Today, choice of foams are important while taking not only sleep comfort in mind but also choosing types of foam which are more durable, natural and free from any harmful chemicals. Latex foams are made up of natural and certified organic components, including no metals.
Latex is white liquid rubber which is then molded and processed to form latex foams. They came into the market around 1950’s and are known to be eco-friendly because of the natural ingredients they contain. However, there are two basic types.
Two basic types of Latex foam (Synthetic VS Natural )
There are some types of latex foam depending on the method and fillers used in the production of them. The two basic types are mentioned above i.e. synthetic foam and natural foam. Their explanation is as follows:
- Synthetic Latex
They are more of artificial foam which consist of chemicals and petroleum-based additives. They usually consist of fillers like polyurethane and other chemicals like formaldehyde and flame retardants.
It makes the latex foam to be less durable and less natural. Most of them available in the market are synthetic which are less costly but contain harmful chemicals. However, they are more costly than graphite latex which will be explaining later.
This off-gassing process causes microscopic particles to release into the air which increases the risks of different diseases. 100% natural latex foams are rarely in the market but are worth the money.
They usually increase the hardness of the foam and are lower production costs. Other common types of fillers are china clay, calcium oxide, and titanium dioxide. Synthetic latex foam is more firm than natural latex explained below but low cost as well.
- Natural Latex
They are made up of pure rubber. They consist of almost 80% pure latex rubber and 20% other synthetic materials. They are somewhat organic. It doesn’t consist of any types of fillers or harmful chemicals. They are a natural foam rubber which is processed in two ways: Dunlop and Talalay.
Natural latex is soft, more sustainable and durable. They absorb body moisture and dissipates heat thereby giving a cooling effect. It is an expensive foam as compared to synthetic latex foam.
Manufacturing of Latex foam (Dunlop VS Talalay )
The manufacturing method of latex foam depends on the type you want to have. There are two main methods for the manufacturing.
- Dunlop method
This method has been in use since almost 1929. In this method, thick rubber serum is mixed first. It is then poured into a mold where it is allowed to set and baked to get its final shape.
The natural sediments which it contains are settled in the bottom while pouring. So, the bottom of the latex foam is denser than its top. It can be flipped upside down while in the process to make its density uniform. Dunlop method is an easy method, and these foams are low in VOCs release (Volatile Organic Compounds).
There are soft Dunlop, medium Dunlop, and firm Dunlop according to the back support people want in the case of any back pain. This process is less expensive than Talalay which is below.
They produced out of Dunlop material are denser thereby avoiding you sinking into the mattress. So, helps you to change your sides and postures easily. It is an ideal type of method to produce foam for anyone including children, guests or anyone who doesn’t want to have bouncy foam.
- Talalay method
Talalay is more expensive method than the Dunlop method. It is expensive because it is more processed than the Dunlop. It is much complex and less traditional than Dunlop process. It includes the addition of synthetic materials and air.
After pouring the mixture into the molds, a vacuum runs which removes the air bubbles and evenly distributes the liquid mixture into the mold. After that, the CO2 rod runs which freeze the foamed rubber.
Talalay method usually combines natural and synthetic latexes to make a foam. It consists of 70% natural latex while 30% of synthetic rubber while manufacturing. It makes the latex foam to be airier than in Dunlop process.
Talalay method makes it be more bouncy and less dense. It is one of the expensive methods in the manufacturing of foams. It is less dense resilient than the one produced by Dunlop method.
Other types you need to know
- Pure/Blended Latex foam
It’s manufactured usually using Dunlop method. Although, neither it is completely pure nor it contains 100% natural latex, it is just a name given ‘’pure’’. It consists of 20% natural and 80% synthetic latex. Some sellers mark their foam with 100% natural, but that is not the case. So, you should be careful while buying.
If 100% pure latex foam is made, it will be bio-degradable and environment-friendly. There are no human-made or artificial substances added. Such foams would have the best dynamic properties with high elasticity and high resilient quality.
They are not deformed easily and returns to their original shape when there is no weight. They are highly durable foams which can last up to 25 years.
Due to its natural ingredient, it has anti-bacterial properties thereby discoursing growth of molds and bacteria.
- 100% Natural latex foam
This is available in the market at different sellers which consist of 90-94% natural latex and 6-10% of other additives used for its manufacturing.
However, the percentage of natural and artificial components vary and may depend on different sellers. The color gets after forming depends on the type of the filler used like titanium dioxide will give dull white color.
Its durability and dynamic properties depend a lot on the quality of the fillers and additives used. High-quality fillers will make it more resilient and will maintain its shape.
But, its service life will not be more than 5-7 years due to the addition of fillers. Like pure latex, it also carries anti-bacterial property thus avoiding skin problems and fungal diseases.
- Graphite Latex foam
Easily distinguishable from its grey appearance, graphite latex foam is made up of graphite latex. This material contains 30% graphite. It contains 60% synthetic latex and 40% natural latex.
Graphite acts as a fire retardant element in the foam. The more graphite it contains, the more dark grey it will become. However, this is not a comfortable foam as it is more firm than others and is hard.
- Organic latex foam
There are some other foams marked with ‘’organic latex foam’’. There is not much difference between the 100% natural latex and an organic latex foam. This label has been used largely in the American bed market.
Customers and buyers have not found any major difference between the organic latex foam and 100% natural latex foam as is just a term for selling and publicity.
Benefits of Latex foam
Although not comfortable and soft, it has quite good qualities and benefits
- They are made up of natural ingredients. Latex foams are made using certified organic materials. An ideal product contains no metal and fillers. However, to improve firmness, fillers are added to make it less bouncy.
- As it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals, it is low in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and is a healthy choice.
- Latex foam has heat dissipating quality. It takes away excessive heat from the body and gives a cooling effect in sweltering heat.
- It gives you the best posture support. After manufacturing, it becomes firm so gives you the best support for your spines and back thereby reducing the back pain. It aligns your back perfectly.
- Different latex foams are not bouncy and firm so, easily helps you to change sides and postures. They avoid sinking into them.
Each type of foam whether latex or any other has its characteristics. They are considered to be less soft and comfortable as compared to spring or other mattresses.
However, they are firm and more durable and can last for up to 25 years. Quality of any model depends a lot on the type of the material like fillers or chemicals used in the manufacturing of foam.
Customers and buyers should be well aware of the types and the companies selling those because many mark their product with 100% natural latex but it is not always the case. So, proper knowledge of foam type and price comparison should be known.