What exactly is a “natural” mattress?
There’s no doubting that in the past few years, the consumer-shift towards “natural goods” has been unprecedented. From the foods we eat to the cars we drive, most of the common things we buy have natural options that are better for us and the planet. The same can be said for mattresses, with a slew of online mattress companies releasing “natural” products in an attempt to compliment people’s increasingly healthier lifestyles. For those simply looking for a new mattress, the variations in “natural” jargon being thrown around at the moment may seem very confusing.
To make things a little easier, we’ve decided to break down three of the most important things to look for in a natural mattress. While there are many facets to consider when purchasing a new mattress, if you’re naturally minded, finding a mattress that incorporates all of the below three points is a great starting point:
Mattress Covers + Flame Resistance
It goes without saying that most companies spend a majority of their time and effort crafting the most comfortable mattress possible, however the actual mattress cover and its flame retardants are often overlooked. For optimal comfort and safety, we recommend sleeping on a mattress with an organic cotton cover. Cotton is a natural fabric that offers enhanced breathability, effectively dispersing excess body heat away from your body and out of the mattress. Synthetic covers (for example polyester) tend to reduce breathability which increases stickiness and clamminess through the night. Organic cotton is produced without the use of pesticides or fertilizers, which is especially important for those who may suffer from skin allergies.
From 2007, all mattresses produced in the US were required to be compliant to strict new fire-safety laws. In order to pass the new laws, most companies opted to install a “fire stock”. A fire sock is a piece of fabric often dipped in flame retardant chemicals that help keep the mattress intact during a fire.
A portion of flame-retardants on the market contain chemicals such as formaldehyde, boric acid and chlorinated tris (TDCPP). Fortunately, a better option exists. Wool is widely considered the most flame-resistant natural material available and some of the higher-end mattress companies use wool as their fire stock instead of the chemical options. The molecular structure of wool is very unique in that in order to burn, it needs to inhale more oxygen than is available in the air. When exposed to an open flame, wool will char instead of burn, keeping the mattress intact. Wool is also self-extinguishing and does not stick or melt to skin in the case of a fire.
For those who suffer common skin conditions such as eczema, it’s especially important to do your research before purchasing a new mattress. Here’s a couple of certifications you can look for when browsing different mattress options:
- GOTS certification: Companies that claim to use organic cotton or wool in their mattress should proudly show off their GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification. A GOTS certification guarantees that the materials used can be traced back to their original source, and all aspects of the manufacturing process are in compliance with the strict rules set out by the governing body. GOTS certified materials are free of toxic heavy metals, solvents, functional nano-particles and genetically modified organisms
- OKEO-TEX Standard 100: While a GOTS certification confirms that specific raw materials (cotton, wool) can be traced back to an organic source, an OKEO-TEX Standard 100 certification is a confirmation that the materials used during the construction of your mattress are safe for human use. OKEO-TEX Standard 100 mattresses are manufactured without the use of harmful dyes, solvents and gases that have previously proven to cause skin issues (for example formaldehyde). Manufacturing facilities that are OKEO-TEX Standard 100 certified are audited yearly against strict best-practice guidelines
Sleeping on a mattress with both GOTS and OKEO TEX Standard 100 certifications will mean skin is not exposed to dangerous chemicals (potentially limiting flare-ups) and that the mattress ensures correct breathability. Tip: Always look for mattress companies with both certifications- one certification is not enough if you’re looking for a truly natural mattress.
The Latex Conundrum:
Real latex or “hybrid” latex? If you’ve been scouting different mattress companies lately, you would have noticed a sudden swarm of new companies offering a “hybrid” (or blended) latex technology that promotes the responsiveness of latex with the cushioning support of memory foam. For those of you after a natural mattress and love the feel of latex, don’t be fooled by these hybrid foams, they’re synthetic in nature and will often house chemicals and adhesives.
For natural mattress comfort and support, nothing beats traditional latex. Traditional latex is a material made from the sap of the rubber tree, which grows in southern India and Sri Lanka. The latex is poured into a mold and steam baked. The result is a 100% natural material that offers outstanding responsiveness (minimizing tossing and turning) while providing natural cushion to the body’s pressure points (head, shoulders and hips). Latex is naturally anti-microbial, meaning it inhibits the growth of fungi and molds. Latex is also dust-mite resistant and is an ideal choice for those with allergies.
If you’re looking to give yourself the best possible sleep while using a product that is better for both you and the environment, natural is the way to go. While online mattress companies will use every trick in the book to convince you a product is natural, you should focus on the fire sock material (natural wool), certifications (both GOTS and OKEO TEX Standard 100) and make up of any latex (always 100% natural and real). These tips should keep you on the right track to purchasing a mattress that will keep you healthy and happy for years to come.
For a truly natural mattress, take a look at the Amore Beds Natural Hybrid mattress. Years in the making, their Natural Hybrid Mattress is made with organic cotton, natural wool sourced from New Zealand, and 100% latex that carries both GOTS and OKEO TEX Standard 100 certifications. The mattress is also encased with over 1,500 (queen) individual coils for personalized spinal support and carries a 25-year warranty. For more information, visit their page here.