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Why I Chose This Cork Yoga Mat

Written by Irina Webb

When you exercise, how much do you care about your athletic accessories?  I have discovered that I care a lot.  Indeed, unless I wear the right clothes and use the right mat, I do not feel motivated enough.  Since my exercise routine involves yoga or Pilates, a good non-toxic yoga mat is a must-have for me.  I had tried my share of mats before I found the perfect cork yoga mat that provides good support.  In addition, it does not leach potentially harmful chemicals and hardly has any smell.  So, if you are looking for a non-toxic exercise mat, this post about Scoria yoga mats is for you.  Read on to find out how cork is made, how to clean cork mats, and why I like the Scoria yoga mat so much.

Why I Chose This Cork Yoga Mat. A photo of a woman sitting on one of Scoria yoga mats.

Before writing about products, I research them using a five-step approach.

To begin, I have been doing product ingredient research since 2012.  Before I write about any product, I research it thoroughly using a five-step approach.  One of the steps is to research the industry and the manufacturing processes to understand a product better.  Thus, this information helps me see potentially unlisted contaminants in a product and harmful by-products of the manufacturing process.  

When I study ingredients, I rely on scientific databases such as the Cosmetic Ingredients Review and the OSHA Occupational Chemical Database.   As for the EWG database, it has its limitations.  Therefore, to make the most of it, it is a good idea to know how to use the Skin Deep Database the right way

Additionally, as a part of my research, I actually test some products for an extended period by using them myself.  This cork yoga mat by Scoria was one of the products I tested along with several other mats.  To learn about numerous mats I have tried and looked into, read my Non-Toxic Yoga Mat Guide.  I placed Scoria yoga mats into the best category because, I believe, cork is the best material for a yoga mat.  And here is why.

I consider cork the best material for making a yoga mat.

Mainly, I consider cork the best material for a yoga mat because it is durable, environmentally friendly, and non-toxic.  Cork is made from the bark of oak trees grown in Portugal that live up to 300 years!  Importantly, it is sustainably re-harvested from the same tree every 9 years.

Have you ever wondered how they make cork?

First, using a special hatchet, the harvester slices through the cork layer on the trunk of the tree.  With horizontal and vertical cuts, he makes sections of an appropriate size.  Then, he strips each panel of cork from the tree.

Second, the harvester leaves the planks outdoors for up to six months to cure, flatten out, and lose moisture. The fresh air, sun, and rain encourage chemical changes that improve the quality of the cork.  

Then, they treat the planks with boiling water containing a fungicide to remove dirt and water-soluble components.  This process also makes the cork softer and more flexible.  

Next, after scraping off the poor-quality outer layer, they stack the planks in a dark cellar.  They stay there drying and curing for a few more weeks. 

Lastly, they trim the planks to a uniform rectangular shape and sort them by quality.

In sum, except for the use of a fungicide, it is an environmentally friendly process.  That is why I consider a cork yoga mat an eco-friendly product.  All Scoria yoga mats are made from cork.  But what other materials besides cork do they use to make yoga mats?

Other materials include plastic, rubber, and fabric. 

The most common material some manufacturers use is polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  Personally, I would not use a PVC yoga mat because of potentially harmful substances involved in its production.  Feel free to read my PVC Yoga Mats post to learn how they make PVC and why I prefer to avoid PVC products.

Then, there is thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) that has become popular in the yoga mat industry.  However, it raises my concern because, in essence, it is a blend of undisclosed ingredients.  In my post about Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats you will learn more about the TPE material.  You will also find out which TPE yoga mat I have tried and did not like.

Next is natural rubber made from rubber trees, but the manufacturing process involves adding vulcanizing agents and chemical additives.  We do not fully know what those agents and additives are.  In 2015, a German magazine published a test that revealed that two natural rubber yoga mats contained carcinogenic nitrosamines.  This means that it is possible for natural rubber to contain nitrosamines, but only a lab test can confirm that.  Also, natural rubber normally smells of chemicals.

