Pulling the Wool Over Your Eyes – It is possible to pass the open-flame mattress flammability test without chemicals

This great blog from our sister company OMI, (who manufacturers all of Lifekind‘s mattresses), touches on a “hot topic in the organic mattress industry.  Since we don’t use any chemical flame retardants, customers often ask how we can pass the flammability requirements with just wool.  Well, we worked hard to make it possible.  Be sure to watch the video below, which is of one our mattresses during an actual open-flame mattress flammability test (which we pass with flying colors!)

Although we know how important it is to reduce your chemical exposure during sleep (since you spend 1/3 of your life in bed), most of the country doesn’t understand the risks associated with sleeping on a traditional mattress.

As is the case with most specialty products, there is a fairly limited customer base of people who are aware of, and ready to purchase, an organic mattress.  This means that there are companies out there that will say anything in order to take a mattress sale from their competitors.

Since we opened our doors, we have been fighting an uphill battle against greenwashing.  Other mattress companies have thrown in a handful of eco-friendly ingredients and called their products “natural,” trying to charge a premium for something that isn’t much better than mainstream.

Now that the country is becoming more aware of the greenwashing epidemic, we have seen mattress companies telling flat-out lies and mistruths, with the hope of seducing a customer with promises they can’t back up.

One fallacy that you will see promoted is that wool alone can’t be used to pass flammability tests. This argument is often used in a company’s justification for using chemical fire retardants because it is “the only option.”

I am here today to tell you “yes.”  Yes, wool can be used as the sole fire retardant for a mattress to meet federal flammability requirements.  And that, in fact, we have been using wool (without any chemical treatments) as our only fire retardant for years.

The purpose of a flammability test on a mattress is to make sure that the mattress doesn’t flame up in the event of a domestic fire.  We don’t claim to make fireproof mattresses (I can’t even imagine the kinds of chemicals that would go in to that!) We make mattresses that won’t turn into a six-foot fireball if your house catches fire.

Our competitors have shown photos of a piece of wool yarn that is set to fire, and predictably, the fire travels up and burns the piece of wool yarn.

As seen on strobel.com, spreading misinformation about wool used in mattresses.

Well, of course it is going to burn.  It is a natural material that has been shaped into a “wick” and a flame has been set to it.

Of course, you don’t have to just take my word for it.  The video below is an actual open-flame flammability test of one of our mattresses, which shows just how well our chemical-free design works.

The only raw materials used to make this mattress (or any of our mattresses) are organic cotton, wool, and 100%-natural rubber.  The mattress is sitting on a wood-slat foundation.  Both pieces are built in our organic mattress Eco-Factory™ and are GREENGUARD® certified.  There are no added chemicals, no silica barrier, or any other methods employed to assist in the flame test.

So there you have it: It is possible to pass the open-flame mattress flammability test without chemicals.  And we do it every day.

How to Choose the Perfect Pillow

You may be thinking….that’s easy, you go down to the bed and bath store and pull a few off the shelf and squish, press, lay your head on them and whichever feels good and is within your budget will be fine (trial and error, I guess?). Or maybe you’re replacing your old pillows with cruelty-free, organic alternatives, but don’t know where to begin.

Everybody is unique, so there is no one “perfect” pillow for everyone. It’s just not that simple. Deciphering the “pillow puzzle” might have you throwing in the towel and settling for anything soft-ish to prop your head up on. Read on for advice on how to best match your comfort needs to various types of pillows.

Sad man holding pillow

 I believe the first thing to consider when purchasing anything really, is what it is made of. Since about 1/3 of your time is spent in bed and pillows are right in your face, I wouldn’t recommend petroleum-based poly-fill or memory foam, which is found to contain 60+ toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds). The healthiest choice is always organic.

CottonPillowInside

The inside of our Organic Cotton Pillow

Next, consider your sleeping position(s) and the pillow loft (or height) needed:

  • Side sleepers: Choose a pillow that is the proper loft, so your head and neck are supported in a neutral position. For example, if the pillow is for a child, you may need a light-loft pillow. If it’s for a person with broad shoulders you may need a full-loft pillow, and medium- and full-loft pillows are generally best for the average-sized person.
  • Back sleepers: A puffy, light- to medium-loft pillow is usually best, to gently lift your head without putting too much pressure on your neck.
  • Belly sleepers: Try a light-loft pillow, or none at all, so your head isn’t too high.

