Monday, May 9, 2016

My Buckwheat Hull Bed Adventure: A Review

So as some of you know, my girls have two homes now...one with Daddy, one with Mommy. We've had to divide and conquer stacks of belongings and weed our way through countless online ads for used furniture. All of this administrative busy work is necessary, though, to keep me from getting lost in my own thoughts. I welcome it. I welcome the craziness of moving toys and searching for sustainable home furnishings.

And can I please tell you, if you're ever looking for a great way to keep yourself busy for countless (and I mean countless) hours, look no further than researching an affordable, eco-friendly, organic mattress.

I think I've read close to 50 articles on peace-love-dope hippie bed options. I've scoured website after website and my eyes are still blurry from the seemingly-endless array of latex, rubber, cotton, and of course, foam mattresses available on the market today. Each of them had a price tag well over $1k for a twin. I was checking out full sizes because...well...it's just me now. And my Daryl Dixon pillow. I'm strangely ok with that.

Just as I thought I would need to resort to toxic, off-gassing mattresses, the glory of all glories fell upon me and I read about buckwheat hull mattresses.

Buckwheat what?

Buckwheat hulls.

So get this - buckwheat is a grain, right? People eat it kinda like quinoa or amaranth. You can bake bread with it. It's a great cover crop - farmers can use it between growing seasons to keep soil healthy and weeds at bay. The little tiny black outer shell on the buckwheat grain (seed) is called the hull. They are shells, that's it. They smell like bread. And they make a "swish" noise when you put a bunch together in a bag.

Now why would anyone want to sleep on buckwheat? 

Buckwheat hulls are strong...they don't squish under your weight when you sleep. Your body, with all of its curves and corners, is supported. They're also great for those with allergies. No synthetic fibers or feathers or chemicals or flame retardants. The hulls allow a ton of air to pass through, too - dust mites don't like airy quarters. Last cool little tidbit? Buckwheat hulls do not retain heat. That means if you turn into a sweaty hog like I do sometimes, you won't need to worry about it while sleeping :)

But the real question - is it comfortable? Like, in real life, Kevin? Well dear readers, I'm about to tell you. That's right. I bought a buckwheat hull mattress kit and I've been sleeping on it for two weeks.

So first, I need to note, I was not paid a dime for this review. I did not get any discounts or perks or any special treatment .... it's just been such a cool experience, I had to write about it. Of course. 



I ordered my DIY mattress kit and buckwheat hulls from Open Your Eyes Bedding.

The kit comes with organic cotton sleeves to put the hulls in. My hulls came in 5 large white bags, all delivered to my house via a sweaty UPS driver (giggity). I had my sleeves, I had my buckwheat, all I needed was a partner to help me build the mattress.

So I called upon the power of my sweet little 4th grader :) She helped me every step of the way.

We filled the little pod sleeves.


Wove them together one by one.


Row by row.

And then - done! :)


That's great Jen, but how does it feel?

In two words? Freaking fantastic. 

It is VERY different from a traditional mattress. You know all those times you've ran into a room and took a flying leap onto the bed? Yeah, well if you try and do that with this mattress, you'll break a hip. There is absolutely zero squish factor. If you punch it, it punches back. That being said, when you get into bed you kinda wriggle into your space and it's awesome. I wriggle my butt and shoulders into the hulls and make little grooves and it is glorious because the rest of the hulls form to my body. Like a lil' buckwheat hug.

Also the hulls smell fantastic. Reminds me of the bakeries in Germany. I love it. I wake up and smell like bread and I love every single minute of it.

It's been two weeks of awesomeness and I'll never go back. I'm getting one for my allergy-suffering big girl. Organic, affordable in comparison to the other options out there, and sold by a small business owner who actually does her own customer service. Could not be more happy with my decision to go buckwheat.

Have you ever considered alternative mattresses? What's holding you back? I'd love to hear about it and your experiences in the comments down below and as always, thank you so much for reading :)

Jen


26 comments:

  1. Buckwheat hull bed?!? That is just the coolest! The next time I have to get a new mattress I am definitely going to check it out. So, I do have a question: I have a Bad back. Do you think this would be something that would be good of the zillions of Bad Back Sufferers like me? Also, since I am a major bread addict, I was wondering if sleeping on bread will either A – cause an olfactory response that reduces my craving for bready goodness or B – I’ll be even more ravenous for the bread of my dreams. Hum???

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    1. Thank you!! AND YES! It is wonderful for bad backs.....matter of fact most people with back pain lose their back pain when they sleep on one of these bad boys.

      And I hate to break it to you....but the bread cravings just get stronger :) HAHA!! It's awesome!

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  2. How. Cool. Is. This. Really? I can't wait to read more about this, freaking fantastic! I love the process of putting it together!

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    1. Thank you Kristen! I love it :) It was fun to put together, too! Both the girls want one and cant wait to put it together haha! :)

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  3. I have been thinking about doing this for years now and never got around to it. Thanks for your review, it just affirms that this definitely something that I want to do!

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    1. I am so glad!! I absolutely am so grateful I took the plunge....well worth it!!

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  4. This is awesome, Jen! Can I ask where you got that beautiful bedframe to hold the buckwheat bags?

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    1. Hi Julia! Thank you! :) :) :) My bed was made by a dear friend of mine. We used pallet wood and barn wood - an old barn rafter was cut into 4 pieces to make the legs, then we used standard 2x4s for middle support and connected them to a full-sized rectangular frame made of 2x4's and pallet wood. I am kinda smitten !! !! :)

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  5. Any updates after all this time?

