What is the difference between blended Talalay latex and 100% Talalay latex? Do they feel different? Is one more durable than the other? I’ve been looking at a couple of member manufactures that offer both. It seems that the blended latex is less expensive than the 100% Talalay. I have gone to one showroom and tried a 100% Talalay mattress with 3-3" layers of medium (32 ILD) latex and really like it. It is a two sided mattress. My question is:Would I notice a difference in the feel of this mattress if it was made with blended Talalay latex with the same ILD?
This is an ongoing debate in the “latex community” about blended vs 100% natural Talalay and much of the information that is out there is based on promoting one over the other based on somewhat inaccurate information rather than recognizing the small differences between the two. these comments apply to Talalay and there are other factors involved in Dunlop.
SBR latex (synthetic) is a less dense material with a slightly different chemical structure than natural rubber. It is made from two chemicals which are Styrene and Butadiene while natural rubber is primarily Isoprene.
These two polymers (SBR and Isoprene) are similar but not the same. In addition to being primarily Isoprene … natural rubber also contains other compounds in varying amounts including proteins, resins, fatty acids, and sterols. These additional ingredients are missing from synthetic rubber (including synthetic Isoprene).
Natural rubber is more elastic, denser, and less consistent in its structure and particle size. It also softens as it ages (the crosslinks in its chemical structure break over time)
SBR rubber is less elastic, less dense, and more consistent in it’s particle size and structure. If becomes stiffer as it ages (the crosslinks in its chemical structure increase over time).
Natural rubber has particles of different sizes which tend to “agglomerate” (stick together) so it is thicker and more sticky than SBR which is thinner and has a more consistent particle size. This means that natural rubber is more difficult to work with and “gums up” the machinery more. NR is also more expensive than SBR. This means that natural rubber products including Talalay latex tend to be more expensive than synthetic or blended rubber products including Talalay.
Because natural rubber is a more dense material … it weighs more than SBR and would have a higher compression modulus (gets firmer faster) but because of it’s elasticity would also be a little more conforming.
NR resists impressions better than SBR but NR will tend to soften more than SBR (although there are other variables here which may affect this)
There are other differences between the two materials as well … some of which which come from the different types of rubber itself and some which come from the additional ingredients that are mixed in with the natural rubber which alter how it acts … but these are the primary “practical” differences.
In practical terms all of these differences are relatively small in the cured foam and many people would not feel significant differences between the two in side by side testing. Natural would be slightly more “springy or buoyant” and more “supportive” while synthetic would generally feel a little softer and be slightly more pressure relieving (would allow for slightly more sinking in and cradling). The thicker the layers that are being compared the more it may be possible to feel a difference (for example someone may not feel the difference between two 3" layers of each material but they may feel a difference between 9" of each material).
In the higher ILD’s which use more rubber and less air … any differences in durability between them would be negligible. In the lower ILD’s which use less rubber … these differences may be more noticeable. Latex International acknowledges the differences between their natural and blended Talalay here while Radium has told me that they use a special curing past for their 100% natural in the lower ILD’s which should negate any differences in durability.
So the bottom line is Talalay made from natural rubber is more expensive, comes in a less specific range of ILD’s, is heavier, slightly more elastic and springy, has a higher compression modulus and more supportive, may get softer and develop impressions slightly faster in lower ILD’s, and is more natural. The primary reason that it was introduced (in 2005) is to cater to the “natural” market who are willing to pay more for a product which has has a more natural source even though it may not be as durable.
Both are Oeko-Tex standard 100 certified in terms of harmful substances or VOC’s and offgassing.
Those who value a more natural product for personal reasons and are willing to pay for it (in price and possibly lower durability), or who can feel a difference and prefer the feel that comes from the greater elasticity and compression modulus of the natural would likely choose the 100% natural Talalay.
Those who value the increased consistency, greater choice of softness/firmness levels, or lower cost of the blend or who can feel a difference in pressure relief, would likely choose the blend.
