Updated: Apr 15, 2020
What is latex
Latex is found in nature, as a milky fluid obtained from 10% of all flowering plants. It is a complex secretion of an emulsion of proteins which also contains vital sugars, oils, resins and gum. This secretion happens when the plant suffers from a tissue injury like a cut on its bark exposing the inners to air. This is when the plant excretes this emulsion called latex. Since the early 17th century, the term latex has been used to describe the white stuff that comes out of plants that produce emulsion liquids when suffering a tissue injury. The main purpose of this secretion by the plants are primarily for defence against the herbivore insects and secondly to heal its torn tissue. Latex rubber portrays some unique physical and chemical properties. The best one of these is elasticity.
Where does it come from
The majority of latex supply is fulfilled by Thailand with a production capacity of 43 lakh tonnes in 2013 with India coming at number 4 with the production capacity of 9 lakh tons in the year 2013 of which, Kerala bags the number one spot of latex production with an estimated 90% of all latex production in the country.
How it's made to be able to use in a mattress
The liquid latex (sap) which is collected from the plants are mixed with some rising agents and then made into sheets of 6 feet by 3 feet or bigger. There are two kinds of Latex sheets
Dunlop:- It's made by collecting the tree's sap, whipped into a froth, adding additional ingredients and then baked into sheets in huge steam moulds. This process has its unique characteristics which one can easily distinguish by touching the mattress top and bottom. The froth blend provides a soft top and a firm bottom. This unique property gives the best of both worlds and enables the customer to have a two-way usage mattress.
Talalay:- This variety involves a few additional steps. Latex mixture is partially poured into the mould and is expanded into a complete sheet using a vacuum. This process is unique in providing a lush, soft and luxurious feel to it. This particular latex sheet is best for one who is looking to relive their back and shoulder pains. It is also less dense than a Dunlop latex sheet and has a more consistent feel throughout the sheet.
What are the popular variants you can find in Hyderabad/ India
We do get both Dunlop and Talalay sheets in India. Although they might be referred to by different names.
The most common names in the latex sheets would be Latex slab, regular, and pin core. Each of the specific types has a separate purpose. The slab or the Dunlop would help provide a stiffer feel while the pin core or the Talalay will help you with pain reliefs on your body. Usually, latex mattresses are combinations of slabs and pin core latex rubber sheets. For instance, a typical rubber latex mattress would have a slab latex rubber sheet as its base and pin core rubber sheet as its top. This combination results in dual side usage of the mattress. If the consumer does not like the top soft layer and would rather prefer a firm surface, then they could simply turn the mattress upside down and wallah! You’ve got an entirely new mattress altogether.
Benefits of sleeping on a latex mattress
You suffer from pressure points: - If you have certain pain points in your body, such as back pain, lower back pains and shoulder pains, then a latex mattress will be best suited for you. Latex rubber sheet in its form provides adequate softness while maintaining rigidity at the bottom to help you relieve those god awful pains fast.
You carry a lot of weight: - If you are someone who is considerably healthy and has a few extra pounds on, then a latex mattress would be a perfect fit. Latex rubber mattress helps to disperse body weight evenly across the mattress. Depth wise, it's even better with a Dunlop latex rubber sheet as the top layer spreads to give that pressure relief and the bottom layer provides you with much-needed support.
You’re looking for a product that will last: - In general, a typical lifestyle of a latex mattress is about 10-12 years. Our mattress at SAFIRA lasts about the same, making a latex mattress a more sensible investment for your furniture.
You sleep hot: - If you are someone who has a problem with your mattress getting unusually hot and uncomfortable, then latex mattress have you covered there as well. Latex mattresses on average tend to be much cooler when compared to their PU foam cousins.
Movement shock transfer: - Latex rubber sheet is a fantastic shock absorber. For example, your partner keeps tossing and shifting throughout the night and you can't help but get disturbed by those tossings and turnings? Well, the latex mattress is the answer.
Eco Friendly: - Latex in its natural form is liquid and it is derived straight from the tree. When making a latex rubber sheet, a few chemicals(about 20% in some sheets) are added to make it puff.This makes it an environmentally better option than a memory foam mattress as it is 100% synthetic and man-made.
Hypoallergenic: - Latex rubber sheets are impervious to dust mites.
How Latex differs from memory foam
Memory Foam: - Memory foam lacks support as it is a viscoelastic foam, it is usually soft and with its butter-like properties, it will mould around your body providing better stress relief than providing firm support. Memory foam reacts to the body heat and shapes itself around your body.
Latex: - Latex has spring-like feedback and does not react with the body heat to mould around your body. Latex, however, uses the body weight to shape itself in a way that will guarantee the best support and pressure-relieving features it has to offer.
Memory Foam:- Memory foam is in its league of its own when comfort is in question. If you are someone who likes their bed super soft, that melts around your body as you sleep and has a somewhat buttery feel to it? If yes, then memory foam will do justice to your needs.
Latex:- Just like memory foam, latex has an entirely different game altogether. Both have their added advantage when it comes to comfort. Latex has a springy more bounce feel to it. Not trampoline levels, of which spring mattresses are champions. Latex has a more subtle bounce that will provide enough to have both support and comfort.
Memory Foam:- Memory foam offers the best pressure relief in PU foams. But this comes at the cost of heat. As explained above, memory foam uses body heat to work properly, hence if you are someone who does not like a hotbed, then latex will be a great substitute.
Latex:- Latex serves a dual purpose of both providing pressure relief and firm support. Usually, the soft top layer provides the best pressure relief while the bottom part provides firm support.
Bounce back rate
Memory Foam:- The bounce in memory foam is non-existent. Memory foam is famously known for its slow rise to its original shape.
Latex: - Latex, on the other hand, tends to be on the bouncier side. The density of the latex sheet greatly determines the bounciness of the sheet.
Movement shock transfer
Memory Foam:- Memory foam is great at absorbing shocks and movements. It does a fairly good job of not transferring the shock to the adjacent sleeper making it the best for shock absorption in the PU foam family.
Latex: - Latex is also considered a shockproof substitute to memory foam, however, if the latex sheet is less dense, there will be a slight chance that any movements will be noticed.