We specialize in latex mattresses. We choose them because of the conforming, no pressure-point sleep and the longevity.
Starting in the 1980’s I worked with Englander to develop a line of two-sided, flippable latex mattresses. They made them for our store exclusively. At the time of writing this we had 13 different Englander, 6 Natura and 6 from Organic Mattress, Inc. For the past 30+ years we have been specializing in latex eco friendly mattresses. It is “as close to perfect” for a mattress material I’ve found. For most of those years other retailers either didn’t carry latex or had one or two models. We carried 25. In the last few years that has changed. Therefore, the inevitable cheapening of the product has begun. Rather than maintaining the highest level of presentation, retailers create cheaper and cheaper products. They cut corners to hit price points. Most of these corners should not be cut. Here is what is happening:
The Shell Game
Retailers want to jump on the “green” bandwagon. They represent everything as eco, green or natural; even if it is mostly petroleum based synthetics. There are no enforceable standards for what is “natural” or “green”.
Many “latex” mattresses are being made using synthetic rubber. It is known as polystyrene butadiene or styrene butadiene (SBR). Often stores will present this as natural rubber (yes, petroleum is presented as a natural product).
Is a plastic foam. It is roughly 15-20% soy oil, and the remainder is from petroleum. Presented as a natural material by some, it is once again, petroleum being sold as a natural product.
The latest ruse is to present mattresses with an inch or two of SBR latex laminated to polyurethane foam (or “soy foam”) as being a natural latex mattress. This loses almost all the benefit of latex.
Smoke and Mirrors:
Manufacturers manipulate comparisons between synthetic latex and 100% botanical latex. It is done in an effort to present styrene butadiene rubber as comparable or even better than real rubber. They conduct tests at a ridiculous and unrealistic 158 degrees (Fahrenheit) in order to have it perform better than botanical latex. When compared at room temperature, botanical latex excels.
Inevitably, when shopping for latex mattresses you will run into discussions about Talalay and Dunlop rubber. This argument is a diversion from what the rubber is made of, tree rubber or petrochemicals. If the latex is pure botanical rubber, then either process can be good. We have found the Dunlop process, botanical latex, works best for the support cores. While, Talalay process rubber is okay for use as a cushioning top layer. The differences are not minor, however, and both can hold up pretty well. Both can provide good comfort. However, in our store we have experienced a difference in consistency over time. People kept our Talalay core mattresses 5-7 years. Dunlop core mattresses average over 15 years. Therefore we keep latex eco friendly.
So, as it is in many products, it is buyer beware. A knowledgeable consumer is a good consumer. When shopping for latex be aware of the fog of misinformation.