Saturday, October 5, 2013

Buying a Latex Mattress...Experience Counts!

Wow, is the latex mattress marketplace confusing! Latex mattresses have been the fastest growing niche in the mattress industry, due in part to the 2007 fire codes. FoamSource, one of the first online retailers of natural latex mattresses, has watched as more and more websites appeal to prospective customers by "greenwashing" their products.

Here's just a short list of common "greenwashing" techniques:

  • Natural Latex - blended latex has varying percentages of natural latex so, it becomes "natural" latex.
  • Organic Latex - 100% natural latex, regardless of source, is frothed using additional chemicals.
  • Bio-foam or Eco-foam - refers to to polyurethane foam with added soy-based ingredients, about 5-20%. It does reduce the number of barrels of oil used in producing poly foams, however the foam is in no way "natural"!
  • Natural Memory Foam - heavily promoted by the manufacturer as the "world's only natural memory foam", these claims recently received a blow when the FTC filed complaints against three companies claiming "no VOCs".
  • Organic Mattresses - often even the cover is not organic and, in some cases, the cover has no wool or insufficient wool for a natural fire barrier. Pick from above for possible "natural" claims for the latex or eco-foam used in the mattress.
  • In Business for Over__Years - we've seen them come and go, one large and popular site, in business since the mid 2000s, somehow managed to get another couple of decades out of the sky.
Protect yourself, and your desire for a natural latex mattress, by being aware of the right questions to have answered, before you purchase. Do not buy from sites that have not posted Oeko-Tex certifications showing that the latex tested is 100% natural latex, the only way you can be certain that your natural latex is free of synthetics.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Latex Topper - Shopping Tips

When shopping for a latex topper, your most important consideration will be your existing mattress. Your mattress will provide the support for your topper and therefore must be in good shape. If you have the beginning of body impressions, or worse, you must first replace your mattress. A topper will simply mold to the body impressions and you will be sunk, literally!

O.K., so your existing mattress is in good shape. Now let's look at the padding, or conforming layer, that makes up the top of your mattress. You can consider this layer, or lack of, a transition zone that will help determine the thickness of the latex topper, as the additional padding your mattress provides should be considered. If you have an innerspring mattress that has a quilted top, with almost no padding, you would do well to consider a 3" topper, particularly if you are thinking of buying a soft topper. Now, if your mattress has 2"-3" or more of supportive foam on top, then a 2" topper should be fine. Do not try to firm up your mattress by adding a topper that is considerably firmer than the mattress itself.

Let's discuss your firmness choices when purchasing a natural latex topper. The choice of a firm latex topper should generally be limited to back sleepers, although a lighter back sleeper could also use a medium latex topper. The primary determining factors when choosing between medium and soft toppers are size, weight and sleeping position. As you might expect, latex responds to size and body weight. A topper can feel less supportive to someone who is 200 lbs, then it would feel to a smaller person at 120 lbs. Fortunately for couples with a large weight disparity, you should expect to have the option to split both queen and king sized latex toppers, providing the correct firmness for you both.

Side sleepers will need a latex topper that conforms to hips or shoulders. Generally, an average sized adult, looking for a soft topper, will want to consider a 3" soft, unless there is a good layer of softer padding on top of the existing mattress. We recommend natural Talalay latex toppers for side sleepers, as Talalay has a plusher and more buoyant feel than Dunlop latex (which can work very well for back sleepers). Visit FoamSource to learn more about natural latex toppers and certified 100% natural latex.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Follow These Simple Steps When Comparing Latex Mattresses

