To make sure you're buying the best mattress for your needs, you'll need to know the strengths and weaknesses of each type of latex. You'll find a summary here; follow the links above for more in-depth information before you spend money on a premium mattress.
Manufacturing Latex Foam
Once harvested, latex is poured into molds and "vulcanized," or treated and heated, to create three-dimensional foam. There are two ways to turn liquid latex into the foam so prized for luxury mattresses:
- A historically older method, the Dunlop process is a simple construction process that can be achieved on-site with the right tools, rather than involving transport of the latex to a space-age laboratory. Dunlop mattress construction involves injecting the liquid latex serum into a mold, layer by layer, where it's allowed to set.
- Talalay production, introduced after World War II, is more complex and high-tech than traditional Dunlop processes. The liquid latex must be chemically treated to keep its liquid composition before transport to a laboratory. Once there, the latex is whipped to increase the amount of air in the mix, then poured into pin-molds where it's flash-frozen, vulcanized, and subjected to vacuum suction. The result is a lighter, more "airy" foam than Dunlop.
Know Your Latex Foam
If you want a mattress that's custom-fit to your sleep style, you'll need to check out the links above to understand each type of foam. Here are some of the basics:
- is the original rubber a natural, sustainable, and renewable product. It is generally harvested from living rubber trees in an estate setting throughout their natural lifespan of 30 to 50 years without harming the living plant. Natural botanical latex can be processed in several ways to achieve a variety of sleep surfaces within a range of prices.
- can be manufactured in a laboratory setting to mimic botanical latex, but doesn't quite achieve the resilient, body contouring comfort of the real thing. Synthetic latex is "built" using industrial-strength petrochemicals, whereas botanical latex is a naturally-occurring and sustainable substance.
- is a blend of synthetic and natural latexes that approaches the resilience and buoyancy of the natural product at a lower price point. Such mixtures are usually 30% natural latex and 70% synthetic product.
Natural, synthetic, or blended liquid latex can be manufactured using either the Dunlop or Talalay methods.
Many latex mattresses offer a Dunlop core, or bottom, under a top Talalay comfort layer. This layered mix makes use of the best qualities of each the strength of Dunlop underneath, with the pressure-relieving properties of airy Talalay on top. Others are built of all-Dunlop or all-Talalay foams. Follow the links above to explore the strengths and weaknesses of each type of mattress, so you know you're buying the best bed for you.