Natural latex foam is a comfortable and supportive material made from the milky sap of rubber trees. While a small amount of synthetic material is often used in processing and construction, all-natural latex is a mostly or completely organic product made with few or no chemical additives. For this reason, mattresses made with natural latex foam are a good choice if you’re concerned about chemical off-gassing from petroleum-based foams and synthetic adhesives.
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 and most synthetic latex mattresses take awhile to return to their original shape, latex responds immediately when pressure is removed. At the same time, all-natural latex provides 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 for each partner.
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 tend to sleep hot.
Made using different processes than medical-grade latex, latex mattresses generally won’t bother latex allergy sufferers. In addition, natural latex repels dust mites and other allergens, so it is a good choice if you are concerned about allergies.
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.