When you get right down to it, claiming that any product is “chemical free” is misleading. The term chemical free, taken literally, is a misnomer. Everything is made of chemicals—from your drinking water to your cell phone—and your own body.
But what’s important about chemicals for a mattress shopper is toxicity. You want to find an organic mattress that doesn’t contain the kinds of hazardous chemicals that will harm your health. These range from the polyurethane and formaldehyde in memory foam to chemical fabric finishes to dangerous flame retardants found in most mattresses.
What makes a healthful mattress?
The materials. Finding the right materials will bring you safer sleep and peace of mind—about every member of your family.
Latex. For a healthful, natural mattress core, no material can top latex (Not “part natural” or “some natural”—but all natural latex.) Natural latex literally comes from a tree—Hevea brasileana, the rubber tree. The latex sap is collected, whipped into a froth in a centrifuge, then steam-baked to produce sheets of natural latex foam. Note: Other types of foam, such as memory foam, are made with polyurethane and added chemicals such as formaldehyde. Some mostly-synthetic foams also contain a small amount of rubber with added plant oils; these are deceptively labeled “natural.”
Cotton. Be sure to look for natural casing materials, such as pesticide-free certified organic cotton that has not been bleached with chlorine or colored with toxic dyes.
Wool. All mattresses need a flame retardant. True organic wool batting can provide a soft, natural layer that will allow a finished mattress to pass the federally-required flame test.
Look for third-party certifications that verify the safety and integrity of the materials.