What Is Latex

What is Natural Latex?

Natural Latex is a milky substance harvested from rubber tree plants (Heveabrasiliensis) which are grown in tropical climate plantations around the world. Natural Latex is bio-degradable and naturally resistant to mold, mildew & bacteria.

Harvesting the liquid latex is similar to tapping trees for maple syrup. The trees are not harmed, providing a sustainable resource. The latex is collected in buckets and shipped to large rubber factories for processing.

Natural latex, as its name implies, is “natural” which offers many benefits for use in sleep products. Consumers that have an organic lifestyle and have made numerous changes to remove most synthetic chemicals from their household tend to purchase 100% natural formulations. The elasticity, healthiness, and ability of Natural Latex to conform to your body, reducing pressure on your muscles and circulation is unsurpassed. The resulting benefits and luxurious comfort simply can’t be matched by synthetic latex.

What is Synthetics Latex?

Rather than being harvested from rubber trees, Synthetic latex is produced from petrochemicals. It is known as Styrene-Butadiene-Rubber. Sleep products will feature either natural or synthetic latex, or a combination of both.Several types of synthetic latex exist but SBR (styrene-butadiene rubber) is the most common type of synthetic latex used in the production of synthetic latex foam.

It is important to note that because natural latex is a polymer of isoprene, synthetic latex is actually very different from natural latex. Thus, the performance of synthetic latex is not on a level comparable to natural rubber.

What is Blended Latex?

“Blended latex” literally blends the liquid of natural and synthetic types of latex before the molding process begins. In most cases, blended latex foam is made up of 30% natural latex and 70% synthetic latex.

Comparing the Different Types of Latex

There are two methods used to manufacture latex, the Dunlop process and the Talalay process. The Dunlop process has been in use for over 90 years, the Talalay process is a much newer process introduced within the last few years. The Dunlop latex process is normally used to manufacture 100% pure and natural latex from the sap of the rubber tree. The Talalay latex process is more often used to combine natural and synthetic latexes, usually with 70% natural latex and 30% synthetic rubber, or to combine natural latex with fillers made from inert raw materials to bulk out the latex foam. It’s a whole lot cheaper to make latex padded out with fillers, and a whole lot more profitable for the manufacturer who makes it. Natural latex products do not use synthetic fillers!

Pure Dunlop latex is generally denser, heavier, and more durable and resilient than Talalay latex. This is especially beneficial if mattresses are going to be subjected to high levels of activity. Talalay latex is softer, therefore you tend to sink more in the Talalay material. The Dunlop Natural material keeps you suspended if you will, on top of the mattress. Side sleepers especially seem to respond better to the Dunlop method, the pressure point reduction and weight distributing qualities of the latex being clearly superior. You don’t bottom out on it, and you can easily turn from side to side effortlessly. This is important when you consider that a common complaint of memory foam users and Talalay process mattress owners, is that the sinking effects of these materials can cause you to feel like you’re stuck in a rut.

Pure Latex made using the Dunlop process retains the intrinsic green strength of natural latex. It possesses excellent dynamic properties such as resilience and high elasticity, excellent tensile properties and has the highest recovery to original shape from deformation. There is no man-made substance which can imitate such properties, and provide support without losing sleeping comfort. Natural Latex is biodegradable when it is disposed off to land fill. It is environmental friendly.

Synthetic latex fillers are fine particles of chemically inert materials. They are commonly used to enhance the hardness of latex foam and because they replace some of the natural latex, production costs are lower. The most common fillers are China Clay (Kaolin clay), calcium oxide, or titanium dioxide. The insertion of fillers destroys the anti-bacterial properties of Natural Latex. Fillers will encourage the growth of fungus and bacteria, which in turn will encourage dust mites. Inorganic fillers reduce the tensile properties of the latex, in particular elongation at break. They suppress resilience, promote high long term compression deformation, and reduce the ability to recover to original shape.

NLF uses only 100% pure and natural latex sourced from Malaysia and manufactured using the Dunlop process. The latex is independently tested and certified by the Eco Umweltinstitut as pure and natural. This German based institute is a world-renowned authority on environmental and health related toxicity issues.

