Non-Toxic vs. Organic Mattress Review

Organic mattress- what we chose and why

I’ve often read the statistic that we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping, or over 2,500 hours per year, but I have to laugh because those hours are obviously not during the time of life with new babies or potty training toddlers.

Of course, those statistics are meant to highlight the importance of sleep environment since such a substantial part of our life is spent in our beds. I think sleep environment is even more important when we aren’t able to get enough of the best kind of sleep since we have to make the best use of the sleep time we do get.

The Problems with Regular Mattresses

I’ve written before about how to optimize your bedroom environment for the best sleep and even mentioned the importance of an organic mattress, but it took us years to finally decide on our own mattress and actually get it.

What seems like an inert and harmless thing, a soft pillowy mattress, is often a source of chemical exposure, EMF exposure and other problems.

Harmful chemicals

Mattresses can be a major source of chemical exposure. For instance:

Manufacturers are dousing them (mattresses) with highly toxic flame-retardant chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ether, better known as PBDE, which do NOT have to be disclosed in any way.

PBDEs, which have been banned in Canada, Europe, and several states, build up in your body over time, and what you absorb or inhale does not go away. This is concerning not only because of the health problems PBDE is associated with (brain and reproductive damage, decreased sperm quality, thyroid problems and even cancer at high levels), but also because of how pervasive these chemicals have become.

Additionally mattresses can contain fire retardant chemicals like:

  • Boric Acid (reproductive and developmental toxin, used as a pesticide)
  • Antimony (may cause heart and lung damage, possible carcinogen)
  • Decabromodiphenyl Oxide (causes hair and memory loss, possible carcinogen)

EMF

Coil spring mattresses have the added danger of being high in electromagnetic frequencies. Sound crazy? Maybe not.

This article from Scientific American explains how rising rates of breast cancer and melanoma in the western world provide a possible explanation:

For unknown reasons the rates of breast cancer and melanoma have both increased steadily in the last 30 years. Exposure to the sun elevates the risk of melanoma, but the sun’s intensity has not changed in the last three decades. Stranger still, melanoma most commonly affects the hip, thighs and trunk, which are areas of the body protected from the sun. What is responsible for the left-side dominance and increasing incidence of these cancers?

An intriguing clue comes from the Far East. In Japan there is no correlation between the rates of melanoma and breast cancer as there is in the West, and there is no left-side prevalence for either disease. Moreover, the rate of breast cancer in Japan is significantly lower than in the West; only 3 percent of what is seen in Sweden, for example. The rate of prostate cancer in Japan is only 10 percent of that in the U.K. and U.S.

The researchers suggest an explanation based on differences in sleeping habits in Japan and Western countries. Previous research has shown that both men and women prefer to sleep on their right sides. The reasons for this general preference are unclear, but sleeping on the right side may reduce the weight stress on the heart, and the heartbeat is not as loud as when sleeping on the left. Still, there is no reason to suspect that people in Japan sleep in positions that are any different from those in the West. The beds in Japan, however, are different. The futons used for sleeping in Japan are mattresses placed directly on the bedroom floor, in contrast to the elevated box springs and mattress of beds used in the West. A link between bedroom furniture and cancer seems absurd, but this, the researchers conclude, is the answer.

as we sleep on our coil-spring mattresses, we are in effect sleeping on an antenna that amplifies the intensity of the broadcast FM/TV radiation. Asleep on these antennas, our bodies are exposed to the amplified electromagnetic radiation for a third of our life spans. As we slumber on a metal coil-spring mattress, a wave of electromagnetic radiation envelops our bodies so that the maximum strength of the field develops 75 centimeters above the mattress in the middle of our bodies. When sleeping on the right side, the body’s left side will thereby be exposed to field strength about twice as strong as what the right side absorbs.

Mold and Mildew and Mites, Oh my!

I read that mattresses doubled their weight every 10 years and I wondered why. Ben Greenfield explains:

Not only that, but since it’s a damp, dark area, the spring system in your mattress acts as an incubator for dust mites, mold and mildew. This is why spring mattresses double their weight after 10 years – all that dead skin, dust mite, feces particles and dust has to accumulate somewhere, and the springs are the place to do it. Now I’m not suggesting that you go outside and sleep on the dirt, but if you have a choice between a metal coil-spring mattress and plain ol’ dirt, the latter would be the way to go.

I didn’t realize how much of a problem dust mites could be, but:

Dust mites feed off human and animal dander; excess skin shed from the body. After ingesting dander, mites then defecate and the mites’ feces accumulate inside the mattress. A single mite can produce up to 2000 units of fecal matter in a period of 10 weeks. A harmful allergen, mite fecal matter has been proven to have a severe impact on health as well as sleep quality.

Female dust mites live about two months and can lay 100 eggs a month during this time.

Finding an Organic Mattress

Just knowing the problem does not unfortunately lead to a solution. Even after I’d researched the problem with conventional mattresses, I still had trouble finding the best alternative for us.

Most organic mattresses contain a mixture of cotton, wool and latex. On their own, these ingredients are generally considered safe but some of them can still be problematic in mattresses. Additionally, there is a lot of green-washing and mis-labeling in the mattress industry.

Terms like “natural” and “eco-friendly” are unregulated for mattresses and don’t meant that the mattress is organic. When it comes to the term “organic” for mattresses, this article explains:

If you see the word “organic”, it always means certified organic, which indicates the mattress has been certified by a third party. If a mattress company is going to call their mattress organic, it must be certified by an some kind of a third party organization which certifies products to be organic. An agency called “Control Union” is the only company that actually certifies latex – the main component of foam in most modern mattresses – as organic under the Global Organic Latex Standards (or GOLS for short).

