Pros and Cons of Blended Latex
Natural Latex Production
Natural latex is a thin liquid produced in small quantities by a variety of plant species. A few species, particularly Hevea brasiliensis (the "rubber tree") can produce liquid latex in sufficient quantities for use in industrial production.
Latex grown on rubber tree estates is "tapped" to access the latex, in much the same way as maple trees are "tapped" for maple syrup. After the latex is collected, and while it's still in liquid form, the latex is processed using special molds, temperature control, aeration, and (in some cases) chemical additives. When the liquid latex is processed into thick latex foam with the right specifications, it becomes an excellent premium bedding material.
It's possible to make synthetic latex in a lab using basic elements and manmade chemical components. But though synthetic latex is often considered premium bedding, no synthetic version can match the natural, responsive resilience of real natural latex.
Some forms of synthetic latex may be longer-lasting than natural latex. But since all-natural latex beds can last 20+ years, and the best ones come with a long-term warranty, it doesn't makes sense to choose the synthetic version on the basis of "shelf life" alone.
Natural Plus Synthetic: Blended Latex
"Blended latex" literally blends the liquid of natural and synthetic types of latex before the molding process begins. In most cases, blended latex foam is made up of 30% natural latex and 70% synthetic latex.
The natural latex in blended foam gives the larger proportion of synthetic latex something approximating the springy, body-contouring softness of the real thing. A bed with the "blended latex" label is a 100% latex mattress, but don't mistake it for a 100% natural latex mattress.
Blended Latex and the Talalay Production Process
Usually only latex produced using the Talalay method is blended. The other latex foam production process – Dunlop – tends to create a truly inferior product when a blended mix is used.
Talalay tends to be less dense than Dunlop and thus doesn't hold up as well. Over time, an all-Talalay mattress may sink in on itself, making you uncomfortable at night and shortening its lifespan.
If you choose a mattress that's a blended Talalay, expect to have difficulties with your mattress down the road. Blended Talalay latex, like natural Talalay latex, works best as a "comfort layer" on top of a Dunlop core or a polyurethane core if you're on a budget.
Blended Latex vs. Natural Latex
Natural latex is expensive for a reason. When you buy all-natural latex, you invest in the hidden costs of transportation, agricultural management, and equipment used in processing. Natural latex is also a truly superior material for ameliorating night time pressure-point related pain and unsatisfying sleep.
The characteristics of natural latex make it superior to blended latex options – but blended latex can approximate many of the advantages of natural latex at a more manageable price.
Blended Latex Pros
- More affordable than 100% natural latex options.
- Percentage of natural latex in the mix approximates the springy support of real latex.
- Talalay production method makes it a material favored by side sleepers.
Blended Latex Cons
- Not as long-lasting as all-natural Dunlop latex.
- Talalay production method means blended latex is not recommended for persons who sleep on their backs or prefer a firm mattress.