Gel Mattresses

Gel Mattresses

A mattress material that has been hyped quite a bit lately is gel.

It can be used as a layer, or as an infused foam.  Though this is been presented as a revolutionary advancement in memory foam “technology”, gel has been used in mattresses for decades. I was surprised to see that this was being lauded by manufacturers, and retailers alike as the new cash cow of the mattress industry. Gel was introduced in the 70’s as a means to improve upon waterbed mattresses. Some beds are now being presented as gel mattresses.

This was briefly successful in the 70’s. It will be briefly successful now. Salespeople in mattress stores will follow the path of least resistance. Customers come in pre-sold on memory foam mattresses. However, it’s reasonable to be concerned about heat issues. Most experience that on memory foam. As a salesman it’s so easy to say, “Oh, you’re worried about sleeping hot? Gel will keep you cooler. Plus you can still have the memory foam feel.” What an easy way to get a sale.

What you don’t know can be used against you

What the average consumer doesn’t know, and probably the salesperson, is that “gel” memory foam will not be cool for long. Once your body warms up the gel on the surface, it actually sleeps hotter than standard memory foam. The memory foam that we already know sleeps hot. Additionally, gel reduces the comfort life of the memory foam. Plastic foam actually loses its shape faster when infused with gel.

Unfortunately for the consumers, this is a gimmick, just as it was the first time.

So what’s it made of? Mineral spirits (petroleum distillate) and plant based oils (usually soy) along with a coagulant which varies depending upon the manufacturer.


Gel beds are even more mainstream than I expected them to become. See Purple. Cheaper materials would be hard to find if practically everyone weren’t building disposable beds. We are removing gel beds that are less than two years old because of sags on a weekly basis.

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