Now here’s something important to understand: 100% organic mattresses simply do not exist. In reality, any mattress company claiming to have organic mattresses actually contains a mix of both organic materials and other natural components in their mattresses. However, a certified organic mattress does indeed actually mean that at least 95% of the latex used in that mattress is made from certified organic components. But most latex mattresses on the market are simply not organic because they’re A) not certified organic and B) they don’t meet those 95% standards.

For example, natural latex foam is a component you’ll typically find in many “healthy” mattresses. But given the cost, most companies include very little of the certified organic latex. For example, just 1 inch of the total 8 inches of a most natural latex mattresses is actually GOLS certified organic latex. That’s a pretty small fraction – kind of like having an organic apple orchard, with just 1/8 of the trees actually being truly organic.

Comfort

Finding a safe and organic mattress was the first priority but comfort was also really important to us. My husband and I take jujutsu together several times a week. It is a very physical form of martial arts that often involves throws, rolls and flying through the air so comfort was a priority.

Many organic mattresses I’d tried tended to be very firm and I wanted to find one that was supportive, but not overly firm.

On the other end of the spectrum, many organic memory foam mattresses can be too soft. Memory foam was developed my NASA to support astronauts as they adjusted to the force of gravity after being in space. Unfortunately, many memory foam mattresses are chemical based and contain flame retardants and they can be too soft for many people (this was our experience).

I wanted to find a mattress that was truly non-toxic yet supportive and comfortable and that would not cause problems with moisture, mildew and mites.

What we Chose

After much research and saving, (and after trying an expensive organic mattress that wasn’t the best for us), we finally settled on a non-toxic inert IntelliBED mattress and we have absolutely loved it. (If you have some time, check out the full story of how we finally settled on this, the bed that didn’t work for us, and the summary of my 200+ hours of research here).

To be really clear- the mattress we chose is not certified organic but I feel better about it than I did about any of the organic options. I also don’t believe that any one mattress is the right bed for every single person, but this one was absolutely best for us. I feel comfortable recommending it because even though a mattress is a big purchase, they also have a 60-day full money-back guarantee so you can try it risk free. (TIP: If you use this link and the code WellnessMama you can save 10% on anything in their store!)

The Bottom Line

Mattresses aren’t cheap, especially non-toxic ones but with as much time as we spend in bed, I thought it was well worth the investment for us. Also, the king size IntelliBED that we purchased with the 10% discount comes out to $6.25 a month (for the duration of the 30-year warranty), which was cheaper than the cost per month of many conventional mattresses based on when they recommend replacing.

If you’re considering a new mattresses, definitely do your own research and make sure you’ve found the best option for you and your family. It is an investment, but one that can benefit you greatly over the long term.

How to Get An Intellibed Mattress at a Discount:

  1. Go to this link and pick the bed (and other products) you want…
  2. Use the code WellnessMama to save 10%
  3. Try the mattress for 60 days risk free to make sure you love it as much as we do!

Have you switched to an organic mattress? If not, will you?

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Reader Comments

  1. Hi Katie.
    I wanted to know why you didn’t chose an obasan mattress for yourself. ? I heard that my essentia was green washing and last year the government cracked down on them.

    • Dear Katie,

      As this is yet another thing that I could never even think of buying, I would like to suggest some helps to poor people, like myself, who may be stuck with a traditional mattress. First of all, when buying something new, like a mattress, keep the room well ventilated for a while. Also, get a tight fitting mattress cover to prevent dust mites. I put a mattress pad over that. If you have kids, get two mattress pads on their beds. I have found that 2 usually keeps any pee or vomit from hitting the mattress. Wash all new bedding in hot water before use. I usually do a double rinse with new bedding. I have allergies and always wash all bedding in hot water to deal with the dust mites.

      Modern houses are very energy efficient and therefore, very tightly sealed. Don’t forget to crack a window or door once in a while and let some fresh air in and some of the “old air” out. If you have a new mattress or carpeting, do it daily.

      I tend to avoid latex. Latex allergies are very common. People who work in healthcare (as I did), or have had many latex exposures due to medical conditions can become allergic over time. (Spinal bifida children used to be assumed to have a latex allergy because as many as one third of them did. I believe that it is now assumed to be from exposure to medical products versus something genetic or directly related to the condition. Disclosure: I am not up to date on any of this, I am going on past knowledge.) The likelyhood may have decreased now that most medical gloves are no longer powdered (so you breathed in the latex, versus just touching it). Remember, universal precautions in healthcare did not start until the 80’s. While preventing exposure to blood born pathogens, the massive use of latex gloves led to other problems. Now it grosses people out, but gloves were not worn that often before then for care such as bathing and mouth care. I am not saying don’t get a mattress with latex, but, if (like me) you have had a lot of latex exposure, you may not want to sleep on one every night.

      While the study mentioned is very interesting, it is just one study. It is a jumping off point for further research. There are always many factors to consider in cultural comparisons. In other words, don’t panic. If you want to go organic and can afford it, good for you. For the rest of us, a comfortable mattress that allows you to sleep well is most important. My husband and I both have worked jobs where we went to bed hurting after a long day and hoped we would get enough sleep to get up and do it all over again. He still works a physically demanding job and the older you get, the more it hurts.

