You’re not waking up with the same bounce you used to, your mattress isn’t as comfortable as it was but you’re not ready to plunk down big bucks for a new one. You’re sure you can get more life from the mattress you have by refreshing it with a new mattress topper.
You research different topper materials; memory foam, gel foam, egg-crate foam and latex. You decide latex is the best solution because it’s natural, adds comfort and the only option which adds support too. Sounds perfect, just what you’re looking for, but wait… why is there both 100% natural latex and organic latex available… huh? What’s the difference?
This is a common question that arises for most shoppers after just a few minutes of researching latex. It’s confusing because many retailers don’t benefit from true transparency, but it’s easy to tell the differences when your armed with some knowledge. Here’s the basics and the traps to look out for.
What is 100% Natural Latex
Natural latex is produced from raw latex harvested from rubber trees, not synthetic latex which is man-made from petroleum, synthetic latex is addressed in a different blog post (link). When latex foam is made using only natural latex with zero synthetic latex added it’s referred to as 100% natural latex.
To be completely transparent, even though 100% natural latex is used there are other ingredients such as soaps and curing agents necessary to turn the raw natural latex into supple foam. These ingredients aren’t toxic or harmful and are different from “fillers” like clay which are used to dilute and extend the volume of latex.
Fillers… in 100% natural latex…wait…what?
Yep, you read right, some latex contains “filler” to extend the amount of natural latex and lower the cost. Unfortunately, this dramatically lowers the quality and durability. It’s like watering down juice to get more servings. Most won’t tell you it’s in there but still claim 100% natural. They can do this because they don’t use any synthetic latex, technically they’re correct, but it isn’t right unless it’s clearly stated and you understand what you’re buying.
When shopping for 100% natural latex you want to be sure that the retailer clearly states they don’t use fillers and look for certifications from recognized organizations such as Oeko-Tex, LGA and Control Union to be sure the 100% natural latex offered is as healthy as claimed. 100% natural latex without verified certifications could contain chemicals you’re trying to avoid, and you’d never know it.
How is organic latex different?
Organic latex is 100% natural latex without fillers and farmed without the use of pesticides under the supervision of monitoring body(s). Non-organic 100% natural latex is produced from raw latex using standard farming practices. Currently, there are two major organizations inspecting and monitoring the wholesomeness of organic latex producers.
One is GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard), which is the first organization to certify and monitor organic latex producers. The second is USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). These organizations monitor farming practices, materials sourcing, fair trade practices and wastewater treatment as well as the social and environmental impact of the product. Reputable sellers provide actual and current organic certifications, not just logos or claims. If you don’t see them, ask, if they can’t provide them, move along.
Organic certification is stringent, requiring sequestered growing areas, constant monitoring and meticulous record keeping. To date, there are only four certified organic latex producers on the planet. Organic certifications from both GOLS and USDA is assurance your latex will be the cleanest ingredient latex you can buy.
Don’t be fooled.
While certified organic latex is less common due to supply, certified organic fabrics are everywhere. Some products use or offer organic fabrics to cover their non-organic latex. Then they place the word “organic” front and center in their branding and marketing materials in hopes you don’t dig in too deeply. Always peek under the covers before you buy.
Which is best?
When considering true 100% natural latex (without fillers) to organic latex there is no absolute right answer to which is best, it depends on what’s most important to you. Everyone makes their own lifestyle choices. Organic latex is the cleanest you can buy, not just for you but for the planet. 100% natural comes with a lower price tag and is healthier than sleeping on normal foam. Both contribute to cleaner & better sleep than traditional foam products. The choice is up to you.