How Are Horsehair Mattresses Made

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Should I buy a horsehair mattress?

Q. Dear Umbra,

I need to buy new mattresses. Which are environmentally better: foam (100 percent plastic), latex (assuming plant origin, not petrochemical), or horsehair and springs (I’m certain the horses did not surrender their hair willingly)? Please advise!

Caroline F.
United Kingdom

A. Dearest Caroline,

I firmly believe one’s bed should be a true getaway, a peaceful place to escape from the world and lose oneself in happy dreams. It’s no place for worries about toxic chemicals, non-renewable resources, animal cruelty, or king-size environmental footprints. So if you’re in the market for mattresses, choosing the eco-friendliest one you can is a great way to go. Let’s line up the options and give them a good bounce — I don’t want you to lose any sleep over this decision.

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Polyurethane foam is very common in the mattress world; it’s found in straight-up foam mattresses, memory foam (aka viscoelastic foam, a high-density polyurethane) mattresses, and sandwiched into innerspring models that also contain nylon, polyester, and steel springs. You note one problem with the stuff already, Caroline — it’s (nonrenewable, petroleum-based) plastic. Another issue with PU foams is that they off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which loyal readers will recognize as vile chemicals that can cause everything from headaches to cancer.

On top of that, there’s the flame retardant issue. Here in the States, we are customarily offered beds, furniture, and plenty of other household items legally soaked in dangerous chemicals to keep them from going up like torches in the event of a house fire. These chemicals have terrible effects on our health. There has been good news on this front lately: The worst of them have been phased out of production, and new regulations that went into effect last year let furniture makers skip some flame retardants. But older foam mattresses (pre-2007) might have them, and baby mattresses are even more likely to be treated. Doesn’t exactly make for sweet dreams, does it?

For all these reasons, foam mattresses aren’t going to win any green contests. If you do end up with one, letting it air out on a deck or in a garage for several days will reduce the VOC problem. And did you know that it’s possible to obtain a flame retardant-free mattress legally — with a doctor’s note? The things I learn writing this column.

So on to your next suggestion: latex, which can be made synthetically or from the sap of rubber trees. The natural variety is indeed a renewable resource, and it’s flame-resistant by nature, so it often comes without the chemical cocktail (with these, manufacturers can comply with fire-safety laws by including a wool layer — another naturally fire-resistant material). That makes them a better choice, but be aware that most of these mattresses are made from a blend of natural and petro-style latex for durability.

This brings us to the other (bedroom) suite of natural mattress-stuffers: horsehair, wool, and cotton. You don’t hear much about horsehair mattresses (at least, not on this side of the pond) because they’re often extremely expensive — we’re talking $10,000 up to $80,000. In fact, let’s not even get into where the horsehair comes from (OK, slaughterhouses, most likely): If you are even considering buying one of these, I implore you, purchase one of the other two all-natural options instead and donate the rest of that cash to your environmental nonprofit of choice. You’ll sleep better at night, I promise.

May I point you to wool and cotton instead? Wool mattresses are favored among the green set because they’re renewable and, as we discussed, naturally flame-resistant. Go for brands that come from organically raised, humanely treated sheep for extra bona fides (look for California-produced PureGrow Wool). Likewise, cotton mattresses are plant-based (and often get their flame resistance from a wool wrap); go for organic cotton to minimize the impact of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. The downside of these natural options? They ain’t cheap (though they aren’t horsehair-level extravagant).

No matter which stuffer you choose, look for a quality, durable mattress that will last — the longer its life, the smaller the overall impact of your sleeping habits. And as for the mattresses you’re replacing, Caroline? Do consider finding a recycling facility for them. Many of a mattress’s components can (and should) be made into fresh new items. Then treat yourself to a nap on that new bed. All this comparison shopping can be exhausting.

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How are horsehair mattresses made

Hand-Filled Mattresses

Charles H. Beckley Inc. has specialized in making custom horse hair mattresses for over 80 years and we pride ourselves on the level of quality, comfort, support, and longevity that we offer with all of our products. Our mattresses are proven to last you a minumum of 10 years, and even up to 25-30 years when properly cared for.