And, finally, there are plant fibers, such as cotton, hemp, and jute.  Their downside is that without backing they are slippery.  And the backing material is usually rubber – either natural or synthetic.  I described my experience with them in my Non-Toxic Yoga Mat guide.

Scoria cork yoga mat consists of cork and natural rubber.

Scoria yoga mats have cork as the top layer and natural rubber as the backing.  Cork is the best material for me as it provides the cushioning and support I need so much.  Plus, there are no known health or environmental concerns associated with it.  

Unfortunately, cork mats without backing are unlikely to stay in place – they will slide.  That is why backing is a must.  Some other cork yoga mats, e.g., Yoloha, use synthetic rubber backing.  As a petroleum-derived material, synthetic rubber may contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals (source).  (More on Yoloha yoga mat in my Non-Toxic Yoga Mat Guide.) 

Therefore, I was happy when I found a Scoria cork yoga mat with natural rubber backing.  Though not perfect, natural rubber is much better than synthetic rubber.  Indeed, it is not a petroleum product, and, reportedly, is biodegradable.  

To make rubber, harvesters make incisions in the bark of rubber trees.  Then they collect latex fluid into vessels in the tapping process.  After that, they turn the fluid into rubber by adding vulcanizing agents and chemical additives.  And, as I mentioned above, we do not know what those agents and additives are. 

While natural rubber is not ideal, it is the only natural material I know of they use for backing.  Again, natural rubber is a much better choice than synthetic rubber.  Besides, you are not going to face the natural rubber side as it is used only as backing.

In my opinion, Scoria yoga mats perform very well.

This cork mat comes in two thicknesses – 3.5 and 4.5 mm.  My cork yoga mat is 3.5 mm, because back then Scoria made only 3.5 mm non-toxic yoga mats.  The mat rolls well, is not bulky, and has no smell.  When it was new and just out of the box, it had a tiny bit of smell which dissipated quickly.  When four days later I was doing the child’s pose, there was no detectable smell any longer.  I did detect some smell when I pressed my nose against the rubber backing.  But it is not something you would do under normal conditions.

Scoria yoga mats grip better with sweat, and, thus, are excellent for hot yoga.  Therefore, for colder practices, it is good to spray the non-toxic yoga mat with water until you are warmed up.  I do not do hot yoga and felt that spraying water was not necessary as the mat was not slippery.  But I might be not doing the yoga poses that require extra support, so use your own judgement.

All in all, I am excited about these non-toxic cork yoga mats by Scoria, a Canadian company, by the way.  So, whether you live in the US or Canada, Scoria will ship these healthy yoga mats to you.  They also carry kids’ yoga mats with beautiful, unique, and creative artistic designs. 

In addition, the founder, Yara Kamal, is passionate about making a difference.  She cares about health, the environment, and social justice.  With every purchase, they give 10 meals to hungry children.

How to clean your cork yoga mat

The good news is that the cork is naturally antimicrobial.  It means that you do not need to worry about germs, mold, and mildew or frequent cleaning.  Just lay the mat flat after practice to air dry.  Of course, no washing machine needed.  

If there is dirt or body oils, wipe the surface with a damp soft cloth wet in warm water.  I consider these safe cleaning products a good option for an occasional mild cleaning of your mat surface.  These safe cleaners will not only give you peace of mind, but also help you save your money.

Conclusion about Scoria yoga mats

In conclusion, my decision to go with a Scoria yoga mat was based on my experience with many other mats.  Every time I tried a new mat, there was something wrong with it – either with its quality and materials or my level of comfort.  Meanwhile, Scoria cork yoga mat seems to check every box for me.  Most importantly, it is sustainably made from natural materials and poses no risk to health.  I am pleased with the way it performs and the support and cushioning it gives me. 

If you would like to try this cork mat, visit Scoria website

To get a concise PDF file of 11 types of yoga mat materials, subscribe to receive it by email here.  