  • If you are looking for a latex mattress or latex topper, you've already seen that the established online retailers are certain to use two primary vendors, Latex International (primarily Talalay latex) and Latexco (Latex Green) for Dunlop latex. Both vendors have Oeko-Tex certifications for both their 100% natural latex and blended latex products. 
  • Looking for an all natural latex mattress (often referred to as "organic" mattresses), then be certain that the Oeko-Tex certification states that the latex tested is 100% NATURAL LATEX. As an example, here are certifications from both the vendors discussed.
  • No posted Okeo-Tex certifications...NO, NO, NO!!!
  • A latex mattress should have two different latex components, a LATEX CORE which provides the overall feel and support for your mattress and a LATEX "TOPPER" LAYER (generally a softer firmness), which provides a conforming layer that relieves pressure points at the shoulders and hips (most of us are side sleepers).
  • Be careful of the trend towards 3 different latex layers to build a latex mattress, your back may pay. It sounds like the multiple combinations will create the perfect feel in a latex mattress, however, the consumer will have better overall back support by having two identical firmnesses as the latex support layer and a softer conforming latex "topper" layer. That being said, a solid latex core is the best possible choice for back support and durability!
  • The use of Dunlop latex, as the mattress core, is often used in natural latex mattresses to provide significant saving when compared to a Talalay latex core.

  • Organic cotton has become the standard for the mattress cover, however, the most important component in your cover is the material quilted to the organic cotton.
  • There is only one natural solution to the 2007 open flame tests now in place, wool as a fire barrier. In a natural latex mattress, the wool should be natural or organic wool. Any other wool will have been scoured by acid to remove vegetable matter, while also removing the natural oils which make wool the body best temperature regulator available.
  • Know how long have they been in business, and if they are a direct manufacturer, as this will insure quality and save you money!
  • A retail location is of great benefit to the online consumer, as this means that you should be speaking with someone who is experienced in guiding the customer to their perfect latex mattress. 
  • An experienced salesperson will be familiar with the guidelines for selecting the perfect firmness level for your new latex mattress.
  • Know the details of the latex mattress warranties and what type of exchange is available in case of a comfort adjustment.
  • Have you found a price too good to be true...better check the details! Latex mattresses are not inexpensive, rather they are a twenty year investment in both your health and restful sleep.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Caring for a Natural Latex Mattress

Latex warranties are very accurate when they reflect the twenty year time frame that can be expected from a premium natural latex mattress. When purchasing 100% natural latex, you have the finest sleeping surface for comfort, reducing pressure points and durability. When covered with organic cotton, and using a natural wool batting to pass the current 2007 fire codes, you have a latex mattress free from chemicals fire-retardants that are very questionable as to their safety.

Remember, as with any natural product, a little extra care will go a long way in maintaining a high quality latex mattress. Let's start with the latex itself. Most importantly NEVER expose natural latex, without a cover, to direct sunlight. If you left just the latex itself outside in direct sun, it would begin to dry out and crumble in just a few days. Also, DO NOT use a heating blanket on a latex mattress, as the trapped heat over the latex will eventually cause it to dry out and begin to breakdown. To a lesser degree, try and position a natural latex mattress away from external heat source, particularly radiators or similar wall heaters. It is not necessary to rotate or flip latex, body impressions are unusual in high quality latex, even over long warranty periods.

Care of an organic cover is equally important. These covers will use a natural wool batting, such as Eco Wool, which provides the necessary barrier to the 90 second open flame test, mandated by the 2007 fire codes for mattresses. The batting is then quilted to the organic cotton cover material. Organic covers, manufactured in this style, CANNOT be washed. Some natural latex mattress manufacturers aid the cleaning process by designing covers that will zip off on all four sides. Fortunately, natural wool responds very well when hung outdoors to refresh itself. This would also be the time to spot clean your mattress cover with a mild natural cleaner. Another possibility is a natural dry cleaner, using a healthier process than the harsh chemicals used in traditional dry cleaning. Best practice, air the cover out and spot clean, if necessary.

Using these simple guidelines will protect your investment in a natural latex mattress, and assure that it will give you a long a useful life. Here's a great testimonial that provides a real indication of the life expectancy of high quality all natural latex.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Join the Latex Mattress Revolution

Latex mattresses are quickly finding their way into bedrooms across the country…..again. Latex foam was first created by a Dunlop research scientist in 1929 by whisking together liquid latex, soap and gelling agents and baking them in a steam oven. Latex quickly became popular for automotive cushions, seating for cinemas and, of course, mattresses and pillows. The supply of rubber was interrupted during the 1940’s by the war, but quickly resumed when the supply from rubber plantations was again available. Sears produced rubber (latex) mattresses in the 40’s and the 50’s, latex mattresses that proved so durable that it is not uncommon to find them still in use.