We make one of the last remaining ‘flippable’ mattresses available on today’s market, which allows for the most important part of caring for your mattress; we recommend flipping every 3-4 months. Flipping your mattress gives you a fresh sleep surface, similar to fluffing your pillow in the middle of the night. Most importantly, it helps the filling materials stay evenly distributed and wear properly to add longevity to your mattress.

Organic

We use the highest quality woven natural
cotton ticking to cover all of our mattresses

Ticking Color Choices Currently Available-

BRISTOL

The “Bristol” is by far our top selling and most popular mattress model. It follows our ideal and original design for mattresses, the mixture of 70% natural hair and 30% cotton. This is our most proven mattress which has kept us in business for over 80 years.

ASHTON

A bit softer on the surface against the body, the “Ashton” is great for children’s beds as well as anyone who is looking for an alternative to the hair. The filling ratio consists of 85% cotton and 15% dacron.

The “York” is filled with 60% polyester curled hair to replace the natural hair of the “Bristol”, and 40% cotton. We recommend this model for anyone who has heavy allergies as the polyester hair emulates the feel of the natural hair while eliminating any possible allergens.

LAMB’S WOOL

Our 100% Organic lamb’s wool is a great alternative to our other natural fillings, as it is designed to be slightly softer than the hair. We pair this mattress with our organic cotton ticking for the softest and most luxurious feel we can offer. This mattress is filled with 60% lamb’s wool and 40% cotton felt.

LATEX

Available in many firmnesses and variations, our Talalay latex can be cut to any width, length, or height; not to mention angles and other extremely custom shapes. We use latex regularly for mattresses made to fit boat cabin beds. With proper templates, we can outfit an entire yacht or boat of any size. Latex is also available in a 100% natural variation.

A less expensive alternative to Latex, our foam cores can also be chosen in many variations and cut to any size. We use foam cores for many low profile window seat and bench cushions as well as some of our upholstered daybed mattresses; and of course upon specific request.

Most of our models, with the exception of latex and foam, use an innerspring unit as the core
of the mattress, which offers your body the support it needs for a good night’s sleep.

We offer three firmnesses of innersprings: Medium, Firm, & Extra-Firm

How They Are Hand-Made.

Charles H. Beckley Inc. D&D Building 979 Third Avenue, Suite 911, New York, NY 10022

Copyright 2012.Charles H. Beckley. All Rights Reserved.

Why We Use Horsehair

Glencraft has been using natural fibres since we were founded in 1843. Nature has an incredible way of providing us with the natural fibres that help keep us warm when it is cold and cool when it’s hot.

Choosing a mattress that utilises horsehair within it’s layering, will help create a micro-climate within your mattress. But getting horsehair to the point that it is ready to help create the ultimate nights sleep, starts long before your mattress is hand delivered to your door.

The starting point for creating a horsehair mattress is processing the raw material into a rope. The hair comes in loose and the longer and thicker the fibres are, the better the quality.

This is because the more twists you can get into the product means, that when we un-twist it, the more curls we have in the layers of horsehair. What we’re trying to do is create as much spring in a mattress as possible.

People talk about pocket spring count a lot. Pocket springs are off course hugely important, especially for stopping you rolling into the middle of the bed.

But the way we process horsehair, results in a natural fibre, that acts as millions of individual springs across the mattress. But to do this we need to take raw, loose, material and form it into a rope.

First the horsehair is washed. It then goes through an electro magnetic process to remove any contaminates or impurities, before it’s fed into the hopper. Before twisting the material into rope, the horsehair is long and flat. If we put that straight into a mattress it’s not going to create and resilience, or any of the spring that we’re looking for. So we have to put that spring into the fibre and we do that by spinning it into a rope.

The horsehair is then manually fed in to the hopper. The fibres then start to feed through the rollers and at this point they are worked and weighted. The hopper feeds in a set amount of air to start to evenly feed the fibres through to the rollers where they begin to open up the fibres. As the rope begins to form, the weight and tension helps it become very tight. We then begin spinning the rope. The more twists and curls that we can put into the rope means that when we open it back up the more spring we will get in the horsehair and ultimately the mattress.

