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What is Latex?

What is Latex?

What is Latex?

Latex is one of those materials that pretty much everyone has heard about but few people seem to be able to define exactly. Is it plastic-based? Silicone-based? What the heck is this stuff?

The mystery ends today. 

Put simply, latex is rubber. It has an incredible number of applications, from obvious everyday items like latex gloves and latex paints to more surprising uses like mattresses.  

Since there’s a good chance you’re using this stuff in one way or another from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, it’s worth exploring further. 

Here’s your complete latex breakdown (including the reasons why it won’t break down on you anytime soon!)

Couple asleep in bed wearing eye masks

You're telling me this mattress is made of latex? I can't believe it's not a cloud

What is latex?

As we mentioned, latex is actually made from rubber, not plastic or any other material. To get more technical, latex is a colloidal suspension. That’s just a scientific way of saying that it’s a liquid with many tiny particles floating in it. Like chocolate milk, only not quite as delicious. 

Plants can make latex naturally or chemists can manufacture it synthetically. Either way, latex is a durable and strong material so it’s no surprise that so many products contain some latex. While natural and synthetic latexes have lots of overlap, there are some key differences worth mentioning. 

Natural Latex

Natural latex is generally harvested from one type of rubber tree, though other plants can produce it, too. Its natural purpose is to seal up any damage to the plant and protect against insects. 

To harvest the latex, people slit open the bark of the rubber tree and collect the milky latex liquid as it drains out. The process is very similar to tapping maple trees for sap to make maple syrup. Once again, though, unfortunately, the results are not as tasty. Does anyone else have a massive sweet tooth?

From there, the latex goes through some fancy processing and comes out the other side as a final latex product ready for use. Alright, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea. Who has time for all that science mumbo-jumbo anyway? 

Dog in bed

Not me! Still busy trying to catch my tail, tbh

Some people have what’s labeled a latex allergy, meaning they’re sensitive to natural latex products. Research suggests those people aren’t allergic to the latex itself, but rather the chemicals from the latex manufacturing process. Probably don't mention that, though, they might be sensitive about it. 

Synthetic Latex

Synthetic latex, as you can probably guess, is a type of latex that's made in a lab. It replicates natural latex fairly well using petroleum-based chemicals. 

Latex produced this way is often more stable and stronger than natural latex which makes it ideal for applications like tires. It’s also considered less dangerous for people with latex allergies

For the eco-conscious consumer, though, it will probably be hard to look past the petroleum needed to make synthetic latex. Unsurprisingly, natural latex wins out in terms of environmental impact. Who could have guessed petroleum wasn’t the best for the environment?

What is Talalay Latex?

Talalay latex is one of the natural types of latex, and a luxurious one at that, commonly used in mattresses. Talalay latex mattresses have been gaining popularity lately as more people catch on to how great they are. 

Woman sleeping on her back in bed

There's no sleep like Talalay latex mattress sleep

As a mattress material, Talalay latex is breathable, soft, and supportive. Because it’s natural latex, you don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals that could harm you and the environment. 

One last note, try not to get Talalay latex confused with Dunlop latex. Dunlop is another type of natural latex often used in mattresses but it’s denser and less consistent than Talalay. 

Talalay is the more sophisticated, lush mattress material and we can’t recommend it enough. With a Talalay latex mattress, getting deep, uninterrupted sleep will be easier than ever.  

Unless you've been sleeping under or on a rock (aka an old mattress), you've probably heard that we released a sustainable, hybrid (latex + coils) mattress. Learn more here!

3 comments on What is Latex?

  • Chris
    ChrisMay 31, 2022

    Hi Jen, yes, we will carry all sizes from twin to cal king!

  • Jen
    JenMay 31, 2022

    Will you have all sizes, twin xl for adjustable base?

  • Hopkins Dawn
    Hopkins DawnMay 31, 2022

    Keep me in the loop – I’m buying a mattress later this year.

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