In ancient years, primates spent their time sleeping high up on the tops of trees to help protect themselves from predators below, until, that is, a fire was discovered. It’s believed that primal animals began sleeping on the ground below, protected by the flames, on a bed of various leaves and grasses with the earliest form of a mattress dating back more than 70,000 years in South Africa.
Humans today are not accustomed to sleeping on a bed of grasses, due to many advances throughout civilization in bedding products, including the latex mattress.
Ancient History and Sleep
Around 3000 BCE, many cultures in ancient Egyptian history began adopting the concept of sleeping on an elevated surface, rather than sleeping on the floor. These raised beds allowed for better airflow to keep sleepers cool throughout the night, and helped to ward off insects, snakes, and other things that could easily get to someone sleeping on the ground.
Hardwood was the material most commonly used to create raised beds; however, more prestigious families slept in beds encrusted with jewels, gold, pillows, and linen sheets for optimal comfort.
Similar to ancient Egyptians, the Romans slept in elevated beds, too — some so high they could not get in or out without a ladder. Most of the Romans slept on mattresses made from hay, but a wealthy Roman god would be found sleeping on luxury wool, or feather materials.
Bedding has come a long way since those found in ancient times, thanks to inventors who never gave up on their dreams.
The History of Charles Goodyear
Charles Goodyear, a bankrupt hardware merchant from Philadelphia, was just a man with a dream and no money in 1834. He invented a small rubber valve for life preservers, and presented it to America’s first rubber manufacturer in New York — The Roxbury India Rubber Company. While the manager of the company was impressed with the ingenuity, he politely declined to purchase the rubber valve after showing Charles Goodyear shelves compiled of rubber products that have melted under intense heat waves.
Upon returning to Philadelphia, Charles Goodyear was jailed for unpaid debts, but his inventions did not stop there. He asked his wife to bring him a rolling pin and raw rubber material to the jail where he continued his research and experiments.
With a mission to create something magnificent, Charles Goodyear set forth to better understand what made rubber a naturally adhesive material, and what could be added to absorb the stickiness. After handcrafting a beautiful pair of boots, he thought he had finally mastered the art until summer came, and he watched his shoes and dreams melt away.
What is a Rubber Tree?
The Hevea Brasiliensis tree was first discovered in South America during the French expedition. Referred to as the rubber tree, or rubber plan, the Hevea Brasilensis tree is native to the Amazon.
Once the potential for the rubber tree was realized, the Hevea Brasiliensis tree was plucked from its native home in South America, and transported in large quantities to rubber plantations throughout Asia, Brazil, Columbia, and other regions of the Amazon rainforest. Hevea trees require high humidity, hot temperatures, and a plethora of rainfall to thrive and produce high-quality liquid latex.
This South American tree produces milky latex that has had a significant impact on the economy throughout the years, as it is used to create latex-based rubber goods like condoms, belts, balloons, gloves, hoses, and even mattresses.
What is Latex?
Latex is a liquid material naturally produced by Hevea trees in South America and other Amazon rainforests. The rubber tree sap is used to produce various products made of natural latex, like gloves, mattresses, and other products. Latex foam is not as popular as memory foam mattresses, but it offers exceptional support, pressure relief, and temperature regulation, and is very durable.
When was the First Latex Mattress Produced?
The history of latex goes back thousands of years, but the first latex mattress was not developed until the 1920s by the Dunlop company. John Boyd Dunlop, a gifted scientist, perfected the production process to create a latex mattress made from latex foam.
The Link Between the Kitchen Cake Mixer and Latex
While Goodyear spent years trying to perfect rubber goods, it was not until the 1920s that the Dunlop company manufactured the first latex foam mattress. It took years of research and experiments to figure out the most effective method to create the best mattress that is breathable, durable, and comfortable.
Rather than hand-mixing, Murphy, a British scientist working for the Dunlop company, used his wife’s mechanical kitchen mixer to whip the latex, rather than combining it by hand. After speculation by his peers, the idea of mechanically whipping raw latex became popular with unprecedented results.
How is Dunlop Latex Made?
