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How to Buy a Non-Toxic Mattress

how to buy a nontoxic mattress

A truly non-toxic mattress not only won’t contribute to any potential health problems, but will also promote a sleep that rejuvenates the body and mind as a whole.  Do you know that most conventional mattresses may be made fully from materials supplied by the petroleum industry?  Can sleeping on petroleum-based material be healthy? Petroleum foam (e.g. polyurethane foam) emits VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that pose an array of potential health problems from eye irritation and allergies to cancer.  Moreover, petroleum does not regulate body temperature and thus does not make us feel comfortable and cozy enough to achieve the optimum rest.   In this post, I will provide you with a list of questions you can take to a mattress seller to make sure that you are buying a truly non-toxic mattress.

 

How is the mattress able to pass the Federal Open Flame Mattress Flammability Standard?

 

The Federal Open Flame Mattress Flammability Standard, 16 CFR 1633, went into effect in July 2007.  The test is so severe (it is not a cigarette test but a test designed to imitate burning clothes) that adding flame retardant chemicals to the mattress foam does not prevent a mattress from igniting.  So if the seller tells you that there are no flame retardant chemicals in the foam, do not stop there.

By the way, I do not mean to make you paranoid but I personally grew wary of polyurethane foam (a foam made of petroleum) on so many levels including the possibility of it containing flame retardant chemicals. Once in awhile independent researchers test products (when they have resources) and sometimes these tests reveal the presence of flame retardant chemicals in polyurethane foam when they are not actually needed to be there to pass any fire standards.  For a example, sleeping pillows are not included in any flammability standards; yet, toxic flame retardant chemicals may be found in them.  My guess is that polyurethane foam is pre-treated with flame retardant chemicals before it is decided where it is going to be used.

Most like likely the seller will tell you that a special barrier was built that wraps around the mattress and allows passing the open flame test.  Although this method is a step-up from simply adding super toxic flame retardant chemicals, do not stop your questioning there – there might be some hidden dangers in the barrier of so-called non-toxic mattress. What should you ask next?

What is the mattress barrier made of?  Are the barrier materials treated with any chemicals?

 

If the seller tells you about a special barrier built to allow the mattress to pass the open fire flammability test, inquire about the specifics of the barrier.  A common practice is to treat cotton used to build the barrier with chemicals such as boric acid (yes, the same boric acid used to kill rodents), antimony, and other chemicals that are not as toxic and deadly as halogenated flame retardant chemicals but yet do not contribute to a healthy rest.

Is the barrier fabric designed to be fire resistant?

 

Here is another trick of the trade I learned.  Let’s say that the seller tells you there are no added chemicals in the mattress barrier.  Unfortunately, even then you can not rest easy.  Manufacturers sometimes make the barrier from synthetic fabric designed to be flame retardant; in other words, it was made with flame retardant chemicals to begin with.   Yes – it is a little bit better technology in the sense that flame retardant chemicals are probably least likely to separate from the fabric and ultimately be inhaled or absorbed by our bodies.  But the even if this is true, the use of the chemicals does not alleviate environmental concerns.

Ideally, what you want to hear is that the non-toxic mattress barrier is made from wool — and preferably organic wool without the use of any chemicals.  Wool has natural flame retardant properties and is widely utilized by the non-toxic mattress industry to pass the open flame test.  To be exact here, wool does not burn but it is in a way self-extinguishing – the flames are not sustainable.

What is the foam of the mattress made of?

 

After you are done with questions around the open flame test, you should inquire about other materials the non-toxic mattress is made of.  Foam is a big part of any mattress.  The disadvantages of petroleum foam (aka polyurethane or polyethylene foam) are as follows: the use of an unsustainable resource — petroleum; the emission of toxic gasses called VOCs (volatile organic compounds); the inability to regulate body temperature; anti-mildew properties; and a short life due to sagging.  The only advantage is cheap cost.  What should you want instead of petroleum foam?

