Latex Foam Rubber (changes?)

This is meant for other retailers, but it will obviously be read by others.

We have carried latex mattresses at our store for years, and seen the variation in quality from different foam manufacturers, and I’m curious to hear if you have been experiencing the same issues we have? The latex we’ve been seeing from Latex International has been smelling more strongly lately. Has anyone heard whether they are still washing it after vulcanization to get the ammonia soap residue out? Additionally we have seen more variation in feel than we had in the past. What are you all experiencing? We had been used to having the latex be problem free, but are finding the troubles with the Latex International Talalay.

What specific problems are you seeing, beyond the smell? I have bought two latex mattresses in the last two months and both of them lost their support quickly. Here is a link to one of my threads on the issue. Latex International lists Denver Mattress as a vendor on their website. I don’t know if Therapedic, who builds the mattresses for My Sleep Nation, also uses LI foam.

If you are seeing problems like I experienced both Phoenix and I would like to know, as it might be germane to my experiences. Lew

PS I just checked my email and heard back from My Sleep Nation. They use Latexco foam, so no link there.

Our issues have been with OMI Mattresses. Customers have complained about smell, which had not been a problem previously on the OMI mattresses. Also, we had both an “81” and a Terra get saggy in very short order. Latex International is OMI’s source of latex. We have been trying to discern if these are relatively isolated incidents, or a broader problem with Latex International’s quality.

Okay, My problems would fit under the sagging quickly category. I am 6’ 1" and 180-185 and had two mattresses start sagging/over-softening in the hip area within a week. One was a 2’ 24ILD talalay over 6’ of 32ILD. I believe the foam was sourced from LI. The second mattress was 4" of 32ILD over 6" of 40ILD. Latexco supplied the foam for the second one, and it was zoned to be firmer in the hips. With both the foam softened up enough to effectively cause a body impression. I am still waiting to hear from the manufacturer of the second mattress to see if they have been seeing any bad latex… No smell problem with either mattress.

That’s all I have at this point. Lew

We’ve seen very few issues with the Latexco product through the years, but roughly 1/1000 have had issues (soft spots, inconsistency in feel, etc). The only latex that we have never had fail is the Botanicore latex. Those come with a “birth certificate” of sorts, and have been pretested for density in multiple locations on the core. There is not much variety in density to choose from though; only 75 kg/m3, 85 kg/m3 and 92 kg/m3 (~27-35 ILD).

Hi BGarfield,

I have talked with several manufacturers (more than just one or two) who have described some quality issues with their latex that has appeared in sporadic batches from time to time. When I talked with them about this (LI) they assured me that any issues were in the past (dating from some of the difficulties that they experienced with a past president convicted of fraud and possibly playing with their formulation several years ago) … but I still hear from manufacturers who are having issues at times which are persisting although they are not consistent enough to say they are a definite pattern yet. It does concern me to some degree and to the best of my ability I am keeping an eye on it and bringing it up in conversations and gathering feedback when I have the chance in my conversations.

On another possibly related note … I know that OMI uses their “all natural” Talalay latex and Pure Latex Bliss (owned by Latex International) has recently announced a new partnership with Yulex to produce all natural rubber based on Guayule instead of the Hevea Brasiliensis tree. Guayule is a low protein anti-allergenic form of rubber that can be produced domestically (see this video). See the articles here and here as well which talk about the new Guayule line of “Bio-Latex” mattresses. Perhaps OMI is now using Guayule based rubber in their mattresses which may also account for some changes in its properties and smell although I haven’t talked with either OMI or Latex International about this.

The Bed Times article is not loading (I linked to a cache version) so I’m adding a copy of the article after this post as a PS until the article link is repaired.


Pure LatexBLISS taps alternate rubber source

December 20, 2012 4:00 pm
Guayule plant parthenium argentatum

Guayule plant (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Mattress maker Pure LatexBLISS has entered into an exclusive partnership with biomaterials supplier Yulex Corp.

Phoenix-based Yulex manufactures and markets “biorubber” derived from the guayule (pronounced “y-u-lee”) plant, which the company cultivates in the American Southwest.

Yulex currently sells into a range of consumer, industrial and medical markets. The product is known for its natural elasticity, durability and softness.

According to the Yulex website, the species Parthenium argentatum is the only other plant, aside from the Hevea brasiliensis tree, that is used in commercial rubber production. Guayule is indigenous to the semi-arid American Southwest and Mexico and requires little fertilizer or pesticides.

