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Latex foam has been available in mattresses for more than 70 years. The following information provides a brief background about latex and the specific advantages it offers.
Latex foam is an excellent choice for those seeking a durable, supportive sleep surface. Latex foam conforms properly to body shape, providing correct spinal alignment. Latex foam has the potential to be very durable, when made to a high quality standard by brands such as Green Sleep and Sleeptek.
Natural rubber is a polymer of isoprene, and is sourced from the milk of the rubber tree. Typically, a few percent of other materials, such as proteins, fatty acids, resins, and inorganic materials are found in high-quality natural rubber.
Synthetic latex is made from petrochemicals, styrene and butadiene. This means the synthetic variety of latex differs greatly when compared to natural rubber. As most latex foam sold in Canada is synthetic or synthetically blended, it is very important to know the differences when comparing.
Natural latex is made from the milk of the Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). We prefer to refer to this variety of foam as natural rubber. Natural rubber is up to 500% more resistant to dust mites and other allergens than common synthetic foams. Natural rubber is also a renewable resource.
Natural rubber is significantly more elastic than full synthetic or blended latex foam. This means it is able to stretch more without breaking. This elasticity is the basic foundation of what makes natural rubber so desirable. Natural rubber is better able to conform to body shape and is more resistant to compression, meaning it is more durable than synthetic or blended latex.
Did you know most latex is marketed as natural when in fact it isn't? Simply stated, there are no rubber trees here in North America. It's far more economical to craft synthetic latex from petrochemicals called styrene and butadiene. Our suppliers including Green Sleep and Sleeptek offer only natural rubber, and not synthetic latex.
Green Sleep and Sleeptek natural latex varieties are tested approximately every two years by Eco-Institut, and among many other tests, they also look at the polymer content: (NR = natural rubber, SBR = styrene-butadiene synthetic rubber)
The example above shows a snippet from the latest Green Sleep certification. As you can see, Green Sleep only uses genuine rubber tree hevea milk, and not synthetic (SBR) latex.
Want to learn more? The entire 23 page report on Green Sleep rubber purity is available here. (PDF - 3.4 MB)
The simple fact is that Eco Institut testing is the only standard recognized on a global scale and only with this certification do we know without doubt the true content of the latex foam.
Synthetic latex is created from petrochemicals. It is known as Styrene-Butadiene-Rubber. Sleep products will feature either natural or synthetic latex, or a combination of both.
It is important to note that because natural latex is a polymer of isoprene, synthetic latex is actually very different from natural latex. Thus, the performance of synthetic latex is not on a level comparable to natural rubber.
Most latex foam products sold in Canada are of the synthetic or synthetic-blended variety. Our offerings are either 100% natural rubber tree latex or they are a blend of 30% natural rubber tree latex and 70% synthetic latex and every latex product we offer is clearly marked to distinguish the difference. We feel this labelling is vitally important.
With the Dunlop Process, air is beaten into the liquid Havea milk to form the wet foam. This material is then steamed to vulcanize the rubber. Subsequent to stripping, the foam goes through a thorough washing and drying process. Green Sleep's proprietary Dunlop process incorporates an injection moulding process similar to Talalay, combining the purity of Dunlop and the consistency of Talalay.
With the Talalay process, the basic foam is cast into an aluminium mould, which is only partially filled. The aluminium mould is then closed and a vacuum is created. The foam is then frozen to -30 degrees Centigrade which ensures preservation of the round cell structure. This creates a consistent, open cell structure which ensures durability and allows airflow. It then goes through a similar stripping, washing and drying process to that of Dunlop latex.
Many latex foam makers tout Talalay as being "new" or "special." The Talalay process has in fact been around since 1940, nearly as long as the Dunlop process.
Latex fillers are fine particles of chemically inert materials such as calcium oxide, China Clay (Kaolin clay) or titanium dioxide. They are used in low quality latex foam production, as they can greatly reduce the cost of producing latex foam.
Using fillers destroys the hypoallergenic properties of latex, which severely limits the health benefits that latex foam normally provides.
Price is typically a very good indicator of what you're getting when comparing latex options. When in doubt, do not hesitate to ask the salesperson or the store to show you documentation on the latex composition. Eco Institut in Germany is the de facto standard in natural rubber testing.
Although latex allergies are cause for concern, the type of latex foam used in mattresses and pillows is incredibly safe. Latex is a touch allergy, which means you have to come in direct contact with it to have a reaction. All of the natural latex products we offer are covered, ensuring no direct contact.
The Mattress & Sleep Company offers a unique buy-back programme on all natural latex products we sell. In the highly unlikely event of a documented medical reaction, The Mattress & Sleep Company will issue a full refund on the purchase price of any natural latex products proven to cause an allergic reaction.
This is untrue. Talalay simply refers to one of the processes for creating latex foam. The actual source material can be either natural latex, synthetic, or a blend of the two.
The vast majority of Talalay latex foam is synthetically blended. The blend percentage is often in the range of 30% natural rubber tree milk and 70% petrochemical (styrene-butadiene). Natura Organic Series models do offer a Talalay option where the polymer content is 100% rubber tree milk.
Ironically the other myth we commonly encounter is that all Talalay latex is natural. This is again untrue. Most Talalay latex is a blend of styrene-butadiene and rubber tree milk. There are of course options such as the Natura Organic Series previously mentioned, where the entire polymer content is made up of rubber tree milk, meaning this would be considered natural. When rubber tree milk is blended with styrene-butadiene, even in small percentages, we simply do not consider this a natural foam.