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Durability of latex with respect to harmful reactions and firmness 27 Jan 2014 10:12 #1

  • Catatonic
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Is 100% natural latex immune to some reactions that degrade blended?

My understanding was that, at least with Talalay, blended latex is supposed to be more durable than 100% natural. But I chatted with someone through habitatfurnishings.com about their latex toppers and they claimed that:

The natural latex will last much longer then a blended latex. The blended uses man made materials that will break down much faster than natural latex.


*Edit* forgot to include this quote from the chat:

Natural latex is not photo sensitive so UV light does not harm it or cause it to break down.


And they have an FAQ on their site that says:

Typical problems associated with synthetic latex such as crumbling, darkening due to light exposure, rutting and formation of body impressions and dips do not occur with botanical latex.


Are their claims accurate?

How does durability of blended Talalay / Dunlop compare with 100% natural? Is 100% natural immune to some threats to blended, such as UV -- or vice versa, blended immune to threats to natural?

How important is a protective cover for 100% natural and blended respectively? Would a fitted sheet style mattress protector provide adequate protection for a latex topper?

When shopping for blended latex, should I be concerned with what the proportion of natural to synthetic is?

This site says:

there are many in the industry...who believe that in the very softest ILD's, Talalay latex that is made completely of natural rubber may not be quite as durable or resistant to impressions as the blended version....in ILD's that are very low, blended Talalay may be a preferable choice.


What ILDs is this talking about? Is it just the N1 firmness? If 100% natural latex is advertised with an ILD rating as opposed to N#, what ILD would this be applicable to?

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Last edit: by Catatonic. Reason: Forgot to include a relevant quote from chat session

Durability of latex with respect to harmful reactions and firmness 27 Jan 2014 17:00 #2

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Hi Catatonic,

You are getting some incorrect and/or misleading information here.

Is 100% natural latex immune to some reactions that degrade blended?


Not "immune" no but there are some differences between the properties of synthetic and natural latex in terms of how they age. Post #6 here has more information about the different types and blends of latex and post #2 here has more information about some of the differences between natural and synthetic rubber.

The natural latex will last much longer then a blended latex. The blended uses man made materials that will break down much faster than natural latex.


If they are referring to blended vs 100% natural Talalay then the manufacturer of the latex they use would disagree with them ( see this page on the Pure Latex Bliss site which is owned by Latex International).

Natural latex is not photo sensitive so UV light does not harm it or cause it to break down.


Antioxidants or antidegradants are added to latex formulas to reduce the effect of ozone triggered by UV light. You can see from the list here that ozone is one of the factors that can have a "severe effect" on natural rubber but it's less for natural rubber than synthetic rubber because of the difference in their chemistry and polymer backbone. If you put a natural rubber layer out in direct sunlight for a while it could certainly harm the latex.

Typical problems associated with synthetic latex such as crumbling, darkening due to light exposure, rutting and formation of body impressions and dips do not occur with botanical latex.


This again is misleading and puts the focus only on natural vs synthetic (which is more "marketing" information) instead of the specific type and blend of latex. It's always a matter of specifics and degree and not just whether latex is natural or synthetic. Both types will degrade over time although all latex is more durable than other types of foam materials.

Are their claims accurate?


No

How important is a protective cover for 100% natural and blended respectively? Would a fitted sheet style mattress protector provide adequate protection for a latex topper?


I believe it's important over longer periods of time for the latex to have the longest possible lifespan. A fitted type mattress protector would be OK over the short term but I believe it would reduce the lifespan over the longer term.

When shopping for blended latex, should I be concerned with what the proportion of natural to synthetic is?


The previous link probably answered this but in the case of Talalay you won't have a choice (all blended Talalay is about 30% natural and 70% synthetic) but in the case of Dunlop it can make a difference both in the cost and durability ... again depending on the specifics.

What ILDs is this talking about? Is it just the N1 firmness? If 100% natural latex is advertised with an ILD rating as opposed to N#, what ILD would this be applicable to?


It would be a curve not a sudden change and would probably depend on many factors such as the body weight of the person and the position of the layer in the mattress but in very general terms I would say based on many conversations that they would probably even out somewhere in the range of mid 20's ILD or higher.

