Most people spend a big chunk of their lives sleeping. Getting good sleep is one of the keys to feeling good and being healthy. One of the best ways to do that is with a good mattress.
And since one of the three ethics of permaculture is “People Care”, let’s talk about taking care of yourself.
So our old mattress finally made us uncomfortable enough to look for a new mattress.
It was a decent mattress, an inner spring with a memory foam pillow top.
When we bought it, it was great. But after many years it’s worn out, and now it’s high time to replace it.
Since you spend a third of your life sleeping, we wanted to find a good non-toxic natural mattress.
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What’s in it?!
Ok, so here’s the deal on mattresses. Most manufacturers are cagey when it comes to disclosing the contents and sources of their materials.
There are some government regulations about flammability, but there’s not a whole lot of guidance.
So most standard mattress makers use some kind of toxic flame retardant chemicals to meet this standard.
In fact, the FTC put out a warning to mattress companies about their “green” claims.
But if you’re a “green” mattress company trying to make a natural, non-toxic mattress, that option isn’t possible.
So what they do instead is use wool on top of the mattress, because wool won’t burn, only char.
There’s three common options for the foam:
Polyurethane foam is the cheapest, least durable and lowest quality foam. It’s mostly made from petrochemicals, and used in couches and some furniture.
This foam is not very dense and will collapse under pressure. It’s also used by cheaper mattress manufacturers in a layer over the coil springs, because of the lower cost.
It can also smell bad, like a chemical factory, when it’s new. And poly foam is usually made with some fire retardant chemicals.
I don’t see poly as an option for our new mattress.
Memory foam is a kind of polyurethane foam. Again, it’s made with petrochemicals. It’s made to slowly sink as you put pressure on it. It can be hot to sleep on, and smells bad when new. It can take a few days to off-gas those VOCs (volatile organic compounds) before it doesn’t smell too bad to sleep on.
Because of the sinking, it may be hard to move while sleeping, and might disturb another sleeper.
It’s more dense, and so more supportive than poly foam but not as good as latex. And like poly foam, it has some fire retardant chemicals in it.
Latex foam is made by using a vulcanization (stabilizing) process with heat to convert liquid latex into latex foam. It can be made from either rubber trees (preferably harvested sustainably) or from synthetic latex made from petrochemicals.
It’s very supportive and responsive and doesn’t sink or bottom out. Latex foam is also a very durable material, and can last 20 years with very little breakdown. It is more expensive, but it’s an investment in your well-being.
It sleeps cool, and doesn’t have the horrible chemical smell that memory or poly foams do.
Latex foam is also helpful for side sleepers because of the good support.
So for us, latex wins. And it smells faintly of coconuts when you first open the box…
It mostly came down to natural (organic) foam latex, with a cotton cover.
Some manufacturers have a wool layer under the cotton.
It sounds like it would be hot, but it’s not, and it really does help control body temperature and moisture.
There are also a few beds that combine an inner spring mattress with a latex mattress.
There are some (ahem) unscrupulous manufacturers who use the cheaper latex and try to pass it off as “natural” latex.
But some manufacturers will be certified by Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), or OEKO-TEX Standard 100.
These standards are more stringent than other latex certifications.
It also matters what the cover is made out of, since you will sleeping closer to it than the latex.
A quality natural mattresses should have an organic cotton cover, some with a 1″ or 2″ wool layer between the cotton layers of the top.
There are also many different warranties, return terms, and shipping costs.
So here’s what we found. These mattress are all highly rated, with lots of satisfied customers.
The difference are the variations on mattress depth, firmness, construction details, price, warranty, and return policy.
Almost all these beds require a solid foundation to set on. Most of these companies sell them, or you could buy it separately or make your own.
The company was founded in 2010 in Delaware, and they are one of North America’s largest importers of organic latex. The mattresses all ship factory direct.
Model: Botanical Bliss
Construction: Organic cotton cover with New Zealand wool, 2″ natural Talalay latex layer, 3″ natural Talalay latex layer, 6″ ARPICO organic latex
Firmness: Comes in 4 firmness grades: soft, medium, medium-firm, extra-firm
Queen cost: $2299, they also include 2 shredded latex pillows, sheet set and, mattress protector
Warranty: 10 year full repair/replacement, 15 year pro-rated repair/replacement
Returns: 100-night guarantee, free return shipping, free returns
Reviews: This what we bought, though we got a king size.
