I love a good latex pillow. My own pillow is a latex pillow and I can tell you that talalay latex pillows are just amazing. I can’t believe I slept on baggy, saggy, bunched up pillows for so long – the change in my comfort going to bed has been huge since I switched to my new latex pillow. My husband loves his too… in fact he is so enamored of it that he has labelled his so there’s no chance of me mixing them up!
Having the right pillow is critical for a good night’s sleep, yet it’s something we often overlook much to the chagrin of chiropractors everywhere. We can’t expect to get a comfortable sleep if our neck and spine are out of line because of a bad pillow, but many of us are getting this wrong and it’s costing our health.
Talalay latex pillows are a great combination of fluffy yet firm, durable yet pliable, and hypoallergenic. I’ll take you through all the “need to know” details of talalay latex pillows, and show you a video of my own pillow so you can see what one really looks and moves like when you lie on it.
What Is Talalay Latex?
Talalay latex is a foam made from the sap of the rubber tree. This means that it should be a natural product and can be sustainably sourced. Look out for latex foams that are mixtures of synthetic and natural foams, you want natural only.
Talalay is the name of the process in which the rubber sap is transformed into the foam. It basically involves pouring hte sap into a mould which is then vacuum sealed, frozen, gassed with C02, then heated. It sounds kind of complicated, but it’s a process that does not require any chemicals (C02 is a gas that is naturally all around us – we breathe it out with every exhale we make so it’s nothing to worry about here). You can read more of exactly what’s involved here.
The resulting foam is one that is light and airy, yet durable and responsive. The foam can be made to have any level of firmness.
There is another process by which natural rubber sap can be made into latex, called dunlop. The dunlop process is similar to the talalay process, but it is less energy intensive as it has fewer steps. In the dunlop process there is no freezing or gassing of the latex foam. This results in a foam that is more dense than talalay latex, but can still feel airy, bouncy, durable and responsive.
In my personal opinion, I think the less dense talalay latex is a good material for pillows and the more dense dunlop latex is a good material for mattresses.
Talalay Latex Pillow Components
Talalay latex pillows usually have two components:
- The latex inner: this may be one piece of latex, or lots of little bits of shredded latex. The pillows in my house are one piece. Latex is naturally breathable and hypoallergenic, so you won’t feel hot on this pillow, nor will you have to worry about dust mites or mold.
- The cover: in keeping with the natural latex inner, the cover of your latex pillow will probably be a natural (it may even be organic) and breathable fiber such as cotton or bamboo. It’s great if the cover has a zip for easy removal and washing.
Because latex is a great durable material, your pillow should come with a decent warranty: at least two years is good but the longer the better.
Check out my short video of exactly what my talalay latex pillow and its cover looks and feels like:
What Does A Latex Pillow Feel Like To Lie On?
A latex pillow has a unique feel. It’s nothing like the foam pillows I used to use, or the memory foam pillows I have tried. That said, it’s by far and away my favorite pillow type!
If you watched the video above, you would have seen that when I put pressure on the latex with my hand or when I laid my head on it, the latex was very responsive and bouncy with the weight. This means the latex gives great pressure relief without you feeling like you’re sinking into it. Even though it’s bouncy, it also feels quite resilient.
Another thing about latex pillows is the bounciness makes them feel kind of soft yet firm at the same time. It’s hard to describe, but it feels nice! The combination of bounce, pressure relief, soft and firm can make an excellent combination to support your neck and spine, which is just what the chiropractor ordered.
As latex is quite an “airy” material, with lots of ventilation holes from the manufacturing process then extra ventilation holes created by the talalay process, your talalay latex pillow will not feel hot to sleep on. Any heat should be drawn away from your body and vented out through the pillow. This is welcome news for people who don’t like the feel of a hot pillow!
Pros And Cons Of Latex Pillows
- Durability: A latex pillow is very durable for two reasons. The first is that it’s proven to be the most long lived material you’ll find in pillows and mattresses. That’s why I love to review latex mattresses – people report them still going strong 20 years later! The second reason is because latex is naturally hypoallergenic. With other pillow types, any build up of dust mites or growth of mold means you need to get rid of your pillow. A polyester pillow needs to be replaced every 2 years because of this. However, with latex and its natural resistance to mold and dust mites, you won’t have to worry about this gross factor.
- Hypoallergenic: As mentioned above, latex is naturally hypoallergenic. This means it repels dust mites and mold, which are two very common allergens many people struggle with. Knowing that these gross things aren’t going to end up right under your head while you sleep can mean you’ll rest easy knowing you don’t need to clean the inner of your pillow.
- Good ventilation: Latex naturally dissipates body heat through the ventilation channels you can see in the foam. This means it sleeps nice and cool, you won’t feel hot using a latex pillow.
- Good support: The bouncy yet soft yet firm feel means the pillow should end up supporting your neck exactly as you need without requiring any adjustments or extra pillows. You should feel really comfortable and sleep well with one of these pillows.
- No chemicals: As latex is a natural material (as long as you choose natural latex) there are nasty chemicals. Look out for synthetic blended with natural latex, as that is when chemicals creep in. I mentioned that CO2 gas is used in the talalay process, but this doesn’t leave any chemicals in the pillow, and it’s something you breathe in and out all day every day anyway!
- Environmentally friendly: A latex pillow is an environmentally friendly choice because the rubber trees used to produce natural latex are a sustainable resource. The fact that no extra chemicals are needed is also better for you and the environment, not to mention that because your new pillow is extra durable you won’t need to contribute to landfill by replacing it as often as other pillow types.
- Cost: Latex pillows do tend to cost a bit more than other pillow types. However, I think they are worth the money given the quality and durability you are investing in when you buy one. You should be able to get a great one for under $100USD, which is actually quite reasonable when you think about what you’re getting from your pillow in the long term.
- May not suit everyone: As I said earlier, the feel of a latex pillow is quite unique. This will mean not everybody likes it. Some people may prefer to stick with traditional down pillows, or try out a memory foam pillow instead. When buying your new pillow look for one that has at least 30 day returns (some companies will not let you return pillows so read carefully) so that you are not risking losing out if you don’t like it.
My Favorite Talalay Latex Pillows
Apart from my own pillow which was made in New Zealand, I so far have two great pillow recommendations for you if you’d like to find out more. I’ve chosen pillows made of natural talalay latex that come with at least a 30 night return policy, minimum 3 year warranty, and are available for less than $100.