Each rope weights about 25kgs after 10 – 15mins of spinning. But were not finished yet, we need to give the rope a memory to make these curls and springs permanent. To do this we heat the rope, which changes the form of the horsehair, and means it retain it’s spring once we open it back up. Now the horsehair is ready to be used in our luxury mattresses. We begin by feeding the rope into a machine which untwists it and circulates it inside a hopper with air. The difference now is that instead of a flat fibre, we now have a material that is curled and very springy.

So why do we go to these lengths to put horsehair into your mattress?Well, moisture is a big part of it. Horsehair, unlike many other materials used across the mattress industry, doesn’t absorb any water. Our horsehair mattresses will actually wick the moisture away from the bed where a standard foam bed will absorb it like a sponge. From a comfort perspective, our luxury mattresses are like nothing else you will find. It provides an entirely elevated level of support and comfort while controlling the temperature like no other fabric.

How are horsehair mattresses made

Hastens Vividus
Every Vividus is unique. Each one takes 140-160 hours to build, and is made entirely by hand using only the finest natural materials. A true .

Hastens Continental
The Continental Beds product line is a collection of mattresses that is manufactured by Hastens.

Hastens Adjustable
The Adjustable Beds product line is a collection of mattresses that is manufactured by Hastens.

Hastens Frame
The Frame Beds product line is a collection of mattresses that is manufactured by Hastens.

Brands Making Mattresses Made With Horse Hair:

BrandSupport TypeTagsPriceReviews
Hastens Vividus
Every Vividus is unique. Each one takes 140-160 hours to build, and is made entirely by hand using only the finest natural materials. A true .
InnerspringCoil on Coil, Cotton Filling, Custom Made, Made in Europe, Hand Crafted, Horse Hair, Innerspring, Natural Materials, Pocketed Coils, Wool Filling6 $4,000)’ title=’Ultra-Luxury (>$4,000)’>$$$$$+0
Hastens ContinentalInnerspringCoil on Coil, Cotton Filling, Custom Made, Made in Europe, Hand Crafted, Horse Hair, Innerspring, Natural Materials, Pocketed Coils, Wool Filling6 $4,000)’ title=’Ultra-Luxury (>$4,000)’>$$$$$+3.80645161290323
( 31 ratings + 1 review )
Hastens AdjustableInnerspringCoil on Coil, Cotton Filling, Custom Made, Made in Europe, Hand Crafted, Horse Hair, Innerspring, Natural Materials, Pocketed Coils, Wool Filling6 $4,000)’ title=’Ultra-Luxury (>$4,000)’>$$$$$+0
Hastens FrameInnerspringCoil on Coil, Cotton Filling, Custom Made, Made in Europe, Hand Crafted, Horse Hair, Innerspring, Natural Materials, Pocketed Coils, Wool Filling6 $4,000)’ title=’Ultra-Luxury (>$4,000)’>$$$$$+3.71428571428571
( 7 ratings + 1 review )

Available Models Horse Hair

ModelLineBrand
Hastens LuxuriaHastens ContinentalHastens
Vispring OxfordVispring
Hastens 2000T IIHastens ContinentalHastens
Hastens ProferiaHastens ContinentalHastens
Vispring EliteVispring
Hastens 2000THastens ContinentalHastens
Hastens Superia IIHastens FrameHastens
Hastens LenoriaHastens AdjustableHastens
Hypnos Alexandra FirmHypnos
Hypnos Crystal PillowtopHypnos

See all available Horse Hair models →

Stores

RetailerCityStateBrandsReviews
Denver MattressAustinTX5.0
( 11 ratings + 7 reviews )
Denver MattressTylerTX4.88888888888889
( 18 ratings + 6 reviews )
Denver MattressLubbockTX5.0
( 11 ratings + 5 reviews )
Denver MattressBoiseID4.71428571428571
( 14 ratings + 5 reviews )
Denver MattressFlorenceKY4.875
( 16 ratings + 4 reviews )
Denver MattressNorth Little RockAR4.85714285714286
( 7 ratings + 4 reviews )
Denver MattressAlbuquerqueNM4.85714285714286
( 7 ratings + 4 reviews )
Denver MattressSpringfieldMO4.8
( 10 ratings + 4 reviews )
Denver MattressShermanTX4.77777777777778
( 9 ratings + 4 reviews )
Denver MattressFort WayneIN5.0
( 9 ratings + 3 reviews )

Find more stores carrying mattresses made with horse hair →

Q&A Horse Hair

Questions

“Are horsehair mattresses washable?”