The 1960’s saw the introduction of the more advanced Talalay latex process, which added the additional steps of freezing it to capture the bubbles and then gelling it with carbon dioxide gas. The result is a product with greater uniformity and consistency that can be washed. While most consumers shop for an all natural latex mattress, synthetic latex (SBR) can be blended with natural latex in either the original Dunlop Latex process or the Talalay Latex process, so be certain of the composition of the latex you are purchasing.

The popularity of the latex mattress is a result of its amazing combination of comfort and durability. Latex can be produced in a variety of firmness levels, which can be layered to create the perfect combination of body support, weight distribution and relief of pressure points. Quality manufacturers have begun building all natural latex mattresses by utilizing layers incorporating latex cores, toppers and a covers of organic cotton and organic wool to produce a custom feel for individual firmness comfort levels.

The fact that natural latex is a sustainable resource, produced from the rubber tree, is an attractive quality to many who are looking for alternatives in the materials that they utilize for their home environment. In addition, the use of wool batting in organic covers with a latex mattress provides sufficient protection to by-pass the widespread use of the chemical fire-retardants that saturate most conventional inner-spring mattresses. The experience of sleeping on a high quality latex mattress is a reminder that nature often does know best!

The internet features numerous configurations for latex mattresses; however, a quality latex mattress should have three basic features:

1) The mattress should have a latex core of about 6 inches or more which provides the overall support for your body weight. The core of a latex mattress will provide its overall feel of firmness, generally medium or firm cores are the choices provided. Rest assured that both medium and firm will give you ample support, it’s not necessary to choose a firmer core to provide increased support.

2) Many manufactures then provide the option of an additional layer of latex, which can be the same or softer to better conform to your body shape and to provide a plusher feel to the latex mattress. Sleep position, size and weight will dictate many of these choices, so be sure to get expert advice and work with a company that allows for exchange of layers to fine tune your selection.

3) The cover for your latex mattress is equally important. Many consumers now choose an all natural sleep surface. A little research on the internet will provide positive support for avoiding possible toxic chemicals in the mattress surface. The addition of organic wool in the latex mattress cover, or as a separate mattress pad, provides unsurpassed moisture transport and aids in the regulation of body temperature. Quality organic wool naturally refreshes itself by simply hanging it in the fresh air. Wool is naturally anti-microbial and resists dust mites and mold.

The latex mattress has been with us for more than 60 years and the enormous interest generated over the last few years should not come as a surprise. Natural, sustainable and unsurpassed in comfort, a latex mattress is the long term solution for sleeping comfort. Many latex mattresses have 20 year warranties and should have none of the sagging that indicates that an innerspring mattress must be replaced. In a day and age where our indoor air can be 3-5 times more polluted than the air outside, it makes sense to consider all natural materials for our most valuable piece of furniture, for its our mattress that provides a refuge for us all from the fatigue and stress of our busy lifestyles. A latex mattress is nature’s way of saying “take the time to relax, rest and revitalize yourself, tomorrow is another day.”

Friday, January 4, 2013

Relieve Stress with Natural Sleep

In many ways, to some, stress has become a badge of honor, or an indicator of hard work. In reality the chemicals that stress releases in our system are in themselves highly damaging, leading to heart disease, weight gain, high blood pressure, etc. We then go on to combat stress with medication, alcohol, and even angry social interactions. Worst of all, in our fast paced world, prioritizing a full and comfortable nights sleep, that doesn't require sleep aids, has fallen by the wayside. Common sense dictates that, regardless of the pressures in our daily life, sleep can offer an extended break leading to awakening refreshed, with an awareness of how important our health is to success in our daily tasks.

