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
WHAT IS NATURAL LATEX?
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.
WHAT IS SYNTHETIC LATEX?
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.
WHAT IS BLENDED LATEX?
Blended latex is just what it sounds like, a combination of Natural latex and Synthetic latex mixed together.
WHICH LATEX IS BEST FOR ME?
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.
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.