Updated: Apr 15
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.
Memory Foam:- Memory foam as discussed several times in this article that it works with our body heat. Therefore memory foam tends to get a little warm. Not uncomfortably warm, but warm enough to make you notice. If you have air conditioning in your room then you won't even notice the heat.
Latex: - Latex, on the other hand, is a lot cooler and does not soak up body heat. A lot of our customers who have complained about heat from their PU foam mattress found latex to be a significant improvement over PU foam. Latex is much cooler than PU foam.
Why and how latex is a better alternative to a memory foam mattress
Considering all the points and summarizing them will form a clear picture answering why latex mattress is a better alternative to a memory foam mattress.
First, latex is the best option for someone who is looking to relive their back and shoulder pains. Granted memory foam does help but like we discussed memory foam is hot and while on the other hand latex is much cooler and thus more pleasant to sleep on if you live in hot or humid climates. Latex also does a better job of distributing body weight evenly across the mattress. It will be a better option than a memory foam mattress as the temperature may or may not be a point of concern.
Latex sheets generally have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years making them a sensible investment as your furniture in the long run.
Memory foam tends to catch and collect dust easily making it quite a hazardous place for someone with dust allergies. Latex, on the other hand, does not collect dust it has the higher ground as it is hypoallergenic, which means it is resistant to dust mites.
The best reason all is that it is eco friendly, latex is found in nature thus making it way more eco friendly that the PU foam counterparts which are 100% synthetic and man-made.
Points to cross-check when buying a latex mattress
Is it a regular slab or Pin core Latex: - It is very important to ask about the material of the mattress. As explained above each of them i.e, the slab and pin core both serve different purposes. Hence a little research and understanding of what will be good for your body will, in the long run, help you achieve better sleep.
Is it made of 100% latex or latex is just at the top layer as a topper: - Most of the mattresses which are considerably cheap and what may look like a bargain offer on a latex mattress may not be what it seems. Sometimes the top layer of the mattress is the latex and the rest is something else. The mattress topper is usually 2 inches in thickness, so it is worth enquiring about the mattress materials it's made of.
Is the latex glued or not: - Glueing different layers of mattress is a common practice in the industry and it's perfectly normal to have a certain adhesive smell to a new mattress. But the smell may or may not bother people. Some of our customers have specifically mentioned not to use any glue as the smell had become irritating to them. If you are anyone who gets any form of irritation through the smell of adhesive, it's always good to cross-check this with the salesperson.
We at SAIRA Mattress are 100% pro-consumer and only build mattress on order, we do not build and store ready-made mattress, each order gets made on request only and so we always ask customers about any existing allergies and irritations before commencing with the mattress build.
The LD or Latex density: - Density of any latex sheet depends on the ratio of latex: rising agents. A simple rule of thumb you need to know about density is, higher the density, more firm the latex will be. However there are only set standards of densities available for use in the mattress industry, all you need to know is the feel of the latex sheet. As discussed earlier the latex is either a Dunlop (slab) or Talalay (pin core).
A word about our website
We at SAFIRA Mattress believe that the consumer is king, therefore you should never cheat on them. Built on this philosophy, we make custom mattresses in the heart of Hyderabad, India. Our custom mattress service allows the customer to pick and choose their desired materials which go into making their future mattresses.
To know more please head on to our website by clicking here!