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    1. I am happy to report the mattress is still as wonderful as the day I put it together. It's been almost a year since I bought it and I am still completely smitten. I will be buying a couple extra pods with probably another bag of buckwheat hulls, my bed frame is custom made so I need a few more pods to even out the spacing. That's one of the best things about this mattress tho, the ability to buy what you need and make it truly work for you!

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  6. Would love to hear an update!

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    1. Hi Alex :) I still adore my bed. It still supports me, smells good, and helps me sleep. Definitely a buckwheat hull girl for life! Thinking about buying a couple extra pods to pack into my custom bed frame...also thinking about making a window seat mattress! I am so, so happy with my decision! Thank you for stopping by :)

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  7. Hello
    Thank you for your time in doing this review. Quick question how often will the hulls have to be replaced . I'm asking because I just recently heard a commercial mentioning to replace your mattress every 8 years

    Thank You
    Peter

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    1. Hi Peter, I've had my mattress for almost a year now and my hulls are still going strong. The great thing about the buckwheat hulls is that bugs and germs and microbes don't really like them - traditional mattresses need to be replaced because they wear out and/or get super germy. Mine smells fresh and clean and is still comfortable. I will be ordering more hulls to top off the pods once they start to wear down from my weight - that's the other great thing, I will never need to replace it outright, I can just top the pods off at a fraction of the cost and be done.

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  8. About how much did you spend on your mattress? I was impressed with the concept, but the buckwheat required for a full bed (175 pounds?!) was quite expensive. Any suggestions? Desperately trying to find a new mattress that is not toxic for my daughter. :(

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    1. Hello :) I bought the full size set with organic hulls and sleeves. I did a lot of research on other non-toxic mattress options and this one was by far the cheapest. Just like I told Peter, all mattresses wear out, but this mattress is the only one that you can "replace" without replacing the whole thing. You can just get a bag of hulls, top off your pods, and be done. That alone makes it worth the cost - I will never need to buy another mattress again. I consider it an investment that will pay me back year after year.

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  9. Warning: Buckwheat hulls breakdown over time. There are endotoxins in the hulls that keep the hulls bug free. When the hulls eventually break down into fine dust, these endotoxins make their way into your lungs.

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    1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2816881/

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    2. Thank you so much for weighing in, I appreciate your perspective. The study you referenced above tested pillows from only one manufacturer and unfortunately I'm finding that study you referenced is getting widely circulated as a scare-tactic and in support of synthetic pillows. The researchers clearly point out the hulls in the pillows they tested came from Korea, where the manufacturing standards are sub-par to say the least. Basically, these hulls are not cleaned or monitored for organic properties - they are dusted off and shoved into pillows. It is no wonder to me they break down and release toxins...they were toxic to begin with.

      The hulls I purchased from Open Your Eyes Bedding can be tracked back to their Canadian manufacturer and are certified organic...scientifically speaking, the hulls I used cannot be directly connected to the claims made in your study.

      I'll even take this one step further, though, and give you the benefit of the doubt and state that yes, perhaps my buckwheat hulls do break down and release endotoxins....when I compare the toxic potential of my bedding to that of the standard and synthetic industry, I still choose buckwheat. Synthetic toxic potential, to me personally, is much greater as it includes more than simply endotoxins....synthetic pillows can be filled with formaldehyde, stabilizers, plasticizers, UV inhibitors, antifungal agents, and other chemicals I don't want near my head or body. My hulls can be dumped into my compost pile if I wanted them to be....synthetic pillows will act like that McDonald's burger under glass - they just sit there, not decomposing, not breaking down. I stand by my support of a more natural, healthy option.

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  10. I'm a floor sleeper i.e., I do not have a frame to encase the mattress. Do you think I'll need one to maintain its shape?

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    1. You know, the Open Your Eyes site has pictures of people who've successfully used the pods on the floor. I know my own pods so shift around within the actual frame I have, though, so I would imagine the same could happen on the floor. I think maybe having something with more friction underneath it would help, like a rug or a couple areas with those mats you use under carpet or in cabinets to keep things from falling? Bottom line, it will absolutely still be comfortable, you just might need to get creative with the staying power.

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    2. 2x5s and some L brackets. Cut them to the proper length and you have a frame! Put a blanket underneath to help pods not slip. If you can, have the boards cut so they are only 5 inches tall since that's how thick the pods are. I've been using this set up for over a year.

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  11. I had been looking at Open Your Eyes Bedding, and then found your very helpful and informative post! I'm inspired now to order one :). Question about the frame support--how far apart were your slats? I know air circulation is important, but I would think that the pods would push through if there was space between the slats.

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    1. So my frame was actually custom made for me by a friend of mine. He just used sheets of plywood for the bottom, not slats. They sell a frame set on Open Your Eyes Bedding and it looks like they have pictures of the slats - if you wanted to go that route I think maybe reaching out to them would be your best bet. I have no problems whatsoever with my bed frame even though it is not slatted - I love it!

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  12. I love this idea.

    How easy is it to make the bed?

    And what about moving house? Easier or harder than a regular mattress?

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    1. It was very simple - my daughter and I did it together, it was quite fun! And the hulls smell amazing.

      I haven't moved with it yet but I bought it partially because it is moveable - you can pack the pods individually if you need to...unlike with a traditional mattress, you have this rigid amount of space and room you need to take it anywhere.

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