Shopping For A Non Toxic Mattress
If you’ve followed my blog since the beginning then you probably know that I am pretty frugal. I upcycle clothes from the thrift store, I use almost no disposable products, and I use my heat and a/c as little as possible. That being said, I never pinch pennies on things that are an investment in my health. The money I save by using reusable products goes into the grocery budget so that we can afford to eat the best food and the money we save on utilities goes towards paying for doctor’s visits with my integrative health doctor. So, when it came time to look for a new mattress I didn’t just want the best deal, I wanted the best value.
We spend a third of each year sleeping. Think about that. The only other single activity you may spend that much time doing, is working at your job. You spend less time eating, exercising, reading, or socializing with friends then you do in your bed. Yet, when we think about our health, our mattress rarely comes to mind at all.
When my hubby and I first got married we didn’t have much and I, like many people, had little interest in taking what little money we did have and sinking it into a mattress. We had a queen size mattress that, while old, would work. I mean a mattress is a mattress right? Wrong. Over the first three years of our marriage we battled every sleep problem possible. Not being able to go to sleep, not being able to stay asleep, waking up in pain, going to sleep in pain, not being comfortable… the works. We chalked it up to not sleeping well together, not having enough space, being stressed, being sick, not having enough time to sleep, being on different schedules… Finally, we ran out of excuses. We were both focused on having a good sleep routine, we dedicated enough hours to sleeping, we weren’t stressed yet we were still tired each and every day and having a miserable time sleeping. I had chronic pain in my neck and shoulders and had experienced three episodes of having a disc derangement in my neck that took weeks to recover from. It was time for a new mattress. So we started saving and I started researching.
Through my involvement in the natural health community I become aware that there was more to a mattress than just its size and comfort. Some mattresses can be downright toxic.
Did you know that by U.S. law, mattresses are required to withstand a two foot wide open flame from a blowtorch for 70 seconds? Yikes. I don’t know about you, but I never expected my mattress to be quite that fireproof. To meet this somewhat ridiculous standard, mattress manufacturers use toxic fire retardant chemicals to drench the mattress as the final step in their production process. As if that isn’t questionable enough, there are no regulations requiring manufacturers to disclose what chemicals they use. Here are some of the more commonly used fire retardants:
- Boric Acid: A pesticide with a classification at Toxicity Category III from the EPA.
- Melamine resin: contains formaldehyde
- PCDE’s (polybrominated diphenyl ethers): Highly toxic, but more commonly used in mattresses made before 2004. Most manufacturers have now started phasing it out due to its toxicity.
Foam Off Gassing:
Over the past decade more and more people have become attracted to memory foam mattresses because of their comfort. Those that are looking to prolong the life of an old mattress often buy a foam topper for their bed as an added comfort measure. So, anyone who has ever unrolled a new topper or taken a new foam mattress out of the box, knows that there is an unpleasant smell that lasts for a few days. This smell is called off-gassing and it may actually be somewhat toxic. Memory foam is not normal foam. In order to manufacture memory foam, chemicals must be added to make it both more dense and viscous at the same time. These volatile compounds can include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), formaldehyde, benzene, methylene chloride, toluene, trichloroethane, naphthalene, perfluorocarbons and other chemicals that can be quite concerning.
All of these chemicals can leech into the air and the skin and in fact a study done in 2000 found that mattress emissions are toxic to the lungs and respiratory system of mice. (source)
Personally, I have found that synthetic chemicals in most forms are a potential trigger for my autoimmune disease. I don’t take many over the counter medications for this reason, I don’t burn scented candles or use scented room deodorizers, and I only use natural cosmetic products, so why on earth would I go through all of that only to sleep in a pool of toxic chemicals each night?
With this in mind, when I began looking for a new mattress I knew that I needed to figure out a way to find one that would not be a potential hazard to my health. When it came down to it I narrowed my search down to two options:
- Purchase an organic, non-foam mattress and utilize a doctor’s note to have it manufactured without fire retardants: When thinking about purchasing something safe we often go immediately towards things categorized as organic. There are a number of organic mattress options out there and let me tell you, I looked at them all. I talked to people that had them, I looked at reviews online, I researched them, and I compared prices on them. What I found is that they were expensive and they lacked durability. None of them had a substantial warranty and many of the reviews that I came across spoke to customers experiencing durability issues early on in use. This was a no-go for me because we do not have the money to invest in a new mattress every few years, whatever we bought needed to last for quite some time. Also, just because a mattress is organic does not mean that it is exempt from the fire safety standards. Even those that claim to use wool as a fire retardant still have to use chemicals on top of the wool to meet the U.S. regulations. The only way around this is to have a mattress specially manufactured for you with a prescription from a doctor saying that you can not be exposed to the fire retardants. This again, is also pricey.
- Buy An Intellibed: This was the option that we chose. Intellibed is a company that produces only non-toxic mattresses. They do this in two ways. The first is by avoiding memory foam. They use a soy based, furniture grade, foam that has not been altered with chemicals in the same way that memory foam has been so it does not off-gas. Plus it is used deep within the mattress not as the primary support. Second, to meet the fire retardant standards Intellibed uses an inert, silca-coated, fiber that is woven into the outer covering of the mattress. This form of fire retardant does not transfer to the body through any contact, does not get into the air and cannot be broken down. As a result intellibed mattresses are safe and non toxic. Intellibed mattresses are also incredibly durable and most come with a 30 year warranty!
I will be honest, I was super nervous about buying a bed online. It looked perfect on paper, but how was it going to be in reality? Thankfully, Intellibed offers an in home trial period, so if you don’t like it the bed can be returned. The funny thing is though, our trial period came and went and by the end of it I couldn’t imagine giving up my bed. I was falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer and waking up without any neck and shoulder pain. I am now completely hooked and it has made a huge difference in both my and my husband’s health. He has much more energy then he used to and wakes up much earlier, feeling refreshed.
So, if you are in the market for a new mattress I would highly recommend doing your research on mattress chemicals and checking out intellibed to see if they will be a good fit for your family. Also, since I loved our bed so much I have teamed up with intellibed to offer my readers a discount on Intellibed mattresses and products. By clicking HERE or adding the code SWEET10 at checkout online or over the phone, you will get 10% off your purchase.