Latex is a popular option for creating mattresses, thanks to its comfort and breathability. However, not all latex is the same. There are several different types of latex, and Dunlop and Talalay are two ways of creating the latex foam rubber used in mattresses. Here's what you need to know about the distinctions between the two and what they mean for you as a consumer.
Latex is a natural material that comes from the rubber tree. When cut, the tree secretes a white, milky substance, which is then processed into latex foam. Through this process, it is possible to generate latex foam that is 100-percent natural and organic. In some cases, manufacturers also add synthetic latex and/or fillers, so not all latex products are organic or even natural. Although it is sustainable, latex is considered a premium material with a relatively high price, so manufacturers often add filler material to reduce costs.
In general, latex mattresses are available in a range of firmness options, and they retain their shape and fullness over the years. The material is naturally anti-microbial and resistant to dust mites, making it a great choice for bedding. The material is breathable as well, helping to keep you cool and comfortable while you sleep.
The Dunlop process begins with frothing a condensed liquid latex in an oscillating mixer. Once the desired consistency is reached the semi-solid latex is poured into a mold and then baked in an over in a process known as vulcanization. Heating the latex to a precise temperature converts the semi-solid into an elastic foam rubber. The latex rubber is then washed and dried before its ready to be used in our organic Dunlop latex mattresses. Since the liquid latex settles into its naturally strongest bonds prior to vulcanization, the Dunlop process tends to result in slabs of latex that are slightly firmer towards the bottom of the foam piece and softer on top. If only all-natural, organic latex is used, Dunlop latex can achieve Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) organic certification.
The process for creating Talalay latex is more modern and is better suited for use with synthetic materials due to their more uniform physical properties. Because Talalay latex often contains synthetic latex and filler, it is not been certified organic by GOLS at this time. Whereas Dunlop latex manufacturing requires filling the foam mould entirely, in Talalay latex manufacturing, the mould is only filled about halfway. Then, the mould is sealed and vacuumed to help the latex expand to fill the entire space. Finally, the mould is frozen to help the latex set into the shape. Most of the other steps are similar to that of Dunlop process. The result is a latex material that is softer and less dense than the Dunlop variety. Due to the vacuuming and freezing processes, the latex doesn't settle to the bottom of the mould, so the finished product is more uniform in density throughout.
As with any type of mattress, there are pros and cons to each latex category.
Dunlop latex is often used in mattresses for its durability, exceptional support, and ability to bounce back after use. In addition to mattresses, you'll also find a wide range of Dunlop latex mattress toppers and pillows, helping you get all the benefits of organic latex but at a lower price point. Because the material is all-natural and resists dust and microbes, it is a great choice for allergy sufferers, helping to relieve their symptoms during the night.
The biggest technical complaint people have about Dunlop latex is that the latex rubber isn’t as uniform as synthetically based latex. The natural variations result is less consistent foam when compared to Talalay latex blended with SBR. However, these inconsistencies are also the foundation for the exceptionally resilient surface that creates a sleeping surface that is simultaneously comfortable and supportive.
The Talalay latex manufacturing process eliminates the problem of inconsistent foam density, but typically achieves that through the addition of synthetic materials. This results in Talalay mattresses being softer and more consistent overall than Dunlop versions, so this is the choice for you if you prefer a sleeping environment that is as soft as possible and aren’t overly concerned about organic or natural content of your mattress.
The process for producing Talalay latex is much more complex than for Dunlop, consuming significantly more energy and time. This means that the manufacturing process is not as environmentally friendly as you would find with Dunlop latex produced in GOLS certified factories. It also increases the price for Talalay latex even though it uses less input material. Finally, the lower density of the latex foam can also reduce its durability over time.
As you can see, there are arguments for buying both types of latex mattresses. So, how do you choose the best latex mattress for you? It all comes down to your personal needs and preferences. Think about your typical sleeping style and comfort requirements, as well as your budget and environmental concerns, to help guide your decision.
Here at Nature's Embrace, we are firm believers in the value of true organic latex, which is why we only use GOLS-certified organic Dunlop latex in our mattresses. Our team will be more than happy to help you choose from our vast selection of mattresses and mattress toppers, so don't be shy about reaching out to us with any questions you may have. We'll help you narrow down your choices to select the best latex mattress to meet your needs.