Feel free to browse my shop for healthy products for your home, skin, and wardrobe.  Also, book a consultation with me to get timely help with non-toxic living.  Join the Savvy Consumer Circle to share your interest in healthy living with the community of the like-minded people.  

16 thoughts on “Why I Chose This Cork Yoga Mat”

  1. Hello Irina. Thank you for all the good info on yoga mats. I really need a new one for my mat Pilates class and would love to get the Scoria cork&rubber version that you use. It is, however, beyond my budget. Are you able to recommend something in the $35 price range.

    Thank you, Franceska

  2. Aloha Irina,
    Thank you for the work you’re doing here and sharing your experiences with this and recommending the mat you use! I went ahead and bought one with your code. I am curious though if you know how Scoria differs/or why you recommend it from some of the other yoga mat companies I found on Amazon that advertise the cork and natural rubber as well but are significantly cheaper, starting at around $50. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Jessica: Thank you for asking. I interviewed the owner of Scoria and was satisfied with her answers. As for Amazon, frequently it is hard to get a hold of anybody there who is truly knowledgeable about the products they sell. Also, the Amazon product description may not be accurate. I provide links to Amazon when I was able to contact the manufacturer through the website first. Does it make sense? ~Irina

      1. Thanks for your speedy, helpful response, Irina! Yes, that does make sense and is a good point about the questionable level of accuracy on the description for many of the Amazon products. It’s always good to do a deeper level of checking up so thank you for doing the homework! I am looking forward to trying out my new Scoria mat!

  3. What do they use to bind the natural rubber and cork, and the layers together?

    I was thinking of getting a 1″ twin size natural latex mattress overlay with an organic cotton cover for working out and stretching. I like a lot more cushion than a typical yoga mat provides.

    I may even get a larger size because I like to work out in barefeet. I used to have a Tempurpedic sleep travel pad that rolled up and I loved working out on that. I don’t have it any longer and would rather use natural latex.

    I have a natural latex mattress that I love! (Especially sleeping inclined – Google “Inclined Bed Therapy”… the benefits are amazing and it’s so easy to lift the head of your bed.)

  4. Hi Irina! Thank you for researching this! Do you have any other recommendations regarding home exercise equipment? Specifically, I’m thinking about non toxic options for resistance bands, weights, etc.

  5. Hi! Thank you for all this info:) I can’t afford the expensive yoga mat. Do you know anything about yoga blankets as a non-toxic alternative?

  6. Hi, I’m so glad I found your website. I have been doing some research on my own about Eco-friendly non-toxic yoga mats and found out that they are neither eco friendly or non toxic. The best choices that came out of my research were the Yoloha and the Scoria cork yoga mat. I was debating between these two but after reading your post I made the decision of buying the Scoria yoga mat. Thank you!

  7. Hello Irina! Thank you for all that you do, so very much appreciated!
    What about hemp yoga mats? – Such as this one from Yogini Mat
    Is there a hemp mat you recommend?
    Many thanks.

  8. Hi I really appreciate your posts I have been looking for a safe yoga mat for years. I seem to have almost found it. I was excited about this post until I read about the rubber backing.

    I have a latex allergy. Do you know of any safe mats like this one that do not contain latex? I really hope you do. I had all but given up until I found your post and yoga is very important to me. Thank you!

  9. Hi Irina,

    Thanks for all the helpful information! I saw on Yoloha’s website that they have recently come out with a cork yoga mat + plant foam backing. Based on their FAQ page, their plant foam backing is made of 55% sugarcane + 30% Eva Foam or Ethylene-vinyl acetate, with the rest of the percentage being cork I presume. They also use a heat lamination process to bind the cork and plant foam together, instead of an adhesive. I was wondering if this seems like a good alternative to the Scoria mat in terms of toxicity, or if the Scoria mat is still superior to this new cork+plant foam addition to Yoloha.

    1. Hi, there! Thank you for the question! We believe that Scoria is superior because it doesn’t have EVA foam. We hope this helps!

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