      I would also mention one other thing. My childhood was in the 70’s in New England. Houses were old (ours was well over one hundred years old) and made of dry sticks stuffed with plaster and horse hair. When a house fire started, it spread. Fast. It was not uncommon to hear about horrible burn injuries on children and total loss of family homes even with smoke detectors. Although flame retardants delayed a fire only briefly, it was often enough to prevent very serious injury and death. However, as with many things, this may have been trading one problem for another. As you reduce flame retardants in your home, be OCD about fire prevention.

      • Hi, so I’ve been doing research on flame retardants for over a year now… Bought several mattresses and couches… Returned several… Did MORE research! What a rough (and expensive) experiment…

        I suggest those who want to learn more about flame retardants go to: http://media.apps.chicagotribune.com/flames/index.html
        Or go to the NYT and search for flame retardants
        Go to the Chicago Tribune and search for flame retardants – see the exposé

        Your blog isn’t up-to-date and actually seems very much like a sales pitch with the coupon included. Very sad & disappointing because more advocates ARE needed especially since so many “Eco-friendly” companies aren’t ethical and are greenwashing their products to make money. Fear sells. ESPECIALLY when kids are involved.

        • Hi Owen,

          As a long-time follower of Katie’s blogs, it is safe to say that Katie did a tremendous amount of research before writing this blog and posting the choice her and her family made on a bed. I am sure she has read the same material as you.

          Almost everyone who subscribes to this blog has the same concerns about toxins in their environment, especially their living space.

          It would be much more productive if you posted what brands you bought/returned, which ones you stuck with and why.

          We are all facing the same challenge during this transitional period of flame retardant requirements are changing. The challenge is finding products with out these chemicals and that do not cost a small fortune. I recently researched this same topic and I’ve read about the flame retardant ties to the tobacco industry, the efficacy of the chemical and the view fire professionals have as well. It has never made sense to me how these chemicals could truly halt, or even slow down a tragic fire. I would never want my kid sleeping in fire retardant infused pajamas, on a bed/couch that contains them either. The latter is a much harder one to find without the chemical.

          Again, it would be much more beneficial/productive if you posted your actual findings with the products you chose.

          Katie also always recommends that her readers do her own research. We’re all pretty fortunate that she shares an incredible amount of information on the foods, supplements, and homemade goods that she does … we actually get to read this information for FREE. (Thank you for all you do, Katie!)

          Thanks!

          • Thanks for your support, Cara. I’m actually working on a follow up post to this one…

      • Jackie if you don’t already have a blog you should

        • Thank you but that probably won’t happen 🙂

    • Hi! Really appreciate the info and really considering an intellibed..question about your stance on EMF exposure… You talk about it being dangerous and avoiding them…
      However intellibed has metal springs in mattress for sure and metal in the box spring ( looks like it?!) they require you to purchase to maintain integrity of warranty. Please advise!! Thank you, Victoria ( Midwest)

      • Good question- forgot to include that aspect in the post but I researched it too. I’ll work on adding it…

      • I was just wondering this same thing 🙂 any follow up info? I’m already trying to avoid coil and all intellibed models have the coils.

        • I’m wondering this too

  2. I LOVE THIS!
    So important.

    We have one too.

    If I could also please make a request! I would LOVE one of your next blog’s to be about how to make an organic down pillow. I’ve read over and over and over again how each pillow contains at least 2 lbs of flame retardants. It also seems like the next logical step after getting an organic bed. I really want an organic pillow bc I sleep with a pillow over my eyes ( I don’t know why I do that… comfort I guess). I feel like I’m inhaling all those toxic yuckies all night long.

  3. Hi Katie!

    Thanks so much for this post. I first heard about My Essentia from Mama Natural and I want one so bad! My husband and I have been sleeping on a FULL size bed for two years— I don’t know how on earth we’ve lasted that long. I’m already daydreaming about using our tax return for a new mattress…

    Anyhow, I’d be so curious to know which model you ended up going with– was it the Grateful or one of the other models?

    Thanks again!

  4. Could you tell me, are there chemicals used to retard flames on the mattresses from the company that you recommend? We need to replace our mattress and just read a post from the healthy home economist who chose a gel bed which is a bit more pricey. As I understood from that post even the organic companies had to douse their mattresses in chemicals due to governmnt regulations… could you tell me does this mattress not have any added chemicals because latex is naturally flame resistant? I do not have concern for the mattesses ability to catch fire when the house is burning down as much as the sickness from chemicals! Thank you ahead of time for this post! Super interested!

    • I just called them for the answer and they were wonderful… thank you again for the recommendation and blog post! (my question may not be helpful to post if you would rather not 🙂 ).

  5. I have a memory foam mattress, unfortunately not organic, but I began having terrible joint, shoulder and muscle pain after about a year, not realizing the mattress was causing it for almost a year. I just thought my arthritis was getting worse. I have mild arthritis. I decided one day for some reason to put a mattress topper on it, and I felt better the next morning than I had in a long time. I ended up using three toppers to make it soft enough and now I’m feeling much better. It’s only been a couple of weeks. I am wondering about others experiences with mattresses that are too firm, and what solutions they used.

  6. I am wondering if my earthing sheet would counter act the electromagnetic field my spring mattress puts off?

  7. yeah so we got an essentia mattress. Gave me terrible headaches. I had done a lot of research and was really disappointed. I gave it a few days to air out but nothing. The headaches got worse. I am extremely sensitive to chemicals and scents and I guess I must have picked up something in this mattress. We sent it back and got an omi with a wool topper. Much nicer!!

