LATEX FOAM GUIDE A G U I D E T O C O M P A R I N G & B U Y I N G L A T E X B E D D I N G P R O D U C T S www.AbsoluteComfortOnSale.com
Latex Foam Guide – A Guide to Comparing and Buying Latex Bedding Products – Latex Mattress Sets, Latex Mattress Pad Toppers and Pillows The History and Development of Latex FoamNatural Rubber made its official western debut in France around the year 1736, though themiraculously waterproof character of rubber apparently also brought one man to court inPortugal on the charge of witchcraft. Nowadays few would probably be aware that Hevea brasiliensis, the rubber tree commonly found in Southeast Asian countries as well as some parts of Africa and India, originated in Brazil – as its Latin name suggests. Indeed, Brazil was the original source of commercial latex rubber until the early 1900s. This market having been developed by the British, representatives of the British Government quietly took thousands of seeds to London 1870s,which were later exported to Asia where they rooted well and grew vigorously.Since then, techniques for rapid tree cloning, harvesting, plantation management, and processinghave been developed. Although it may not seem significant at first, the production of qualitytrees and the skill with which they are tapped are extremely important. Poorly produced ortapped trees may not grow properly, and will actually stop producing prematurely during theirproduction cycle.
How is Latex Used?Latex has gained wide popularity throughout society due to its unique elastic properties, as wellas its water repellency and ability to recover completely when subjected to compression orelongation. Oh, and those handy-dandy erasers! Latex rubber and its synthetic family haverevolutionized many industries, from mattresses, clothing, and bicycle and automobile parts torubber bands, canning jars, andadhesives.Of course, some of the initiallimitations of the product wereovercome in 1839 when CharlesGoodyear re-invented thevulcanization process – givingrubber the ability to maintain itsunique characteristics under highand varying temperatures. This, inturn, made it possible for both thebicycle and automobile industriesto rise in global popularity, in turnfueling the demand for high quality rubber products.The demand for rubber of ever-increasing performance also led scientists to isolate the primarychemistry of rubber and to reproduce it synthetically. In this one stroke, industrialists gained theability to formulate and craft specific types of rubber to meet the requirements of intendedproducts and the conditions in which they would be used. Modern Latex Processing and Production Guide The processing and production of rubber has progressed through numerous stages since the 1800s, and matured from batch to continuous processing styles. Each step has been intended to produce a better and more consistent product, with lower materials and labor costs involved. There have also been divergent methodologies developed in different sectors of the industry, aimed at accomplishing the same end in different ways. The two most common commercial processes are the dunlop process and the talalay process. They are used for processing natural latex or a blend, which includes natural latex. Since the manufacturing of latex is over a decade old, many additional processes have been developed. There are numerous variations of each process, as well as alternative processes, such as the Dow Process, for completely synthetic rubbers, which will not be discussed here.
The Dunlop ProcessAfter WWII, active interest returned to perfecting continuous processing of latex, improving thequalities of the finished product, and reducing the expense. The Dunlop Process proved to be apromising technological innovation which allowed the production of much more consistentlyhigh quality rubber than was possible before. In this process, the liquid latex is first foamed, andthen gelled; and the latex batter is poured into the shape of the final product(s) while still in asemi-liquid state. The gelling latex is then allowed to set before being vulcanized into its finalform. After vulcanization, the final steps, including washing and drying, take place. Thiswashing phase may help to reduce residues of the various chemicals used in this process atdifferent stages, for example chemicals used to maintain liquidity, to foam, to gel, etc. The Talalay ProcessThe Talalay process was developed as an alternative to the Dunlop Process, in an effort to useless chemicals in the processing. It is often portrayed as an all natural process or a process formanufacturing all natural latex, but this is not so. Both the Dunlop and the Talalay processes areused in manufacturing all natural latex, as well as blended natural and synthetic latex.In this novel technology, the latex batter is also whipped, but the primary aeration or foaming ofthe batter was achieved by chemical reaction or by reducing the ambient pressure – thusencouraging natural liquids within the batter to evaporate, and gasses to expand naturally withinthe batter, with minimal chemical intervention. Naturally, the aerated latex has to gel in the moldbefore vulcanization and final washing.Modern Talalay processing actually incorporates a quick-freeze of the aerated foam inside themould to maintain the homogeneous cell structure and density within the foam, and disallowstratification and settling. Although proponents of Talalay processing claim that this type offoam is more homogeneous, potentially less dense, and has superior qualities, critics argue thatthe freezing of the latex batter weakens the latex matrix, and reduces the durability of the finalproduct.