You can see the range of ILD's for each firmness level of Latex International's 100% natural Talalay here .

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Durability of latex with respect to harmful reactions and firmness 28 Jan 2014 09:34 #3

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Hi Phoenix,

Thanks for your reply.

Thanks for the links, I read those posts.

If they are referring to blended vs 100% natural Talalay then the manufacturer of the latex they use would disagree with them (see this page on the Pure Latex Bliss site which is owned by Latex International).


Yeah, that's interesting. That is what they were referring to. Here is an excerpt from the chat:

Me: Your toppers are Latex International 100% natural Talalay, not blended Talatech, correct?

Them: Correct, they are the Latex International 100% natural talalay latex. We do not use the blended latex.

Me: Ok, so that latex has an N# firmness rating, correct?

Them: right it is the N2

Me: Ok. How durable is that compared to blended Talalay?

Them: The natural latex will last much longer then a blended latex. The blended uses man made materials that will break down much faster than natural latex.

Me: Hmm, I've heard the opposite other places, and that the very soft all natural Talalay especially (perhaps just talking about the N1) may be considerably less durable than very soft blended Talalay.

Me: Can you point me to any info on the web (not on your own site) that discusses durability of all natural vs. blended Talalay?

Them: I don't know of any sites off hand. You can try doing a google for natural vs synthetic latex and it may pull up some information for you.

Me: Ok, I'll check it out. How well does the cover provided with your toppers protect them from things that can degrade the latex, like UV light?

Them: Natural latex is not photo sensitive so UV light does not harm it or cause it to break down.

Antioxidants or antidegradants are added to latex formulas to reduce the effect of ozone triggered by UV light. You can see from the list here that ozone is one of the factors that can have a "severe effect" on natural rubber but it's less for natural rubber than synthetic rubber because of the difference in their chemistry and polymer backbone.


And the synthetic polymer tested in that study was SBR, or the results can be applied to SBR I take it.

If you put a natural rubber layer out in direct sunlight for a while it could certainly harm the latex.


So in your viewpoint their statement that "Natural latex is not photo sensitive so UV light does not harm it or cause it to break down." must be quite an exaggeration.

I believe it's important over longer periods of time for the latex to have the longest possible lifespan. A fitted type mattress protector would be OK over the short term but I believe it would reduce the lifespan over the longer term.


Ok. This is just one of the many things about beds and latex where it's hard to get consistent, straightforward answers. I was looking at some toppers on mattresses.net and on one page that includes blended Talalay, all natural Talalay, and all natural Dunlop it says:

These products are in the raw and do not come with a cover. Just put your sheets over the top of it and you're set.


While on another page for all natural Talalay it says:

Latex is prone to slight flaking over the years and a protective cover is highly advised. Direct sunlight is the #1 enemy of natural latex products.


I asked them about it by email and this is what they replied with:

The biggest degradation with latex is usually caused by exposure to light. The more it's covered the longer it will last. Although our zip cover is not required it is recommended. If you are going to have an addition mattress pad over the topper then the zip cover would not be necessary.

The previous link probably answered this but in the case of Talalay you won't have a choice (all blended Talalay is about 30% natural and 70% synthetic) but in the case of Dunlop it can make a difference both in the cost and durability ... again depending on the specifics.


Ok, thanks. I'm only looking at Talalay at the moment, so that's good to know.

It would be a curve not a sudden change and would probably depend on many factors such as the body weight of the person and the position of the layer in the mattress but in very general terms I would say based on many conversations that they would probably even out somewhere in the range of mid 20's ILD or higher.


What exactly do you mean by even out? Are you talking about where durability of 100% natural and blended would be equal?

I think I want something in the neighborhood of 19 ILD Talalay, 2-3", for a top comfort layer. So 19 ILD is right around the border between N1 and N2 (at least when talking about Latex International foam) right? For average / below average weight people, do you think N1 is too soft to recommend? What about N2?

Another issue is that 100% natural Talalay in N2 could end up feeling like 25 ILD blended Talalay, right? So if I want something more like 19 ILD, am I better off getting blended just because of that?

