a dead feeling. There is simply no comparison”, he adds.
When it comes to bedding materials, latex is quickly becoming a favorite among quality mattress manufacturers, and the reason is simple: latex and latex alternative foam combines the contouring of memory foam with the responsiveness of an innerspring. The result is a bedding material that eases pressure points while supporting spinal alignment… win-win! But even after you’ve settled on a latex or latex alternative mattress, there’s still plenty to decide on, including this common question: natural latex vs. blended latex vs. synthetic latex vs. latex alternative – which is better?
The answer comes down to two things: personal preference and cost. Depending on what factors are most important to you (eco-friendly materials, budget, and comfort preferences for example) there may be one or two that stand out among the rest.
But despite the differences, all types of latex and latex alternatives are very safe – even for those with a latex allergy! Now down to the nitty-gritty… understanding exactly what each type of latex is, and how it relates to the feel and price.
Natural Latex vs. synthetic or blended latex: a big deal?
In the past few years, natural latex has slowly grown in popularity among mattress manufacturers because it is chemical-free and contains no synthetic, petroleum based ingredients (that is, no SBR, or Styrene Butadiene Rubber). That said, natural latex might be superior in terms of eco-friendliness, but that also means its generally the most expensive way to get a latex bed. However, pure, botanically derived latex feels vastly different that synthetic, or even blended versions. The more natural the mix is, the more lively, bouncy, immediately responsive, and supportive the mattress will be.
Under the natural latex umbrella there are two methods of “cooking” the latex, or converting the raw material in liquid form to a vulcanized, solid form: Dunlop and Talalay. As we have mentioned, they’re very similar, but have noted differences both in feel and in price. Dunlop is more limited in its selection since it has a more simplified production process, and generally feels firmer and more bouncy.
Despite it having a more limited range of softness, its higher density makes it more durable, and it tends to last longer than its softer counterpart. You can refer back to the video above which shows how pristine a 50 year old Dunlop latex mattress remains after almost a lifetime. Talalay comes in a variety of firmness levels and feels softer and less “springy” than Dunlop latex, which many sleepers prefer despite its higher cost.
Blended Latex- the most common kind of latex used in mattress production…
Blended latex is the most commonly sold latex in North America; it contains a combination of natural Talalay or Dunlop and SBR or synthetic latex. Blended has the best of both natural and synthetic latex; it’s more durable than natural Talalay latex, has fewer chemicals in its production, more firmness options, and a better overall firmness consistency.
Blended latex can have up to 7 different firmness levels, and is less expensive than most purely natural latex options.
All blended latex has a certain ratio of natural and synthetic mixed in. Generally these ratios are proprietary to a mattress manufacturer, so it’s unlikely you’ll get your hands on the information easily. That said, the majority of companies will have between 60/40 or 70/30 synthetic v. natural latex.
A decent indicator of the ratio is this: the more natural latex you have, the higher the price will be. The sacrifice you make will be that a blended bed will feel less lively and bouncy, and have a less responsive feel that pure botanical latex, but it just might be undetectable enough to be worth the difference.
Synthetic Latex- not natural, but the least expensive version
Synthetic latex, which is made with SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber,) a petroleum based compound, is primarily used to blend with natural latex. This is because SBR used in synthetic latex has some superior properties compared to natural latex, such as the ability to resist heat aging, abrasion resistance, and softening. However, the trade off is pretty strong.
You’re not going to get a bouncy, lively, and immediately responsive sensation. It will feel more like memory foam or a high density polyurethane foam. Pure natural latex is a bit more fragile than synthetic but as long as you handle it carefully and it is kept inside of a protective covering, it’s the luxury of natural latex that rises above all else.
With purely synthetic though, you do get a wide variety of firmness options owed to being able to control the mix during the solidification process.
At the end of the day, the contouring properties and responsiveness of latex is what makes it such a sought-after bedding material – but modern advancements in foam technology means that there are plenty of options that feel a whole lot like latex without the costly price tag. But, there is no real substitute for the amazing feel of pure, botanically derived natural latex.
