March 5, 2015 - Marshall Coyle

Latex, Talalay VS Dunlop-Natural or Synthetic?

Latex Foam Rubber


What actually is it?

Foamed Latex, both Talalay and Dunlop is defined as: Any of several natural or synthetic colloidal polymers suspended in an aqueous solution.

Basically: rubber particles in water


Natural Latex is a milky substance harvested from rubber tree plants (Hevea brasiliensis) which are grown in tropical climate plantations around the world. Most are located in Africa, Malaysia, South America, and Indonesia.

Harvesting the liquid latex is similar to tapping trees for maple syrup. The trees are not harmed, providing a sustainable resource. The latex is collected in buckets and shipped to large rubber factories such as B.F Goodrich, Dupont, etc. for processing. Natural liquid latex is a commodity that’s publicly traded in stock markets around the world similar to corn, pork bellies, orange juice etc.

Natural and/or Blended Latex are considered to be the very best of all cushioning materials for mattresses and other sleep products, as well as luxury upholstered furniture.


Synthetic latex is a man-made rubber like product. The scientific name for this compound is Styrene-Butadiene (SBR).

Styrene does occur in low levels naturally. Today, however it is produced by the dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene.

Butadiene is produced as a by product of the steam cracking of Napthia or LPG which is used to produce ethylene.

Polystyrene is relatively hard polymer where polybutadiene is a relatively soft polymer. These were combined or polymerized together to form a synthetic rubber.

Synthetic Latex is considered desirable as an additive to natural latex to increase life expectancy.

Unblended Synthetic Latex  is used in a lower cost foam identified as “Dunlop” process.  It is sometimes used in lower quality mattresses, but lacks the “feel” of the natural or blended forms.  It’s major reason for being is to lower the cost of the mattress.  It still will offer more comfort than typical synthetic memory foams.   Informed shoppers will buy Talalay, the original and worth the tiny price premium.


Blended latex is just what it sounds like, a combination of Natural latex and Synthetic latex mixed together.


This is a question that’s answer can depend on your perspective. All latex formulas offer numerous benefits to consumers that far outweigh the benefits of conventional foam bedding materials. Keep in mind that while latex formulations are contrasted with each other below, all latex rubber significantly outperforms foams such as memory foam or traditional polyurethane foam for durability, pressure relief and sleep benefits.


Natural latex, as its name implies, is “natural” which offers many benefits for use in sleep products. Consumers that have an organic lifestyle and have made numerous changes to remove most synthetic chemicals from their household tend to purchase 100% natural formulations. The elasticity, healthiness, and ability of Natural Latex to conform to your body, reducing pressure on your muscles and circulation is unsurpassed. The resulting benefits and luxurious comfort simply can’t  be matched by synthetic latex alone.  An all synthetic is something to avoid.  However, a small amount of synthetic blended with natural during the foaming process can make a measurable increase in the life expectancy of the mattress without diminishing the healthful benefits of the Natural Latex.  The blending process makes it stronger without diminishing the feel and naturally cool feeling.  This mixture is called blended latex.  All natural Talalay latex may last fifteen or twenty years, and the blended a few years longer.  


If you want to know  that a product is natural and good for the environment, while also looking for a product that will help you sleep better with optimum value for their money- y purchase blended latex. By combining Natural Latex and Synthetic Latex together you get the best of both worlds. Natural components, elasticity, conformity, health benefits and luxurious feel from Natural Latex combine with extended support from Synthetic Latex- to make a product that the Earth provided and we perfected.

Blended latex has been sometimes compared to a gold wedding band. You would not wear a 24 karat (pure 100% gold) wedding band because it would be too soft and soon bend or deform.  The solution is an 18 karat gold ring where the gold is mixed with another, more durable metal. The result is a ring that has the look and feel of pure gold but is less vulnerable to damage or wear.

Latex Allergies

The term “latex allergy” is actually a misnomer. No one is allergic to the natural rubber polymer itself. A small portion of the population is allergic to the proteins, not the rubber, that trigger a allergic response in the some people. To stimulate that response direct skin contact with these proteins are necessary. Because of this and the fact the latex foam is used in bedding covered in the final product, there has never been a report of a latex allergy initiated by latex foam bedding products. In addition all latex used in the Latex foam products  goes through multiple thorough washes  primarily to remove residual soap. With that soap removed most of these proteins are also removed.

Dunlop VS Talalay  added information
Both forms start with the same latex sap but how they get to be the spongy substance known as latex foam is very different.  One involves heating the product and the other involves freezing.  I will not take your time with the arcana, but what you need to know is what makes the foams different. The Dunlop process foam is coarser with the bubbles varying widely in size and cell wall thickness.  It also varies from top to bottom in the slab.  The top foam is softer and the bottom of the slab is firmer.  The finished product firmness is not the same throughout the slab and varies unpredictably.  If price is more important than comfort, then Dunlop is the best choice.

Talalay is very uniform throughout the slab with no surprise harder or softer spots.  The process is more costly and so is the finished product.  When comfort is the major reason for sleeping on foam latex,  Talalay is the obvious choice.

Both types come in degrees of firmness designated by ILD numbers, the lower numbers, numbers below 20  being soft and the firmness gradually increases until extremely firm occurs in the mid or high 40’s.

