When you think of the words ‘natural pillow’ or ‘organic pillow’, what type of pillow comes to your mind? You might be thinking of the usual suspects: cotton, wool, feathers, and down. All those are all fine and good, with their own associated pros and cons, but today we are going to introduce to three types of organic pillow fillings that you may not have heard of before: buckwheat hull pillows, kapok pillows, and latex pillows. We will discuss what they are and why they may or may not be suitable for your individual needs.
Kapok pillows are filled with kapok, which is known as ceiba pentandra is a tropical tree that is native to Mexico. During the right seasons, this tree (which can grow be as high as 60 meters with 3 meter wide trunks) drops its leaves and produces flowers. Should these flowers get pollinated, usually by bats, the result is a fluffy material that resembles cotton, which contains the seeds of the tree. This material is a soft fiber that is light brown in color, and is sometimes referred to as ‘silk cotton’. While the material resembles cotton visually (except the color of course), the feel of kapok is much closer to down, and is a good non-synthetic down equivalent pillow (since down pillows are the most expensive type of pillow).
So what should you know about kapok pillows? First is that they are very soft and fluffy. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the level of spinal and neck support that you need. Kapok pillows would definitely not make good neck pain pillows, for example. Just like down pillows, kapok pillows are not easily moldable so if you are the type that frequently changes sleeping positions during the night, kapok pillows may also not be the most comfortable for you. The main complaints when it comes to kapok pillows are the aforementioned lack of moldability as well as the development of lumps. However, one good thing about kapok pillows is that you can adjust the loft (the height of a pillow when it is flat on the mattress) of the pillow by adding and removing the kapok filling as necessary. If you are looking for a natural alternative to down or polyester pillows and you don’t mind a softer pillow, kapok pillows can be a good choice. Please note that they are highly flammable, so be careful if you’re a candle and incense-lighting hippie.
Buckwheat Hull Pillows
Buckwheat hulls are the hulls of buckwheat (obviously), but despite the word ‘wheat’ in their name, they are not wheat or any other type of grain, they are seeds. However, they are a wheat alternative, and buckwheat flour is a common gluten-free alternative to regular wheat flour. The hulls of these seeds are then used for buckwheat pillows.
First thing you should know is that buckwheat pillows are firm, in fact they are one of the firmest pillows there are, meaning that unlike kapok pillows, they make excellent neck pain pillows. However, despite being very firm, they are extremely moldable due to the rolling nature of the buckwheat hulls. This is also one of the drawbacks however; every time these pillows get remolded from your shifting weight, the rubbing of the hulls against each other creates a rustling sound, which while most people say they eventually get used to this noise, very light sleepers may find it impossible to sleep with a buckwheat hull pillow. Just like kapas, you can adjust the loft and size of the pillow by adding or substracting the buckwheat filling. Buckwheat pillows are also really heavy, and can weigh as much as 8 pounds.
First you should know that not all pillows marketed as ‘natural latex’ are 100% latex; regulations allow manufacturers to label pillows above a certain percentage of latex as ‘natural latex’ and many are actually memory foam latex blends, which is not surprising as both memory foam and latex have very similar properties. However, many people find latex to be far less moldable compared to memory foam and other types of pillows, particularly the pure latex loafs. Latex pillows are great if you sleep on your side. Check out these pillow guide for side sleepers if you are looking for the best side sleeper pillow. There are also shredded latex pillows which are far more moldable, much more breathable, and also adjustable as you can then adjust the amount of filling within the pillow (warning: this process can be very messy as you will find yourself dealing with many tiny rubber flakes). Another common complaint is that many latex pillows have a strong rubber odor that may bring up unpleasant sensory memories of the dentist’s chair.