  8. Thank you for this! We’ll be in the market for a new mattress soon and you just made my life so much easier.

  9. Great article. I also worry about the couches and chairs too. I wonder if the leather couch would be full of PBDE?

    I switched to an organic latex mattress and absolutely love it! Also got a 3″ topper for our camper and it is so supportive.

  10. We have just ordered a bed from Essentia – I can’t wait for it to arrive! I was wondering if you were planning on purchasing a mattress pad. We have little ones too and I am worried about an accident on our new bed, but every cover I seem to find is made from toxic materials. Did you find something that works for this or do you think the cover that they provide will provide enough protection?

  11. Hi Katie,

    I am stoked you posted this article, because my husband and I are in the market.

    Bonus, there is a store in Santa Monica, about an hour and a half drive for us.

    It seems there is a mattress cover that comes with the bed, but did you and your husband find an additional mattress protector (organic, of course)? In the summer my husband can have sweaty nights and I’d like to have an extra buffer.

    2. We have our current, conventional, mattress on the floor with no box spring … did you and your husband choose a foundation, or floor.

    Thank you for your time!!

  12. Great post! We have a Savvy Rest mattress. I looked at SO many options when we were choosing to go with an organic mattress – and it was the most affordable for our family. While (based on the FAQs of the Essentia page), it might not be the perfect choice, it’s definitely better than the coil and memory foam mattresses we once had! Next up, we need to replace ALL of the mattresses in our house…it just takes time (and money).

  13. Thanks for sharing your ideas about this.

  14. $9 per month over 20 years come out to 1040 months = $9360.00 + tax All I can say is OUCH! Your back might feel good but your backside has got to sting.

    • I think your math is wrong. I calculated a total of $2160, which is not that bad at all!

    • 1040 months would be almost 89 years….
      $9*(12mos/yr)*20yr = $2160.

  15. I liked keetsa mattresses when I was looking.

  16. Thank you for writing about different brands…It seems lately that all the bloggers are recommending the same products-usually within a few days of each other. It then makes me suspicious if these are really personal recommendations or infomercials!!
    I appreciate your “different-ness”

  17. Last year, after reading your post about the chemicals in traditional mattresses, we did a lot of research and bought a natural latex mattress. We decided to put the layers together ourselves in order to save some money. We purchased the Natural Latex Dunlop 3″ mattress “toppers” from Rocky Mountain Mattress (http://www.rockymountainmattress.com/mattress-toppers/)
    Since we were getting a king size bed, it was important to get the Dunlop process latex as Talalay latex of that size isn’t one whole piece and questionable glues are used. We went with Firm on the bottom, Medium Firm in the middle and Medium Plush on top. We bought an organic cotton and wool quilted mattress cover from Nest Bedding (http://www.nestbedding.com/) but they don’t seem to carry it anymore.
    Once the layers and cover arrived, we put it together. I can certainly see why most people just buy the mattresses pre-made. They are tricky to work with! But we saved a bunch of money doing it this way. Natural latex mattresses can last 20-30 years so I know it was a great investment. If you decide to “build” the bed yourself it isn’t even much more expensive than a “premium” traditional mattress.
    The first morning after we slept on our new mattress, my husband’s back pain was completely gone as was my hip pain. We have been so pleased with our bed. When we travel, I can really feel the difference in the quality of my sleep.
    Thanks Wellness Mama for opening my eyes to the harms of traditional mattresses. I check for updates every day and I’m always pleased with the knowledge and recipes I find here. Thanks again!

    • Hi! What a novel idea – building your own mattress. I think we might do the same – just curious, I’m thinking about buying two 4″ levels – firm on the bottom and medium plush on the top. That would be 8″ total. Do you think this would work based on your research? or is it better to have at least 9″ of mattress – thats what most of the stores have. Thanks for your input!

  18. I needed a new mattress for my daughter. I would have loved to get an organic one but couldn’t afford it. Instead I chose one with out the flame retardants and I had to get a dr note to give to the manufacturer to get one made with out it. It was frustrating but I am glad I did. For us it was a more affordable compromise.

  19. We LOVE our Essentia mattress and pillows. My sleep has never been better! Thank you for educating families on the organic options out there.

  20. While these mattresses look lovely, I can’t help but swallow REALLY hard at that pricetag. If someone has the money to spend, by all means, these mattresses look like a fantastic investment! But for those looking for an organic mattress/pillows at a fraction of the cost, buckwheat hulls can be used to make your own mattress or pillows. The best site I’ve found so far that has kits is Open Your Eyes Bedding (http://openyoureyesbedding.com/)
    I can understand how a buckwheat hull mattress might not be everyone’s idea of comfort, but they’ve got a really extensive FAQ for anyone with questions or concerns. Definitely worth a look for the penny pincher or someone light in the pockets like college kids my age 🙂

  21. Thank you so much for this post. Both my little ones sleep on naturepedic crib mattresses. I was trying to find something for my hisband and I and will definetly be heading over to the NYC store to check them out. As of recently I have been trying to find car seats and especially strollers free of flame retardants and I am having a really difficult time with it. So if anyone has any suggestions they would be greatly appreciated 🙂

  22. Hello, I love your posts!
    You said above that mattresses become DOUBLE the weight over time- yuck! Well, if that’s the case are you supposed to replace a mattress every 10 years? That would just not be cost-effective. Otherwise how do you keep the mattress clean and safe?

