There are two methods of making latex for latex mattresses. The oldest method is the Dunlop method, which I covered in a previous blog. The newer method, which is used primarily for making synthetic latex, is the Talalay method. Although the Dunlop method is the primary method for making all-natural latex, it gets a bit more confusing when you learn that the Talalay method can also be used for making not just synthetic latex, but natural latex too.
Natural latex is collected in by hand as a liquid. It is poured into large vats. In the vats, it is carefully filtered to remove particles. After that, it is poured into large molds and emulsified with water and air bubbles. It is slowly heated and vulcanized, a process where the liquid latex rubber is converted to a flexible, solid form. The two vulcanization processes are the Dunlop and the Talalay methods. The Dunlop method is the older method and it is used for making natural latex. The Talalay method is used primarily for making synthetic latex, but can be used to make natural latex also.
The Talalay method is basically the same as the Dunlop method, except that the Talalay method includes a flash freeze step which suspends smaller air bubbles in the mold right before it is rapidly heated to solidify the latex. This results in a slightly softer, less supportive feel for latex made with the Talalay method. The Dunlop method makes latex that is firmer and more buoyant. Of the two methods, the Dunlop is the least expensive process.
So what does this all mean in terms of what you should look for when looking for an all-natural latex mattress? Do you have to pick one method over the other? Actually, no. In fact, a combination of the two seems give the most comfortable results. To learn more natural latex mattresses, including the Dunlop and Talalay methods of making natural latex, check out our Natural Latex Mattress Buyer’s Guide.