Questions to Ask When Buying a Latex Mattress

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Considering a latex mattress? Know what to look for when shopping.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Latex Mattress

Research is key when planning a purchase, and this is certainly true when buying a latex mattress. A number of differences exist within the realm of latex foam. For example, consumers may not be aware that synthetic blends can carry the natural label, which can be misleading when making comparisons. As long-term health concerns combine with the desire to go eco-friendly, many people are seeking out latex beds, but often don’t know where to start. Which processes create a mattress that is natural and environmentally friendly? How do you know if it contains dangerous chemicals that will surround you for the 8 hours you spend sleeping on it? Consumers need to and want to know what they are buying. The following checklist will help make you an informed shopper when buying a mattress online or off.

What to Ask When Buying a Latex Mattress:

Buying and researching latex beds can prove a little tricky, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Here are the top questions you should address when comparing beds to ensure you get a healthy a mattress and a good value.

Q. What is the composition of the latex mattress?

A. 100% Natural Latex is the most desirable, while blends and synthetics are not. Natural latex is made from liquid latex collected from the rubber tree, typically using eco-friendly methods. In stark contrast to natural latex, synthetic latex is created from chemicals including petroleum products like styrene, and releases chemicals through a process known as off-gassing. It is not eco-friendly to make or use, and receives lower owner satisfaction and durability ratings. Make sure the product contains all latex and cites 100% natural, as blends can be classified as “natural” as well.

Q. What is the cover made from?

A. The best cover is a certified organic cotton cover. Organic cotton covers improve breathability while their soft feel translates into improved comfort. Non-woven covers extend durability and better protect the bed. Only a small percentage of cotton is certified as organic, so make sure the brand says who it is certified by.  Pesticide treated, non-organic cotton introduces chemicals into the bed where you will spend a large portion of the day.

Q. Is there anything between the cover and the latex?

A. There should be, and it should be 100% pure wool. Wool is the best choice as it naturally regulates body heat by wicking or carrying moisture away from the body. It’s natural insulating ability helps maintain the optimum temperature – neither too hot or too cold.

Q. What is used to meet flame standards?

A. Choose a latex mattress that features wool as the fire barrier. This is a natural product that does not increase carcinogens. Commonly used chemical retardants such as formaldehyde and other brominated retardants are known to be carcinogenic and release fumes. These carcinogenic, chemical fire retardants negate the purpose of having a natural latex mattress. If the retailer doesn’t say or doesn’t know how their mattresses meet flame standards, chances are they use chemicals.

Q. What is the Firmness Level? Are there options?

A. As with any bed, it is important to know the firmness level. In latex mattresses this tends to expressed as ILD, or Indentation Load Deflection. Higher ILDs indicate firmer feels: 14-22 is soft, 23-29 is medium, 30-37 is firm, and over 38 is extra firm. Most people will find ILDs 25-35 most comfortable, as this is indicative. Look for a retailer that offers different options, just in case you wind up needing to exchange for a softer or firmer model.

Q. Are the layers glued together?

A.  Keep looking if so. Glue contains chemicals which would counteract the benefits of natural latex. In addition, interchangeable layers that are unsealed allow you to fully-tailor and optimize your own level of comfort. Rather than exchange or replace an entire mattress, you can opt for different layers. You can also replace worn layers in the future without buying a new bed. All glues, including water-based, contain chemicals and can increase the risk of being a fire hazard.

Helpful Resources

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Editor’s Pick

The above handy reference charts (borrowed from this recent post from on latex mattress reviews and owner satisfaction) compare online retailers and buyer satisfaction. We recommend Astrabeds 100% natural latex mattresses because they comply with all of the aforementioned specifications, and prove most affordable. The brand’s latex mattress line features 3rd-party verified reviews, certified organic latex foam and cotton covers, and Eco-Institut certification showing they are free of harsh chemicals and VOCs.

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