Thinking of a natural or organic mattress? Latex is one of the most popular materials around when it comes to healthy sleep surfaces, but it can be a little confusing to shop for this type of bed.
In this guide, we’ll be explaining what goes in to natural latex mattresses, what all the different terms and claims mean, and how to compare different beds to find your “just right” match. At the end, we also compare several popular brands to demonstrate differences.
Read on to learn about natural and organic latex mattresses and see what you need to know before you buy.
Buying Guide for Natural Latex Mattresses
Shopping for a latex mattress is considerably different than shopping for traditional innerspring beds. There different things to compare, different industry terminology to understand, and different brands and prices to consider.
Greenwashing and exorbitant mark ups are also not unheard of, so learning the basics of materials and markers of quality can be important when it comes to getting a good deal.
Here are Best Mattress Brand’s comprehensive (but brief) must-know tips for people considering organic and natural latex beds.
First, What is in a Latex Mattress?
To shop effectively, it is helpful to know where latex comes from and how it differs from other materials like innerspring or memory foam beds.
The latex in natural latex foam comes from hevea brasiliensis trees. This liquid is harvested from living, growing trees which can be done in an eco-friendly and sustainable manner. Synthetic latex (styrene butadiene rubber) comes from chemical and petroleum sources, and does not have the “green” benefits of natural latex.
The process of turning latex into foam involves heat. The liquid latex is mixed with a few stabilizers and frothing agents, then heated, washed, and cured. The original Dunlop process requires fewer chemical additives, and is currently the only process by which certified organic latex foam is produced. The Talalay process adds vacuum-pressurized and freezing steps designed to make the process more controlled, but a few additional stabilizing ingredients are required.
During manufacturing, the amount of latex, pin hole density, and other factors can be adjusted to result in different firmness of foam. With latex, you will often see firmness ratings described as IFD/ILD (Indentation Force Deflection/Indentation Load Deflection) numbers, which refer to the pounds of force required to compress a sample of foam by 25%.
Firm IILD/FDs are around 35-45, with medium around 23-35, and plush around 18-22. Cores will often be very firm, with comfort layers in the medium to plush ranges. These numbers provide a standardized way to compare firmness across different brands, unlike subjective firm/plush descriptions.
Once these foam slabs are created, they are cut into mattress-size pieces, stacked or glued, and then set into a cover. Unglued layers allow owners to swap and adjust individual latex layers within the mattress, helpful for personalizing comfort and extended lifespan, as layers can be replaced individually. Some people also prefer to avoid the odors (or Volatile Organic Compounds) that come with most adhesives.
No More Coil Count: How to Compare Latex Mattresses
When you are shopping for a traditional mattress, the main things everyone knows to look for are coil type, coil count, and comfort layers. In a latex mattress, this translates into latex type, layer construction, layer thicknesses, layer IFDs, and cover materials.
- Latex Type: In a latex mattress, the content of latex (organic, natural, synthetic, or blended) is a key point of comparison, especially for people seeking natural or greener beds. The Dunlop or Talalay construction is the other way latex foam is compared.
- Layer Construction: Latex beds do not have springs, instead they have layers of latex stacked upon one another, sometimes with other materials or foams added. When comparing beds, check that each layer is latex especially within the support core. Some cheaper mattresses may use polyurethane foam cores, but this compromises many of the benefits of latex.
- Mattress Thickness: The overall thickness of all of the latex layers is important in determining potential value and comfort. Mattresses on the less expensive end of the spectrum tend to be closer to 6” thick, while higher-end beds may be 12” to 15” thick (since more latex means higher cost). If you are a petite back sleeper, a thinner mattress would likely provide you with adequate comfort. If you are a side sleeper or heavier, a thicker mattress would be a better fit for support and comfort.
- IFDs: The overall IFD of the mattress can give you insight into the softness or firmness of the mattress. Beds that provide individual IFDs for each layer can give you an even better idea of how plush or firm the mattress might feel.
- Cover Materials: What the latex mattress is covered with affects air flow and healthiness. Organic cotton and organic wool are considered ideal to support the benefits of natural latex mattresses. The organic cotton offers breathability, does not impede contouring, and is chemical-free. Wool naturally regulates body temperature and provide natural flame protection to meet federal standards. Chemical retardants or treated fabrics, on the other hand, can be undesirable for those seeking a clean sleep space.
100% Natural vs. “Natural” vs. Organic
One of the more confusing things to sort out when shopping for a latex bed are differences between descriptions of latex, and sometimes, misleading information. 100% natural latex foam means that the latex used to create the foam is 100% natural (but additives added in the process might not be). However, manufacturers can still describe latex as “natural” even if it contains up to 30% or more of synthetic latex. Some manufacturers might also only use all natural latex in the upper layers, with a blended core. If natural is important to you, be sure to ask what percent of the foam in all layers is natural.
The other area of confusion can be with the term “organic”. Latex mattress foam can be certified organic to the Global Organic Latex Standard, which requires that trees be grown organically (no toxic pesticides or treatments), that additives make up less than 5% of the content, and that… A brand claiming organic latex foam should have the necessary certifications to back up the claim, and be willing to provide them upon request (same goes with organic cotton or wool). Some brands, however, will describe their mattresses as organic, but only use organic fabric covers (not organic latex). Always look into each layer!
Understand Certifications and Tests
If you are shopping for a natural or organic latex bed, you will likely encounter quite a few seals, certifications, and other ways companies try to distinguish their products. Some are puffery, others tell you important information about the mattress. Here are few of the more popular certifications you will see:
USDA – The United States Department of Agriculture outlines standards for growing organic goods, and for processing textiles such as cotton and wool. Recognized third-party agencies can certify that a raw material or finished product meets USDA organic standards.
