ORGANIC VS. CHEMICAL MATTRESSES
Although every mattress will contain slightly different components, the modern mattress is constructed of three basic parts: the covering fabric, paddings, and a supporting core.
Covering Fabric: Often referred to as “ticking,” the covering fabrics of traditional mattresses in years past were made from natural fibers, such as cotton, hemp, wool, or silk. Modern mattresses have replaced these natural fibers with synthetic thermoplastic fibers, such as polyester, nylon, polypropylene, acrylic, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Some mattresses are made from a blend of synthetic fibers and cotton. Almost all cotton used in modern mattresses, however, is grown using environmentally harmful chemical pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and defoliants. A mattress’s covering fabric can be made of several layers, depending upon the level of insulation and support. These layers are then covered with a final quilted outer layer. This top layer is usually made of light foam or other synthetic fibers stitched to the underside of the ticking, and is the layer the sleeper first feels when lying on the mattress.
The covering fabric is subjected to a number of chemical applications such as toxic dyes, stain and water repellents, wrinkle-resistant treatments,
CHEMICAL ALERT…WHAT’S IN YOUR MATTRESS?
Volatile Organic Compounds
Remember, however, that none of these chemicals are listed on the mattress law label or on any of the manufacturing literature provided to the consumer at the time of purchase.
In contrast, consider the covering fabric used in the construction of an organic mattress: certified organic cotton. Cotton that is certified organic is grown and processed without the use of any of the chemicals mentioned above.
Paddings: The padding layers insulate the mattress and add structure and support to its construction. These layers are most often made of polyurethane foam, convoluted foam, synthetic-fiber pads, and/or polyester fibers. In order to produce this padding, or “batting,” fibers are fed into a machine in which they are combed in parallel rows and laid into a form called the “blanket.”
The loft and weight of the batting is determined by the number of layers used in the blanket. At this point the blanket can be bonded or unbonded, depending upon whether chemicals are applied to it. Unbonded batting is not exposed to additional chemical treatment. It is loose in construction, and may develop high and low spots unless it is covered with cheesecloth or another lightweight fabric. Bonded batting, on the other hand, is coated with an artificial resin of acrylates in order to bind the fibers together and prevent fiber migration.
Again, compare this with the construction of an organic mattress. The padding layers are made from natural fibers such as wool and cotton, neither of which is grown or bonded with chemicals.
Supporting Core: Mattress supporting cores are made from latex, polyurethane foam, or steel innersprings. The purpose of the supporting core is to hold the body in alignment by “pushing back” in response to the sleeper’s weight. This provides the mattress’s overall support.
In most modern mattresses (except for foam-only models), the core is made of steel coils or springs. This type of supporting core is also referred to as “innerspring.”
The quality of an innerspring mattress is determined by the number and type of coils that are used in its construction—basically, the more coils it has, the more support it offers.
Although the functional components of all mattresses are similar, each mattress is constructed with its own unique combination of materials.
Organic mattresses use basically the same construction methods as conventional mattresses. The mattress construction materials are just different.