Natural Latex: If You’re Looking For A “Chemical Free” Bed, It’s Your Only Choice In A Sea Of Petroleum Based Foam Mattresses
In 2007, Marc Anderson started one of the first online mattress stores that sold a pre-compressed natural latex mattress direct to consumers. He got into the niche, because even back then, there were endless polyurethane foam mattresses beginning to show up in brick and mortar stores, and e-commerce sites were beginning to pop up everywhere, when digital marketers and venture capital companies saw the potential selling compressed and rolled polyurethane mattresses.
That’s 12 years ago, and although big money has largely taken over the “bed in a box” concept, although the term “bed in a box” is actually a trademarked name, it turns out that the only kind of materials that you can purchase in a foam mattress that is not petroleum based, is botanically derived natural latex. The exception to this would be woven steel coils, which if individually pocketed, can be a real asset to a mattress if you need that kind of support.
His company was called Habitat Furnishings, and Marc’s lineup of natural latex mattresses were made top to bottom with pure, botanical product, using no synthetic latex, known in the business as “SBR”, or styrene butadiene rubber, also a petroleum based product.
His company purchased container loads of pure natural rubber from Sri Lanka, and occasionally Viet Nam, from plantations that had the highest quality and the creamiest, cleanest latex available. The liquid latex was hand collected on plantations that are hundred of thousands of Hevea brasiliensis trees.
The liquid latex would be consolidated and poured into trucks the size of a typical dairy tanker, and would be hauled to production facilities near the coast where it would be vulcanized into cores. The cores, which are blocks of solidified latex are then cut to American standard mattress sizes.
Vulcanization is a process where liquid rubber is poured into what look like giant Belgian waffle irons, and the liquid is flash steamed, converting the liquid latex rubber into its wonderfully spongy, super elastic, and buoyant solid form. There simply was nothing that compared to handling and touching that pure product of mother nature when it arrived in our production centers in Boston, Tampa, and Los Angeles, where the cores (the poured, rectangular pieces that are cut to desired size and depth in our factories).
For more than 10 years, Habitat Furnishings sold the best pure botanically derived latex mattresses to hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers. Because natural latex resists dust mites, does not off gas VOC fumes, is naturally
hypoallergenic, and has no odors, many of our customers who had medical issues, allergies, fragrance sensitivities, or other issues would buy multiple mattresses from us for friends and family. And, since pure latex rubber has a lower pH (more acidic) than most other foam materials used in mattress building, it is also mold and mildew resistant. And, natural latex will not turn yellow and dry out like petroleum based foams, especially when exposed to sunlight. Unlike photo reactive foams that turn brown and become brittle, pilling off at the edges like an old sofa cushion, natural latex can retain its supple and highly elastic qualities for up to 50 years.
It’s also anti-microbial qualities, too. Bacteria are naturally repelled by natural latex due to its acidic qualities.
In 2018, Habitat Furnishings ceased operations and one of the company’s vendors purchased the web site. Our CEO and owner, Marc Anderson, wanted to be on the review and consulting side of the bedding industry and he took the helm of The Mattress Buyer Guide.
The only truly chemical free mattress
“The fact is, if you want a truly chemical free mattress that does not off gas fumes either from polyurethane foam used in virtually all mattresses, or from formaldehyde based adhesives used to laminate layers together, your best option is an all natural latex mattress”, says Anderson.
Among the amazing qualities of a natural latex mattress besides the fact that is the only kind of mattress you can buy that is truly chemical free is the comfort level. A pure latex bed distributes weight sideways rather than down, which spreads weight laterally and creates a king buoyant and levitating sensation.
“Imagine spreading pizza dough on a pan, and pushing it to the edges”, explains Marc Anderson, comparing it to typical petroleum based materials like memory foam and polyurethane foam, which create pinpoint pressure spots that also get hot.
Another quality of pure latex is the fact that it will fill many void areas, especially is you are a side or back sleeper. Pockets such as between hips and rib cage or between shoulder blades if you sleep on your back, provide additional buoyant and uplifting support that minimize muscle fatigue and allow your body to relax.
Typically a pure latex mattress is made using a higher density base or support layer, and softer layers towards the top. Many manufacturers also use water based adhesives to laminate the layers together, rather than formaldehyde based glues, which often off gas fumes for very long periods of time.
Different degrees of firmness from model to model can be achieved to appeal to a vast array of body types and preferences, from soft sumptuous, and nest like, to more resilient and supportive densities that offer very little nestling in or sinking. These densities can be controlled simply by increasing or reducing the amount of air that is bubbled into the mixture as it is being poured in its liquid state into the mold.
“I recommend a medium level of firmness for the first time buyer, and typically this will work for about 90% of folks buying their first pure latex mattress”, says Anderson.
Marc would not rule out considering companies that design and build latex hybrid mattresses as well, to help conserve on cost a bit, since a pure latex bed with no polyurethane foam in the support or foundation layer.
A latex hybrid generally will have a fairly thick latex layer on top, usually about 3-4”, but no less than that for ideal results, and the design may include a pocketed coil layer or other kinds of foam layers, all stacked on top of a dense layer of polyurethane that is generally about 6” thick. “Hybrid latex mattresses are fine as an inexpensive alternative to a top to bottom latex mattress, as you will save a few hundred dollars”, mentions Marc, who also added that the hybrid version will be much lighter in weight and easier to handle.
A company called FCO Homegoods builds a really great latex and memory foam hybrid mattress that costs far less than pure latex to bottom, is easier to handle, and sells for about half of the price of a pure latex bed. “It’s a good alternative and you do get natural latex on top”, Marc says.
Most companies selling natural latex mattresses generally use a natural outer covering material, too, like organic cotton, bamboo, or even hemp based fabrics. These fabrics are highly breathable too, and help ventilate a latex mattress, helping it to sleep cool and comfy.
Here’s a list of benefits that you will get by sleeping on a pure latex mattress, and our list of recommended dealers that sell both pure latex top to bottom as well as hybrid models is shown right below.
Features And Benefits Of Pure Latex Mattresses
Pure botanical latex contains no VOC or petroleum based materials
Pure latex is anti-microbial, anti-dust mite, and is mold and mildew resistant
A latex mattress distributes load to the side rather than down, eliminating pressure points
Will not off-gas smelly fumes or fragrances making them ideal for people with sensitivities that may trigger headaches
Latex mattresses can last for up to 50 years without degrading
Latex mattresses resist indentations and rutting, unlike polyurethane foam mattresses which dominate the online bedding industry and have family short lifespans
Offers better edge support than polyurethane foam beds
our selection of six latex mattress dealers you can trust- get a toxic free mattress today!