Natural latex is produced from the sap of a rubber tree, or Hevea Brasiliensis, which grows in tropical countries around the world in South Asia, South America and Africa. This type of latex is primarily used to manufacture all kinds of products that are used daily such as car tires, surgical gloves, preservative seals and latex mattress cores. While it is certainly true that coming into contact with this natural latex can cause an allergic reaction in roughly 1 in 10,000 people, it is a misconception that natural latex mattresses will cause the same reaction.
Since the end of World War II, petrochemical companies have been producing synthetic latex, while at the same time improving the processing methods of natural latex. As these companies became more experienced and innovative with their production methods for latex, this allowed for the creation of newer and better rubber products derived from both natural and synthetic latex. One innovation is now a key reason why some natural latex products cause allergies and some do not. This is due to a process called vulcanization, which is only applied to natural latex used to produce such items as car tires, upholstery cushions and latex mattress cores. Unlike items like surgical gloves, which are also made from natural latex, latex mattress cores undergo a far more rigorous manufacturing process, which includes vulcanization.
In simple terms, vulcanization is a method of heating the natural latex to create a denser rubber polymer that can be used on a long term basis. Since surgical gloves are not used over long periods of time, the rubber used to make them does not need to be vulcanized. This means that proteins that are naturally produced in the rubber tree will remain on the rubber used to make surgical gloves and other latex products that are used on a short term basis. It is these proteins that are the cause of allergic reactions to latex such as skin and eye irritation. Since the rubber in a natural latex mattress core is vulcanized and washed more thoroughly, these proteins no longer inhabit the rubber, and therefore will cause no allergic reaction. It should also be noted that the latex in a mattress core will rarely come into direct contact with a person, and certainly not while they are sleeping, which is another reason why latex mattresses do not cause allergic reactions.
To date, there have been no reports of any latex mattress causing allergies to flare up. In fact, a natural latex mattress is one of the most durable, hypoallergenic types of mattresses available on the market today. To learn more about how sleeping on one of these mattresses can help you get a better night’s rest, feel free to check out our selection on our website, or if you are in the Nanaimo and Parksville area, come visit our mattress showroom and feel the difference for yourself! Keep up to date with us by following us on Twitter or liking us on Facebook!