The difference between Natural Latex Foam and Synthetic Latex Foam.
While our mattress or pillow doesn’t contain synthetic latex, we do get a lot of questions about synthetic latex sold by other companies in Ireland. So in this blog, we are going to explain the differences between natural, synthetic, and blended latex and why those differences are so significant when purchasing a latex mattress or pillow.
Natural Latex is a milky white liquid that is extracted from the rubber tree or sometimes known as Hevea-Brasilienis. Rubber trees are indigenous to South America; however, they were spread around the world in the 19th century due to their high value in a variety of products.
The way we get our Latex from Rubber trees is very similar to maple trees being tapped for their maple syrup! A small piece of the bark is cut away, and latex quickly begins flowing from that cut and into containers. The latex is then collected and shipped to our factory to make our mattresses and pillows.
Natural latex foam has a uniquely supportive and springy feel, something we call resiliency. High quality natural latex foam like the kind we use in our Fitzwilliam mattress is extremely durable and should last longer than any other type of mattress. While it does have a mild odor ( sometimes describes as vanilla smelling), natural latex foam usually doesn’t have a chemically or abrasive odor than you typically get in synthetic latex.
The only negative of using natural latex foam is that it is more difficult to make aesthetically perfect during the production process as opposed to synthetic latex foam. Small air pockets can be present in the foam. However, at The Spinery, we maintain strict quality standards to ensure inconsistencies are kept to an absolute minimum.
Synthetic latex is an artificially produced compound that imitates the properties of natural latex. However, rather than being harvested from trees, it is made from petrochemicals. There are many types of synthetic latex that exist, but styrene-butadiene latex is a common type of synthetic rubber used in synthetic latex foam.
Synthetic latex foam is described as a more dull, less springy feel than natural latex foam. It is also less durable than natural latex foam and tends to tear easier. Synthetic latex foam typically has a strong chemically and more abrasive smell. It is rare to find synthetic latex foam that meets industry textile and furniture emissions standards.
The last type of latex foam is a mix of both types we’ve already discussed. Retailers mostly use blended latex because it is a cheaper way to produce latex foam that can claim to contain natural latex for many latex mattress retailers and manufacturers. However, often blended latex contains mostly synthetic rather than natural latex. They do this by making claims such as “made with 100% natural latex”, “contains natural latex,” or “100% latex, natural origin”. Others sometimes merely falsely claim their mattress to be “100% natural latex”. Blended latex shares many of the properties of both natural and synthetic latex. However, we find that natural latex outperforms blended latex in terms of comfort, resiliency, health, and eco-friendliness.
How can I tell if my mattress is real or synthetic latex?
Being tricked into buying fake or synthetic latex is easy. For example, we get many comments from people that they have a latex mattress that they purchased from a well-known big box store. But it’s not the real thing, and that’s why they are not getting the results that should expect.
Or, people looking to get a latex mattress or pillow primarily rely on a website to represent their product honestly. Unfortunately, as we mentioned earlier, some mattress retailers use misleading language to convince you that their synthetic latex mattresses are natural.
Here are some tips so you can check yourself at your local showroom:
To recognize synthetic and blended latex, look at the latex sample provided in the store as a demo.
Signs the ‘latex’ you’re looking at might be Styrene Butadiene (SBR):
- Turns yellow as it ages.
- Crumbles as it ages.
- The foam easily tears and pulls apart, especially on the sides of the pillow or mattress.
- Keeps a chemical smell for months after purchase.
How to tell if the “latex” mattress is really only a layer of Latex laminated to polyurethane foam:
Time needed: 5 minutes.
How to tell if a mattress is made from natural latex
- Try Bending the mattress
An all-latex mattress will fold in half much easier than a typical spring or polyurethane mattress.
- Look on the law label for the contents by percentage
Unfortunately, the latex listed will not specify whether it is natural or synthetic however it will help you identifier if only a layer of latex is being used.
- Smell the mattress
You should notice a chemical smell if polyurethane is used. Natural Latex has a vanilla-like smell.
- Lift the mattress
Natural Latex is heavier than most synthetics. You should be able to notice a significant difference. That’s why you can’t ship natural latex in a box – it’s just too heavy.
- Feel the mattress through the sides
You may be able to feel the transition points for the layers. Plus, polyfoam feels noticeably different than latex – it doesn’t have that rebound, or what we call resiliency. And remember, resiliency is the ‘holy grail’ for mattress designs.
Hopefully, some of these tips will help in ensuring that you get the real thing: a real natural latex mattress that will give you better sleep, stay durable and supportive, and feel genuinely comfortable.
We hope this video helped explain the differences between natural and artificial. If you’re curious about what else makes our Fitzwilliam natural latex mattress special, click here.