The deal with Pure LatexBLISS marks the entry of foam rubber derived from guayule into bedding components. Pure LatexBLISS plans an introduction of mattresses, pillows and toppers at the winter Las Vegas Market Jan. 28-Feb. 1.

“When we discovered Yulex, we were convinced that this was an innovation we needed to bring to our product collections,” said Kurt Ling, president of Atlanta-based Pure LatexBLISS. “Not only does Yulex produce a high-performance biorubber, we were excited to learn that it is derived from a plant grown in the United States.”

Jeff Martin, Yulex president and chief executive officer added, “Yulex’s partnership with Pure LatexBLISS represents a new standard for creating sustainable, renewable and low carbon-footprint sleep products. This validates the growing demand from manufacturers to use renewable, health-friendly and local materials.”

According to a guayule Wikipedia entry, the plant’s use as a rubber source dates to pre-Columbian times. Guayule was intensively cultivated in the United States during two periods in the first half of the 20th century—when a leaf blight decimated the Brazilian rubber industry in the 1920s, and during World War II when the Japanese cut off U.S. access to Malaysian rubber.

Thanks for including the article, I’ve actually read that. I spoke at length to Walt Bader the owner of OMI and Lifekind about this and he seemed a little slippery when I was trying to pin him down on what they were experiencing; that’s why I wanted to post on the forum. In the past we have only had the smell issues like this with the blended latex from LI (talatech). I was worried that they were substituting blended latex. I became even more concerned when we started getting some sag issues; because the blended latex has a much higher failure rate for us.

Phoenix, do you think that they could call this product latex if it comes from a different plant? Very informative post and article. Lew

Hi Lew,

Yes … latex just means a rubber particle suspended in water and about 10% of plants (including Russian Dandelion) produce latex in some form although very few produce enough to be commercially viable.

It’s just as much “latex” as any other type of rubber.


Apparently there are lots of different plant species that produce sap categorized as latex. Only a couple of different species are farmed for this purpose.

Okay, I thought that latex, synthetic or natural, had a specific molecular structure. Lew

Hi Lew,

Most natural latex is polyisoprene and most synthetic latex is Styrene Butadiene but they are both rubber particles even though there are many types of rubber with different molecular structures.


How much time in jail did this CEO of LI do for his misdoings?
Also did I read somewhere that Sealy owns a latex manufacturer or was in the process of buying one?

They owned a “latex” manufacturing facility back when we carried them in 2005 (it was either all or mostly synthetic). Now that they are owned by the same folks as Tempur, I wonder if they will consolidate manufacturing of some components?


I am not a retailer, but a customer who has had a lot of trouble with my new latex mattress which I have posted about. My latex after 4 months still has a very strong smell-not terrible, but I thought this was just the way it was supposed to be. If it is not supposed to smell than I have been putting up with it for no reason.

The other issue, one of many that I have, is that I too have been complaining that any new layer or piece of latex I get seems to sag very quickly. It is very noticeable compared to the other side of the bed which I do not sleep on. My mattress is made from all blended latex from Latex Int.

I brought this sagging issue up to the store and was told that latex doesn’t sag like I described. I was told that the only possibility could be that maybe one of my layers was “labeled” with the incorrect ILD by accident, but that it was not probable.

Now it sounds that I may have been correct about the sagging after all.

I will watch this post to see what if anything is recommended or what anyone has to add.

Thank you

Hi Jege41,

Sealy used to own Sapsa (and was the largest latex producer in the world) but sold it a few years ago. They are still partners and continue to pour continuous pour Dunlop latex at their Mountaintop latex foam pouring plant in Pennsylvania. They make various Dunlop blends from mostly synthetic up to 85% natural latex. They have recently started expanding their sales to other manufacturers although Ikea has used their latex for some time.

They are one of three latex foam pouring facilities in the US (Latex International for Talalay, and Latexco and Sealy for continuous pour Dunlop).

He was sentenced to 6 years.


I just learned about this site yesterday, and it is a great forum. Wow.

So regarding blended latex, particularly the Talatech product by LI, we have have seen a fairly high failure rate (read 1-5%). Less so with the all botanical rubber, but the number has been increasing, hence me starting this thread. We have had far fewer Dunlop cores fail; however, when they have, it has usually been the blended rubber, and not the botanical rubber.

Through the years we have had: Englander Latex, Stearns & Foster Latex, Sealy (same as S&F really), OMI, Natura, 45th Street Bedding, and even Strobel.

