When most people think of latex, they think of those this gloves used in healthcare environments or those squeaky clothes worn by 90’s pop stars. The last thought on their mind is, “that looks natural!” Where does latex come from? How is it made? How is it made into a pillow or mattress pad? Hopefully the following paragraphs can shed some light on the mysteries of latex.
Latex, like many other materials used in the linen and bedding industry, comes from plants. Unlike other substances, latex can actually be found in roughly 10% of all flower-bearing plants. It has a milky consistency. When it comes into contact with air, the runny substance coagulates into a solid, as its biological purpose is to trap and kill insects that attempt to feast of the plant. This substance can be harvested with a tap (similar to the way sap is harvested for syrup and sweetener from a maple tree).
Latex foam takes a little bit of work to create. It is made using a process called Talalay. The liquid latex, after being harvested from its plant, is refined and coalesced into a vacuum-sealed mold. The latex in the mold is frozen to preserve the cellular structure of the organic latex material. The structure of latex’s cells is what gives it that uniquely pliable property. The mold is then injected with carbon dioxide gas (CO2) and reheated. The reheating completes the curing process, making the latex tougher and less susceptible to tearing. The injection of CO2 creates the air pockets that characterize a foam.
Once the latex has been put through the Talalay foam process, it can then be used in bedding products. Sheets of the latex foam are cut into small sections and shaped shaved into the shape of the product they will eventually become. In the case of our shredded latex pillow, these shavings are cut further to become small strips which are put inside an encasement.
Though latex does not seem like it it a natural product, it is the very nature of the biological make up of the substance that gives it the look and feel we all know.