Reviews

Mattresses made with horse hair are recommended by % of owners on GoodBed (based on5 reviews). Do you have something to say about your mattress? Write a review!

Review Summary

Based on 5 reviews

Overall Rating:
Recommended by:% of owners on GoodBed (based on5 reviews)

  • Comfort
  • Support
  • Durability
  • Value

“Hastens Superia II – 437041 (Heavenly)”

  • The Superia IImodelfrom the Hastens Frame line by Hastens

“Vispring Oxford – 357978 (Well constructed, luxury mattress with some issues)”

  • The Oxfordmodelby Vispring

“Vispring Elite – 263483 (What A Bummer!)”

  • The Elitemodelby Vispring

“Hastens Luxuria – 182556 (Deepest en best sleeps ever)”

  • The Luxuriamodelfrom the Hastens Continental line by Hastens

“Hypnos Alexandra Firm – 164682 (Perfect in every way so far)”

  • The Alexandra Firmmodelby Hypnos

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Horsehair in a luxury mattress

If you are not familiar with the use of natural fibres and specifically horsehair in a mattress then I think you are going to find this blog really interesting.

Glencraft has been using natural fibres since we were founded in 1843. Nature has an incredible way of providing us with the natural fibres that help keep us warm when it is cold and cool when it’s hot. Choosing a mattress that utilises horsehair within it’s layering, will help create a micro-climate within your mattress. But getting horsehair to the point that it is ready to help create the ultimate nights sleep, starts long before your mattress is hand delivered to your door.

Do you want to see how this is done? View the video here

The starting point for creating a horsehair mattress is processing the raw material into a rope. The hair comes in loose and the longer and thicker the fibres are, the better the quality. This is because the more twists you can get into the product means, that when we un twist it, the more curls we have in the layers of horsehair. What we’re trying to do is create as much spring in a mattress as possible.

People talk about pocket spring count a lot. Pocket springs are off course hugely important, especially for stopping you rolling into the middle of the bed. But the way we process horsehair, results in a natural fibre, that acts as millions of individual springs across the mattress. But to do this we need to take raw, loose, material and form it into a rope.

First the horsehair is washed. It then goes through an electro magnetic process to remove any contaminates or impurities, before it’s fed into the hopper. Before twisting the material into rope, the horsehair is long and flat.

If we put that straight into a mattress it’s not going to create and resilience, or any of the spring that we’re looking for. So we have to put that spring into the fibre and we do that by spinning it into a rope.

First, the horsehair is manually fed in to the hopper. The fibres then start to feed through the rollers and at this point they are worked and weighted. The hopper feeds in a set amount of air to start to evenly feed the fibres through to the rollers where they begin to open up the fibres. As the rope begins to form, the weight and tension helps it become very tight. We then begin spinning the rope. The more twists and curls that we can put into the rope means that when we open it back up the more spring we will get in the horsehair and ultimately the mattress. Each rope weights about 25kgs after 10 – 15mins of spinning.

But were not finished yet, we need to give the rope a memory to make these curls and springs permanent. To do this we heat the rope, which changes the form of the horsehair, and means it retain it’s spring once we open it back up. Now the horsehair is ready to be used in our luxury mattresses. We begin by feeding the rope into a machine which untwists it and circulates it inside a hopper with air. The difference now is that instead of a flat fibre, we now have a material that is curled and very springy.

So why do we go to these lengths to put horsehair into your mattress: Well, moisture is a big part of it. Horsehair, unlike many other materials used across the mattress industry, doesn’t absorb any water. Our horsehair mattresses will actually wick the moisture away from the bed where a standard foam bed will absorb it like a sponge.

Do you want to see how this is done? View the video here

From a comfort perspective, our luxury mattresses are like nothing else you will find. It provides an entirely elevated level of support and comfort while controlling the temperature like no other fabric.

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