  23. Thanks so much for this article and all your hard work!
    If I’m not able to purchase an organic mattress, can you recommend mattress pads or anything like that to reduce chemical exposure? Would having an earthing sheet on my bed help with the EMF’s?
    Thanks again!

  24. I’m confused. If the coils are electromagnetic and harmful why is lying on a grounding matte beneficial?

  25. My husband and I switched over to a non toxic mattress about a month ago. Now we’re trying to figure out what to do about our couch. The cushions are made out of polyurethane foam which also has harmful flame-retardants, like Chlorinated Tris. I read that, “The chemicals are released as dust particles as the foam in the couch breaks down. We inhale the dust, and worse, our small children ingest it on their hands or on toys”

    Is this something that you’ve prioritized and made a switch on?

  26. I’m expecting a baby in March and Just purchased a 100 percent solid wood crib ( and made in the USA) from Green Cradle in sherman oaks, ca. You can also buy online. They are NOT cheap tho. Cribs are finished with linseed oil so no toxic paint either. They also sell organic baby mattresses and adult mattresses as well. It took me forever of researching to find. My next purchase will be an adult mattress for our room. Check out their website. A ton of info on there!!!!

  27. YES! our couch is now about killed by the kids… so we are looking into replacing it with a non-flame retardant one as well.

    The laws in CA have just changed…. and what I read before was that it was hard for manufacturers to make furniture for CA and furniture for the rest of the country. So they made everything fit CA’s 1975 law. NOW, YES! Our laws have changed. They just have to meet the standard WITHOUT necessarily using flame retardants. SO.. I assume that is also going to impact the rest of the country positively 🙂 Thanks Gov. Jerry Brown!

    Anyway, everything goes into effect Jan 2015… THIS is what we were waiting for before buying any new furniture. So, as a result, I kinda think more non-flame retardant couches will be available.. but it sure is hard trying to find out WHERE they will be available.
    and then, what’s the good ones?

    I assume… that a lot of these couches will be like these mattresses with latex cushions inside.
    sounds GREAT!

  28. oh yes! and one more thing…

    because of the law, you can ask the furniture seller if their couch, dining table chairs, coffee table, etc contains flame retardants. AND they should be clued in enough to be able to answer the question.

  29. can the mattress be used on any bed frame? I noticed the website showing the wood frames..wasn’t sure if that is what had to be used?

    • They mattresses come in standard sizes, so they can be used with any frame.

    • You cannot just pop it in a bed frame or on a boxspring. It needs to be on a structured, slatted wood foundation. Slats must be less than 3 inches apart, and inflexible. Any other surface will void essentia’s warranty.

  30. Hi Katie,

    I just want to say thank you SO much for everything that you do! You have helped our family to save so much money, and we are so grateful!

    Do you have any advice on the dangers of raw dairy? My fiance is hesitant to get raw dairy because of the risk of food born illness as a result of lack of pasteurization.

    Thanks again for everything!!!

    -Elle 🙂

  31. Hi Katie,

    I’m wondering how organic/natural mattresses prevent the accumulation of dust mites, mold & mildew? That sounds pretty scary to me and it seems like something “organic” wouldn’t necessarily be able to ward off just by its nature..like the mattress would have to be constructed differently to avoid this. I feel as though mold is a scarier thing to have in my mattress than some other chemicals. Any thoughts?

    Thank you!
    Rachel

    • I am getting a new mattress soon, I plan on putting a dust mite cover on it. Hopefully that will keep mites out before they get in. I don’t understand how an organic mattress is supposed to reduce it either.

    • Latex mattresses are inhospitable to dust mites. You just need the right type of foundation so it can breathe, and mildew won’t be a problem.

  32. Seven years ago when we moved into our home, we bought a brand new TempurPedic mattress. Within a year, my wife was bed bound. Three years after that, my health got bad enough where I coud no longer work at my office and needed to work from home. We have spent tens of thousands of dollars on our health and although we have improved, we are far from out of the woods.

    A couple of weeks ago, my wife stumbled upon how badly TempurPedic mattresses off-gas and how they are being sued for it. So we decided to try one night without it. I went from waking up with extreme heart palpitations and nausea everyday to waking up feeling better and ‘lighter’ in one night.

    After a week without it, we immediately called the mattress recyclers to come pick our mattress.

    Although I am not 100% sure it was the root cause of our problems, but I cannot believe how much better we felt after just one night without it.

  33. Wow… I only WISH I could spend that much money on a mattress. Trying to stay away from debt!

  34. the best mattress is no mattress. many people have perfectly good sleep without mattress. I too have been sleeping on a bed sans mattress for so many years and have perfectly good sleep. I use a wooden base and just cover with a thick rug and sheets. so easy to sun once a week and keep clean. mattresses tend to accumulate whatever the body is shedding and is difficult to keep clean and becomes allergenic in time because of accumulation of dust, phagocytes and their feces, etc. so for good health and sleep try to go mattress free. it will take some getting used to but is well worth the effort

  35. Would purchasing an organic blanket and/or comforter to put over your existing mattress be a cost-effective alternative until you can afford an organic mattress?

    • An organic blanket won’t stop the off-gassing of the fire retardant chemicals in your mattress.

  36. So I just ordered a mattress and just discovered that the mattress is only 8″ deep! It is recommended that the mattress be placed on slats but my bed would be so low to the ground it’d be silly… 3-4k for an 8″ mattress seems like an awful lot of money… Has anyone tried putting boards across an existing mattress and placing the essentia mattress on top?

