Natural vs Blended vs Synthetic Latex

By Lamar Nelson on October 15, 2014

This question comes up a lot and there a variety of opinions and answers available on the internet. Most of them will have a bias depending on what they want to sell. This article will highlight each type, their differences, and give you an accurate representation of each individual foam type.

Before we start getting into the differences, natural, blended, and synthetic latex are all 100% latex. Latex can be produced through natural or synthetic processes. While synthetic latex is not produced naturally, it is still latex and comes with the characteristics that make latex a wonderful product. All three types of latex are very safe, while they may have a natural rubbery/vanilla smell; it is not harmful and dissipates quickly. The latex that we provide at Brooklyn Bedding is either Natural Talalay/Dunlop Latex, or Blended Talalay Latex.

Natural Latex

Natural latex is slowly becoming more popular option because it is chemical-free and contains no synthetic counterparts (no SBR, Styrene Butadiene Rubber). It is typically the more expensive option of the three types of latex (Natural Dunlop is the least expensive, Natural Talalay is the most expensive).

There are two types of natural latex, Dunlop and Talalay. Talalay comes in a variety of firmness levels and is considered a “softer less springy” material while Dunlop is more limited in its selection and is considered a “firmer and more springy” material. Another factor to consider is that Dunlop is more dense than Talalay latex, it will last longer and is more durable. (For more information on Latex in general, visit our guide)

All natural latex is derived from the Hevea-brasilienis tree or as you commonly know it, the “Rubber Tree”. It is harvested by “tapping” the trees, much like what is done with maple trees. Tapping for latex is done by cuts made in the bark then collecting the liquid that drains out in buckets. This process is not harmful to the trees and allows them to be harvested again.

Blended Latex

Blended latex is the most commonly sold latex in North America; it contains a combination of natural talalay and synthetic latex. Blended has the best of both natural and synthetic latex; more durable (than natural talalay), less chemical composition, more firmness options, and a better overall firmness consistency. Blended latex can have up to 7 different firmness levels and is less expensive than most natural latex.

All blended latex has a certain ratio of natural and synthetic mixed in. Most mattress companies will not tell you what they use (or are asked not to by manufacturers), however the majority of companies will have between 60/40 or 70/30 (synthetic/natural). The more natural latex you have, the higher the price will be.

Synthetic Latex

Synthetic latex, which is made with SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber,) is primarily used to blend with natural latex. This is because SBR has some superior properties compared to natural latex, such as the ability to resist heat aging, abrasion resistance, and softening.  The end result is a more durable product that lasts longer and is less expensive. Synthetic latex also allows for a wide array of firmness options, which gives the consumer more options to choose from.

All in all, we consider latex to be a great mattress material. The best latex for you depends you situation. If you’re on a budget and cannot afford natural, blended latex is a great product. If you want to spend more for a chemical-free product, Natural Latex is the way to go. We prefer Talalay over Dunlop (Talalay has more firmness levels), or a combination of both if a latex mattress (Talalay as a comfort layer, Dunlop as a core). If you want all-natural and enjoy firmer comfort, Dunlop mattresses are very affordable and are the least expensive of all the types.

Also keep in mind when buying Latex, it’s important to know where it came from and that it’s certified. The leading certification for latex is the Oeko-Tex and we actively promote buying US-made products.

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