Dunlop latex defines the process of manufacturing a latex foam mattress. The Dunlop process gets its name from founder, John Boyd Dunlop, and is known to create a mattress with a dense layer of foam on the bottom, but a softer foam layer near the surface.
To begin, the liquid latex is rigorously whipped into a frothy foam material, and then poured into a mattress mold in one motion, allowing the bottom layer of foam to settle. Once the mold is full, it is placed into the oven for vulcanization, or baking. Once the vulcanized rubber is finished baking, it is removed from the mold to be cleaned, and then baked again to remove the excess moisture.
What is Talalay Latex?
The production of Dunlop latex has helped thousands of people sleep better, but the process of latex foam production was later enhanced in the 1940s by three brothers - Joseph, Ansil, and Leon Talalay. The production process of Talalay latex mattresses is much more intense than that of the Dunlop process. Similar to Dunlop, the process of producing Talalay latex begins with mechanically whipping liquid latex into a frothy foam, but it differs from there.
The latex foam is injected into a mold, but the mold is only partially filled. To expand the latex, the foam is vacuum-sealed, and rapidly frozen while simultaneously being filled with carbon dioxide. The frozen mold is vulcanized, thoroughly washed, and carefully dried. Talalay latex is the process that produces better rubber for temperature regulation, but it is considered less durable than Dunlop latex mattresses, and tends to be more expensive.
The Downfall of Latex due to Historical Events
During World War II, the Japanese seized nearly all rubber plantations in the eastern regions, leaving little to no rubber being supplied to the United States. As a result, companies began to manufacture beds made of synthetic rubber, rather than natural rubber.
The industry rapidly shifted throughout the years from latex rubber to synthetic rubber, then to plastics. In 1963, petrochemical polyurethane plastic was used to create lightweight, cheap, profitable materials only to be burned (literally) in the largest case of insurance fraud in FBI history. In 1977, Steve Kordiak and Bill Coffey worked tirelessly to raise the latex foam industry from the ashes of the Goodrich Sponge Rubber arson by inventing the natural rubber latex foam pillow.
Pros and Cons of Latex Mattresses
Natural latex is great for those who suffer from allergies, or those who are sensitive to common household allergens, like mold, dust, and bacteria. Natural latex acts as a natural repellent to things like dust mites and mildew, making it a safer sleep space for years to come.
Unlike conventional mattresses, natural latex mattresses are not made with petroleum-based chemicals, meaning they are not harmful to sleepers or the environment. One rubber tree can provide milk sap for nearly 30 years.
Natural latex is:
While natural latex is great for one’s health, there are a few downsides to these beds. It is not uncommon for mattresses to produce a temporary off-gassing smell. Natural latex mattresses do not off-gas chemicals like other mattresses, but they do emit the smell of rubber. It can take several days to a week for the odor to dissipate, but rest assured this rubber odor is not harmful to those sharing a latex mattress.
Latex foam is dense, making it heavier than other mattresses, so it is recommended to have some help to carry the bed. These mattresses also tend to be more expensive than other mattresses, and the price varies based on the certifications held, natural or synthetic materials used, and the features included.
Sleeping Better with a Latex For Less Mattress
As sleep specialists, we know better than anyone that natural latex is the best surface for sleeping, but not all people understand this concept. As a result, some mattress manufacturers have price-gouged natural latex mattresses, making them affordable to only a select few.
At Latex For Less, we believe everyone should have the chance to sleep safely, which is why we made it our mission to provide America’s most affordable organic sleep.
We have partnered directly with farmers who uphold sustainable farming and harvesting standards. In doing so, we can eliminate the higher costs associated with a middleman, and ensure there are no details overlooked. We also handcraft our mattresses in-house, so we can closely monitor all details of production, ensuring there is no compromise.
We offer multiple sleep products like a latex pillow, comfortable mattress topper, foundation, bed frame, adjustable base, and comfortable mattress options, including an
Our 2-sided mattress, for example, is great for all sleepers, as it offers a firm feel on one side, and a medium feel on the other, allowing you to flip the mattress for your comfort needs.
Latex For Less mattresses are built to last. With a 20-year warranty, free shipping, and a 120 night trial, it’s a solid choice for improving your sleep quality, night after night.