    • I wouldn’t recommend putting boards across an existing mattress. Most organic/natural/latex beds are supposed to be placed on a slatted bed frame to allow for proper airflow to prevent mold from forming. It’s very common for latex mattresses to only be 6″-9″ deep. We purchased a 9″ organic latex mattress (not an Essentia – I commented about it above) and bought this bed frame to use with it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00081NKKI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00081NKKI&linkCode=as2&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=E3VG2FUUACCRQ5GR

      It’s taller than most platform bed frames which makes it about the height of traditional mattress, box-spring and frame. There is the added bonus of tons of storage underneath and it’s unfinished so you don’t have any harmful chemicals. We did have to add a few more slats to support the latex properly and two 4″x4″ pillars in the center since our king bed is so heavy. Hope this helps. 🙂

    • If you don’t use the right kind of foundation, it can sag, become damaged, and you will void your warranty. The type of foundation essentia requires is not expensive, and you can find it for $50-$300 depending on the size you need.

  37. Hello. 🙂

    We recently placed our order with White Lotus and can’t wait to receive the mattress. They have a nice showroom in NJ. Not sure if you ever heard of them. They make the mattresses by hand as well as pillows, bedding, and duvets. We purchased this mattress for our son who is transitioning to a full bed from a crib.

  38. Katie,
    I just purchased an Essentia mattress. I’m new to the organic bedding. Is it safe to use the existing box spring foundation from the mattress that I’m replacing? If not, do you have a recommendation. Thanks in advance.

    • That is what we did. From my understanding, most of the harmful components are in the mattress itself and not the box springs.

    • My understanding from essentia FAQs is that boxspring can damage the latex mattress. You need a slatted foundation with specific spacing between the slats.

    • A regular box spring is the wrong type of surface and using one can void your essentia warranty. Latex mattresses need a solid, breathable foundation to support them and prevent mildew, which is why essentia says to use a mattress foundation with wooden slats slaced less than 3 inches apart. They are inexpensive and necessary to protect your investment. Also, a traditional box spring would still subject you to emf radiation and be filled with dust mites.

      • I found this out and have since purchased the appropriate frame.

  39. Hi Katie!

    I am super interested in starting to switch over my families mattresses. My kiddos are in bad transitions so it’s kinda logical for us to start there. My little guy is moving to a toddler bed, and my middle is moving to a twin. Time flies!

    My question is… did you switch your entire family to essentia mattresses? Or did you find other companies that you liked for you kids? AND what were some things you did to help minimize the effects of old/conventional mattress while you saved and switched?

    Thanks so much! I love your blog! I am a dedicated squeezable remineralizing toothpaste user (healed cavities! looking for tooth info led me to your blog) and my new obsession is lotion bars! LOL! Thanks for all the work you do helping us crunchies find our way!

  40. Do you have any recommendations for an organic down or synthetic down comforter?
    Also what about sheets?

  41. Hello. I found your review to be very inspiring and I have been searching for an organic mattress. After seeing the price points, I quickly saw that we would have to save several months before purchasing. As I searched hopeful, I found a really good deal on an Organic Roots Mattress. I would love to know any experience anyone has had with this brand. THANKS!

  42. Katie,

    I am concerned about flame retardants in furniture like sofas etc. How concerned should I be? Know of any mainstream places that sell sofas and chairs, rockers, etc. to try? I know there are some specialty companies but there are none around me. I am hoping to get pregnant and am worried about how this will or will not effect things.

    • I was wondering the same thing. I found this site that claims they don’t use flame retardants on their sofas, but I don’t know anything about them. http://www.greensofas.com/

  43. I love love love my buckwheat pillows. I really want a buckwheat mattress, but felt uncomfortable with the twisted type . open your eyes bedding. Is anything wrong with filling an organic mattress cover with organic buckwheat and placing it on a platform. would it sink in
    I just cant get any info on this option. Please comment

  44. Hi Katie,

    Love your posts. Do you know about the intelliBed? How would you say it compares to the Essentia line up?

    • I haven’t tried one, but from what I’ve researched, they are a good option too.

      • Ok great. How about Keetsa? I’m really leaning this direction due to cost but would be curious to know your thoughts. It is memory foam but they say it’s non-toxic and certified by a 3rd party to be so. No coils. Just foam like Essentia but it’s still not 100% natural and the topper is a hemp/cotton blend. Not organic but again certified non-toxic. Thoughts??

  45. THANK YOU FOR THE PROMO CODE! …and, of course, the wonderful review and advice.

  46. Hi,
    My husband and I are considering purchasing an Essentia bed. He is a big guy – about 250 pounds. Any information as to whether there is a certain Essentia model that is better for larger people? I also read a review that said this bed might not be the right one for someone of that size. Any insight you can provide would be appreciated.
    Laura

  47. We’ve been shopping for organic mattresses for a month now. I never anticipated finding that many options. Thank you very much for taking the time to review your Essentia. They were actually on the top of my list because of their transparency like VOC testing! Now it’s just a matter of choosing the right one.

  48. Hi Katie! ? We can’t afford a new mattress but have read that the next best alternative is an organic futon. Could you please , please, please share with me any concerns regarding this. We are getting ready to make a purchase tomorrow. Thank k you sooooo much!!!!

    • I haven’t researched this much, but if you can find an organic futon, it should be a good option.