Thanks for your help

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Durability of latex with respect to harmful reactions and firmness 28 Jan 2014 12:18 #4

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Hi Catatonic,

And the synthetic polymer tested in that study was SBR, or the results can be applied to SBR I take it.


Here's a few more links from different manufacturers that show some of the properties of different types of rubber that also indicates that without antidegradants in the forumla both SBR and NR are both susceptible to UV (sunlight), and ozone.

www.elbex-us.com/pdfs/General%20Properties%20of%20Elastomers.pdf
www.viprubber.com/page/technical_advancedmaterials (click on NR and SBR in the side menu)
www.rlhudson.com/material_profiles/index.htm (click on natural rubber and styrene butadiene in the side menu)

What exactly do you mean by even out? Are you talking about where durability of 100% natural and blended would be equal?


Yes ... this would be my "best guess" based on my research and conversations and subject to the many other factors that can affect durability.

I think I want something in the neighborhood of 19 ILD Talalay, 2-3", for a top comfort layer. So 19 ILD is right around the border between N1 and N2 (at least when talking about Latex International foam) right? For average / below average weight people, do you think N1 is too soft to recommend? What about N2?


ILD is only one part of why any materials feels soft or firm and by itself can be as misleading as it can be helpful (see post #2 here ). Every layer of a mattress will interact with every other layer in different ways and outside of personal testing or experience, the best way to decide on how suitable a particular mattress design may be is with a more detailed phone conversation with a knowledgeable and experienced manufacturer or retailer who will know more about how their mattresses match different body types, sleeping positions, and preferences "on average" than anyone else. There are just too many variables to be able to predict how anyone will "feel" on a mattress based only on ILD because there are too many other factors and variables involved (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here ). ILD is also not exact with any material (even the ones that list a specific ILD) and will fall in a range (see post #6 here ).

Because it's unknown how any specific cover or covering method will affect the latex inside it and allow light, oxygen, and ozone or other things that can affect the latex to go through and potentially speed up the softening or breakdown of the latex over time ... I personally tend to take a more conservative approach with these types of issues and err on the side of caution and would put a cover on bare latex layers for long term use.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Durability of latex with respect to harmful reactions and firmness 28 Jan 2014 15:46 #5

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Hi Phoenix,

Here's a few more links from different manufacturers that show some of the properties of different types of rubber that also indicates that without antidegradants in the forumla both SBR and NR are both susceptible to UV (sunlight), and ozone.

www.elbex-us.com/pdfs/General%20Properties%20of%20Elastomers.pdf
www.viprubber.com/page/technical_advancedmaterials (click on NR and SBR in the side menu)
www.rlhudson.com/material_profiles/index.htm (click on natural rubber and styrene butadiene in the side menu)


Thanks for these.

Yes ... this would be my "best guess" based on my research and conversations and subject to the many other factors that can affect durability.


Ok...I'm guessing that means N2 all natural Talalay would have decent durability then.

ILD is only one part of why any materials feels soft or firm and by itself can be as misleading as it can be helpful (see post #2 here ). Every layer of a mattress will interact with every other layer in different ways and outside of personal testing or experience, the best way to decide on how suitable a particular mattress design may be is with a more detailed phone conversation with a knowledgeable and experienced manufacturer or retailer who will know more about how their mattresses match different body types, sleeping positions, and preferences "on average" than anyone else. There are just too many variables to be able to predict how anyone will "feel" on a mattress based only on ILD because there are too many other factors and variables involved (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here ). ILD is also not exact with any material (even the ones that list a specific ILD) and will fall in a range (see post #6 here ).


The first link in this part didn't work for me ("You do not have permissions to access this page."). I'm not sure, but I think you may have interpreted my question to mean "do you think N1 / N2 is too soft to recommend for comfort" -- what I meant is do you think N1 / N2 (respectively) are too soft to recommend for durability reasons. I don't think I have a choice but to take an educated guess about what to buy -- the opportunities to try materials like latex locally are just too limited and impractical. And at this point I'm planning to get a 2-3" Talalay topper of approximately 19 ILD blended or N2 all natural (these are the only measures I know of to identify the firmness I want). It's a shame that the ILD ratings are not a very objective measure, but I don't have much else to go on than the combination of latex process, composition, ILD, and manufacturer. As you noted in one of the posts you linked to, word descriptions of firmness are very subjective, so I'm not sure that talking to someone on the phone would yield more reliable information. And at this point I'm just shopping for a topper, so I'm not sure how well someone on the phone would be able to guide me since they don't know how it's going to feel on my mattress, even if they're very knowledgeable about their product.

