Talalay Latex Creation
The Talalay method of latex mattress construction is more complex than the older Dunlop method and creates a lighter, more "airy" final product than the Dunlop process. Talalay latex is one of the types of latex that is occasionally used on its own in mattress construction, but is often used in conjunction with Dunlop-produced latex to build a composite mattress with the best qualities of both materials.
From Rubber Serum to a Good Night's Sleep
Natural latex serum is first extracted from the Hevea brasiliensis plant each day by workers called "tappers." Once the collection process is complete, the liquid latex must be transformed from its natural state into a light, air-filled material suitable for premium bedding. If you have the opportunity to see natural liquid latex, which resembles the consistency of maple syrup, you'll be amazed that such a thin liquid can produce such a soft and luxurious final product.
Talalay Latex Mattress Construction
In the Talalay method, the latex serum is first whipped to impart air particles, and then poured into a frame. Talalay latex is subjected to a vacuum molding process in which the latex is flash-frozen as it is molded. This flash-freezing, combined with the addition of air, avoids the particulate separation that can occur during the Dunlop production process (where the latex is allowed to dry slowly in layers).
Talalay latex is thus more uniform down to the molecular level, so that the density and cushion of the material are the same across the whole latex layer and from top to bottom. Talalay latex is thus generally lighter, more breathable, and better balanced than latex materials produced by the Dunlop method – which tend to be slightly denser and firmer on one side than on the other.
However, Talalay-produced latex can be less firm and durable than its Dunlop cousin. You can find latex mattresses that are made entirely of natural Talalay latex, and they often fetch a premium price for their light, airy feel and breathable comfort. Still, Talalay mattresses often don't wear well and may break down more quickly compared to their Dunlop counterparts.
Talalay latex is often placed on top of Dunlop layers or wrapped around a Dunlop core. This hybrid process tends to produce a mattress with a firm and supportive interior that has the airy feel of a memory foam mattress and the softer support often desired by side-sleepers.
Pros -- Talalay Latex is:
- Highly breathable, making it a cooler alternative for those who tend to "sleep hot";
- Softer and more giving than Dunlop latex, so that side sleepers find comfort at pressure points in hips and shoulders, but back or stomach sleepers may tend to sink in;
- Uniformly constructed down to the molecular level creating even support on both sides of the mattress.
Cons -- Talalay Latex Can Be:
- Softer than Dunlop latex, so that back or stomach sleepers may feel as if they're sinking into the bed (as with any soft mattress);
- More expensive than Dunlop-produced mattresses due to the more space-aged techniques and intensive labor;
- More likely than Dunlop latex to be impersonated by synthetically produced "latex beds" built in a laboratory, not on a rubber estate, with unknown and unnatural chemical components.
The Fine Print
As with Dunlop latex mattresses, please keep in mind that even natural, chemical-free mattresses in the United States must include fire-retardant properties in order to comply with the law. Most natural latex mattress companies meet this requirement by using a mattress cover that is flame-retardant and can be removed for a sleeping experience free of industrial chemicals and off-gassing plastics. But please be aware: many synthetic latex options have a synthetic flame retardant built right into the chemical makeup of the mattress.
Inform yourself, so that you have the power to make personal decisions that are right for the ones you love. If truly natural and toxin-free options are a priority, look for a mattress company that makes a removable cover for a mattress constructed only of natural latex. With the right tools, you can find a bed that's safe and comfortable for you and for your family.