A Guide to Natural Latex vs Synthetic Latex: There are many interesting and valid reasons why synthetic latex has been developed for the bedding industry. Some of the more significant considerations include: • Shipping: Natural latex must be shipped from Southern Asia, adding quite an expense. • Increasing Demand: The global market for latex had been increasing faster than supply. • Quality: The cultural and governmental setup within rubber- producing countries makes it very difficult to control quality and uniformity of the finished products. Most natural products have imperfections. • Allergy: Reactions to natural latex products; • Control: Desire for more precise ability to manipulate the feel, weight and qualities of finished product; • Flexibility: A desire for much finer gradations of density of the finished product allowing for a variety of uses. Particularly with the ever-growing domestic sales of latex bedding in the last century, it made no sense whatsoever to manufacture everything overseas. So, while overseas production boomed, domestic production also gained momentum, offering many new bedding options. Ironically, where 100% naturallatex products had potential allergy issues, synthetic latex products suddenly showed their ownside-effects – chemical off-gassing during use and toxic by-products when burned. Nevertheless,blended latex products were also developed in order to harness the best qualities of both thenatural and synthetic varieties and eliminate unwanted characteristics.
Buyers must now be vigilant: marketing terms such “Latex Bed” or “Talalay Latex” do notnecessarily mean that the latex is 100% natural – and, in many cases, such terminology hides thefact that the foam is actually an 80-20 or 85-15 blend of synthetic vs natural latex..
Latex: Allergies and Hypo-Allergenic IssuesSynthetic rubbers have gained in popularity and wide application particularly with the much-debated topic of latex allergies – which can lead to anaphylactic shock and even death in severecases. There are varying theories about latex allergy, with some claiming that it is the proteins ofnatural latex, or the chemical residues from processing, that are the real cause of the sensitivity.
Latex, the milky liquid harvested from trees and plants, is actually not exclusive to the well-known Havea brasiliensis rubber tree. Indeed, there are many plants that produce latex to protectand repair themselves when injured, and not all promote an allergic response. In the meantime,or until hypoallergenic Guyale Latex is commercially developed, those with a latex allergy needto be careful about latex products.However, 100% Natural Latex foam as we know it today, by its inherent nature, reducesor avoids the most common allergens associated with modern bedding materials withoutchemical additives or synthetics. Due to thorough washing in final stages of production,100% natural latex also reduces the tendency for aggravation of latex allergies bysignificantly removing the plant proteins. Blended latex manufacturers tend to also makethis claim on the basis of the natural latex component in their finished products.A word of caution, however: People with acute or life-threatening allergies should alwayspractice caution and seek the advice of their doctor or health professional. The Latex Bedding RevolutionOne of the ever-popular areas of use for latex is in mattresses and toppers. To get a sense of this,just imagine emergent western cultures accustomed to decades of horsehair and otherunforgiving sleep surfaces suddenly discovering a soft yet firm rubbery surface that could beslept on, something that was waterproof and warm, and at the same time yielding, smooth, andelastic. Latex bedding proved to be a revolution.Latex as a bedding material has evolved over time as the availability of the material, andtechnological advancements, have produced ever-better varieties. Additionally, latex mattressesand toppers have been relatively expensive until recent times. It has perhaps been the rise inprices of comparable synthetic foam and bedding products that has reduced the gap to the pointwhere latex bedding tends to be only slightly more expensive; and that may, in part, be due to thefact that they aren’t yet mass-manufactured in the kind of volume that would otherwise make theprices equivalent.In our time, natural latex is certainly considered very much of a luxury sleep surface in manycircles. However, natural latex is also very popular among the eco-conscious; as well as thosewho cannot tolerate the chemical smells of synthetic foams, or who require the uniquely resilientfeel or firmness of latex for health reasons. Whatever the case, as mentioned above, not all latexmattresses labeled as “talalay latex” or “latex mattress” are truly 100% natural latex. They can bea synthetic combination.To be perfectly clear, there will be synthetic latexes (“domestic latex”), there will be 100%natural latexes, there will be blended latexes (sometimes called “Talalay” or even “natural”without the “100%”), and there will be layered mattresses that may incorporate one or more of
these types of latex rubber. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages; its special qualitiesand feel – and, in the end, such beds, toppers, and pillows were developed with people like youand me in mind. The Differences Between Latex Foams and Memory FoamBoth synthetic and natural latex products, generally being more dense in consistency, are mostoften perforated like a pegboard in order to soften, lighten, and create enhanced airflow withinthe finished product – even though the foam itself is foamed and aerated during production.Memory Foam, a special kind of polyurethane foam, on the other hand, does not requireperforation, and performs admirably without. Developed originally by NASA Laboratories,memory foam’s uniqueness lies in its ability to recover more slowly from body impressions (i.e.,the sense of “remembering” body position) as well as responding to body weight and heat toprovide greater comfort and more even weight and temperature distribution. Perforated Latex Pillow “Memory” FoamLatex is known for it’s properties of orthopedic support. It is soft but also firm. In addition itcomes in an all natural variety. Memory foam on the other hand is all synthetic (though a naturalversion is being developed). It is basically very softening. Latex Pillows GuideWe’re all health and comfort conscious to some degree, and a more comfortable pillow – or evenone that helps reduce neck and head ache – is sought after nearly as much as the Elixir of Life!So many designs and formulations have been created that it would be hard to tabulate them all.Foam pillows might broadly be categorized as: 100% Natural Latex, 100% Synthetic Latex,100% Memory Foam, and layered and blended combinations.With ever-increasing awareness on health and the physical dynamics of body alignment, throughhealth sciences such as Osteopathy and Chiropractic, reduction of pressure points, properdistribution of body weight on a sleep surface, and correct spinal alignment, have greatlyinfluenced the bedding industry. In terms of pillows, the cervical or contour pillow wasdeveloped to help provide proper anatomic support for the head and neck.
