Memory foam is certainly the most widely known foam in the mattress market, but it’s often confused with another alternative: reflex foam. They both have very varying qualities, but what actually is the difference? We’re going to talk you through it…
As mentioned before memory foam is extremely popular, but what are the technical details of it that make it so luxurious? Memory foam is comprised of millions of little holes that seep out air when pressure is applied. When air seeps out the foam moulds to the contours of your body, creating a soft and cosy feel.
Now, how is memory foam even made? In very (very) basic terms, it’s essentially certain alcohols and compounds mixed together with reacting agents. It’s whipped into a froth and placed in a mould, then a heat-releasing reaction causes it to bubble up and create foam. It’s then infused with gas or blowing agents, goes through various heating and cooling processes. Eventually, it’s washed and dried when the foam is no longer reactive.
You can probably read about the health risks associated with memory foam online, in which there are sources that talk about the use of benzene in the production process. Although not used in every memory foam mattress, it’s been proven to be carcinogenic to humans. Alongside this, often you’ll find with memory foam that it gives off a strange odour when you unpackage it. This chemical smell is also known as toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which do fade away over time but inhaling this can potentially lead to health risks.
Because of the chemicals used, the memory foam is quite insulating and you can become hot at night. And due to the extensive processes involved, the cost is passed onto the consumer.
Much like memory foam, reflex foam will move to the contours of your body. However it’s not made up of holes, it’s comprised of millions of little air bubbles that move to the side when pressure is applied. As the air bubbles are trying to return to their original form, it creates a firm support network that is moulded around your body.
Reflex is made from polyurethane foam and is a great option for people that prefer a firmer sleeping surface or are in need of greater back support. The foam gets its firmer feel due to being of a higher density in comparison to memory foam. On top of this, reflex foam is usually much cheaper than its memory foam counterpart.
So how is it actually made? Like memory foam, it goes through processes of chemical reactions to form the mattress. Chemicals created from organic compounds, polyol and diisocyanate, are what create polyurethane. When this reacts with water and other catalysts, it gives the viscous liquid a new consistency that can be cooled and moulded for mattresses.
Also a very resilient material, it will take several years for the bubbles to lose their ability to push back when pressure is applied.
This is a question that cannot really be answered, as it depends on your preference for support. For example, if you prefer softer support then you’re likely to be swayed towards memory foam. However, if you ‘sleep hot’ then the reflex foam might be a better avenue for you to go down. Generally, memory foam is going to give you a softer, warmer night’s sleep, whereas reflex foam will give you more of a firmer and cooler one. Although these are the general attributes of either foams, it’s still good practice to shop around and find the perfect mattress for you.
So there are the differences between memory and reflex foam. Did you know anything about reflex foam before? Or have you learnt a lot about memory foam? Let us know below!