BEST LATEX MATTRESSES 2023 – OUR TOP PICKS – LEVITATING, RESPONSIVE, NO SINKING, SLEEPS COOL, ALL NATURAL
We reviewed it, slept on it for weeks, and our boss took it home. Simply the best Natural Latex Mattress we’ve seen. Cushy, immediately responsive support, reduces pressure substantially at shoulders and hips. For couples, great for snuggling in the middle with no digging your way out.
Individually pocketed coils for excellent edge support. Organic cotton, organic wool, and sustainably sourced pure botanical latex. Ten year warranty, 120 night trial. Two free “squishy” pillows you’ll fight over. $1199 in queen. The reviews on this mattress destroy the competition..consistently rated 4.9 out of 5 by actual owners.
We love the quilted top piece on this natural latex and individually pocketed coil hybrid. Using GOTS certified latex, organic cotton, and organic wool, it’s a tad firmer than a typical natural latex mattress paired up with coils.
At 11″ tall, the queen version runs $1079, and you’ll get free shipping, 15 year warranty, and 90 day trial- with free returns. We like the label on this mattress, which discloses every singe ingredient in the mattress. Hand built in California, we’ve known and followed this company for almost 20 years.
A great option, excellent for back sleepers, and we found that it fills in little pockets and void areas very effectively.
Pure botanical latex, GOTS certified, uses 100% natural cotton cover, 100% natural wool fire barrier, all at a reasonable price. The mattress is reversible offering two firmness options, medium firm or medium plush.
Overall thickness is 9”, you’ll get a 120 night in home trial, a 20 year factory warranty, and their bed is completely made in the USA. Marc’s comments: They focus on delivering top drawer latex at controlled pricing.
Flippable, so two beds in one. Good call on this bed-no frills, but super low pricing option. Queen: $1099, no springs, just pure latex.
For the money, you essentially get two mattresses in one. There’s no formaldehyde, heavy metals, or other harmful agents in this mattress, so ideal for immune compromised individuals.
This outstanding natural latex hybrid bed is stuffed with clean, chemical free ingredients and owners love them. You nest upon a breathable organic quilted top, and beneath you, your body floats on 4” of botanical Dunlop latex.
Individually pocketed coils suspend and hover you above the base layer of medium high density foam that won’t break down.
Delivered with 365 day no questions asked trial and FOREVER warranty! Now, how cool is that?
At 12″ tall, and filled with a 3″ layer of organic latex, this luxury latex hybrid contains a pocketed coil system topped off with a hand tufted Euro top quilted organic cotton cover. Five ergonomic zones, I found the shoulder and hip pressure relief to be outstanding. $1895 in queen.
A 365 day trial, lifetime warranty, and free in home setup service underscores the appeal of my favorite online luxury mattress brand.
Probably the cleanest, greenest, and safest bed you could buy. Made using only the finest natural and organic materials, including GOLS organic certified latex from tree-tapped sources, 100% GOTS organic certified wool and 100% GOTS organic certified cotton. To you, that means no-off gassing, or ghastly chemical textiles.
Note that this mattress is a bit more expensive, because it’s made top to bottom with pure latex only-no springs, no polyurethane foam. Queen $1299.
Made in California in their own factories, a purely American company. The latex used is imported from India, collected by hand, and is the silkiest and smoothest botanical latex available.
If you are looking for zero synthetic materials in a mattress, this option is worth considering. Great company I’ve known for years. You can choose from 9″ or 10″ options with nothing but organic cotton, wool, and botanical latex.
You also get free sheets, pillows, and mattress protector. One of a handful of all natural, hypo-allergenic, truly chemical free mattress options left out there.
Choose either medium feel or medium firm, with yielding pressure relief and subtle bouncy feel. Left my hips and shoulders pain free when I tested my sample. Worth the money.
At 10” overall thickness, top to bottom pure latex with no synthetic foam components at all, is just $1799 in queen size.
This is a unique mattress that you customize at home to create the perfect feel and level of support. The only latex mattress of its kind offering individual comfort preferences!
Shipped with three individual layers, allowing you to assemble the mattress in soft, medium, or firm. Organic outer cover, no glue, wool pad pillowtop. Solid 10 year warranty, 365 day no questions asked trial period. Pure dunlop, no synthetic SBR rubber.