In 2007, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a directive that all mattresses must contain some form of fire retardant to ensure beds can withstand exposure to fire. The reason behind this directive was an alarming increase in home fire incidents that were directly related to mattresses.
Most mattresses are made using highly flammable materials. If a flame from a candle or cigarette were to come into contact with such, it is very easy for a fire to break out. However, with a flame retardant in place, it should extinguish the fire or slow down the intensity, thus giving you time to vacate the premises or control the situation safely.
So, does that mean all mattresses contain a flame retardant? Yes. All mattress brands are required by law to pass the flammability test, and the only thing that can help with that is the use of a fire retardant. This regulation usually makes it impossible for you to find a flame retardant-free mattress. However, there are exceptions.
If you are allergic to certain bedding materials, you can get a flame retardant-free mattress such as the Earthsake vegan prescription organic mattress with a doctor’s prescription. This bed contains no chemicals nor fire retardants. It only contains US-grown organic cotton. The other option is to ship one from a country that doesn’t have these regulations. Even if you do, there is a possibility it won’t bypass Customs.
Reasons Why You May Be Interested in a Flame Retardant-Free Mattress
The main reason why many people are looking for flame-retardant-free mattresses is the side effects of the chemicals or synthetic materials used as flame retardants. All synthetic flame retardants are unsafe. Even if they are covered in a safer fabric, as long as it is packaged inside the bed, there is always the risk of it making contact with your body.
It is this fear of the adverse side effects of flame retardants that many people are looking for beds that do not contain this feature.
As mentioned above, there are no flame-retardant-free mattresses because of the regulations enforced by the government. Before a brand introduces or sends a mattress to the market, it must pass the flammability test. Therefore, there must be a flame retardant in the bed, or it won’t be available to consumers. And, if caught, that mattress brand can face closure or hefty fines.
Be as it may, we must address the primary concern, which is why you could be interested in a flame retardant-free mattress? There have been many discussions both on and offline regarding the impacts of toxic chemicals in beds. Consumer experiences with fire retardants such as fiberglass have created worry and confusion.
Why are Flame Retardants Compulsory in Beds?
You are wondering why the government would enforce such a directive that all mattresses should have fire retardants. Well, it all narrows to the importance of practicing fire safety. The materials used to make mattresses, a good example, is foam. These tend to be highly flammable. If it catches a flame, the entire house can be engulfed in fire.
Fire retardants prevent that from happening. By using their fire-resisting features, fire retardants slow down the intensity of the fire. The way most fire retardants are formulated, they have fire-extinguishing properties.
Besides being a requirement for mattress brands, fire retardants keep you safe when you are sleeping on the mattress. This is why they are compulsory. You shouldn’t even think about sleeping on a bed without a fire retardant. Picture what would happen if a fire breaks out, and your mattress doesn’t have any form of fire resistance?
Understandably, you may be concerned about the side effects of chemical fire retardants. But, most people aren’t aware that there are plenty of mattress brands that incorporate natural flame retardants that are effective at preventing fires but still very safe, instead of looking for fire retardant-free mattresses that you won’t even find in the first place. Organic beds that only use natural flame retardants keep you safe from fires, and you don’t have to worry about the side effects of sleeping on chemicals or unsafe fire retardants.
What Options Do I Have?
Now that you understand that mattresses must have a fire retardant. What action should you take next? Your best option are Organic mattresses that contain natural fire retardants. Sleeping on a bed without a fire retardant is risky, and you won’t even find one from reputable stores. What you can find is a mattress that is made using natural fire retardants, which are safer and have zero toxins.
Why Do Mattresses have Toxic Fire Retardants?
Compared to their natural counterparts, synthetic fire retardants are more popular. But why would a brand use synthetic fire retardants yet they are well aware of the side effects? It’s because they are cheaper. Fire retardants synthesized and formulated in a lab or factory cost way less than growing natural options such as wool or cotton.
- The goal of mattress brands is to make profits. One of the ways they can achieve that is by using inexpensive materials. Chemical fire retardants are very cheap, so they are more common in low-quality beds with a significantly lower price tag.
- Other than being cheap, the other people we can blame for the use of toxic fire retardants are the authorities who came up with these measures in the first place. The government only recommended that beds feature a fire retardant. They were not specific on which types of retardants should or shouldn’t be used. Manufacturers took this opportunity and began using the cheapest chemicals they could find without minding the impacts on sleepers and the environment.
Synthetic vs. Natural Flame Retardants
The war between synthetic and natural flame retardants has been going on for a while now. Those who are aware of the side effects of synthetic fire retardants are leaning more towards their natural counterparts as they are safer. Below, we will compare natural flame retardants against synthetic so that you can know which materials fall under each category.
Let’s Start with Synthetic Flame Retardants
These are the most commonly used fire retardants. They are affordable, durable, and effective at protecting beds against fire. The problem is that they contain toxins that might be harmful to the body and environment. Here are the most commonly used synthetic flame retardants;
- Fiberglass – It is one of the most inexpensive fire retardants available. When a mattress is covered with glass fibers, the fiberglass melts instead of going up in flames when it catches fire. This material is very effective at doing its job. The only problem is that fiberglass can irritate the skin and body. To get rid of fiberglass, You can check the best fiberglass free mattress here.
- PBDEs – Known in full as Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, these are some of the earliest flame retardants used in beds. Despite being useful at resisting fires, PBDEs are very toxic, and when they get into your skin, they stay there for years damaging your body tissues.
- Boric Acid – This popular roach killer also doubles as a fire retardant. This acid is very toxic, and when it gets absorbed into your skin, boric acid can cause cardiovascular and kidney damage.
Other synthetic flame retardants include Antimony Trioxide, Deca, Vinylidene Chloride, and Melamine.
Natural Flame Retardants
Instead of looking for a non-existent flame retardant-free mattress, you can always choose one with natural flame retardants. Below are examples of organic flame retardants that contain no chemicals or toxins.
- Wool – At the top of our list is this natural material obtained from animals. Wool is 100% safe and is an excellent fire retardant. It comprises of a lot of moisture which will extinguish fire should the bed catch a flame. Wool fibers are often packed together, and this limits the amount of oxygen trapped in between. This also makes fires less intense.
- Natural Latex – Obtained from the sap of rubber trees, latex is another excellent natural flame retardant. Latex can also be synthesized. Make sure that you confirm whether it is natural first.
- Organic cotton – You will find this flame retardant in organic beds. Organic cotton is grown and processed through sustainable means. As a result, it is free of toxins and chemicals. Plus, it is effective at extinguishing fires.
There is another safer flame retardant option known as Rayon. This is a regenerated cellulose fiber that is bonded to silica. The production process entails alteration of cellulose fibers, and it is therefore not 100% natural. However, compared to boric acid, fiberglass, and PBDEs, Rayon is safer and affordable. A lot of manufacturers today opt to use Rayon instead of chemical flame retardants.
Finding a flame retardant free-mattress in a market governed by strict fire safety laws will be difficult, not unless you have a doctor’s prescription explaining how allergic you are to certain mattress bedding materials. All brands nowadays include a flame retardant in their beds. The thing about this regulation is that it protects both manufacturers and sleepers. As a sleeper, you get to enjoy peace of mind knowing that even if your bed catches fire, you will be protected. The problem is that most flame retardants are chemically synthesized. There are, however, safer flame retardants that are made using natural materials.