A table comparing Pure Natural Latex with Synthetic Latex, and Latex with Fillers:

 

Pure Natural Latex Natural Latex with Fillers Synthetic (SBR) Latex
Physical Appearance Creamy white natural Latex colour
Extremely fine foam structure
Sweet odour of natural latex when fresh
Colour varies according to the type of filler used. Titanium dioxide for example will give the foam a dull white colour. Kaolin clay produces a grey foam.
Coarse structure
The sweet fresh natural latex odour is suppressed by fillers
Artificial White colour Coarse structure with large pores and thin bubble cell wall
Structural Properties Open cell system
Extremely fine structure – strong gel strength and excellent support capability.
Open cell system
Coarse foam structure – filler reduces gel strength and causes poor support capability.
Open cell system
Large pores, poor gel strength and poor support capabilities
Costituent Composition 100% Pure Natural Latex 70 – 85% natural latex, 15 – 30% fillers. Fillers are added to increase hardness and as a cheapener to reduce the cost of production. 70 – 85% SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber).
15 – 30% fillers may be added to increase hardness and to act as a cheapener.
Dynamic Properties Excellent, with good resilience, low hysteresis, low permanent set, high elasticity, excellent tensile properties and highest recovery to original shape after deformation. Excellent tear resistance. Poor Inorganic fillers reduce tensile properties, particularly elongation at break. They also suppress resilience, promote high permanent set and reduce its ability to recover to the original shape. Filled latex is as good as ‘dead’ foam. Very poor as SBR foam does not recover its original shape after compression as quickly or as much as natural latex foam. It is nowhere close to the resiliency natural latex can provide. SBR foam has poor tensile properties and weak tear strength.
Durability Natural Latex Foam is durable. According to research a pure Natural Latex Foam without fillers can easily last 25 years. Natural latex with fillers is not as durable as pure latex. The service life of a product made from latex with fillers is not expected to exceed 5 years. Synthetic Latex foam loses its strength after a short period of use. It is not as durable as Natural Latex foam in any way.
Environmental Considerations Natural Latex is derived exclusively from pure, super clean, unadulterated natural rubber latex from trees. It is cultivated through new planting and replanting programmes from large scale plantations to ensure a sustainable supply of latex. The environmentally friendly attributes of natural latex are suppressed by the presence of fillers, particularly when fillers such as calcium oxide or titanium dioxide are used. Synthetic latex can be seen as an environmental hazard – it is a product of the petrochemical industry and it is contributing to the depletion of our non-renewable fossil resources.
Fire Hazards When ignited, natural latex foam will produce a smoke that is largely composed of carbon When ignited, filled natural latex foam produces toxic fumes from the decomposition of the filler When ignited, synthetic latex foam produces smoke that contains toxic substances such as phenols, isocyanides, benzenes etc.
Anti-Bacterial Properties Hypoallergenic, clean and healthy, Natural Latex Foam has inherent natural anti-bacterial properties that discourage the growth of bacteria and fungus. Without the assistance of bacteria and fungus, dust-mites are unable to digest dead skin cells from humans. Ultimately natural latex is inhospitable to dust-mites. Hazardous and harmful – the insertion of fillers destroys the anti-bacterial properties of Natural Latex. It allows the growth of fungal and bacterial populations, which in turn encourages the growth of dust-mite populations. Synthetic Latex has no anti-bacterial properties. Chemical additives in the form of anti-bacterial agents are often used to protect the foam from dust-mites.
Disposal Disposal of natural latex foam would commonly be by biological decomposition in land-fill, preserving the ecological balance. Fillers retard the efficacy of biological decomposition, besides generating toxic gases as the filler breaks down. This foam cannot be broken down without the application of external energy, so biological breakdown does not occur. Disposal of these foams is often by burning, contributing to air pollution and climate change.

How Latex is Made?

  • Our product is pure latex manufactured solely from natural rubber. Latex belongs to the species, Hevea Brazilensis, which is cultivated on a large scale in Malaysia through a planned programme of replanting, thereby ensuring a sustainable supply of natural latex from a green environment.

