April 30, 2018

Dunlop and Talalay: Two Different Methods of Formulating Latex Foam

While researching latex mattresses online, you may have come across the terms “Talalay Latex” and “Dunlop Latex.” These terms are just two different ways of turning Hevea Brasiliensis tree sap into the solid latex in your mattress.

The Talalay and Dunlop processes both begin with liquid latex tapped from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree; the only differences lie in how the rubber is made solid. The Talalay process creates fluffier latex, and requires a few extra steps. The Dunlop process creates firm dense, energy-efficient, long-lasting and supportive latex.

The Dunlop and Talalay processes combined, make it possible to create a natural latex mattress that lasts for 20 years, much longer than the 6-8 years a typical innerspring mattress lasts. The Dunlop process creates especially dense latex foam; the Talalay process creates fluffier latex. Both processes have advantages, and we use the strengths of both Talalay and Dunlop processes to craft our mattresses.

Latex for Less uses 100% natural latex for both the Dunlop and Talalay layers of our mattresses. Our mattresses contain no synthetic latex substitutes, additives or chemicals - pure 100% natural latex, as Mother Nature intended. 

Similarities between the Dunlop and Talalay Processes

Because they both share the same goal, the Dunlop and Talalay methods share steps in common.

  • The Talalay and Dunlop processes both froth liquid latex, then pour the froth into a mold.
  • Both the Talalay and Dunlop processes vulcanize the rubber, which simply means heating the rubber up to remove stickiness and make the rubber durable.
  • In both the Talalay and Dunlop processes, the rubber is rinsed with water to ensure purity, then the finished solid latex is dried.

Both processes create durable, high-quality mattress materials when using 100% natural latex.

The Dunlop Process

The Natural Dunlop process requires fewer steps, so it’s the most natural and energy efficient way to create latex.

  1. Liquid latex is frothed in a centrifuge.
  2. The frothed latex is poured into a mold and vulcanized (steam-baked) into shape.
  3. The fully “baked” mattress is rinsed clean, and allowed to cool.

The finished Dunlop process latex is dense, durable, supportive and especially long-lasting. We use Dunlop process latex to create our latex mattress toppers.

Latex for Less uses a layer of natural Dunlop latex on the firm side of our mattresses. Dunlop process latex is dense, and provides firm support. This firm support dovetails nicely with the Talalay layer of latex, which we include in our mattresses, on the medium side. Read on to learn more about this Talalay process.

The Talalay Process

The Talalay process is popular with makers of latex mattresses, cushions, and pillows because it creates a fluffier, bouncier sleeping surface. The Talalay process bears similarities to the Dunlop process, but adds two steps that expand the latex to make it fluffier.

Here are the steps of the Talalay process:

  1. A centrifuge froths liquid latex.
  2. The latex froth is poured into a mold, but only until the mold is about three quarters full.
  3. The latex expands to fill the entire mold as air is vacuum pumped out of the mold. This expansion makes the latex fluffier.
  4. The fluffed latex is flash frozen to below zero temperatures; some CO2 is introduced so the rubber begins to gel. This step makes it possible to make fluffed latex permanent and solid.
  5. The gelled latex is baked to take the stickiness out of the finished rubber.
  6. The completed rubber is rinsed clean, and dried at warm temperatures.

The Talalay process involves more steps, thus many Talalay latex manufacturers cut corners by using cheaper synthetic latex or blended latex to lower their overhead. Companies that dilute their latex in this way may end up costing their customers — additives can weaken natural latex, and make it wear down faster. Unfortunately, this has given “Talalay latex” a bad name. Latex for Less uses only 100% natural latex, completely free of these cheaper fillers.

We include a layer of 100% natural Talalay latex in all Latex for Less mattresses. With the denser Dunlop latex as a firm and supportive base, this Talalay latex adds a layer of extra coziness.

Our 12" thick mattress even includes comfort layers of two different types of Talalay latex: 3" of medium Talalay latex underneath, with 2" of soft Talalay latex to top it off.

This Talalay latex layer shares some of the slower-response sensations of memory foam materials without the need for petroleum-based industrial chemicals. For more on how latex feels compared to memory foam, see our articles:

Conclusion

Despite their different approaches, the Dunlop and Talalay processes create similar latex. Both involve frothing, pouring, baking, rinsing, and drying latex to make it solid and long-lasting. The Dunlop process is a little more energy-efficient, and creates very dense, supportive and durable latex. The Talalay process adds vacuum-sealing and flash freezing steps to create fluffier latex. When performed with 100% natural latex, both processes create comfortable, healthy, sleep surfaces that last for decades.

You can easily flip your Latex for Less mattress over so that either the firmer Dunlop or the softer Talalay layer faces up. Our Dunlop layer is dense and firm, giving the mattress good supportive “bones.” Our Talalay layer is fluffier and softer for comfort.

Customers buying a mattress from another manufacturer without the inner Talalay comfort layer should consider buying one of our latex mattress toppers to help adjust the feel of their mattress, either making it soft and cozy or adding a little support to a too soft mattress. This is also a great way to try sleeping on natural latex with less up front investment. For more information on trying a natural latex topper, see our article: Should I Buy a Latex Mattress Topper?

Though many companies add synthetic fillers and chemicals to their Talalay latex, Latex for Less never compromises on the quality of our materials. We use 100% natural latex for both our Dunlop and Talalay mattress layers, creating a healthy, comfortable and durable mattress that’s guaranteed by a 20-year warranty.