Memory Foam - What is it?

Curious about memory foam?

You know that that stuff inside pretty much every mattress and pillow these days. That inner filler that props up our heads, contours to our bodies, and provides comfort to millions (possibly billions) of people around the world.

Yeah, memory foam. That's the topic of this edition of the Wonder Comfort blog, you resource to learn about comfort related topics.

Let's jump into it shall we?

What Is Memory Foam?

To kick things off, let's define what memory foam actually is.

Traditional memory foam is a foam made out of semi-closed cell visco-elastic polyurethane, which is a petrochemical product (as opposed to a natural product).

Memory foam was originally developed by NASA back in 1966 where it was meant to absorb the shock of g-force conditions and provided protection and comfort in NASA’s airplane seats.

Below is a video going into some of the science behind how memory foam is made.

What Are The Different Types?

Because memory foam is artificially made, it can come in many different shapes and sizes. Based on the formulation and chemical mix, manufacturers can increase the densities of the memory foam for extra firmness and durability or infuse the mixture with gel to help it feel more cool.

For simplicity purposes, we'll focus on the three main types of memory foams you should be aware of.

  • Traditional Memory Foam
  • Open Cell Memory Foam
  • Gel Memory Foam

Let's have a look at each in more detail.

Traditional Memory Foam

Traditional memory foam is probably what you're most familiar with if you've ever come in contact with a memory foam based product. 

Originally developed in 1990's, this was the first variant of his type of cushioning product on the market. It was meant to help alleviate join pain, help with blood circulation, and provide an overall better experience while asleep.

Open Cell Memory Foam

Open cell memory foam was created to help with the excessive heat produced as a result of memory foam. By its very nature, memory foam uses heat to react and contour around the joints of your body cradling them and providing and pleasurable sleeping experience.

Open cell memory foam keeps this same concept but adds tiny cells that allow hot air to escape instead of being trapped.

Gel Memory Foam

Similar to open cell memory foam, the gel variation attempts to alleviate the "heat" problem traditional memory foam tends to have.

During the manufacturing process a medical cooling agent is added to the liquid memory foam fusing them together and then baking them into a solid. Having the gel in it, you have a memory foam that wicks heat away.

Advantages of Memory Foam?

Now that you've gotten the 411 on what memory foam is and the different types out there, let's focus on some of the popular advantages you're likely to hear about.

  • Uses Heat: Memory foam reacts with the natural heat emitted from your body softening allowing it to contour and cradle your pressure points. 
  • Hypoallergenic: Due to its dense cellular structure, memory foam is naturally resistant to the proliferation of dust mites and microbes. In contrast, innerspring mattresses with large open spaces do provide a better environment for allergens. 
  • Pressure Point Relief: Again, due to the reaction memory foam has with the heat of your body, the foam contours and provides support to your body as well as maintaining spinal alignment.
  • Motionless:  Memory foam does not transmit movement energy very well, which is why you have probably seen a lot of commercials with the "wine glass test" where someone is jumping on one end of a memory foam bed with a wine glass unshaken on the other side.