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.

Good news for California

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In a move that’s sure to please anyone concerned about chemical exposure, California Governor Jerry Brown announced yesterday a new state flammability standard: As of Jan. 1, upholstered furniture sold in the state will be able to meet flammability requirements without the use of with PBDEs or other chemicals.

“Today, California is curbing toxic chemicals found in everything from high chairs to sofas,” said Governor Brown. “These new standards will keep the furniture in our homes fire-safe and limit unnecessary exposure to toxic flame retardants.”

The new rule overturns a controversial 1975 law that Brown himself signed during his first stint as governor: Technical Bulletin 117, which required furniture manufacturers to inject flame-retardant chemicals into the synthetic foam used in virtually all upholstered furniture in the state. That translated into 2-3 pounds for a typical sofa, but over the years research has increasingly shown that such chemicals pose a major threat of cancer and other health problems, with children being most at risk. When state agencies such as the Bureau of Home Furnishings – on whose advisory board Lifekind president and co-founder Walt Bader sits as a member – recommended the change, officials listened.

Now instead of foam that’s been infused with flame-retardant chemicals, upholstered products from recliners to infant swings and strollers will be made fire-safe by focusing on using cover materials that resist common sources of ignition such as cigarettes, space heaters, and extension cords. That, combined with fiber fillings that resist smoldering, will be enough to meet the new standard for most products, though it’s always important to hold retailers accountable: “While many manufacturers may elect to remove the chemicals, others may elect to leave them in due to concerns about liability,” said Judy Levin of the Center for Environmental Health. “So consumers will definitely have to be diligent and ask specific questions.”

Manufacturers may begin making products to the new standards on Jan. 1, 2014, and will have one year to be fully in compliance.

Let’s hope that other U.S. states follow California’s lead and that the trend goes worldwide to prevent chemical exposure for future generations!

What happens when babies are exposed to mainstream mattresses?

There is nothing more precious than an infant. So innocent and delicate, these tiny blessings should have the purest food, bedding, and care, and most parents are more than happy to spend a bit more for the best. Yet it is concerning that most baby products found in department stores contain chemicals, hormone disruptors, and flame retardants that are toxic to adults, let alone children. In fact, children are susceptible to absorbing toxins at a faster rate than adults because 1) children breathe faster, and 2) the skin of a child is thinner, so they can absorb chemicals more quickly.

Most people think that there are regulations in place to protect the safety of what we buy. We learned during Christmas ’08, however, that there were no regulations for toys that contained dangerous amounts of lead. The sad truth is that there are approximately 75,000 chemicals used in commercial products and applications in the US. Of those, approximately 3% have been evaluated for human toxicology!

Flame retardants in mattresses are among the most dangerous culprits, considering the fact that babies can sleep up to 16 hours a day. Studies have shown that antimony, a common flame retardant used in crib mattresses, may contribute to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) risk. Other flame retardants such as PBDEs can affect the physical and intellectual development of a baby.

Most conventional crib mattresses are made with synthetic foams and fibers. These materials contain toluene and other petrochemicals that offgas VOCs (volatile organic compounds). To top it off, they are often coated with PVC vinyl to make them waterproof. Not just chemical hazards to a baby, these types of mattresses do not “breathe,” causing children to overheat and sleep overly warm and “clammy.”

Why expose your child to these dangers when a pure alternative is available through Lifekind®?

Rowena, Product Specialist