We’re 6 months into testing the new mattress. My wife loves it, and she gets great sleep with it.
For the cost, I’m not overjoyed with it, but it’s much better than what we had.
The company was founded by a “4th generation mattress maker”, and is startup and e-commerce focused. Unlike many other companies, there is no bed “setup” required, just unbox and unroll.
Model: They only have one model
Construction: 3 – 3″ layers of natural Dunlop latex (Oeko-Tex 100, Class I certified), organic cotton cover, natural wool batting.
Queen cost: $1350
Warranty: 10 year limited warranty. They also have a “25 Year Comfort Life Program” that lets you buy replacement parts at a discount.
Returns: Their return policy is very different than most other manufacturers in this list.
They have a “comfort exchange program” that allows you to change out to a different firmness layer for a flat fee.
If you still don’t like it and want to return it, they don’t want it back.
So here’s what you do. Cut off the tags, and donate it to a charity. Once you send Spindle proof, they will refund the purchase price minus a $200 usage fee.
This may be an option for you if you don’t like anything above, or just want to DIY.
The owners couldn’t find an inexpensive non-toxic option for bedding, so they made their own.
Construction: Since it’s build-your-own, the thickness is up to you. For comparison, I’m using 3 – 3″ latex slabs with ticking and a wool cover (1″ like most others).
Depth: 10″ for this build
Queen cost: $1625
Warranty: 15 years on the latex slabs
Returns: They do not accept returns, generally.
Based in Canada, they call themselves “The world’s only natural memory foam company,” though this is somewhat misleading. Memory foam is man-made with harsh chemicals and cannot be natural. They say the foam they use is made from rubber tree sap. If so, this is foam like other manufacturers use, but it’s confusing the way they market the foam.
Construction: Organic cotton cover, friction reducing layer, 3 layers of organic latex foam (some domed texture ribs)
Queen cost: $1945
Warranty: 20 years
Shipping: Free US & Canada
Returns: 60 day money back guarantee, less a transportation fee of 9% of the retail price.
Founded in 2015, they emphasize being a “green” mattress company. They don’t use nasty chemicals but instead use eco-friendly products. The mattress is “handmade near Los Angeles.”
This mattress is a little different from others, in that it’s a combination latex foam and inner coil-spring mattress.
Model: Only one model
Construction: 2″ Dunlop latex in comfort layer, 1″ Dunlop latex in support layer, New Zealand wool, organic cotton cover, inner coil-spring system
Queen cost: $1399
Warranty: 25 years – 10 year full, 15 year pro-rated
Returns: Free returns and pickup during the 100-night trial
Handmade in South Carolina. They do allow a little more customization than most other companies. You can choose different depths, the firmness in different layers, and whether you want “natural” or GOLS-certified organic latex foam.
Model: The Leaf
Construction: 3 layers of Dunlop latex foam, wool from organic farms, organic cotton cover. Comes with 2 free shredded-latex pillows
Queen cost: $1995
Warranty: 20 year – 10 year full, 10 year pro-rated
Returns: 100 night sleep trial, with a small fee to exchange layers during the trial.
Look for non-toxic options when buying a mattress, like organic latex, cotton and wool.
It may be good for your peace-of-mind to buy from a company that accept free returns. But realize you will pay for that ability!
You also may want to buy from a company that has been in business for a while. There are some very promising newcomers that are fine, however.
Make sure to do in-depth research on the company you are buying from. And also look critically at the negative reviews (3 out of 5 stars or less) of their beds.
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This ebook shows you how to protect yourself and your family from toxic products and use healthier, all-natural alternatives. For more info Click Here or on the pictures!
OK, that’s all folks! Do you have any questions or comments about non-toxic sleeping, sustainable homesteading, permaculture design or anything else? Ask your question down below and let’s talk! You can also use the contact form, or email me at info at thepermaculture dot life.
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