Shopping for a latex mattress can be confusing. Just when you thought you knew everything about buying a latex mattress you come across an obscure forum post that makes you question everything you have been told. Every mattress maker you call tells you something different. Some just tell you the things you want to hear so you will buy their natural latex mattress, even when you know what they are saying sounds too good to be true.
At Spindle, we spend a lot of time with customers unravelling the myths they have been led to believe. We are pretty up front in sharing what we call, Inconvenient Truths about a Latex Mattress.
Lie #1: A Latex Mattress is 100% Natural
There is no such thing. No 100% anything. Many marketers use “natural” and “organic” as shorthand to imply the mattress is safe, an abstract metric that has no baseline. And just because something is natural does not mean it is safe.
You’ve found lots of companies who sell a latex mattress, but when you read the fine print, it says the cotton is certified and the latex isn't or all materials on their own are certified but the finished product is not. There is no standard for labeling. You will even find latex mattresses that only have a little bit of latex in them and shout natural from the rooftops.
As a marketing term, natural is shorthand to imply the mattress is “safe,”
For starters: There is nothing natural about latex foam. It does not exist in nature. It is a manufactured product that contains a number of things, one of which is latex from rubber trees. We will do a deeper dive into this in Lie #2.
Every new mattress you buy has a dangling label, called a law tag. It states, Under Penalty of Law This Tag Not to be Removed…and if you do: go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200! Only kidding about the jail part.
That law tag is not there just to confuse you. It is there to let you know about the materials in your mattress. Your Spindle latex mattress is pretty simple. It is makeup, as a percentage of total weight is:
Your Spindle is referred to as organic even though everything in the mattress is manufactured and/or processed. As previously mentioned, latex foam does not exist in nature, nor does cotton cloth. The least processed material is the wool, which gets washed and carded.
If a material used in the mattress is less than 1% of the total weight, then it does not need to be listed. The following materials are not listed on our law tag and do not appear in nature:
The zipper has nylon teeth, and a metal trolley and pull tab.
Polyester thread is used to stitch the wool/cotton quilt.
The mattress' seams along the tape line are sealed with a heat resistant para-aramid thread, aka Kevlar, chemically poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide. This helps prevent flames from breaching vulnerable areas and, in turn, igniting the materials inside the mattress. Even "organic" mattresses are permitted to use this thread and qualify for certification. We estimate the weight of that thread is probably less than .001% the total weight of your mattress. Our mattress complies with federal fire safety laws -- CPSC fire safety reg 1633 and 1632 -- by using natural wool as a flame barrier. This alleviates the need to add chemical fire retardants [FR] like boric acid or formaldehyde.
A latex mattress is natural, until you begin to peel back the onion. Like natural, “certified” organic, earth-friendly, responsible, vegan, et al are meant to imply trust and healthy. We strongly encourage customers to read the standards themselves to be sure what you are buying meets your needs. You will find links to those source materials in this article on certification.
Lie #2: There is nothing in latex foam but latex
One of the attractions of a latex mattress like Spindle is its simplicity: Latex, Wool & Cotton. It is considered a natural mattress even though it is not 100% natural [see Lie #1]. Ready to be confused a bit more?
The latex we use is called "100%" organic latex, even though it is not. Remember, latex foam — the stuff that is in your mattress — is a manufactured product. It has a number of different things in it, and one of those is latex that comes out of a rubber tree.
100% Natural is an industry classification that describes a foam containing about 95% latex rubber. The remaining 5% are chemicals — a curing pack — added to the latex so it can be aerated and vulcanized resulting in an appropriate product for your mattress.
When someone tells you their latex has no chemicals... “nothing in it but latex,” they are lying. Truth is, you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs. All latex is made this way. Spoiler alert: even certified organic latex. If you did not bake the rubber, you’d be lying in a bowl of gooey colloid resembling Elmer’s Glue when its warm. Without the curing pack you would be sleeping on ridiculously hard rubber like balls used by the Incas, Aztecs, and lax bros.
What chemicals are in the curing pack? Sulfur, sodium, fatty acid soaps, and zinc oxide. But we do not know in what proportions. This is not about trying to hide poisonous chemicals. It is about protecting the latex manufacturer’s intellectual property.
There are very few latex manufacturers in the world [only three in the US], and they all need to differentiate themselves in a commodity market. One way of doing this is to have a proprietary formula for their foam. Think of Coke vs. Pepsi. They both have carbonated water, sweetener, caramel color, and flavors. Secret, proprietary ingredients and neither company will share their recipe. Same thing with the foam manufacturers.
The nothing but natural latex statement can be true when discussing fillers —large percentages of coir or graphite — or natural latex blended with styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR), i.e., synthetic latex.