Natural VS synthetic blends  more detail

Your available choices are all-natural and blends.   There is almost no available “all synthetic” in the U.S. but much available latex is 70% natural blended with 30% synthetic.  They feel identical but wear differently.  The addition of the synthetic makes the foam stronger and more durable.   All-natural latex will provide comfort for as much as fifteen or twenty years but the blends can and usually do add a few years.




Bed Buying Tips / Bed Value / Casper / Estate Powercore / Keetsa / Mattresses / Misc Bed / Saatva / Sealy / Serta / Tuft and Needle


  • Mike E Wicoff says:

    Thanks for the good information.
    So with blended latex is there a particular blend ratio that’s best? 20/80 latex/syn latex?
    Dunlop can be all natural or blended. Dunlop can be very good I hear especially as a base layer. Your thoughts?
    Thank you,
    Mike W

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Mike,

      I will be happy to recommend a mattress that meets your needs once I have a filled out mattress survey in front of me. If you have already sent yours in, I apologize, but I am somewhat behind in my virtual shopping “expeditions”. I have attached what I used as a text back when I wanted to be sure that I was writing clearly for my readership. It is in an email, not this public answer Your question has never come up before and I don’t have time these days to do more than the surveys. You should find page 8 of special interest if you are planning on designing your own mattress. I have the formulae for getting the proper ILD and density for various weights memorized and use it when I am doing the virtual and formerly “for real” shopping and buying.

      I look forward to receiving your survey. You can find it on most pages of the Old Bed Guy blog. I caution you to resist the temptation to believe the BS that you will find on some of the “pay for play” Internet blogs that purport to have the answers to your interesting questions. You will receive answers that steer you only to the members who pay kickbacks for the recommendation. You can trust Consumer Reports and they recommend only one all latex mattress but omit the details that seem to interest you. I am having a senior moment and forget the name of the one latex mattress without coils and have no time to start finding my CR information. However, if you ask in the comments section, I will include the information in your shopping reply.

      Marshall Coyle
      This document was dictated to Dragon Naturally Speaking software that is responsible for all spelling and typographical errors.

  • Mike E Wicoff says:

    Thanks for the good information.
    So with blended latex is there a particular blend ratio that’s best? 20/80 latex/syn latex?
    Dunlop can be all natural or blended. Dunlop can be very good I hear especially as a base layer. Your thoughts?
    Thank you,
    Mike W

  • maureen o'donnell says:

    I wasn’t sure what the math problem meant, hope i got it right.
    I bought a King KOIL november2014 moved in with it December 2014 by february was calling their customer service number. They were very apologeetic and agreeable about a new mattress. The factory (dixie) in Miami lost King koil franchise and Tampa factory was not up and running. I went home for the summer, touched base with Patti Grella customer service still agreeable, came back Sept 15 tc to Patti and she does not know who I am and she is no longer customer service. I am still waiting today to hear back 9/24. this is not right.


  • TexasOAP says:

    I am in the process of replacing my old mattress set. It is a S&F queen size set I purchased in department store thirty years ago, but it still sleeps perfectly fine for me. The ONLY reason I decided to replace it is that I moved into a smaller home, and my new bedroom is so small that the queen set literally takes up about 85% of the floor space. If the room were larger, I would not be looking to replace my old set.

    I never realised how problematic purchasing a new mattress set would be, though. I thought I needed an ultra firm and purchased a S&F Estate Lux a few weeks ago. It turned out to be a HUGE mistake. It has been like sleeping on concrete. After the first night on it, I awoke feeling as though I had been hit by a mack truck. My entire body literally hurt. I have adjusted to it somewhat, but I still sleep horribly on it. As my old set was either a firm or an extra firm, as I recall, I was surprised that the ultra firm sleeps so miserably. Luckily, the department store will allow me to exchange it. The problem is what to choose. I have been looking, but I am so frustrated by the entire process.

    Given my complete satisfaction over the last thirty years with my old S&F, I am both shocked and amazed that I have not found another S&F that I truly feel good about. Shopping for a mattress has proven an absolute nightmare thus far. At this point, I am about to commit to an Aireloom Vitgenic Streamline Cushion Firm HL mattress set. It has the tatalay latex in it. After lying on many mattresses the last few weeks, I thought this one was probably the most comfortable for me. I sleep mainly on my side. This mattress is firm but soft at the same time. I can only hope I am making the correct decision in choosing it as it is a $2,500.00 purchase which for me is an enormous investment that I cannot afford to duplicate for another twenty years. Nothing should be this difficult to purchase…nothing.

    I have HATED how each store gives their mattresses a different name, often an unbelievably long name that conveys very little about the mattresses themselves. I have HATED how the SAs are not very well educated about the differences amongst the mattresses they sell, and I have HATED that in an effort to sort out all of it, I have used up an ENORMOUS amount of my time and energy. Quite honestly, at this point, if I had not already sold my old S&F set, I think I would just keep it and suffered through the lack of space in the bedroom due to the queen size set. It is a pretty grim realisation to know that my thirty year old S&F sleeps better than a brand new Estate Lux S&F, I can assure you.

    This is so depressing….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.