Why Wool is Used for Our Mattress Fire Barrier

January 20, 2023

Why Wool is Used for Our Mattress Fire Barrier

When shopping for a mattress, there are many factors to consider. For example, you want your mattress to match your sleep preferences. So, if you’re a side sleeper that prefers a softer mattress, you may be searching for the perfect Soft or Medium-Soft bed. If you’re a heavy back sleeper, on the other hand, you’ll probably be searching for the perfect Firm or Medium-Firm mattress. In addition, there’s also the type of mattress; will you choose memory foam, innerspring, latex, or a hybrid?

All of these are reasonable things to consider, but have you ever thought about the safety of your mattress? Many mattresses contain fire retardant chemicals to prevent your bed from catching fire. However, some of these chemicals pose a threat in and of themselves. The flame retardant chemicals themselves may be harmful.

Below, we’ll go over important information you need to know about mattress flame retardants, and why Eco Terra uses wool for our fire barrier.

Mattress Flame Retardants

The subject of mattress flame retardants and mattress fires gives a whole new meaning to the term “hot sleeper”. While the thought of your mattress bursting into flames may seem unlikely, fire is always something to take seriously, especially when it comes to your mattress. If your mattress is exposed to an open flame, you want to be sure that it will pass the test.

Although the risk of your mattress catching fire may be low, flame retardants are vital in cases where mattress fires do happen. They’re common enough that all mattresses are required to include flame retardants in their mattress since 2007, due to flame retardant requirements dictated by federal regulation.

In fact, flame resistant mattresses were pushed by the tobacco industry after so many fires were lit by people leaving lit cigarettes on their beds. Even if you aren’t smoking on your mattress, it doesn’t mean your bed is immune to combustion.

Think about it: your mattress is the perfect source of fuel and kindling. One spark could spell disaster for you and your home. Therefore, flame retardant mattresses are a non-negotiable idea.

However, toxic chemical fire retardants are not a good idea; far from it.

Types of Toxic Chemical Flame Retardants

Below, is a list of common toxic flame retardants that you should avoid. Whenever looking at mattress manufacturers, ensure that their products include none of the following added chemical fire retardants:

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)

PBDEs include some of the earliest forms of flame retardants in both mattresses and furniture. PBDEs are known as “forever chemicals” because they build up in your body over your lifetime, and aren’t passed on like other toxic chemicals.

Thankfully, PBDEs were banned in 2005 in the U.S. However, if you have an old mattress, or purchase a used mattress, you may still be in danger of exposure to PBDEs used a fire retardant. Furthermore, this is another good reason to purchase a mattress made in the U.S., rather than a foreign country that may not have the same restrictions against PBDEs and other toxic chemicals.

Boric Acid

Does boric acid sound familiar? You may have heard of it if you use roach killers. This toxic chemical is water soluble, meaning that it can be absorbed through your skin while you sleep.

Long-term exposure to boric acid can cause a range of problems, including cardiovascular defects, impaired fertility, kidney damage, skeletal variations, and even death in high doses.

Antimony Trioxide

Exposing this dangerous chemical to water can cause it to rise to the surface. Inhalation of antimony trioxide is linked to respiratory irritation, intestinal inflammation, pulmonary toxicity, and pneumoconiosis. It may also cause cancer, and high levels of exposure can lead to Adam-Stokes syndrome.

Decabromodiphenyl Oxide

Also referred to as Deca, this PBDE is similar to antimony trioxide. Wetness from sweat, water spills, and urine can cause this toxic chemical to rise to the surface. Exposure to Deca is associated with many health conditions, including decreased thyroid functions, liver tumors, developmental and reproduction issues, and neurological effects.

Vinylidene Chloride

While vinylidene chloride isn’t a very common flame retardant, it is worth looking out for. It affects the central nervous system, and can result in spasms, convulsions, inebriation, sedation, and loss of consciousness.


Melamine may be familiar to those of you who remember dogs dying in the U.S., due to dog food imported from China that was infected with this toxic chemical. Exposure to Melamine can cause kidney malfunction, bladder cancer, and reproductive problems.

