What’s the Difference Between Natural Latex vs. Organic Latex?
Latex mattresses have risen in popularity in recent years and, indeed, there are good reasons for anyone to consider purchasing one.
Latex offers all the excellent pressure-relieving properties of memory foam but it's more responsive and breathable.
As with many things these days, though, you might be confused as to the difference between organic latex vs. natural latex. Are these simply two different fancy terms referring to the same thing?
This article will clear the confusion for you once and for all, explaining how to distinguish between organic vs. natural latex so you can find the perfect latex mattress for you.
What is natural latex?
First of all, it’s important to distinguish between synthetic latex and natural latex.
Natural latex comes from the sap of the rubber tree. Synthetic latex is a foam that's been designed to have similar properties to natural latex but is created from the polymerization of petroleum.
While synthetic latex isn’t necessarily bad, it’s not going to be as healthy for you—or the earth—as natural latex.
Natural latex isn't only naturally hypoallergenic, but it's also more durable and breathable than synthetic latex. Keep in mind natural latex is more expensive than synthetic latex due to the cost of harvesting the material.
Types of natural latex
When it comes to natural latex, you'll see two different terms that refer to two types of natural latex production: Talalay and Dunlop.
The Dunlop method was developed in the late 1920s and is the simpler of the two methods. In this process, the liquid sap of the rubber tree is harvested and sent to a production facility, where it's mixed with a small amount of nontoxic, inorganic ingredients and whipped into an airy batter.
The latex is then poured into a mold and baked in a vulcanization oven at 100ᵒC/212ᵒF into solid form. After that, it's removed from the mold and washed; then it's baked for a second time to remove excess moisture.
The Talalay method, which was developed later and has been in use since WWII, is slightly more intensive than Dunlop. As with Dunlop, the liquid latex is whipped into a froth and poured into a mold—but in this case, the mold is only partially filled. After the batter is poured into the mold, a vacuum is created to evenly disperse the liquid latex throughout the mold.
The molded latex is then flash-frozen—a process that pushes carbon dioxide through the latex, making the resulting latex foam light and airy as it solidifies. The frozen latex is baked into a solid form, then removed from the mold, washed, and dried.
Both Talalay and Dunlop produce excellent sleeping surfaces, and the choice between the two will come down to your personal preferences.
Choosing a natural latex mattress
In any case, if you’re looking for a fully natural latex mattress, you'll have to do your research. Labels like "pure latex" or "made with natural latex" means the mattress is probably made with mostly synthetic latex.
Look for "100% natural latex" and read the labels! Even better, look for some kind of certification—GOLS, GreenGuard, OEKO-TEX, eco-INSTITUT—to ensure your mattress is free of harmful chemicals.
What is organic latex?
Organic latex is a type of natural latex that’s been certified with an organic seal of approval. Typically, organic latex will have a certification from the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS).
What’s the difference between natural vs. organic latex?
While non-organic 100% natural latex is produced from raw latex using standard farming practices, organic latex is 100% natural latex that's been farmed without the use of pesticides and under the supervision of monitoring body(s).
GOLS is the organization that typically monitors and certifies organic latex producers. Besides farming practices, GOLS monitors materials sourcing, Fair Trade practices, and wastewater treatment, thereby fully supervising the social and environmental impact of latex production.
GOLS standards are incredibly stringent. For example, one of the GOLS regulations is that all the trees were grown in an area where no chemical fertilizers were used for at least four years.
Organic latex tends to be more expensive than natural latex that hasn’t been certified organic due to the costs associated with the certification process.
Choosing an organic latex mattress
Importantly, if you’re looking for an organic latex mattress, look for a GOLS certification. If the mattress is labeled “organic” but can't provide the certification, they probably covered their non-organic latex foam with organic fabric.
If it has another certification (e.g. GreenGuard, OEKO-TEX, eco-INSTITUT) it likely refers to the general non-toxicity of the materials in the mattress (which is great), but this doesn't guarantee the latex is organic.
Natural latex vs. organic latex: Which one is better?
Both 100% natural latex and organic latex are great options. The choice really comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. If using organic products is important to you, then you may want to consider choosing a GOLS-certified organic latex mattress.
That said, both natural latex and organic latex mattresses are better for you (and the planet!) than mattresses made with synthetic foams. They're both comfortable, durable, and breathable and will ensure you have an excellent sleep experience.
What is the difference between natural latex and organic latex?
Both natural and organic latex are natural products made from the sap of rubber trees. However, the production of organic latex must follow stringent rules that include pesticide-free farming and responsible material sourcing and be certified by GOLS, a body that monitors and controls the social and environmental impact of latex production.
What is certified organic latex?
Any latex that's been produced under the supervision of GOLS is certified organic.
Is organic latex safe?
Organic latex is safe and naturally hypoallergenic. As with 100% natural latex, you'll get all the pressure-reliving properties of foam without having to worry about the use of harmful chemicals.
What is natural latex made from?
Natural latex is made from the sap of rubber trees, which has been baked into a foam with the help of curing agents.
Check out Saatva’s selection of natural latex mattresses
Natural latex is durable, comfortable, and breathable, and it's a great choice if you're craving that cradling feeling of a foam mattress. Saatva offers natural latex mattresses and natural latex hybrid mattresses in our collection.
Our latex is certified by GreenGuard Gold and eco-INSTITUT, which means it’s certified to be free of pollutants and emissions, reducing your risk of daily chemical exposure to potentially harmful substances.
Take our mattress quiz if you're still on the fence as to which type of mattress to choose. All of our mattresses come with a 365-night home trial so you can try one out before deciding if it's right for you.