Both are great choices and in the end the choice between them is part of each person’s individual “value equation”
PS: I wanted to make sure that people who read this discussion are clear that it is about Talalay and not Dunlop which is denser and generally has a higher rubber content than Talalay and where higher amounts of natural rubber would tend to outperform and be more supportive and durable than blended Dunlop. Post #2 here has more information about the differences between SBR and NR rubber and post #6 here has more about all the different types and blends of latex.
I hope this is still an active thread. First thank you so so so so soooo much for this resource! It helped me immensely when I was shopping for a new mattress. I ended up going with a talalay blend mattress from SleepEz. But I have a question still:
I my husband is much heavier than I am, 6’4" 230lb, I am 5’4’ 130lbs. He can sleep on literally anything. I have fibromyalgia, allergies, am chemically sensitive and am fairly environmentally conscious; mostly I really try to avoid harmful unneccessary chemicals. After pouring over this sight I decided a split king all natural latex was what I wanted and SleepEZ offered the best option for the price, so I ordered through them. Well, I didnt realized they sold a blended talalay and that was what I ended up with. After a month my side sagged quite a bit, They have been so awesome to work with, said that is rare in blended talalay but can happen, to go through my layers and let them know which ones need to be replaced no problem.
My question is, should I exchange the bed or even the top one or two layers for 100% natural talalay. They said the blended is better for us. Durability and pressure relief. I am concerned about possible off gassing of synthetic latex?, and if the blended talalay is anti microbial, hypoallergenic and if it shares all those wonderful properties of the 100% pure talalay that I ‘sold’ myself on and was willing to pay the extra money for. I seem to be pretty stuffy at night now and feel like I can really smell the latex, it could be the pillows rather than the mattress. And my extra stuffiness could just be my pregnancy. Other than that we are loving our mattress.
Thank you so much again for this site, it has been so helpful!
As they mentioned, this does happen on occasion where the latex core is defective and of course needs to be replaced.
This is really a matter of personal preference and depends on which qualities are most important to you. You can read more about the different types of latex in this article and in post #6 here along with post #2 here but in essence the blended Talalay is more durable (especially in the softer layers) than the all natural, has a longer warranty, it is more pressure relieving (it is less dense than the all natural and allows for a slightly deeper cradle), and is less expensive than all natural Talalay, and has the same testing for safety in terms of harmful chemicals and offgassing of the finished product. They are both Oeko-Tex Standard 100 class 1 certified (safe for babies). On the other hand the 100% natural Talalay only uses latex raw materials that come from the rubber tree (natural rubber or NR) while the blended uses a blend of natural rubber and synthetic rubber (Styrene Butadiene or SBR which is synthesized mainly from petrochemical sources). In other words … it really depends on whether natural sources for their own sake is more important than the performance and value benefits of using the blended latex.
There is some good evidence that natural latex is anti-fungal so it would make sense that the greater the natural latex content the greater these properties would be. There is some conflicting evidence about the antibacterial properties of natural latex and it seems to have some effect on some types of bacteria and not others. There are also no specific studies that I’m aware of that have tested the differences between any antibacterial properties of blended vs all natural latex although it would make sense to me here as well that if these antibacterial qualities were inherent to the natural rubber latex that came from the tree that higher ratios of natural rubber would have higher levels of antibacterial properties.
In terms of being hypoallergenic, synthetic latex doesn’t have the same surface proteins that can cause latex allergies as the natural latex does but the processing of natural latex removes the large majority of these surface proteins so latex allergies wouldn’t really be an issue with either type of latex for most people. You can read a little more about latex allergies in post #2 here. In terms of being hypoallergenic in connection with dust mites (which is the most common allergen in mattresses) … they would both be about equal because both types of Talalay are very breathable which helps to control humidity levels which in turn is what helps to controls the dust mite population and their byproducts although the anti fungal properties of natural latex may reduce the food supply for any dust mites and give the edge to natural rubber vs synthetic rubber in terms of limiting the dust mite population.
Both natural and bended Talalay have a similar “sugar cookie” or “vanilla” type of smell, pass the same tests for VOC’s and offgassing, and both seem to be well tolerated by those who are very chemically sensitive.
So hopefully this will give you the pros and cons of each and help you decide which is best for you.