PillowChart1

 

Now for the fun part. What a pillow is stuffed with greatly determines how it feels. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, click on the links to the organic pillows after the question, and that pillow could be the best one for you.

If you’re still unsure, just call and talk to one of our knowledgable pillow experts at Lifekind at 1-800-284-4983. I love getting calls about pillows, because I enjoy using adjectives like “puffy,” “shmooshable,” “buoyant,” and “moldable.”

What is the Best Mattress For MCS

Many Lifekind customers are familiar with the term “MCS” because it stands for the often misunderstood ailment multiple chemical sensitivity. People with MCS are usually sensitive to synthetic and/or scented products like hair spray, perfume, cleaning products, soaps and, of course, chemical mattresses.

Lifekind Organic Mattress

The effects of chemicals and pesticides on our health can be staggering, with some cases more extreme than others. I know this first hand, and am happy to say that it’s a good thing we live in a time when we have a choice and we’re changing the norm by purchasing non-chemical, organic products!

I first became aware of MCS after I’d been sleeping on a chemical mattress for a number of years, and throughout that time was experiencing numerous “mystery” health challenges. Honestly, I now attribute those health issues to long-term exposure to the chemicals in the mattress, since my health improved after I started sleeping on an organic mattress.

RawMaterialsPackage

When I speak to customers who are experiencing MCS symptoms, I’ll often suggest they try testing our organically certified mattress materials  before purchasing a mattress. The material samples are included with an allergy test sheet that provides specific instructions for sensitivity testing. One of Lifekind’s most popular mattress for sleepers with MCS is the Traditional Innerspring Mattress, which is made of certified organic cotton and certified organic wool.

AllergyTest Sheet

If you sense you may have MCS, a good resource is the Environmental Health Center in Dallas, TX, where Dr Ray and his staff have been helping people with multiple chemical sensitivities  since 1975. They have experience in diagnosing and treating more than 40,000 environmentally sensitive patients with their innovative techniques.

Even though MCS presents many health challenges and it’s not yet fully understood, I’m happy to be a part of the new thought revolution–one organic mattress, pillow or blanket at a time!

Where the Natural Rubber Meets the Road

At Lifekind, many of the products we make contain natural rubber, which can be confusing for some who haven’t tried it. 
 
“Do you use the same kind of rubber that’s in tires?” callers ask. “Is my bed going to smell like a tire store? What’s it made from, exactly?”
 

Tires

While car tires and natural-rubber mattresses have their main ingredient — natural-rubber sap — in common, the similarities pretty much end there. Car tires have a slew of toxic substances added, such as styrene-butadiene co-polymers, oils, halogen, “accelerators,” “antiozonants” and carbon black, a delightful material made from the partial burning of coal tar and other “heavy” petroleum products to make a black, ashy powder. (The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled carbon black a “possible human carcinogen,” and it’s a powerful respiratory irritant. Definitely not something you’d want to sleep on!)
 Rubber_Tree_proof
In contrast, 100%-natural rubber foam is a springy, resilient, off-white material that contains about 98% rubber-tree sap in its final form. The remaining 2% is made of non-harmful materials such zinc oxide, sulfur, sodium, and fatty acids – quite a difference. (And it smells nothing like a tire store!) It’s the top choice for organic mattress materials right now, and its popularity is growing. 
We’re always happy to send a sample to anybody who would like to check it out — just ask. We think you’ll like it!

How Long Will It Last?

