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.

New Study Shows Flame Retardants Still a Threat

Back in the 1970s, consumers were shocked to learn that a flame retardant called Tris had been contaminating children’s pajamas with toxic chemicals. Clothing manufacturers stopped using it when the risk became publicized, but it was never officially banned in the U.S.

Now a report from Duke University shows that in recent tests, eight out of 10 commonly-sold baby products contain high levels of the retardant, long suspected as a carcinogen and linked to brain damage in infants and young children. More than a third of the products – all of which contained polyurethane foam – also tested positive for penta-PBDEs, neurotoxins that were banned in 2004 when it was found that toddlers with high levels of them had lower IQs and reduced motor skills. (Chemical flame retardants are typically added directly into polyurethane-foam mixtures, rather than applied to finished products, to meet flammability requirements.)

Products tested in this case included car seats, changing pads, and baby carriers, but polyurethane foam is also used widely in the manufacture of both crib and adult-sized mattresses and bedding.

Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, called the Duke findings a “wake-up call” for parents and manufacturers – and we agree.

“I am concerned about not only cancer,” Birnbaum says, “but reproductive or neurological effects as well – the developing brain.” Could there be any more urgent issue for parents or anyone concerned with the well-being of children?

Chemical companies, of course, continue to claim that their products are safe, and manufacturers defend their use (“protecting children is Evenflo’s number one priority…[we use chemicals to] meet mandatory federal and state flammability requirements”). It’s the same old story, bringing to mind cigarette manufacturers’ claims that smoking wasn’t a health threat until forced by government agencies to admit the danger.

There’s a safer alternative, of course: mattresses and other products made from CERTIFIED ORGANIC MATERIALS. Lifekind uses Texas-grown certified-organic cotton, 100%-natural rubber latex made from USDA-certified organic sap, and wool grown in California for flammability protection, PERIOD. Anything less is putting your own safety and the safety of your family at risk.

As a result of the study, Duke lead researcher Heather Stapleton told reporters she’s ridding her home of products that contain polyurethane foam and replacing them with safer products. Shouldn’t we all be doing the same?