  49. Does anyone know of a place I can get an actual crib that is safely finished that won’t need to off gas?

  50. Katie,

    Can you recommend a good WATERPROOF mattress pad for our bed? I would like it to be organic and protect against dust mites, allergens, etc. My little one has eczema and sleeps in the bed with us. There are always a few mornings when his diaper leaks through and I need a mattress pad that is are for him, but that I can also through in the wash without it coming apart! If you have any suggestions please let me know 🙂

  51. Angela, when my kids were little, I put 2 mattress pads on the beds. That stopped most leaks. I looked for a high thread count. Very rarely did anything hit the mattress and when it did, it was minor and easily washed off with soap and water and dried with a towel. Back then, I had a regular washer with an agitator and used the gentle cycle to clean them and they held up pretty well. With one kid, I had 2 mattress pads and an old ratty one on the bottom layer. I figured that if anything ever hit layer 3, it was time to throw it out anyway. Nothing ever did. I can’t offer a brand name because when I stopped working to stay home with the kids, I bought pretty much everything on sale. I never was able to find a waterproof one that I liked so I ended up using this method instead.

  52. We are looking into the Naturepedic No-Compromise Organic 2-in-1 Cotton Ultra Children’s Mattress. Are you familiar with this mattress. Their website says they use 100% Organic cotton inside and out and PLA as a fire retardant and are Greenguard Certified. It is a more affordable option.
    Thanks,
    Shelley

  53. Hi Katie! First comment on your site here after following you for a couple of years. I really respect and trust your information, so I went ahead and purchased the Grateful bed from Essentia. I’ve had it for a couple of months. Struggling with autoimmunity myself, I’m super sensitive to scents of any nature. It emitted a terrible, headache ridden, congestive smell that’s been causing me to wake around 3 am. What I thought was the gas off from the rubber latex was actually FORMALDEHYDE! Essentias site does in fact state they use formaldehyde but I wish you mentioned it in your review! Really upsetting to find out after the fact. Going to try and cover it with a waterproof zippered vinyl cover so see if that helps or I’ll have to pay to get it sent back (if they let me since I’m past the 60 days).

    • Hey Stephanie….I work for united airlines and was going to fly from Houston to Chicago on Wednesday to check out the ESSENTIA bed…but after extensive search and finding your comments about FORMALDEHYDE in there product! OMG I am SO disappointed…because compared to other organic/green/safe mattresses that was the best price on a king bed and sounds comfy too…I was going to pay 4,750 for bed including the Z base (platform for mattress)…grand total …wanting to get out from under COILS in box springs I am on now etc..I searched around and that ..believe it or not..is best price for everything…includes white glove delivery …that is bed with 3″ memory foam …(ENERGIE OPUS)….so reading that bad news is really disappointing but glad I know now ! Thank you

      • @Trish, I’ll be writing up a follow-up post this week about the organic mattress we’re now using. Stay tuned!

      • Hi Trish!
        Yes, an unfortunate discovery and process. Essentia has a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission about their sneaky marketing. If you are looking for an organic mattress without coils, trying researching Sleeptek mattresses, said to be made from “organic latex, organic cotton AND organic wool.” They too have beds in stores throughout the U.S. However, I have not investigated further and have not seen one in person, but they were definitely one of my top options. Katie and other bloggers alike have purchased the intelliBED, which is extremely comfortable and a much better alternative than most mattresses as there are no harsh fire retardants/ formaldehyde, but it still has coils, and a “soy foam” in the center that is only 25% soy and 75% polyurethane (confirmed after calling the company), which is rather unfortunate since polyurethane off gases, even if at a low level. The company claims their VOC output is better than the air we breathe, but that was measured in a large, open air flowing warehouse. When the mattress is in a small room, like it was in mine, there is a definite odor to it. I deal with multiple chemical sensitivities, so I figured no matter which mattress I purchased, I would have to wrap it in an allerease (polyester/polyethelene only!) cover anyways. So in the end, I stuck with my intelliBED not wanting to go through the return process yet again, but also because it does offer a very comfortable sleep, a 30 year warranty, resistant to mold and beg bugs, and because I’m also sensitive to latex. I use an earthing sheet which definitely helps with EMFs, supports the circadian (I don’t use it if I’m trying to sleep past 6am because it definitely wakes me up!), and fights inflammation as I feel my body able the crack and shift in the morning. I hope all of this helps your journey to healthy sleep!

        Stephanie

  54. Hi,
    Is the only natural mattress alternative for someone with a latex allergy the cotton futon mattress? I am unsure how well a cover would prevent an allergic reaction, I have to leave most stores when trying out mattresses. Does anybody else have a latex allergy and use a natural mattress?
    Thank you!

  55. Katie, I love your posts! Thank you! Can you recommend an organic fitted mattress protector and/or pillow topper that sleeps cool?

  56. Hi Katie!

    We just purchased an Essentia king mattress, but are struggling to find sheets that fit and a bed frame that makes it high enough off the floor (currently using a metal adjustable one). Did you have issues with either of these things? I appreciate your feedback!

    • I never had those issues, but we’ve recently switched to the Intellibed which I’ll be writing about soon.

      • The intellibed is covered with polyurethane and the foam is also part polyurethane. Aren’t you worried about VOCs and petroleum?
        Best,
        Stephanie

        • Those were concerns I had, but after EXTENSIVE research and talking to the company, it’s not a concern any more. I’ll be writing a post on all the reasons why very soon 🙂

          • I’m trying the intellibed now, and don’t think I can bare the smell any longer so initiating a return. Looking forward to your review. Can I get a quick glimpse as to why you no longer view it as a concern? And any suggestions for those with multiple chemical sensitivities?

