How are natural mattresses flame retardant?

A third of your life is spent on a mattress. If you’re the type of person who watches telly in bed, or reads, or just likes to spend time in your bedroom, maybe you’ll spend even longer on it. Mattresses are a focal point in the home. We centre a lot of activity around them, so it’s important your mattress is high quality, comfortable, and, above all, safe.

Maybe you didn’t realise mattresses could be unsafe, but they can. Not only can they contain a cocktail of chemicals that might interfere with your breathing, but they might not be flame retardant.

In other instances, the cocktail of chemicals is there to act as just that. If mattresses are made from materials that do not naturally repel flames, manufacturers add other substances in order to make them ‘safe’. The issue is that these chemicals can cause other problems, including sore throat, skin, nose and eye irritation, difficulty breathing, and tightening of the chest.

So it’s best to buy a mattress that doesn’t come with any of these health warnings, but still repels flames. The best way to do that is to buy a mattress that is naturally flame retardant, and so doesn’t have any nasties added that might impact your health. Believe it or not, they do exist, it’s just that profit margins are lower on mattresses with added stuff, so they’re more common these days than the others.

Fire retardants are a lifeline. They stop things from burning at an alarming rate, which is important in a mattress. If your home was to set on fire whilst you were asleep, a fire retardant mattress could be the difference between having a chance to escape and not. You wouldn’t want a mattress that was not flame retardant. That would be silly. But not all fire retardants were created equal, and it’s important you chose the right one.

Years ago, we didn’t have this issue. When mattresses were made mainly of cotton, before the industrial revolution called for cheap, mass produced products, there was no fear of fire retardant chemicals causing problems, because the materials people slept on naturally repelled flames. So it makes sense to go back to the old days, when mattresses were made from natural materials. That’s exactly what we’ve done at Ely Mattresses.

Natural mattresses

Mother nature knows best. She made the most wonderful materials freely available to us, and many of them are perfect for purpose. When was the last time you saw a horse or sheep catch fire? Never? That’s because horse hair and sheep’s wool are naturally fire retardant.

So if mattresses are made from these materials, they don’t need chemicals to make them fire retardant, because they’re already made that way.

There are other benefits to these materials, too. They’re naturally breathable, which means they wick away moisture. They’re also hypoallergenic, so they’re ideal for anyone allergic to dust. You’d struggle to find any material more perfect to press against your skin whilst you sleep.

Which mattresses use unnatural flame retardants?

Synthetic flame retardants are usually found in synthetic mattresses. In fact, unless it’s specifically expressed that your mattress is made from natural materials, it’s likely something unnatural has been added for some reason.

You should pay particular attention if you’re buying a foam mattress, because there are sometimes large quantities of chemicals in their make-up. In fact, five to eighteen percent of the weight of a foam mattress is typically made up of additional chemicals.

The law on chemicals as flame retardants

Some countries have placed restrictions on the use of fire retardant chemicals on furniture, including Canada, the USA, and many within Europe, but the UK is the highest user of these substances, which we are permitted to put in mattress filling and in the outer materials.

There is no law in the United Kingdom that forces manufacturers to list the chemicals they use on their mattresses on the packaging, even though they’re forced to do it on cosmetics and food.

So, if you’re looking for a mattress without chemical fire retardants, your best bet is to look for a mattress made from natural materials.

Industry insights

So, how do we know if a mattress is non-toxic and chemical fire retardant free? Well, any mattress including foam is not chemical free, because it needs to be treated with fire retardant chemicals to pass UK fire regulations.

Mattresses containing spray adhesives are not chemical free, nor are mattresses with chemicals on the outer materials.

Honestly, the best way to make sure your mattress is free from unnatural chemicals is to buy one made from materials that are naturally flame retardant, like they are at Ely Mattresses.

Our mattresses are made from thirteen layers, including horsehair and wool. They also use cotton, which we chose for its resilience, which is part of the reason they come with a ten year warranty.

For more information about our mattresses, read about our natural materials.



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