Here's a simple solution, make certain that your next mattress does not contain antiquated inner springs. Why? Inner springs can, at best, roughly conform to your bodies contours. I like to use the pixel analogy. Individual springs, even the more expensive pocket coils, are like a low resolution photo that shows individual pixels in every curve, rather than the continuous lines and curves you see with higher resolution.
With that analogy in mind, a latex mattress will continuously conform to the natural shape of your body, offering comfortable support, regardless of your sleeping position.

Another limitation of the inner spring mattresses is that they must be firmer than your body deserves, our they will break down too quickly. The current trend in the mattress industry is to cover these stiff springs with a plush or pillow top, generally made with several layers of various foams of questionable durability. Once again the latex mattress provides a superior solution, both in comfort and durability, as no other foam can match the benefits of natural latex. Quality latex will not form the body impressions that plague most pillow tops. You can expect natural latex, either Talalay from Latex International, or Dunlop from Latex Green, to deserve the 20 year warranties that are the industry standard.

You'll certainly find more about the natural benefits of latex in this blog. For now, realize that inner spring mattresses, even the very best, are antiquated, and choose the comfortable and supportive benefits of a natural latex mattress. You simply owe it to yourself to prioritize your sleeping hours by using a mattress that insures that sleep leads to a successfully recovering from the strain of daily stress. Buy a natural latex mattress and rest assured that your problems are least for one third of your life!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Talk To Your Chiropractor about a Natural Mattress

An important option in the new federal open-flames mattress standards allows doctors, osteopaths and chiropractors to prescribe natural mattresses to patients with chemical sensitivities.  The results of research by the CPSC clearly shows that every man, woman and child will absorb the chemical fire-retardants currently used in mattresses and also chemicals used to fire proof mattresses under the previous codes.  Many of these chemicals have documented side effects, causing them to be banned in Europe and California.  None of us need to risk the exposure to chemicals in the mattresses on which we spend up to a third of our lives!

One group that has been at the forefront of alternative health concerns is chiropractors, who take a preventative approach to many of the risks of our modern lifestyles.  Chiropractors commonly use nutrition, exercise, patient education, health promotion and lifestyle counseling as part of their holistic outlook towards preventive health care.   Chiropractors also stress the importance of prevention and primarily utilize a pro-active approach and a wellness model to achieve this goal.  The emphasis in chiropractic care recognizes the dynamics between lifestyle, environment, and health, taking a holistic approach to prevention of disease.  Because chiropractors emphasize the alignment of our spine as primary to the health of our nervous system and our overall wellbeing, many have already introduced healthier mattress solutions to their clients.

Certainly the concerns over toxic fire-retardant chemicals have begun to replace the emphasis on mattresses that are more effective in aligning the spine, particularly where newborns and infants are involved.  Crib mattresses are held to the same open-flame standards and generally have some the worst chemicals in order to save costs.  When an all natural mattress in considered natural latex is the hands down winner.  All natural latex simply supplies everything that is best in a mattress.  Latex mattresses are unsurpassed in weight distribution and relief of pressure points and are antimicrobial, hypoallergenic and naturally resistant to dust mites.

A natural latex mattress is often covered in organic materials, including wool, which is a natural fire-retardant.  Now you have the best of both worlds, a mattress that very effectively aligns the spine and is chemical-free, without the toxic off-gassing associated with polyurethane foam mattresses.  It could not be more important to protect the sleeping environment for your children.  The rise in asthma, allergies, respiratory problems and even autism has prompted widespread public concerns about potential environmental causes.  Certainly children are exposed to a constantly increasing amount of chemicals in their environment.  The evidence is clear that our bodies absorb these chemicals, including the fire-retardants in our mattresses, that many of these chemicals have documented harmful side effects.

Consult with a professional, such as your chiropractor or doctor, to insure that you are creating the healthiest possible sleeping environment for your children and yourself.  With so much uncertainty over toxic chemicals used to comply with the new open-flame mattress standards, it’s best to error on the side of caution, particularly with newborn and infants whose bodies and respiratory systems are developing so rapidly.  A natural latex mattress has been proven to be the most effective solution for a safe sleeping environment.