Comparative Cross-Section View of Traditional vs Contoured Pillows Latex Mattress Pad Toppers Guide Latex toppers or mattress pads tend to be very supportive and have a springy resilience. For this reason, even a soft density latex topper can feel firm to some sleepers. Latex is particularly good for general support, support underneath a memory foam topper, and for body weights over about 250 lbs. Because of the durability and performance of latex, it makes an excellent sleep surface. It’s surprising what a few inches of latex can do for a bed that isn’t otherwise comfortable. The soft and springy resilience of latex provides soothing orthopedic support, and helps to distribute body weight and reduce pressure points. On top of that, perforations in the foamitself help to increase air circulation and provide thermal distribution for better night timecomfort. Best of all, modern production technology involves washing the finished (natural latex)product to help reduce or eliminate the plant proteins that may cause or aggravate allergy.With synthetic latexes or blends, every day may bring an ever greater range of density and feel,allowing the really discriminating sleeper to choose what suits them in a very meticulouslyprecise way. Particularly with blends, the topper may possess unique properties that provide anunmatched sleep experience – for just the right person. Latex Mattress GuideLatex mattresses probably come in as many varieties as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, in part becausethey have been presented as a luxury item, and in part because each of us has his or her owndefinition of what “comfortable” is. Some mattress manufacturers are even beginning to allowindependent customization of the mattress.
Contemporary choices include a range of mattresses from handsome tight-tops to luxuriouspillow-top styles; 100% natural latex mattresses, 100% synthetic mattresses, and sometimescombinations of natural and syntheticlatexes – each with added comfortlayers of wool, cashmere, SuperSoftfoam, or polyester fiber, anddifferent thicknesses, sizes, andshapes of the basic mattress or bedset. Each will be covered in ahandsome or even elegant fabricmade of natural, synthetic, orblended fibers.When it comes to the general term,“latex mattress” it is best to beaware of the fact that many storeswill only tell you that their mattressis “Natural Latex”, “Talalay latex”,“Dunlop latex”, or merely “Natural”or “Latex” – as if such a label will hypnotize you into accepting that their mattress is exactlywhat you were looking for without ever telling you the full story. This would probably only be aconcern if you require a truly 100% natural latex mattress or have a particular allergy orsensitivity.The 100% natural latex mattress will generally be between 6” and 14” deep, and may beanything from pure natural latex with an organic removable cover all the way to density-layeredpure natural latex wrapped in organic wool, with a cozy pillowtop, and adorned with elegantwoven fabric. Such luxurious covers are often quilted for added comfort, and to help keepdelicate layers from shifting. The most common densities for latex are soft (4.7 lbs density, 16 – 18 IFD) and medium (5.3 lbs density, 28 – 30 IFD), though some manufacturers may utilize higher densities for the core of their mattresses. If variable comfort and support is important, multiple layers of different densities might be the way to go, as it provides the best of both worlds. In the realm of combination, blended, or “domestic” latexmattresses, the mattress will often begin with a core of high density polyurethane foam for
inexpensive but effective support and durability. On top of this will be various layers including100% natural latex, 100% synthetic latex, a blended natural-and-synthetic latex, and/or memoryfoam. Luxurious versions will frequently also include pillow tops which may incorporate latex,wool, cashmere, SuperSoft foam, and/or some delicate soft polyester fiber to add a more plushappearance and feel. The very top level latex mattresses will also use latex as the base or supportfoundation level of foam The Latex Sleeping Experience Specialty sleep products are their own unique experience – for each product, people tend to either like the feel or they don’t. Generally, however, the less chemically noxious the product is, the more happy customers you’re likely to see after the sale closes. In the case of 100% natural latex mattresses, the primary issue that tends to come up is comfort – from people who aren’t used to the springy resilience of latex foam anddidn’t really know what to expect. Nevertheless, most modern latex mattresses now includecomfort layers of wool, fiber, and softer foams to add an extra plushness which helps make thatvery supportive latex feel ever so luxurious. So it is possible to find a latex mattress that is justthe right amount of softness for your own personal comfort level. We find our customers lovelatex bedding.Customer Experience: “I’m as snug as a bug-in-a-rug on my own D-I-Y (Do-It-Yourself)ErgoSoft Select 100% natural latex mattress that is 8” of medium soft density latex foam with avery ordinary zippered mattress enclosure. Not only do I like its simplicity, but I also find it to bethe most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on. What could add to that? – it is also the mosteconomical version of a 100% natural mattress available.”Visit www.AbsoluteComfortOnSale.com for all your bedding needs.Visit here for more info on the latex mattress.Visit here for more info on the memory foam mattress.