This is a great question, which we really should be asking ourselves when the time comes to replace our old mattresses. Given the choice between sleeping on something loaded with toxic chemicals, or a mattress made with natural and organic materials the choice is pretty straightforward, right? The best way to understand if mattresses really are toxic is to look at the most popular types of mattress and the materials within them.
The vacuum packed bed in a box
These mattresses have really taken the market by storm over the past few years, with their slick branding offering convenient boxed delivery, thousands of micro-springs and high tech layers of proprietary foams that promise to revolutionise your sleep. But what is really on the inside?
The foam layers they use will almost certainly be man made and polyurethane based, which is essentially a plastic. The bed in a box manufacturers use these foams because they are able to withstand the stresses of being vacuum packed and returned to their original form, which allows the mattresses to be transported, stored and delivered in higher density, driving down the costs and increasing the profit margins. These synthetic chemical foams are also significantly cheaper than their natural counterparts, again reducing the costs and increasing profit margins for the business. There really is very little benefit for the customer in having their mattress vacuum packed, other than the initial delivery being slightly easier, it is the company that is the winner. In fact, we believe that the customer is the one paying the price for all these bed in a box business efficiencies. The polyurethane foams that they use will off-gas, which is when the material breaks down and releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as a gas, which the sleeper will be inhaling night after night. You might recognise this as the new car smell. Initially VOCs can lead to allergies that affect your skin, eyes, throat, leading to breathing issues, headaches, fatigue, and nausea. In the longer term, continued VOC exposure can cause damage to your kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. Needless to say, we recommend avoiding exposure to polyurethane foam and the VOCs off-gas wherever possible.
The Synthetic foam mattress
Very similar to the bed in a box, synthetic foam mattresses will contain man made polyurethane foams that will off gas VOCs, as described above. The trick here is to really question what the materials are in the mattress, as many retailers of synthetic foam mattresses will simply refer to them as latex mattresses. Technically this is not a lie, but can be misleading as many consumers will see the word latex and assume that it is a natural material. If you are looking for a mattress with latex in, we suggest you search for 100% grade A natural latex, which we use in all our products at Snoozel Green.
The term natural can be a bit vague and open to interpretation, so it is important that you understand exactly what is on the inside of the mattress. If the mattress has glues make sure that they are water based toxic chemical free; any latex should be Organic certified, or 100% natural grade A; all comfort layers, such as cotton, wool etc should be 100% natural and ideally organic certified; any outer textile should be natural or organic GOTS certified if possible. If you find a mattress that has all of the above, you can be confident that you will be able to enjoy some great toxic free sleep. Luckily, the Snoozel Green mattress is totally non-toxic, made with 100% natural grade A latex, Organic certified sheep wool and Organic certified cotton.