Natural latex foam is a great alternative for a non-toxic mattress.  Make sure that the foam is actually natural latex, meaning that it is made from the milk sap of the Hevea Brasiliensis or Rubber Tree, not some kind of another type of petroleum-derived product.  Among other things, natural latex is so durable and resilient that there is no need for a spring system to support the foam.  Keep in mind though that while natural latex is way better than polyurethane foam, it is not absolutely void of VOCs.  That’s why for crib mattresses I recommend latex-free mattresses.

Organic wool is another great alternative to petroleum foam for a non-toxic mattress.  Why?  Besides natural flame retardant properties and body temperature regulating abilities, wool is credited with helping relieve painful pressure points, back pains and arthritis, helping your body relax, and even is associated with the ability to slow down the heart rate, which contributes to deeper sleep.

Is the wool organic?

 

It is important to inquire whether the wool is organic because wool might contain chemicals used to process it and these chemicals may cause allergies.  The best scenario is to see an organic wool certification.

Is there any innerspring system in this mattress?

 

One of the benefits of writing a popular blog is that I receive a lot of emails from readers.  I have heard from a lot of people who bought mattresses made of 100% latex without innersprings, saying that they are not comfortable, which makes sense to me.  I believe that innersprings help provide proper spinal alignment and support.  My husband and I bought an innersprings mattress and we love it!  My recommendation is that if you decide to go for a mattress without innersprings, that you test it thoroughly beforehand and make sure the seller has a sufficient return policy if you find it uncomfortable.

What type of glue and dyes are used in the non-toxic mattress?

 

Another good question to ask is about glues and dyes.  You do not want glues that contain formaldehyde, a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer.  Make sure you get as much of information about the glue, ideally the name of the glue and the list of its ingredients.  It is also good to know that fabrics are not bleached with chlorine, which contributes to pollution by dioxins, which are also carcinogens.

Where are the non-toxic mattresses made?  Are there other type of mattresses made in the facility?

 

You want to make sure that there is no cross contamination and hopefully the facility is used to produce only non-toxic mattresses.

 

To read more, visit here:

Organic Mattress Review

Non-Toxic Crib Mattress Review

Latex-Free Organic Mattress

Sealy Soybean EverEdge Foam-Core Mattress – Safe or Toxic?

 

If you found a mattress you like but would like to run it by me before you make a leap, contact me for a phone consultation.

 

how to buy a non-toxic mattress

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27 thoughts on “How to Buy a Non-Toxic Mattress”

  1. Thank for your information about the non – toxic mattress. Of course, this information is very useful for anyone, including me. Because we are all always sleeping using the mattresses. If stuffing mattresses are not safe from the toxic, we naturally become unhealthy. Who will like it?

  2. Do you have any suggestions for mattresses? Have you heard of organopedic? I think they’re a local Bay Area company. We’re looking for a mattress now so I’m interested in finding out more about good companies. We were also looking at ergovea, but the mattress is cotton based and now I’m weary.

    1. The mattresses you mentioned are not bad options at all, of course it also depends on your personal preferences. I was doing shopping for a client and I found a great option for a very reasonable price. The mattress is made of organic latex, eco wool and covered with organic cotton. Nothing else. Simple and pure.

      1. Hi Jason: Are you a representative of Ergovea or their retailer or simply own a Ergovea mattress? Is the natural rubber foam 100% natural rubber without blends? From the description, these mattresses seem too firm. Do you they offer softer ones? ~Irina

        1. HI Irina, I’ve been to the parent store in Auburn, CA called Tucked in. The founder of Ergovea who owns this store can order the mattress in various levels of softness. I preferred the firmer side myself. My understanding is the rubber is of extremely high quality sourced from a sustainable private rubber tree farmer in India. And everything then is manufactured to very high standards in the US. – After an exhaustive search with many different manufactures and price points, I was really blown away by Ergovea’s line. Though they’re on the higher end as fully organic latex mattresses go. The quality, durability, and longevity is built into this brand like no other mattress I have ever bought. – I know it’s a difficult and confusing search, best of luck.

