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off gassing & adhesives 06 Jun 2021 11:39 #1

I'm trying to find an affordable, softer mattress (I'm petite, under 120 lbs, and need pressure point relief) that has the least to zero amount of detectable off gassing or "new mattress smell," because I'm really sensitive to smells. I've been contacting companies to ask about what materials make up their mattresses, but I've specifically been asking about the foam and fire barrier components. I feel like this is a hit or miss, though, because in my experience not all new mattresses come with a smell. I had a memory foam topper by Sealy that was supposed to be CertiPUR but it had a very strong chemical odor that would not go away. I purchased a mattress with 75% foam that had absolutely no smell but it was rock hard. And then I got a second mattress that may or may not have foam in it, but it came with an odor that is still there several weeks later.

So now I'm wondering about adhesives/glues. I've read that new mattresses can have a "new mattress smell" from the manufacturing process, but that sounds very vague. I don't know what that applies to, and I assume it would depend on the exact process used and probably varies from company to company. After a bit more research, I read that some adhesives/glues used to put mattresses together can have a smell. I read that water-based solvents are safer than ones with chemicals and supposedly don't come with a smell/odor. So now I'm wondering, is it okay/reasonable to ask a company what kind of adhesives/glues are used in their mattresses? And since I can't seem to depend on whether or not foam would smell to me, would looking into the adhesives/glues used be more helpful in figuring out whether or not a mattress might come with an odor? Is there anything else I could do to help determine this? I can't afford top-of-the-line natural/organic mattresses, like My Green Mattress, as my budget is really more in the $300-$400 range.

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Last edit: by TiredGirl.

off gassing & adhesives 08 Jun 2021 20:17 #2

Hi TiredGirl,

I'm trying to find an affordable, softer mattress (I'm petite, under 120 lbs, and need pressure point relief) that has the least to zero amount of detectable off gassing or "new mattress smell," because I'm really sensitive to smells. I've been contacting companies to ask about what materials make up their mattresses, but I've specifically been asking about the foam and fire barrier components. I feel like this is a hit or miss, though, because in my experience not all new mattresses come with a smell.

Typically every mattress in the industry contains some type of "chemicals" and that even pure water is a chemical. All mattresses have some sort of VOC, not all VOCs have odors, and not all odors are VOCs. Some people are more sensitive to smells than others. Memory foam tends to smell more than poly foam, etc. The issue that I would focus more on is safety which depends on the specific chemicals and the amount of each chemical (safety is dosage related) and the only way to identify any safety issues would be based on the lab testing and certifications for the materials and components in the mattress or the mattress as a whole. This is to say that you are on the right track by enquiring about the foam quality and fire barrier and asking for certifications. Smell sensitivity can be both a blessing and a curse. The smell of material isn't an indication of its safety and there are many foam materials that have an initial odor (e.g. latex and wool) that would be safe regardless of their initial smell.

So now I'm wondering about adhesives/glues. I've read that new mattresses can have a "new mattress smell" from the manufacturing process, but that sounds very vague. I don't know what that applies to, and I assume it would depend on the exact process used and probably varies from company to company. After a bit more research, I read that some adhesives/glues used to put mattresses together can have a smell.

"Latex-based" adhesives are basically water-based adhesives (like latex paints) that incorporate various types of elastomers (including but not limited to natural or synthetic latex) in different quantities as opposed to adhesives that use solvents (rather than water) and which often have higher levels of VOC's.. I'm not familiar with all types of adhesives but if it's a water-based adhesive then it wouldn't be something that would concern me.

While you are correct that it all depends on the manufacturing process, chemical formula, and the ingredients used in the adhesives and foams, I would make a clearer distinction between off-gassing (resulting in higher levels of VOCs) and the “new material smell”
Off-gassing - is the unpleasant chemical odor that is emitted by many memory foam mattresses, especially when new. Not only does the off-gassing smell is overpowering, but health-wise you might be concerned about breathing in these chemicals when sleeping.
There is more about the odor of new materials in post #3 here that may be helpful.

So now I'm wondering, is it okay/reasonable to ask a company what kind of adhesives/glues are used in their mattresses? And since I can't seem to depend on whether or not foam would smell to me, would looking into the adhesives/glues used be more helpful in figuring out whether or not a mattress might come with an odor? Is there anything else I could do to help determine this?

It is not only reasonable but very important for prospective buyers to ask questions about a mattress and components if they have ANY concerns.
If the foam/mattress/pocket coil uses a water-based adhesive then I wouldn't be concerned in terms of safety although it may come with a slight odor that will usually dissipate. However, the odor coming from chemical adhesives or from foams/rubber can overlap, and may be difficult to pinpoint the odor source. The smell intensity (when perceived) is also subject to the individual's sensitivity to odors, and it varies by how much the foam or latex has been aired out. Memory foam or polyurethane will have an odor for much longer, while with latex, generally, the odor fades out to the point that it is not noticeable. There is more about the smell of latex in post #2 here but in most cases, it is reduced to levels below what people will notice in a few days to a few weeks but this can also depend on how acute your sense of smell is and on how sensitive you are to a particular smell.

I can't afford top-of-the-line natural/organic mattresses, like My Green Mattress, as my budget is really more in the $300-$400 range.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a good mattress with a natural or organic lean within your budget range but you may be able to get a hybrid mattress with a latex layer on top of the pocket spring that has minimal to no odor (depending on your sensitivity level) and the least amount of VOCs

You did not mention what size bed you need for but it is possible to find something like this Linen spa 10” hybrid latex poly mattress provided that you contact them to find about the adhesives they use, and check that the foams used have safety certifications, and also explain your odor concerns. In your case, I would stay away from memory foam within the mattress.
While a little more than your budget range I would certainly look into something like the Pure Green Organic Mattress from one of our Trusted members of the site which are accepted or invited to The Mattress Underground only after a rigorous vetting process. I would even consider getting 3 layers of latex from them as a DIY unit.

You can also look into building your own DIY mattress from Arizona Pr Mattress , Ken from Arizona Premium is one of our forum experts who has mattress components that fit your criteria in terms of natural lean and budget. I’d reach out to Ken for guidance to build a customized DIY according to your specific needs and preferences.

Let us know of your eventual decisions and additional questions as you move forward
Phoenix
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off gassing & adhesives 09 Jun 2021 15:06 #3

Thank you so much for your detailed reply. That really helps quite bit, so thank you for taking the time to explain all of those things. I appreciate it. :)

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off gassing & adhesives 11 Jun 2021 13:47 #4

Hi TiredGirl.

You are most welcome! :)

Phoenix
Researching for a mattress?... Be sure to read The Mattress Shopping Tutorial.
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off gassing & adhesives 13 Jun 2021 10:23 #5

I have tried two mattresses with memory foam and both had off gassing. One was made overseas and distributed by a well known maker. It smelled terrible! Even after 2 months with countless airings, it was awful. My hair used to have the smell as did my nightgown. While it was CertiPur certified, I doubt they tested that particular vat of poly foam! The second bed was made in the US. The adhesives were water based. It had a much less objectionable smell, but even after 2 months I could still smell it and again, my hair used to smell like it when I'd get up! I've decided I'm just very sensitive to the smell of memory foam so got a do it yourself latex from one of the trusted members. While at first it had a very strong smell...a mixture of oranges (in the dunlop layers) and vanilla (in the Talalay layers), I left the cover open, all the windows in the room open and a fan blowing on it. That night I zipped it up, put my mattress protector, etc on. It was great. The smell was very faint, but I really didn't notice it unless I put my face right into the mattress. And no smelly hair! I think I'm sold on latex. Just my experience. Hope it helps.

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