  57. I noticed that you have discountes for both essentia and intellibed. Which one did you purchase? I’m trying to buy a new bed for my child and having a hard time figuring out which one to go with. Any advice?

    • I’ve actually purchased both. Long story which I’ll be writing about soon, but we’re currently using the Intellibed.

  58. great I can’t wait for the post. I’ve also done some research on organic wool beds. any chance you might write about those as well. Would love to know your opinion on those as well.

  59. Hi,
    You said your kids are still happy on their thin organic mattresses. Intellibeds are definitely not in the budgets for my kids (or us for that matter) but I was wondering what mattresses you currently have for your children ? Thanks.

    • They have obasan mattresses. There are also some good organic wool mattresses available on ETsy and other places (though I’d still put a waterproof cover on)

  60. Anyone know anything about Coco-Mat mattresses?

  61. Hi Katie! I love this post…we need more of these out in internet-world! I recently did a blog that was similar, but showing the link to SIDS and off-gassing from conventional mattresses. I was truly shocked when I began researching the topic…and became an avid supporter of organic/natural mattresses! Thank you again for the post, and keep up the great work!

  62. you should look up intellibed. It’s the most toxin free mattress you can find on the market. I just ordered 2 for both of my kids. I am not affiliated with this company in any way.

  63. I’m disappointed. I noticed you get a commission when someone buys a mattress from your site. So many bloggers are caught up in these clever and deceptive marketing scams that these companies are promoting. Essentia was cited by the FTC because they were falsely advertising a product as organic when in fact it was full of chemicals. Intellibed is no better. I’m a Dr looking for a nontoxic mattress and am troubled by this trend. I was hoping this post would have been honest (maybe I missed your disclosure?) and accurate but I find it to be neither.

    My hope is that your readers will do some really good research so they can see for themselves that neither mattress you mentioned is safe or nontoxic. I would hate for someone with a weak immune system and/or chemical sensitivities to be harmed by taking this post at face value.

    I wish you well

    • I link to my affiliate disclosure in every post, which you can read here: https://wellnessmama.com/affiliate-disclosure/. Yes, I do make a commission IF someone purchases a mattress linked to from my site, but my policy has always been to ONLY recommend products that I personally use and would recommend to family and friends no matter if I’m an affiliate for the company or not. There are many products that I could link to in which I’d make much on the sale of, but again, I will ONLY promote those products that I personally use and feel strongly about. I wrote about my families personal mattress journey here: https://wellnessmama.com/61232/organic-mattress-intellibed/

      If you feel it’s a conflict of interest for me to earn a commission on items I promote on my blog, then I’d recommend you start your own blog, spend thousands of hours reading, researching, and writing about your findings, answer every comment, email, and social media inquiry, then spend thousands of dollars on products you’re testing out, website design, blog hosting, and email storage, and do it all for free. You might just change your mind. Since it sounds like you’ve already done quite a bit of research on the subject, you could probably help a lot of people by doing all this for free.

    • That’s your choice to do all of those things for free Katie. No one forced you to do any of those things. But you took on the social responsibility of being a trusted and respected blogger for the everday person looking for safe items. I should have done my own research, and unfortunately followed your essentia mattress recommendation about a year and a half ago and got extremely sick from it.. I developed severe chemical sensitivities after sleeping on that mattress for a month before realizing thats what it was. Thought no way it could be since your post and its claim to be organic.
      So I went to another bloggers suggestion about the intellibed.. another poor choice. Their non toxic “soy foam” is 80% polyurethane.. a well known carcinogen. Yet you stated NOTHING about that in your post when you decided to recommend that mattress instead. And if you knew essentia was full of chemicals at this point, why didnt you take down or edit the post?
      You’re letting alot of people down and contributing to illness. I probably wouldn’t have the sensitivities or thyroid issues I do now if this information was disclosed. Im not angry with you, but I certainly lost faith in your blog and your message. You can be the hero and turn these articles around. They’re all becoming exposed, and for the sake of your reputation, blog, and career being discredited, I’d seriously consider getting a head start on an updated post. Admitting you were wrong isnt failing, its a sign of strength. I hope you’ll consider this.

  64. You might look into http://www.diynaturalbedding.com.
    You can make your own mattresses by purchasing supplies or have them make it for you. I am in no way affiliated with them, but they seem to have very reasonably priced things from natural latex to organic wool and cotton. You could make your mattress, pillow and even sheets and mattress covers!

  65. My husband and I have an organic Lifekind mattress that is 15 years old. We liked the mattress, and it served us well. Except we recently discovered that it is wet underneath. Has anyone had this problem? The mattress is on a slatted wooden frame with plenty of breathing room. We live in Long Island, NY, which is humid, but we have AC in summer and use an additional heater in the bedroom in the winter. Could the cause be accumulated sweat that seeps into the mattress? Yuk. We’re throwing it out! I have MCS so opt for organic, but don’t want to spend the big bucks. Any feedback is appreciated!

  66. Has anyone purchased an Omi Organicpedic mattress? I’m seriously considering it. It’s expensive, but it APPEARS to be the most natural and non-toxic mattress I’ve found after days and days of research. Would love someone else’s opinion though before I buy…

  67. Hi Katie,

    Can you recommend a mattress pad cover? It seems like all of the waterproof ones have polyurethane whether they mention it in the ad or not. I’m getting an all cotton mattress topper and definitely need to protect it with something waterproof for my kids. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

    Thanks! Erin