If you've been looking for more eco-friendly options for furniture filling, you may have heard about soy foam. Soy foam and latex foam are considered as popular options for a more eco-friendly filling option on sofas and sectionals. However, you should know that soy foam is vastly different from latex foam and that furniture filling made from soy foam is not as eco-friendly as furniture manufacturers are claiming that they are.
In fact, only a small portion of the substances that make up soy foam are planted-based ingredients like soy. The rest of the material is simply chemicals, including the same chemicals that you’ve tried to avoid in the first place by shopping for eco-friendly furniture.
Given the fact that it is so difficult to find out what your furniture is made from these days, it’s important that we expose the truth about soy foam and why latex foam is a better option.
What Is Soy Foam?
Soy foam is one of the latest products being touted as a more eco-friendly option for furniture filling for sofas and sectionals. However, when it comes to soy foam, it's actually more accurate to simply call it 'polyurethane foam with a hint of soy.'
Polyurethane soy foam is made by combining chemical ingredients with just a small addition of soy. In fact, the manufacturing process for soy foam still follows the same basic steps that are used to make polyurethane foam. This translates to a product that has less than 20% soy as the total volume of the foam, which means that it really can’t be fairly described as soy-based.
What Are the Dangers of Soy Foam?
As you may have suspected, calling this substance ‘soy foam’ is purely for marketing purposes. It is done in order to convince people that they are in fact making a healthier, more eco-friendly choice for home furniture if they opt for ‘soy foam.’ In fact, there is no monitoring of these claims by any regulatory bodies.
This has lead many people to believe that soy foam sofas and sectionals are green or are more eco-friendly because they have been duped into thinking that soy foam is 100% soy. As a result, this is not only misleading, it could also be hazardous to your health as it is widely known that polyurethane foam contains harmful chemicals that have been linked to cancer, including toluene diisocyanate (TDI).
In addition to cancer, TDI is known to be irritating to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Given that soy foam off-gasses, people who buy furniture made from this product are at risk of being exposed to TDI via inhalation.
With many homes having poor indoor air quality, buying soy foam furniture will only contribute to the problem leading to respiratory systems of exposure, such as coughing, sneezing, wheezing, insomnia, and an asthma-like reaction that includes chest pain and difficulty breathing.
In addition, the flame retardant chemicals that are added to soy foam are just as harmful as the chemicals that are used to create the foam. Flame retardant chemicals evaporate (VOCs), polluting your indoor air and dust. Although these chemicals are added to reduce the chances that the foam will catch fire, polyurethane foam is still flammable.
Soy Foam Is Not Biodegradable
Due to the misleading claims that soy foam is natural and is mostly soy, many people also have been tricked into believing that soy foam is biodegradable. Soy foam is not biodegradable. In fact, it ends up in landfills and leeches in the soil and water just like traditional polyurethane foam does. In addition, since soy foam is made from petroleum, there are also the added environmental consequences of using fossil fuels in order to create furniture filling.
Natural Latex Is a Safer and Truly Eco-Friendly Furniture Filling Option
Natural latex is a better option for furniture filling because it comes from a renewable resource, unlike soy foam which utilizes petroleum, a fossil fuel, in its manufacturing process. Natural latex is obtained from the sap of the rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis). In addition, the latex used to make latex foam can be harvested without killing the tree. Natural latex foam is also recyclable and biodegradable so it's more sustainable. A natural latex mattress is also better for a supportive and healthy sleep.
In addition, the manufacturing process for latex foam also ensures that there aren't dangerous chemicals being included in your furniture that you don't know about. Finally, you will also be pleased to know that natural latex is not highly flammable and does not require the addition of fire retardant chemicals. It does little to no off-gassing, which means that the indoor air quality of your home will not be affected if you opt for latex foam as your furniture filling. It is also mold, dust mite, and mildew resistant.
Therefore, if you want a fully natural material for your furniture, latex foam is a better option because it is made from all-natural materials, is healthy, and is truly eco-friendly. Now that you know what soy foam really is, you can see that latex foam is a much better option for eco-friendly furniture for your home.