Safe Fire Retardants

Although there are many dangerous mattress flame retardants, some of which aren’t listed above, luckily there are safe options, too.


Wool is a naturally flame resistant substance, which is used in many products for fire safety. Many factors contribute to wool’s adversity to combustion. It owes its natural flame retardant ability in part to its unique structure. Wool fibers are covered by microscopic scales that hold them together tightly. This environment allows very little oxygen into wool, and therefore makes it a poor environment for fires.

Another reason for wool’s natural flame resistant properties is that when natural wool burns, it does so slowly, smoldering, and releasing little heat, rather than lending itself to big flames.

Natural Latex

Latex is another common and safe option for mattress fire retardants. Natural latex is made from the sap of rubber trees. However, if you purchase a latex mattress, do not assume that it doesn’t contain toxic chemicals. Toxic flame retardants may still be present, or the latex mattress could be made from synthetic latex, which is also toxic.

Why We Use Wool for Our Mattresses’ Flame Barrier

If you know our products at Eco Terra, you know that we pride ourselves on our eco-friendly and high-quality natural latex mattresses. If that’s the case, then why do we use wool for our mattresses?

Wool is a sustainable and versatile material that offers many benefits beyond its use as a natural flame retardant and fire safety. One of the main benefits of wool is that it’s a renewable resource, unlike other synthetic materials. Also, wool can be produced without the use of harmful chemicals or pesticides, and it’s biodegradable. This makes it an environmentally-friendly choice for use in mattresses and other products.

In addition to being naturally resistant to fire, wool is a natural insulator, which makes it an excellent choice for thermal insulation. The fibers of wool are naturally crimped, which creates millions of small pockets of trapped air. These pockets of trapped air act as insulation, keeping heat inside in the winter, and cool air inside in the summer, making the mattress more comfortable to sleep on, whether you’re a hot sleeper or a cold sleeper.

Wool is also naturally moisture-wicking, which means that it can absorb moisture away from the skin, and into the fibers of the wool. This can help to keep the sleeping surface of the mattress dry, which can be especially beneficial for people who tend to sleep hot and sweat.

Besides being used as a fire retardant, wool is hypoallergenic, which makes it an excellent choice for people with allergies or asthma. The fibers of wool contain a natural waxy substance called lanolin, which is resistant to dust mites, mold, and mildew. Therefore, wool-filled mattresses are less likely to harbor allergens that can trigger allergic reactions.

Eco Terra wool is sourced from sheep raised in humane and ethically responsible ways, and it uses all natural and biodegradable cleaning methods to prepare the wool. This means that the wool used in Eco Terra mattresses is not only good for the consumer, but also for the environment and the animals.

In summary, wool offers a range of benefits as a sustainable and versatile material. Its thermal insulation properties, moisture-wicking capabilities, hypoallergenic nature, and natural fire resistance make it an excellent choice for use in mattresses and other products. Finally, its ability to be sourced in an eco-friendly and ethical way make it a choice that reflects the eco-friendly and health-first values of Eco Terra.

Eco Terra’s Hybrid Latex Mattress

When shopping for a new mattress, it’s essential that you keep health and safety in mind, in addition to sleep preferences. Whenever browsing mattresses, look into the materials used, and any fire retardants that are mentioned.

Unfortunately, sometimes you have to pass on a mattress that seems perfect, because it could contain toxic chemicals. However, at Eco Terra, you never have to worry.

Our customers love our mattresses for three main reasons:

  • First, they are supportive, comfortable, and allow our customers to receive a good night’s sleep every night.
  • Second, our mattresses are eco-friendly. Rather than synthetic mattresses that are made from synthetic substances that are bad for the environment, our mattresses are made from natural latex. Plus, we include an organic cotton cover, and of course, our natural wool fire barrier made from certified organic wool.
  • Lastly, at Eco Terra, you can be assured that our mattresses are completely non-toxic because they’re made from natural materials, instead of synthetic ones that contain dangerous substances that aren’t safe for humans.

Looking to make the switch to a safe, supportive, and organic mattress? Check out our Hybrid Latex Mattress today!

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.