  3. Take a look at Naturepedic mattresses – their entire concept is to make a healthy mattress. They use organic cotton, and the foam they use is plant-based, organic, and contains NO petrochemicals. The company started making safe crib mattresses for babies, and now makes regular mattresses, too. The company is in Ohio, mattresses are made by Amish craftsmen, of materials from USA. They also make pillows and bedding – all organic & not toxic.
    http://www.naturepedic.com/education/indexYOU.php

  4. I would like a non-toxic mattress, however, I do not want any latex, or natural rubber in the mattress. do you have any suggestions?

    1. Coincidently, my next post is going to be about a customized non-toxic mattress that has a latex-free option. Make sure you are subscribed to receive my blog updates by email so you do not miss the post. Let me know if you are still looking for a mattress after you read the post. Thank you for your comment!

    2. Hi, Kirsten. I’m at Naturepedic and was reading some nice things about us on a recent post here (I’ve been caught, but who doesn’t like to read good reviews of their company!) and saw your comment. Are you looking for an adult mattress? Naturepedic has organic mattresses made completely without latex, including our Adagio, Essentials, and EOS. If you’re looking for a crib mattress, we never add latex since it could be a potential baby allergen.

  5. Can you give me a “specific” company that uses non-toxic materials? I have been researching this for a couple of years and am lost in the info. Who to believe? Many companies tell you that they use non-toxic materials. They say their wool allows them to pass the fire test. We are looking at Holder Mattress in Indianapolis and Beds By Design in Harbor Springs. I am not too worried about the springs just chemicals as both of these companies use inner springs. Please advise! Thank you! Margo

    1. Hi, Margo, thank you for stopping by. Please refer to my post here for a specific company. They use springs but I am learning that it might be a good thing from the comfort standpoint. My blog readers tell me that 100% natural latex mattresses are not comfortable for them.

    2. Margo… did you find out any more information about Beds by Design? I know this post is old, but wonder if you found out any information on whether their beds are truly non-toxic? Thank you! Kylie

  6. I recently bought a greenguard gold certified crib mattress from simmons, and was upset to see the tag read 24% polyester fiber and 6% polyurethane foam pad. How can this be advertised as low toxicity? I feel swindled!

  7. Thank you for the helpful information! Wool is a natural fire retardant and I am glad you pointed that out. I hope more people spear some time and read your story! We bought our mattress from ‘The Home Of Wool’ (https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheHomeOfWool). They make pure wool mattresses. I was very satisfied with the quality of fabrics (100% natural cotton, wool, silk, flax), craftsmanship and customer service. My wife and I decided to change our son’s latex mattress and our choice is, naturally, ‘The Home of Wool’ again.

  8. Hi! Have you heard anything about My Green Mattress? They seem pretty transparent with their materials and their price point is lower than Naturepedic. I’ve called both companies (2 times each) while trying to pick which one to try. Each time I asked the reps on the phone for their personal experience, neither of the Naturepedic reps used their companies product, however the My Green Mattress ones did.

    1. Hi, Tamara: Tell My Green Mattress that they have an expired GOTS certificate on the website and the second page is not showing. Ask them they have a better certificate. Thanks. By the way, we have been sleeping on a Naturepedic mattress for 2 years now, and it is VERY comfortable. We love it! Have you seen my post about Naturepedic? ~Irina

      1. I have read your post about Naturepedic, one of my concerns is that the closest place for me to test one out is over 3 hours away. 🙁 I need to get 4 mattresses, so my thought was to start with one (probably the smallest size that I need which is a twin) and go from there. My ultimate goal is to have a comfortable and non toxic mattress for every family member. I also want to be conscious of cost, which is why My Green Mattress has my attention (I can return for a $99 fee, vs 50% and $300 to ship back to Naturepedic). I was wondering if there is anything that stands out between the two that should influence which one I purchase.

        1. Hi, Tamara:
          To start with, I want to say that I have not researched My Green Mattress as closely as Naturpedic. When I went on My Green Mattress website I noticed that their GOTS certificate has expired and the one they have posted seems to be missing the second page so it is impossible to say which products that certificate applies to. In my opinion, it is important for a mattress company to certify their products (not just a facility) because then it gives us consumers a peace of mind that most materials used are at very least natural without synthetic undisclosed additives. Does it help? ~Irina

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