Dunlop vs Talalay Latex: What’s the Difference?

Understand the difference between Dunlop and Talalay latex, including how each process is similar and the differences in the products produced.

By Katie Dyal

When you are looking to purchase a latex foam mattress, you may come across these two terms when describing the latex: Dunlop and Talalay. Many consumers think that this means there are two variations of natural latex, which is not true. In actuality, Dunlop and Talalay describe the type of process the latex goes through to take shape as latex foam.

Latex is a natural substance that is tapped from rubber trees, which are typically found in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. When first extracted, latex resembles a sap-like texture in liquid form.

To transform natural latex into foam for mattresses, it must go through a vulcanization process where it’s formed into a solid, that eventually turns into the foam we sleep on.

What’s the difference between Dunlop and Talalay latex?

As stated above, there is only one natural form of latex substance. However, there are different manufacturing processes for turning liquid latex into a solid. Dunlop and Talalay are both proven methods for converting liquid latex into a foam latex. Here are the differences in the manufacturing process for each:

The Dunlop Process

The Dunlop Process has been around for over 50 years and is more energy-efficient and straightforward out of the two. The Dunlop process starts by inserting liquid latex into a large press machine, where it will evenly disperse the latex into a mattress shaped mold. Once the liquid latex is evenly distributed into this machine, the press is shut, and hot steam is released to “cook” the latex into a solid form. This part of the process is called vulcanization.

When you go shopping for a latex mattress, you’ll notice small holes in the core. Whether created through the Dunlop or Talalay process, these pin core holes will be present. The reason these holes are created is not to increase flexibility, as many people assume. Rather, they help evenly distribute heat during vulcanization to will prevent the rubber from burning. Once vulcanization is successfully completed and the Dunlop mattress is formed, it is ready to be cleaned for use.

The Talalay Process

As for the Talalay process, it starts with the same vulcanization process as the Dunlop process, where the latex is poured into a mold to be steam-heated.

However, during the Talalay process, it’s only partially heated up, rather than fully solidified. Instead of fully heating the latex, it’s immediately flash-frozen. Flash freezing the latex evenly suspends the air bubbles which freezes them in place, it releases carbon dioxide gas to push through the latex, causing it to somewhat gel. After being flash-frozen, the temperature is raised once again and the vulcanization process is repeated.

Flash-freezing is done to create a soft, more plush texture than is achieved through the Dunlop process. Not only that, but it also allows the composition of the foam to be consistent from top to bottom. Freezing the particles in place guarantees this consistency during its entire shelf-life.

Differences and Similarities

Now that you know how both the Dunlop and Talalay process is carried out, let’s look at the differences and similarities of the latex products each produces.

Differences

Dunlop mattresses are slightly firmer than Talalay mattresses because they don’t undergo the flash-freezing process. Talalay mattresses are softer and more consistent in feel due to the frozen process. It’s also for this reason that Dunlop tends to feel denser than Talalay mattresses.

In some cases, the firmness of Dunlop mattresses can be uneven depending on how they are dried. Because it Dunlop mattresses are not frozen into place, they are at risk for shifting around.

All in all, the main difference between Dunlop and Talalay latex mattresses is the firmness level. In some cases, both types are used in tandem— the Dunlop foam sits beneath for support, while the Talalay foam provides the ultimate cushion near the surface. In general, Talalay latex is excellent for side sleepers, whereas Dunlop is great for young children and heavy-set individuals.

Similarities

As explained above, Dunlop and Talalay have the same DNA, if you will. Both go through the vulcanization process. The only difference is the freezing process as the differences in firmness that step creates.

Whether you invest in Dunlop or Talalay, there’s nothing like a 100% latex mattress. Mattresses made of synthetic latex, aka anything less than 100% pure latex, are not as good as the real stuff. When choosing which type to go with, consider your body type, sleep position, and comfort preferences to help you make the right choice.


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