Latex mattresses come in Natural, Synthetic, or a blend of the two. Latex mattresses are becoming increasingly popular these days, mainly due to the fact that some latex mattresses are 100% natural. This organic property appeals to the health conscious people as well as the Eco-friendly. Natural rubber is harvested by tapping; tapping is done by making a diagonal cut through the bark of a rubber tree and once the bark is removed, a milky white rubber fluid is collected. Trees can be re-tapped every couple of days, through careful tapping, an acre of rubber trees (around 180) can produce nearly 1,900 pounds of rubber annually. Since the trees are not permanently harmed, they continue to grow, making natural rubber a completely renewable resource. That same 1 acre of rubber trees is able to absorb enough carbon dioxide to cancel the output of 1 car driven 26,000 miles.
Synthetic latex is made by polymerizing a monomer that has been emulsified with surfactants; this synthetic rubber was first created in WWII to make products for the military due to a natural rubber shortage in the US. Synthetic latex does have the same basic properties of natural latex and is typically less expensive. There is also a blended latex option that is just a mixture of the natural latex and the synthetic latex, the most popular being 40% natural and 60% synthetic.
How does rubber become a latex mattress? Most companies make latex foam by using two popular methods, the Talalay or the Dunlop as seen below along with a new method called the Continuous, and is exclusive to Mountain Top Foam. After the latex mattress is made there are a few more options to choose from, is the entire mattress latex, latex over foam, or even foam over latex? Most latex mattresses can also be personalized with the options of soft, medium, or firm so you get the mattress that is just right for you.
The Dunlop Method
The Dunlop method (originally developed in the 1920’s) uses a gelling agent to set the latex and maintain the consistency of the foam structure, which is washed off at the end of production.
The Talalay Method
The Talalay method (originally developed in the 1950’s) involves similar steps but flash freezes the molded foam in order to set the structure before vulcanizing it instead of gelling agents.
Continuous Production Method
Latex can also be made by using a continuous production process which, while technically a Dunlop method, does not use the traditional moulding process to shape the foam before vulcanizing it. Instead, by using a continuous moving conveyor they are able to more accurately control the mixture which ensures a more consistent product over the Dunlop method and used much less energy than the Talalay method.
*Natural latex has a variety of benefits and since it’s made from natural rubber, it’s completely safe. Because it’s all natural, it’s hypoallergenic. It’s even safe for those with latex allergies. People with latex allergies are not allergic to the latex, but a protein found in rubber. Thanks to the washing process, the protein, which is water based, is completely removed.
“The Purity 100% Natural Latex Mattress W/Cashmere and Cotton Cover.”BedInABox.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://www.bedinabox.com/product/6533.html >.