How to Identify Botanical Latex versus Synthetic Latex

Botanical vs. Synthetic Latex

You may have heard the radio commercials or seen the print ads that say, “Get a Latex Mattress! In a box! Shipped right to your house! It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!”

Sounds great, right? But be careful, not all mattresses marketed as latex are actually just latex. Many of them are synthetic latex, containing potentially harmful chemical compounds that off-gas. Not to mention, synthetic latex mattresses won’t last for more than a few years.

You pay for the experience of unboxing a ‘latex mattress,’ but then you really pay for it later down the road, in the form of headaches, aches and pains, restless sleep, and another sizable investment when you have to replace the mattress way too soon.

If you’ve been reading this blog for the past couple years, no doubt you know my aversion to synthetic latex, also known as Styrene Butadiene or SBR.

How to know if the mattress you’re looking at is real or synthetic latex

As a consumer, being tricked into buying fake latex is easy. Consumers largely rely on a salesperson to represent their product honestly. Unfortunately, the salesperson may not know the true answers to the hard questions. Often, they only retell the customers what management’s said or told them.

So here are some hints on how to check for yourself:

To recognize synthetic and blended latex, look at the latex sample provided in the store as a demo.

Signs the ‘latex’ you’re looking at might be Styrene Butadiene (SBR):

  • Yellows with age.
  • Crumbles with age.
  • Easily tears and pulls apart, particularly on the sides of the sample.
  • Retains a chemical smell for many months after production.

How to tell if the “latex” mattress is really only a layer of latex laminated to polyurethane foam:

  • Bend the mattress — an all-latex mattress will fold in half easily.
  • Look on the law label for the contents by percentage — unfortunately, the latex listed will not specify whether it is botanical or synthetic.
  • Smell the mattress — if you are odor-sensitive, you’ll notice the chemical smell.
  • Lift the mattress — this is sometimes helpful as latex is heavier than most synthetics.
  • Feel the mattress through the sides — you may be able to feel the transition points for the layers. Plus, poly foam feels noticeably different than latex.

Hopefully some of these tips will help in ensuring that you get the real thing: a real botanical latex mattress that will give you better sleep, stay durable and supportive, and feel truly comfortable.

Let’s Talk. We’re Listening.

Have questions about botanical latex versus synthetic latex? Lay them on us and we’ll be sure to respond.

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