Understanding latex, where it comes from, how it’s manufactured
Ask a group of friends if they’ve ever heard of latex in mattresses and we guarantee you’ll get at least one giggle – and possibly an inappropriate college joke. All kidding aside, latex may be one of the most comfortable, supportive sleep surfaces in the market today – and one of the most misunderstood as well. Buoyant, supportive, therapeutic pressure-point relief are just a few of the words used to describe latex mattresses.
But what’s latex and where does it come from?
Latex is the end product of harvested liquid from rubber trees (Hevea Brasiliensis) in Asia. These trees produce up to 4 lbs of sap a year and are considered a rapidly renewing resource that can be harvested for generations – without the need for large farm equipment or harm to the trees.
Learning how latex is converted from liquid to a mattress can be confusing though because there are a variety of ways it can be manufactured. Talalay and Dunlop (also known as Standard) refer to how the latex is converted from liquid to foam. Natural and synthetic refer to the chemicals added during either process.
Dunlop (Standard) Latex
During the Dunlop (Standard) process, harvested rubber milk is frothed to add air (like mixing egg whites). The more the latex is frothed, the softer the latex. After mixing, it’s poured into sealed molds that are cooked to produce a finished foam slab – much like baking a cake. The bubbles creating during the mixing process aren’t connected and when pressure is applied to the foam, air in those bubbles is compressed, creating a firm but buoyant feeling.
Talalay latex is processed similarly to Dunlop, but the molds are very different. Thousands of pins inside the molds create air channels that increase breathability and conformability of the finished product. As well, an additional step of flash freezing before the cooking process ensures the stability of the air channels when the foam is made into a mattress.
Talalay latex is more resilient and buoyant than Dunlop, springing back quicker and allowing heat and moisture to travel more freely through the mattress – good news for people who suffer from temperature fluctuations during the night. But both types of latex have a place in your mattress. Softer Talalay latex is used closer to the sleep surface while Dunlop shores up the underside, creating a stable foundation. Both Talalay and Standard latex are often used in the same mattress to achieve levels of firmness neither can achieve alone.
Because latex is a natural product and consistency can be difficult to maintain, synthetic latex was developed. It has a similar molecular structure to natural latex but it’s easier to predict consistency of the finished product. Most mattress manufacturers today use a combination of both natural and synthetic latex to create a more consistent sleep experience.
Worried you may have a latex allergy? Contrary to popular belief, a latex allergy isn’t developed from over-exposure – you’re either born with it or you’re not. It was once common to find latex protein in the white powdery dust on balloons and gloves – which is a highly allergic substance. In mattresses, 98% of proteins are washed away during manufacturing – and always have been. Latex proteins are very rare in any consumer products now, thanks to government regulations.
10 reasons why latex delivers a GREAT night’s sleep
Regardless of your preference for a firm or plush sleep surface, Restonic offers a wide range of latex mattresses that address many sleep and health concerns. While spring mattresses tend to push back and memory foam mattresses create an impression, latex supports all the contours of your unique body. Instead of forcing your spine into a straight line, the buoyancy of latex allows your muscles, joints and spine to relax naturally.
We love latex mattresses and our customers do too. Here are our top 10 reasons for loving latex:
- Enjoy buoyant, contouring support
- Experience remarkable support for side, tummy and back sleepers
- Choose from a wide variety of firmness options
- Revel in a mattress that returns to its original shape night after night
- Appreciate long lasting, durable comfort for many years
- Sleep healthier with ventilated open-cells that reduce moisture buildup
- Enjoy a naturally dust mite resistant and antimicrobial sleep surface
- Relish reduced stress on pressure points – at any firmness point
- Enjoy reduced tossing and turning and deeper sleep
- Sleep soundly with reduced motion transfer between partners
If you’re in the market for a new mattress, the most important thing to understand is not whether it’s Talalay or Dunlop but how it feels when you lie on it. There is no such thing as the world’s best mattress because we all have unique sleep needs. The best way to find your best mattress is to visit a mattress retailer near you and start mattress testing.
If you’re curious about Restonic’s latex mattresses, our HealthRest latex mattresses offers superior breathability and support. If you’re looking for a hybrid mattress, one that combines latex with innerspring, take a close look at our award winning ComfortCare Signature mattresses.