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What Does Natural Latex Mean?
Eco-friendly Comfort at a Premium Price

Last updated on July 18, 2019

Natural latex foam is a comfortable and supportive mattress material made from the milky sap of rubber trees.

While small amounts of chemicals are used in the processing and manufacturing process, all-natural latex is a mostly or completely plant-based product made with few or no chemicals that remain in the finished mattress. For this reason, mattresses made with natural latex foam are a good choice if you’re concerned about environmentally sustainability, and with minimizing chemicals in your home.

All-natural latex can be contrasted with synthetic and blended latex (a mix of natural and synthetic).

Below: Layers of all-natural latex foam on the Spindle mattress

Pros and Cons: All Natural Latex

All-natural latex may make up either the support layer or the comfort layer of a mattress—or both. Its benefits as a mattress material are many. For starters, natural latex foam has a springy resilience that sets it apart. While memory foam mattresses take awhile to return to their original shape, latex responds immediately when pressure is removed.

Pros Cons
  • Pressure relief
  • Lack of chemicals
  • Biodegradable/Sustainable
  • Mold/mildew/dust-mite resistant
  • Longevity
  • Cost
  • Not for those with severe latex allergies
  • Harder to find/not as many models to choose from

What Are the Benefits of All Natural Latex?

The primary benefit of all-natural latex is a soft, body-contouring surface that fully supports your body without creating painful pressure points or allowing you to sink too deeply into the mattress.

Natural latex also boasts a high degree of motion isolation, so that when one partner tosses and turns, the movement is barely noticeable on the other side of the bed. Mattresses made from all-natural latex can often be customized layer by layer from top to bottom to achieve a specific feel or to create different firmness levels by re-arranging the layers. Both the Zenhaven and Spindle mattresses reviewed by GoodBed have this ability.

Because all-natural latex has an open-cell structure that allows air to move freely, all-natural latex mattresses are resistant to moisture and the buildup of molds and mildews. The open cell structure also helps keep latex sleepers warm in the winter and cool in the summer, which makes it a good choice if you are worried about sleeping hot.

Made using different processes than medical-grade latex, latex mattresses generally won’t bother latex allergy sufferers, especially since most latex allergies are 'contact' allergies and a latex mattress will be wrapped in a cover. Those with severe allergies may want to avoid them, or opt for synthetic latex. In addition, natural latex repels dust mites and other allergens, so it is a good choice if you are concerned about allergies in general.

But true natural latex mattresses are expensive. Latex foam is one of the pricier materials for manufacturers to incorporate into their mattresses, and the absence of chemicals and other additives also comes at a cost. In addition, all-natural latex models are somewhat less common than other mattress types, which can make them more difficult to source online or find in retail stores.

If you’re considering an all-natural latex mattress, note that they tend to have longer lifespans than mattresses made from other materials, which offsets their higher price tag.

Organic vs All-Natural Latex

Mattresses labeled 'all natural' or '100% natural' are just that: made entirely of latex made with sap from rubber trees. If a mattress is described as merely 'natural' there's a good chance that the company is using a blended latex, made partly with real latex and partly with synthetic latex; manufacturers are allowed to call their latex 'natural' if it contains some percentage of natural material, but not necessarily 100%.

All-latex mattresses can be organic or not; Organic all-natural latex beds are made from sap derived from organic rubber trees, grown without the use of pesticides. But most all-natural latex is made from conventional trees. Nest Bedding is one company that sells both standard all-natural and organic all-natural latex beds.

Companies can choose to have their organic latex certified to the GOLS standard, which indicated that the raw rubber is organically grown, but also that the manufacturing process is also free from harmful chemicals. Read more on mattress certifications.

Below: Collecting sap from rubber trees

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