Of all those companies we have had at least one, if not several core failures, or sagging problems, with the exception of the 45th Street Bedding product. The highest rate of issues came with the Strearns & Foster latex. I think it has to do with the quality of rubber they produce. It was not the same sort of weight look or feel as any of the other latex we have carried. I categorize it as barely discernible as latex. The Englander latex quality has varied through the years, but stayed pretty good. They switched rubber sources a couple times over the last 27 years that we carried them. Englander’s issue has been that they are willing to wave a piece of latex over the top of a block of poly foam and it is magically called a latex mattress. In my opinion the only beds that should be allowed to be described as latex should have no other foams in them. Furthermore, I think blended latex gives botanical rubber a bad name.

But I digress, OMI’s percentage-wise are shaping up to have the second highest rate of failure behind the Sealy/Stearns product we carried (this is 7 years ago though with the Sealy/S&F, and times may have changed). The OMI issues are fresh, so I’m trying to temper my statements, as we have them in stock. The Strobel’s were goofy, and didn’t sell well anyway. Natura’s were pretty good. Our biggest issues with those had to do with the wool compressing, and the beds not being upholstered on both sides. However, they use(d) LI latex that was pieced together from multiple pieces, and then laminated together. This wouldn’t have been an issue if they didn’t have zipper removable covers that allowed access to the foam so people could see the look of the latex, and if the rubber itself didn’t feel like it was different densities on each of the different pieces.

Gluing pieces together to make a larger core is a recipe for problems. Queen, king or cal king cores or layers should be one unified piece of latex.

TL,DR: Latex is great, but not perfect. Even the best rubber manufacturers have bad cores. OUR FAILURE % for some types are more than others. Sapsa was the highest, LI Talalay has been second. Botanical Dunlop is the lowest (seemingly regardless of source), and everything else is in between. It seems like the higher percentage of synthetic the more it wears like poly foam.

Thank you for all the information.
Some of your findings I find very interesting especially having fewer failures with botanical latex/all natural as it is called. I have been told by individuals in the industry that blended talalay is better and more durable than all natural, even though my better judgment told me different. No matter how you look at it the bedding industry needs to be regulated to the point so the consumer is provided with precise specifications on the materials in the mattress. It is possible that many people wouldn’t bother to educate themselves on what the Specs. even mean but at least for those who did would have the assurance and tools needed for recourse if perhaps they have an issue down the line.
Thanks for you input


As you can see from this and other threads, this sagging problem is not common, but does happen. The person at your mattress store who said latex doesn’t sag was telling you what they had been told in training or believed it from their limited experience. I spent many years in the audio industry and it always bothered me when a customer had a problem that a technician couldn’t reproduce and the customer would be told their was nothing wrong. I would calm them down and tell them I knew there was a problem, but we just couldn’t reproduce it. People need to be validated, not treated like they are crazy. Phoenix was very good about doing that with me when I reported my second bad mattress.

I read your post about your mattress sagging and how you would roll back into the indentation. Even if the mattress top is level, the softening of your foam is creating what I dubbed a “virtual” body impression. If necessary, ask someone from the store to come by to check it out. I lay down in the offending spot for 20 minutes before Sean from My Sleep Nation came by to make sure he would feel the indentation, and he did.

Stay tuned! :unsure: Lew

Hi jege41,

In this case your “better judgement” may not be completely accurate because there are several factors involved in durability and longevity vs “failure” of a material.

If you were to talk with a cross section of mattress manufacturers who have experience with every type of latex over the long term or talk with the manufacturers of the latex itself, their experience would give you some different insights and you would find some different opinions based on their own long term experience.

In the lower ILD’s and in an apples to apples (same ILD) comparison … blended talalay will be more durable than all natural talalay in the lower ILD’s (see post #2 here). In the lower ILD’s the natural elasticity of the talalay and its thinner cell walls along with the greater inconsistency of natural latex works against it and it ill be less durable than a blend. This will start to even out as the ILD’s get higher.

With Dunlop it’s the other way around because of its higher density, greater firmness in most cases, and the properties of natural latex itself (see post #2 here for a comparison between natural latex and synthetic latex). While overall natural latex has more desirable qualities than SBR (synthetic) latex … the synthetic does have some advantages over natural in some areas that can add to its properties so it’s not quite as black and white as “natural is better”. Even good synthetic rubber is a higher quality material than most polyfoam and not the same at all. Tires are the same and tires that include synthetic rubber will last longer than natural rubber tires although natural rubber can add to higher performance.

Softness itself is also a durability factor and softer materials (which are much more common with blended Talalay) will be less durable than firmer materials of the same type.