What is a Latex Mattress?

what is latex?
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Photo: Sleeponlatex

Published Michael Goodwin ⋅ Review Editor
November 19, 2022

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4.6/5 - (24 votes)

Latex mattresses are increasing in popularity. They have been called the new memory foam, and it is easy to see why –  in many ways, the two types of mattresses are very similar; however, there are many distinct differences. In this article, I set out to examine latex mattresses in detail. First, I will discuss how they are made, the different types of latex mattresses, and their benefits over traditional ones.

What is Latex

The raw material used to make latex mattresses is a milky white sap derived from the rubber tree. It is the same sap used to make all-natural latex products, from tyres to gloves to boots and mattresses. The sap is harvested non-destructive; a natural latex mattress is considered an environmentally friendly and sustainable product. It is harvested from the Havea Brasilienis rubber tree, collected in large buckets, and transported to rubber factories. The trees are not harmed in the process and can continue to produce latex sap for up to 100 years. Before I delve into further detail, there is one caveat worth pointing out when discussing latex mattresses – the difference between natural and synthetic latex models.

Natural Latex Models

These mattresses are made almost entirely from natural latex. The highest quality natural latex models are usually 95% upwards of natural latex; the remainder is the curing agents, normally sulfur and zinc oxide. However, some additives are used in the process; these “Curing Agents” are necessary to turn the natural sap derived from the rubber tree into actual latex.

Synthetic Latex Models

Synthetic latex is latex synthesised using chemicals. A synthetic latex mattress can be made from entirely synthetic latex but often comprises natural and synthetic latex layers. Mattresses made using natural and synthetic latex are often called blended latex.

Blended Latex

As noted, a blended latex mattress is made from natural and synthetic latex. Most manufacturers list the blend proportions in the mattress description; a standard blend would be 30% natural and 70% synthetic latex. These types of mattresses are usually cheaper than 100% natural latex mattresses.

How are Latex Mattresses Made

Natural latex mattresses can be manufactured using a couple of distinctly different processes. These both produce high-quality latex mattresses; however, the final product of each method has different characteristics.

Dunlop Latex

In this process, whipped sap and the curing agents are poured into a mould before being baked in a specialised oven. Heavier latex particles tend to sink towards the mattress base during the pouring and baking. For this reason, mattresses manufactured using this process tend to be denser towards the bottom of the mattress and less so towards the top. This gives the mattress an overall firmness whilst the top maintains the necessary “give and bounce” for a comfortable sleep.

Talalay Latex

In the Talalay method, latex is vacuum-sealed and frozen before baking. This process is similar to pouring the whipped sap into a mould. The difference comes in the treatment after this stage. These extra steps stop the “sedimentation” in the Dunlop process and give the finished product a more consistent density and an airier consistency. Although both types of mattresses are produced in soft, medium, or hard models, Talalay models usually have a more refined feel and are generally softer and bouncier. However, this can make them less robust. The comfort layers are often manufactured using this process in layered models such as blended mattresses.

What are the Benefits of a Latex Mattress

There are many benefits to a latex mattress. But before we look at the “sleeping benefits” that a latex mattress provides, it is worth noting that climate change and overuse of resources are of huge concern in today’s world; a natural latex mattress is a sustainable and eco-friendly option. However, being environmentally friendly wouldn’t mean anything if the product was below par. Luckily, that isn’t the case. Below, I have listed some of the main benefits of a latex mattress.

  1. It is Cooler/it does not retain heat – One downside to memory foam mattresses is that many people find them hot to sleep on. Latex is naturally breathable, with an open-cell structure that allows air to flow and helps maintain coolness throughout the night.
  2. Allergen Resistant – For many people, this is the crowning reason to choose a latex mattress. But, unfortunately, most traditional mattresses, including memory foam to a lesser extent, make fantastic nurseries for bacteria and dust mites. Latex is a hypoallergenic material that is hostile to dust mites and bacteria. Unlike traditional mattresses, it is also made from natural materials and doesn’t have to be treated with chemicals often used to suppress bacterial growth and mould.
  3. Durable – A high-quality latex mattress will outlast its traditional counterparts. Latex is a naturally resilient material that will maintain its shape and springiness for 10 to 20 years. An average mattress lifespan is considered to be anything between 7 to 10 years.
  4. Pain Relief – Latex mattresses are a fantastic option for those who suffer from aches and pains; this is particularly relevant if you are one of the millions of people who wake up each morning suffering from back pain. Whether you are a “back sleeper”, “side sleeper“, or “stomach sleeper”, regardless of weight, a latex mattress supports all the right areas. In addition, the highly elastic nature of the material means it maintains spinal alignment without any loss of comfort and maintains a buoyancy that other mattresses lose through sinking.
  5. Motion Transfer – My partner loves this one! A latex mattress is excellent for suppressing the movement of a restless partner. This is one of the most notable similarities it shares with memory foam mattresses; both types are renowned for their ability to isolate motion.

What are the Benefits of a Latex Mattress scaled

A latex mattress could be the perfect sleep partner if you want a new mattress. Overall, a latex mattress has many advantages over traditional mattresses. It is durable, hygienic, cool, and pain-relieving.

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