If your current bed needs to be replaced and you’re ready to go shopping for something new, then one of your preferred options might be a latex mattress. This is a type of foam mattress you would assume is made not from petrochemicals but from a more natural substance. In fact, that natural substance is the sap from rubber trees, which should make latex foam mattresses your most eco-friendly choice. But of course nothing is ever that simple. Latex has also been created synthetically, from petrochemicals, meaning that you need to do as much investigation with these mattresses as with any other product.

There are two processes used to create latex mattresses. With the Standard method, the liquid (whether it’s the rubber sap or the petrochemical substance) is whipped into a froth, which creates the millions of air bubbles that are responsible for the special properties of a foam mattress. Then the liquid is poured into a mold, which is sealed and heated until it cures into its finished mattress form. In the Talalay method, the mold contains countless tiny pinprick spikes that make extra little channels for air to move through. This method creates a latex foam mattress that’s somewhat more resilient and buoyant.

Natural latex apparently works fine with either the Standard or the Talalay method of creating a latex mattress. So the question then is why anyone would need to use the synthetic version of the material at all. One of the reasons is that natural latex isn’t always as comfortable as the kind made from petrochemicals. Thus you find so many foam mattresses made entirely with synthetic latex.

The end result of all this is that before you buy a latex mattress, do some research, as it is an absolute must. If natural latex is infused with natural oils, then it can be as comfortable as an all-synthetic mattress or even a memory foam bed. But even if the mattress has a “green” label, it might still contain some petrochemicals. So you need to watch for all of these things as you head out mattress shopping. Do some searching and find out about both the manufacturers and their products, and discover the process and the materials they used. If you buy a foam bed, you want to know what you’re getting before you take it home.

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