  • The polymeric content in our mattresses is derived exclusively from pure, super-clean and unadulterated natural rubber latex from the trees. Only natural rubber latex of the highest quality and purity is used. No synthetic latex or ‘cocktail’ is added.

  • Our latex is a natural product manufactured from the fusion of renewable natural resources in harmony with scientific innovation utilising the latest state-of-the-art technology and know how. The product is biodegradable and environmentally friendly.

  • No fillers or any additives are added thereby retaining the intrinsic green strength of natural latex. Foam from other manufacturers typically contains up to 30% inert filler and it is not uncommon to reduce production costs at the expense of quality, durability and sleeping comfort.

  • Some manufacturers using the “Talalay” process incorporate very unconventional chemical processes to synthesise a product derived from petroleum, coal, oil, natural gasses or acetylene. Ours is a natural and environmentally friendly sustainable product.

  • Mini pin core cavities are present in the mono-block available without lamination to a thickness of 15cm. Such a unique configuration reduces body intersurface contact and promotes maximum natural ventilation which is so very necessary for sleeping comfort.

  • Our latex comprises a network of millions of ultra micro-cellular structures distributed homogeneously across the whole block, made possible by using the latest microvent technology. This attribute further promotes natural breathing, gives good initial contact feel and longer product durability.

  • Our product has been orthopaedically designed to have 7 posture zones catering for optimal posture and lumbar support. This together with the complete absence of local high pressure spots gives total muscle relaxation of the body and a healthy rest.

  • The excellent dynamic properties synergised by the presence of the multi-million ultra fine interconnected open-cells enables the foam to follow the body contour and respond with the right support pressure to the weight of each part of the body.

  • The product is hygienic, hypoallergenic, dust free, contaminant free and non toxic. The intrinsic colour of natural rubber is retained. Its superb flexibility and resilience characteristics at any degree of hardness makes it an ideal match for use in adjustable beds.

  • Latex is porous throughout. As the user’s movements depress and release the material, air is circulated and thus the mattress is air-cooled during use. Latex is not hot. It is warmer in winter and cooler in the summer than other materials used for mattress making.

  • Latex is only slightly effected by high humidity. It never appreciably absorbs dampness from the atmosphere. As air is circulated through the latex, body moisture is effectively dissipated.

 

Non Toxic Anti Bacterial Self Ventilating
Non Allergenic Resilient Contaminent Free
Dust Free Odour Free Healthy
Mould Free Durable Relaxes Tired Muscles
Mildew Free Quiet No Ozone Depleting Substances
Fungus Free Flexible Resists Moisture build-up
  • Latex fillers are fine particles of chemically inert materials such as calcium oxide, China Clay (Kaolin clay) or titanium dioxide. They are used in low quality latex foam production, as they can greatly reduce the cost of producing latex foam.

  • Using fillers destroys the hypoallergenic properties of latex, which severely limits the health benefits that latex foam normally provides.

  • There are absolutely no fillers in any of the high quality products available from NLF.

  • Price is typically a very good indicator of what you’re getting when comparing latex options. When in doubt, do not hesitate to ask the salesperson or the store to show you documentation on the latex composition. Eco Institut in Germany is the de facto standard in natural rubber testing.

  • An immense amount of latex is needed to make a mattress. However, remember that latex can be tapped without destroying the tree or creating pollution, unlike other types of mattresses. To make a queen size latex mattress, it will take a whole day’s output of 12 acres of rubber trees.

  • But instead of harming the environment, this helps it: the same number of trees tapped for a queen size mattress will over the course of one year remove 143 tons of carbon dioxide from the air.

  •  Furthermore, this same 12 acres of rubber trees will keep 8 rubber tappers employed too, creating important jobs in areas where jobs may be scarce.

  •  In other words, when you purchase a latex mattress, you are helping the world environment. You are doing this by supporting the growth of rubber tree plantations and in doing so removing carbon dioxide from the air. You’re also creating much-needed jobs for people who tap rubber trees.