Latex is a natural material that comes from the rubber tree. In its natural form it contains protein which many people are allergic to. So there are processes which remove the protein from latex to create a safer and more consistent form of this cushioning material. Latex is used in items like gloves and as a cushioning material in mattresses. There are basically three types of latex used in mattresses (check out LatexMattress.org for more info):
Natural – This type of latex is actually foamed rubber direct from the rubber tree plant. It is used in mattresses and sounds like a great material because its natural, but in its unprocessed form latex shows inconsistent density and strength that affects its ability to support and comfort uniformly across the surface of the mattress and some people have allergic reaction to the proteins in it.
Dupont – This is chemically created latex. It is a lower cost form of latex that can be “boardy” and hard in its feel. It’s often used in lower priced latex mattresses.
Talalay – Talalay is the process applied to natural latex to remove the proteins and improve its consistency to create the highest form of latex for consistent performance and quality.
Latex is a high cost, relatively heavy material. Most latex mattresses consist of a latex core, usually 2-7 inches in height, with layers of regular polyurethane foam below and above the latex for support and cushioning. Latex is also an expensive material so the more latex in the bed and the higher the quality of the latex the more the mattress costs. Latex in the highest form (talalay) is an effective material for cushioning, but lacking in the ability to prove adequate support. It lacks support because latex will soften substantially as it is used.
It is not uncommon for sleepers to complain of a bad back after several years of sleeping on a top quality, very expensive latex mattress. That is because the latex core has softened with use and reached the point where it can no longer offer the back support needed to maintain healthy spinal allignment.
A standout aspect of latex mattress is that they share many of the comfort and support properties as memory foam, without many of the disadvantages. If you are a “green” buyer, latex is the mattress type for you. They be constructed using all natural materials making them much better for the environment.
Due to the several factors that go into a latex mattress purchase such as the comfort size and whether you prefer a natural versus synthetic construction for example, gaining information on the specific kind of latex mattress ideal that’s for your needs can be difficult.