Mattress materials, especially if it’s fiberglass, have been under the spotlight lately. Everyone is talking about health problems associated with them and you are naturally feeling concerned about choosing a mattress that poses a health risk.
After all, you’re looking at a new mattress to improve your sleep and health. You want a mattress that is made from safe materials that are non-toxic and pose no threat to you and your home.
You’ve been looking at Helix mattresses and you want to feel reassured about the materials inside it before you buy. Do Helix mattresses have fiberglass? No, they do not. I have personally verified this for you and will explain what they use instead, as well as helping you understand why some other brands even use fiberglass in the first place.
Understanding Fiberglass in Mattresses
What’s the deal with fiberglass, is it unsafe? Unhealthy? A problem?
Fiberglass is used by some mattress companies as a federally required fire barrier. Fiberglass is by no means the only option companies can use, but because it’s cheap and effective, it is popular.
Mattresses like Helix, that use man-made foams, are highly flammable. If they catch on fire and there’s no fire barrier, the mattress will quickly be engulfed in flames, which is a life threatening situation.
When a mattress with a fiberglass fire barrier catches on fire, the fiberglass melts, and deprives the fire of oxygen. A fire can’t burn without oxygen, so it either snuffs it out or slows it down significantly.
In fact, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that fire barriers (not just fiberglass, all fire barriers) inside mattresses save around 270 lives and prevent 1330 injuries per year.
As long as the fiberglass inside a mattress cannot escape, there will be no problem. However, there have been instances where in cheaper brands, fiberglass has come out of a mattress, causing contamination to the area and also health problems.
Material Composition of Helix Mattresses
In 2023 Helix do not use fibeglass in their mattresses. Helix have a glossary on their website explaining all their materials. Under “Fire Retardant” it clearly states in black and white that Helix does not use fiberglass in any of their mattresses.
Naturally I had questions for them about this so I talked to them to get some answers. Here’s what I found out:
- Helix USED to use fiberglass in their mattresses. They stopped using it around two years ago. The customer service representative could not give me an exact date.
- Here is a direct quote from customer service about the composition of the fire barrier in their current mattresses: “Our fire retardant layer is made of a chemical-free rayon barrier, a derivative of cellulose (bamboo fiber). Rayon fiber is a manufactured fiber composed of 100% regenerated cellulose.”
I’ll explain how this fire barrier works. Helix is using inherent rayon here. This is regenerated cellulose bonded to silica. Inherent means that the fire resistance is part of the structure of the material, nothing has been added.It has a high melting point and is not easily combustible.
This fire barrier that Helix has chosen is cheap to manufacture, passes the federal safety tests, and does not use harmful chemicals. Do note that it’s not 100% natural though, it’s a man-made fiber. If you want a natural flame retardant in your mattress you will need to look at a mattress with wool as the fire barrier instead.
As for other safely certifications, Helix mattresses are Greenguard Gold and CertiPUR-US certified. This means the foams have no mercury, lead, or other heavy metals. The foam is also low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions—less than 0.5 parts per million
Health and Safety Concerns Related to Fiberglass
Health problems can arise if fiberglass gets out of a mattress. The fibers can become airborne, leading to people breathing them in or them touching your skin. Here are some potential health implications of mattress fiberglass:
- Respiratory Irritation: Inhaling airborne fiberglass particles can irritate the respiratory system, leading to symptoms such as coughing, throat irritation, and difficulty breathing. Individuals with respiratory conditions such as asthma may be more sensitive to these effects.
- Skin Irritation: Contact with fiberglass can cause skin irritation, redness, itching, and discomfort. The tiny glass fibers can embed themselves in the skin, leading to irritation that may persist until the fibers are removed.
- Eye Irritation: Fiberglass particles can cause irritation to the eyes, resulting in redness, tearing, and discomfort. It is essential to avoid rubbing the eyes if fiberglass particles come into contact with them.
- Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to fiberglass, and exposure can trigger allergic reactions such as hives, itching, or a rash.
The other big concern if fiberglass gets out of a mattress is contamination. The tiny fibers are pretty much impossible to clean out of carpets, curtains and furnishings. There have been cases where people have spent thousands of dollars to fix a fiberglass leak.
Comparison with Other Mattress Brands
Mattress companies actually have a lot of options for their fire barriers. Given the bad press and great distrust of fiberglass I find it surprising that anyone still uses it. Here’s a look at what other mattress brands are doing for their fire barriers.
As I’ve just explained, Helix uses an inherent rayon as their fire retardant barrier. Because it’s cheap to make, requires no toxic chemicals and does not pose other risks like fiberglass does, you’ll find it in lots of memory foam mattresses. Here are some other brands that use this material, just like Helix:
Another plant based fire barrier is thistle pulp. Saatva use this in their popular mattress range. Salt is yet another fire barrier mattress companies can use, so far I’ve only seen Tuft and Needle use it (in their Mint and Original mattress lines only).
- Brentwood Oceano
- Natural latex mattress brands such as PlushBeds
There are still a lot of brands out there that use fiberglass as the fire barrier in their mattresses. These include:
- Olee Sleep
- Sleep Innovations
- Ashley Gruve
- Ashley Gruve Hybrid
- Ashley Ultra
- Casper Original
- Casper original hybrid
- Leesa Original
- Allswell Cool
- Comfort Tech Serene
- Full moon
- Ghostbed classic
- IKEA Amsosen
- Puffy Original
Final Assessment and Recommendations
Helix has confirmed their shift away from fiberglass, now using a rayon fire barrier in all their mattresses. Coupled with Greenguard Gold and CertiPUR-US certifications, Helix makes for a sound choice when a healthy mattress is one of your key buing priorities.
You’ve seen that there are many safe ways to make a mattress without using fiberglass and many mattresses are shying away from it. Please do be careful when you do your research as I’ve identified many brands that do still use fiberglass.
In summary, Helix emerges as a brand actively addressing health concerns related to mattress materials. With their wide range of mattresses, they’re bound to have one that works for you, so go ahead in confidence and make your Helix purchase.