How is Natural Latex Harvested for Mattresses?

October 02, 2019

How is Natural Latex Harvested for Mattresses?

There's been an increased focus on "living healthy" over the past several years. Consumers state they prefer to sleep on mattresses made from natural materials to help support this healthy lifestyle.

Why Choose a Natural Latex Mattress?

Natural latex mattresses use only safe and natural materials. So, they provide better, safer sleeping surfaces. Individuals spend around a third of their lives in bed either sleeping or trying to do so. Therefore, it makes sense to spend this time sleeping on a mattress that doesn't contain toxins.

Natural latex mattresses are toxin-free, and are among the healthiest mattresses you'll sleep on. Latex mattresses last longer than the other mattresses do today, too.

Benefits of Rubber Tree Plantations

The rubber tree is the most essential part of the manufacturing process of natural latex foam. Rubber trees are South American native, and are so economically valuable they've spread across just about every tropical area worldwide from South America all the way to Sri Lanka.

Rubber tree plantations offer many benefits, including these important ones.

  • Rubber tree plantations have far less negative impact on land than with other crops.
  • Rubber tree plantations encourage more biological diversity than do other monoculture crops.
  • Rubber trees take around ten years to grow before they produce sufficient amounts of latex. This time period of waiting ensures the continuous planting of new rubber trees.

How Natural Latex is Harvested

The natural latex harvesting process is amazingly simple, as well as extremely environmentally sustainable. Latex is the white sticky sap the rubber tree produces when its trunk is cut.

In order to harvest the latex from rubber trees, you have to "tap" them — kind of how you tap trees for maple syrup. To tap the latex, a wedge is cut in the bark by rubber harvesters. They have to get to the latex, but not cut into the sap vessels. Once they make the cut, the latex flows out, and the harvesters collect it in a container they attach to the tree.

After they finish tapping, the cut dries, allowing the latex to stop flowing. This "tapping process" doesn't harm the rubber trees when performed correctly.

After the harvesters harvest a certain amount of latex from each incision, they make a new incision in a different area of the bark of the tree which allows the tree to completely heal from the first incision. Once the tree is done producing usable latex, it's usually allowed to continue on with it's natural life in peace.

The Dunlop and Talalay Method

There are a couple methods used for producing a natural latex mattress. These are the Dunlop and Talalay Method. Both methods have their own process, and one process isn't necessarily better than the other process. It's really just a matter of preference.

  1. The Dunlop Method

This is the original method of making all-natural mattresses, and has been used for many years. It typically creates a firmer texture, which generally is used in natural latex mattresses as the mattress core. The Dunlop Method requires the mixing of sap until it becomes foam that is then shaped with a certain mold, and then heated in a hot oven. Once the natural latex mattress is created, it's then cleaned and dried thoroughly. The Dunlop Method allows manufacturers to make the whole mattress all at once.

  1. The Talalay Method

This method produces a latex mattress with a slightly different texture; usually softer than with the Dunlop method. It's generally used for the mattress's top comfort layer. Rather than mixing the tap into a foam, the manufacturers add it into a special mold they close tightly. They then use suction to ensure the cap is distributed evenly. Then they freeze the mold, and heat it quickly, causing the sap to become solid.

Quality Mattress Inspection and Grading

After created, the mattresses go through an inspection and grading process. It's normal to occasionally find a defective mattress come out of a larger-scale production line. And, natural latex mattress manufacturing is no different.

Each mattress goes through a meticulous inspection, and grading process to ensure consistency in quality. There are two stages of inspection: visual inspection from specially trained inspectors, and inspection through the use of computerized hardware and mechanized tools. Any defective mattress found is immediately taken out and discarded.

After the inspection and grading process, the mattresses are tested for durability, and then have their covers stitched on and the fine details added. The end result is an exceptionally made natural, safe, and non-toxic mattress.

Patrick Gunther

Patrick is an accomplished writer. He has been in the retail mattress space for the past 13 years, and more specifically in the natural mattress niche. He blogs on the subjects of natural mattresses, sleep, health, fitness, and green living.