Recently a customer called to ask how long the sheets in our Organic Cotton Sateen Bedding Collection should be expected to last. It got me thinking about the lifespan of different products we sell, as well as how they show their age as the years go by.

towel

The organic cotton and wool we use isn’t mixed with polyester or other petrochemicals to artificially strengthen the fibers, nor are our towel collections treated with a coating of beef tallow and/or chemicals to make them feel softer and more appealing on store shelves. This results in a purer product, as well as one that will actually become softer than artifically-treated products over time. It also means that their lifespans aren’t artificially prolonged based on chemical content, however. For that reason, the possibility exists that they may experience a shorter life than artificially enhanced items – although I have to say that I’ve never experienced it personally in the 10 years I’ve been using our products. Our customers appreciate this, for the most part, knowing it’s part of the sacrifice we sometimes make in order to use natural products and to live lives as free as possible from exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Based on that, here’s an estimate of the expected average life of a few of our more popular products when cared for as recommended:

 

clockFlannel Pad:  Five years

Wool Moisture-Protector Pad:  Five years

Sheets and duvet covers:  Five years

Pillows:
Wool or cotton:  Five years
Natural rubber:  Ten years
Buckwheat:  Five years

Comforters:  Five years

Pillow tops:
Wool:  Five years
Natural rubber:  Ten years plus

Towels and bath mats:  Five years

Keep in mind that these are not warranty timelines, but basic averages that can be directly affected by the amount of usage and quality of care. Items that are washable can also be affected by water quality and temperature, detergents, and the use of fabric softeners. Pillows and fitted sheets tend to wear out most quickly, since they bear most of a sleeper’s concentrated weight. Sheets and pillowcases may develop thin spots that are more susceptible to tearing, and cotton and wool pillows will compact substantially as they’re used — wool pillows by about one-third and cotton pillows by about one-half. It doesn’t indicate that the product is defective, but rather that it’s been working hard and slowing down a bit as time goes by, as do people.

If you  have a question about how a Lifekind product is holding up over time, feel free to give us a call here on the sales team at 800-284-4983, or click on the “Chat with a live product specialist now!” link on our home page. We’re here to help.

Why Wool is Wonderful!

Here are eight fun facts about one of Lifekind’s favorite organic, ozone-sanitized fibers.

1.  Wool is the fiber of choice in desert environments to sustain natural climate control through the centuries.  The shape of the wool fibers creates air pockets to hold body heat for warmth in cool weather, and when it’s warm, the moisture-wicking properties trigger the body’s cooling system, like sweating to cool off on a hot day.

WOOL1

2.  The springy shape of the wool fiber helps to move moisture away (instead of absorbing it), creating natural mold and mildew resistance.

3.  According to the American Sheep Industry, “…one wool fiber can be bent back more than 20,000 times without breaking and is said to be comparatively stronger than steel new balance classic shoes
.” Wow, maybe Superman should rethink his suit!
woolblog1
4.  Wool fibers are able to absorb a wide range of frequencies, and dense layers can be packed into small spaces to effectively absorb sound, making it perfect for soundproofing.

5.  Thanks to testing done by University of Bochum in Germany nike air max trainers cheap
, it is confirmed that Merino wool has a UV protective factor (UVP) of 30+.   Upwards of 70% of samples had a UVP of 50+ (http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/mens-health/health/galleries/photo/-/14496251/the-wonders-of-wool-in-all-seasons/14496263/).

wool2

6.  Most wool allergies are actually reactions to lanolin, toxic chemicals used in processing/carding, or dermal (contact with skin) sensitivities.

7.  Wool is a natural fire retardant. The keratin proteins and high sulfur content of the outer cuticle layers in wool fibers cause more of char, or foaming, rather than bursting into flames.  Think about the last time a stray hair or corner of your nail burned new balance womens running shoes
.  It smells awful, sizzles, melts and singes, but will not burst into flames – thank you keratin!  Still not convinced?  Watch this burn test to see our organic wool in action!

8.  Wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water (moisture) without feeling wet air jordan retro 3
.  Once again, the shape of this fiber is to credit for such amazing practicality.  The coil shape allows moisture to stay on each individual fiber while moving away from the source , which translates into absorption without the damp, clammy feel other natural fibers have.  That being said, anyone who has ever washed a wool sweater knows it also gets 30% heavier when wet.
Did I forget your favorite reason why wool is wonderful?  Comment below with your favorite fun facts.

