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Can a Mattress Really be Certified Organic

The 90’s gave birth to a wave of organic consumerism, and with good cause. Organic agriculture by definition is a more sustainable, environmentally friendly practice than conventional agriculture. Consumers are attracted to the potential health benefits gained from fewer pesticides and chemicals in their food and household products. Organic bedding is no exception. A mattress free of synthetics and potentially harmful chemicals is in high demand.

Many companies are pushing their organic sleep solutions to an eager consumer, but it is important to be aware of what, exactly, is being offered. Mattresses labeled as organic contain organic materials, but almost never contain exclusively organic materials. Any mattress with an innerspring core is obviously not entirely organic, as steel by its very nature is not organic. There is no such thing as organic polyurethane, which is entirely chemical in composition and tends to outgas. The only other core material widely available today, is latex.

Latex generally falls into two categories, talalay, and natural. Talalay latex contains about 30% synthetic latex so is not organic, though it remains a premium sleep surface and is hypoallergenic. Natural latex, which is often called 100% natural (but is never quite 100% latex), cannot be organic either. This is due to the nature of processing latex. Ammonia is always added to the milky sap of the rubber tree to prevent coagulation. This ammonia is removed later in the processing through a rigorous rinsing process, but still prevents latex from being certifiably organic.

Other factors include additives such as soaps and curing agents, as well as the certification process. In order for a plantation to produce organically certified latex, it would have to undergo a rigorous inspection of production and handling procedures – needing to adhere to strict regulations such as: a 2 year period with no use of prohibited materials, regular inputs of organic material, no use of soluble mineral fertilizers, no use of chemical pesticides, and many others.

Despite not being labeled with the tag word organic, natural latex is without a doubt the best all natural sleep surface on the market today. It offers the best pressure point free support while remaining inert, and free of chemical out gassing, as well as the longest life of any core material on the market today. If a comfortable night’s sleep on a natural product is the goal, natural latex is the sleep surface to pursue.

Ben Hermsen, a latex mattress and foam cushion engineer, is a manager for http://www.foamsource.com where he champions the benefits of latex mattresses, toppers and pillows for both individual health and also the preservation of our natural environment.

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