Because it's unknown how any specific cover or covering method will affect the latex inside it and allow light, oxygen, and ozone or other things that can affect the latex to go through and potentially speed up the softening or breakdown of the latex over time ... I personally tend to take a more conservative approach with these types of issues and err on the side of caution and would put a cover on bare latex layers for long term use.


So you're saying it's unknown how well any particular covering will actually protect the latex, but you believe that any covering is better than no covering? And I take it you mean a cover that encases the latex as opposed to the fitted sheet style of mattress protector I mentioned?

Thanks

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Last edit: by phoenix.

Durability of latex with respect to harmful reactions and firmness 28 Jan 2014 17:24 #6

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Hi Catatonic,

The first link in this part didn't work for me ("You do not have permissions to access this page.")


I linked back to a reply window on this thread instead of the post I meant to. Thanks for letting me know and I've fixed it in the original post and in your quote.

Ok...I'm guessing that means N2 all natural Talalay would have decent durability then.


N2 Talalay is in a 20 - 25 ILD range so it would be more in the low 20's normally. While it's certainly a durable material compared to other foams and some people may prefer it for personal reasons ... if I had to guess at how it compared to LI blended in the 24 ILD range I would say that the blended would be more durable (although this is based on preponderance of the evidence and best judgement). N3 would probably be where they were more comparable.

I'm not sure, but I think you may have interpreted my question to mean "do you think N1 / N2 is too soft to recommend for comfort" -- what I meant is do you think N1 / N2 (respectively) are too soft to recommend for durability reasons.


I would be fine with almost any latex in terms of durability (subject to the other factors that can affect durability) so it wouldn't be a durability issue for someone that preferred all natural over blended Talalay and their "other reasons" for choosing it were more important than differences in durability. At your weight I wouldn't make its durability an issue with either one and how it feels and performs in the mattress you are looking at would be more important but if the lower cost of blended Talalay was important to you and you were OK with the idea of using a blend of synthetic/natural for personal reasons or for some reason durability was the most important part of your personal value equation even if you didn't like it as much in terms of PPP then I would choose the blended in a roughly equivalent ILD range, which would be 24 ILD, or in 19 ILD if I wanted something a little bit softer than N2.

these are the only measures I know of to identify the firmness I want


In the absence of personal reference points, I would tend to use the suggestions in the topper guidelines which are based on how your mattress feels and how much additional pressure relief you are looking for as best you will be able to quantify it. If you are uncertain then the return or exchange policies may be a more important part of your personal value equation than any specs because it will give you a much more meaningful reference point for a replacement based on your actual experience with the topper on your mattress instead of relying on "theory" which can become an exercise in frustration or in some cases "paralysis by analysis".

So you're saying it's unknown how well any particular covering will actually protect the latex, but you believe that any covering is better than no covering? And I take it you mean a cover that encases the latex as opposed to the fitted sheet style of mattress protector I mentioned?


There are no specifications available about airflow or light, UV, and ozone penetration of different covers or covering methods that will give you any accurate means to compare them and there are also no specs available about the actual resistance of every latex formulation or the anti degradants they use in their formula. A cover can also help protect the topper from other types of damage so using a cover that fully encloses a topper is what I would personally do for the long term if I was buying a topper. This is once again be based on all the research I have done and the conversations I have had with many people in the industry and is based on "preponderance of the evidence", "best judgement" and perhaps a little bit of extra caution that gives you higher odds of better protecting a high quality material from degrading more quickly than it otherwise would.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Durability of latex with respect to harmful reactions and firmness 02 Feb 2014 09:09 #7

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Hi Phoenix,

Thanks for your reply. I'll respond to your whole post later, but I wanted to let you know that I made a [URL= new topic about topper covers ]post about topper covers[/URL] that relates to what we were discussing here. It made more sense to create a new thread for it than to post it as a reply here.

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