Is an organic mattress worth the money – A Peek Inside Mattresses

It’s no secret that Lifekind® is big on purity. It’s also no secret that other mattress makers claim to be big on purity too, so when consumers are searching for the purest mattress they can find, it quickly becomes a matter of sleuthing out the truth.

From the outside, most mattresses look about the same. I totally understand why people will see a mattress that claims to be “natural” or “organic” for a fraction of what a Lifekind mattress costs, and they purchase it.

Naturally, comfort is a big part of why people purchase the mattresses they do. But if you’ve found Lifekind, you’re most likely also interested in what goes into making our certified organic mattresses — what you will be sleeping on for the next 20 years. Let’s dig a little deeper and look inside a few different mattresses.

This first picture (below) shows a conventional synthetic foam rubber mattress, much like the ones you will find in mattress showrooms around the world. It looks pretty on the outside, nice and fluffy, and just begs you to climb into bed.

ConventionalMattressInterior

But once you look inside, you see something completely different.

The first layer is the cover material. Then there are several layers of conventional synthetic foam (notorious for offgassing, not to mention the petroleum it contains and the hardship it puts on the Earth to produce), bleached and highly processed cotton, more foam, and then a base layer that is made from cotton scraps.

CompetitorMattressInterior

This second picture is of a popular “organic” mattress brand that specializes in crib mattresses. Underneath the “food-grade” polyethylene mattress cover (made entirely from petrochemicals), you can see bleached cotton. The blue layer is a Tyvek-like material. Then cotton that is of an unknown grade (the specks you see in there are debris – stems from the cotton plant, along with other unknown detritus), then a plastic mesh layer. The cotton filling they use is most likely organic, but other than that, this mattress does not contain organic materials. Yet it is selling every day because the manufacturer touts the benefits of its “organic” mattresses, misleading consumers into believing that they are purchasing a pure, organic mattress without offering any clue about what is going on inside the mattress.  Naturally, most consumers won’t cut open a new mattress, so there is no way for them to know.

The third picture shows the inside of a GOTS-certified organic Lifekind mattress.  Looking at the layers from the top down, you can see our organic quilting, which includes only certified organic wool and organic cotton cover material. Sandwiched between layers of certified organic cotton canvas is high-quality, certified organic cotton padding. No silica, Tyvek, or other synthetic, non-organic materials are included in its construction.  The innersprings used in the mattress are made of untreated virgin steel, wrapped in four layers of certified organic cotton.

LifekindMattressInterior

 

Textile Truth: A Parent’s Guide

{re-blog from OMI}

We are an organic company, so using organic products is a no-brainer for us.  But we have to remember that not everyone has the same immersion into the world of organics, and new parents need to know when it is essential to choose organic products.

This great info-graphic,  put together by our friends at Harmony Art, is a great visual aid for new parents, and puts the “how” and “why” of buying organic for your baby into an easy-to-digest graphic that takes away the guessing game:

TextileTruthsBaby

To read about how this piece came together, be sure to check out Harmony Art’s blog.

Which mattress pad should I use?

It’s a question we’re frequently asked by customers: Which should I choose to protect my (or my child’s) mattress, the Flannel Mattress Pad or the Wool Moisture Protector?
It depends on the situation.

If you’re looking to protect a mattress from a heavily-perspiring sleeper or the occasional accidents that can occur with young children or pets, the Wool Moisture Protector is the one. The natural oils in our California-grown Naturally Safer® wool keep mattresses dry and comfortable in case of even major accidents, especially when layered under the Flannel Mattress Pad. (Doubling up the protection is the best way to make sure nothing gets through to the mattress surface, and you’ll spend less time hand-rinsing and air-drying the wool pad, because the machine-washable flannel pad will be enough protection in most cases.)

Family

 

If the mattress getting wet isn’t a concern, the Flannel Mattress Pad alone should be sufficient. Its thick, substantial layers of U.S.-grown certified-organic cotton quilted flannel will keep any mattress looking new for years, and it’s machine washable and dryable for easy care.
Whichever is right for you, choosing a U.S.-grown-and-made organic mattress pad from Lifekind is the best way to protect your investment AND make sure your family is avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals. It’s the one accessory no mattress should be without!