Global Organic Textile Standard – The GOTS outlines requirements for finished fabrics to certified organic, including raw material certifications and types of dyes/treatments allowed. Recognized third-party agencies can certify that textile meets GOTS standards.
Global Organic Latex Standard – The GOLS standard outlines requirements for finished latex foams to be certified organic, including the use of organically grown latex, additives and processing methods. Recognized third-party agencies can certify that latex foam meets GOLS standards.
Organic Content Standard – The OCS verifies the percentages of organic materials in products. Recognized third-party agencies can verify products’ organic content.
Organic Certification Bodies – Agencies like Oregon Tilth (OTCO), Control Union (CU), Institute for Marketecology (IMO), Quality Assurance International (QAI) and Ecocert are a few of the more common certifiers of organic goods to USDA, GOTS, GOLS, and other standards.
Other Certifications and Tests
Oeko-Tex 100 – This test checks for the presence of banned and known harmful (but not banned) chemicals and VOCs. The 100 standard has four classes, textiles used near skin, textiles not used near skin, and furnishings.
Eco-Institute – This certification tests for numerous chemicals and detectable VOC levels in each component of a mattress, issuing certification only to those who meet very strict safety and quality guidelines.
TUV Rhineland – TUV Rhineland tests the durability of mattresses using several standardized methods to simulate years of use. Impressions and changes in firmness are measured, among other things. This company also has other tests for chemicals and other aspects.
Green Guard – Green Guard tests for VOCs in raw materials and finished products, with two levels of certification. Basic certification means a product meets international standards for low-VOC levels. Gold certification tests for more chemicals and has a lower VOC threshold.
Set a Realistic Budget
Latex beds can vary in price, but most quality mattresses are more expensive than innerspring beds. This is because latex foam is one of the more expensive mattress materials to produce, and materials like organic cotton and wool are much more expensive than poly-blend ticking, polyurethane foams, and polyester fiber batting.
If you are simply looking for a blended, basic latex mattress, expect to spend around $800 to $1000. If you are looking for a 100% natural latex mattress, $1000 to $2000 might be realistic. If you want an all-organic latex mattress, than $1500 to $3000 is a practical range.
Some brands may add excessive markups, while others may offer great values. It is important to compare several different models to get a feel of what is a good deal and what is not.
Comparison of Popular Natural Latex Mattress Brands
Here are eight brands or natural and organic latex mattress brands to help you get started shopping. We’ve included basic information on the brands’ beds. Prices are based on queen size, and companies are sorted from lowest starting price to highest. Following the table are a couple mattresses we’ve highlighted as better-than-average values.
|Brand / Pricing||Latex Type||Bed Specs||Covers||Warranty /Returns|
|SleepEZFrom $1195||Blended or Natural Dunlop/Talalay||6” to 12” latexILD ranges from 22 to 44||Cotton or organic cotton fabricWool fire barrier||20 years90 days return/exchange|
|Habitat FurnishingsFrom $1399||Natural Dunlop and Talalay||6” to 9” latex26 ILD core, 19 ILD top layers||Organic cotton fabricWool fire barrier||20 years365 days return/exchange|
|FloBedsFrom $1779||Blended or Natural Talalay||8” to 11” latexILD ranges from 19 to 44||Cotton or organic cotton fabric1” wool or organic wool fire barrier||20 years100 days return/exchange|
|AstrabedsFrom $1799||Organic Dunlop||6” to 12” latexILD ranges from 18 to 42||Organic Cotton fabric1” organic wool fire barrier||25 years90 days return/exchange|
|Organicpedic by OMIFrom $2195||Organic Dunlop||6” to 12” latexILD unspecified||Organic Cotton fabricNatural wool fire barrier||20 yearsNo return/exchange|
|SavvyRestFrom $2349||Natural Talalay or Organic Dunlop||6” to 12” latexILD unspecified||Organic Cotton fabric1” organic wool fire barrier||20 years90 days exchange|
|Lifekind by OMIFrom $2495||Organic Dunlop||6” to 9” latexILD unspecified||Organic Cotton fabricNatural wool fire barrier||20 years90 days exchange|
|Naturepedic Adagio$4499||Organic Dunlop||9” latexILD unspecified||Organic Cotton fabric1” organic wool fire barrier||20 years120 days partial exchange|
Based on the mattress specifications outlined above and on our research and consumer reviews, here are a couple of our picks for best overall deals on natural latex mattresses.
Good Budget Pick:
SleepEZ Natural 7000 in Natural Dunlop at $1195
For those seeking a natural latex mattress but not concerned about organic certifications, the Sleep EZ 7000 mattress offers a decent entry-level value. It has six inches of 100% natural Dunlop latex (or blended Talalay) with cotton cover and wool fire barrier. The Dunlop latex is Oeko-Tex 100 certified. Firmness is customizable, and the layers are unglued. The warranty and return policies are also fair.
Best Organic Value:
The Astrabeds SerenityBed at $1999
For those seeking an all-organic mattress, the Astrabeds line offers some of the best values. The SerenityBed includes seven inches of GOLS-certified organic Dunlop latex. It also has a GOTS-certified organic cotton cover and a one-inch organic wool fire barrier. The mattress also has Eco-Institute certification for VOC testing, and TUV Rhineland quality certification. Firmness is customizable, and the layers are unglued. Warranty and return polices are also fair. And, at $1999, it is considerably less expensive than many of the other similar all-organic options.
Overall, when shopping for an organic or natural mattress, remember to do your homework and read up on product claims, warranties and policies, and reviews. A new mattress is something you will be using for several hours a day and hopefully for several years, so it’s worth the time to learn about the market and find your perfect match.
Have any other questions on natural or organic latex beds, or buying a new mattress? Leave a comment below!