Sri Lankan Organic Latex Production (part two) May 05, 2017 11:37

There are hundreds of acres of trees on the plantation, and a few hundred meters from the tree nursery, we came upon two rubber tappers going about their craft. Tapping a rubber tree is a very exact practice, and they had already been at work since before dawn.

Every three days a thin shaving of bark is removed from the tree, on an exact 30-degree angle, from exactly one-half of the tree’s circumference. The white latex sap oozes from the tree and drips slowly into a carefully positioned bowl. By the end of the day, a cup will contain up to 500ml of sap, which is collected for processing.

Each of the workers carefully taps 300 trees during a shift, producing 150 liters of raw sap, comprised of 10% latex and 90% water. Therefore, a worker will produce 15 liters of actual latex per shift, to be collected and processed into rubber products, including some very fabulous Obasan mattresses. It takes several days of hard and precise work to gather enough latex for just one mattress! 

We were invited to visit the factory the rubber factory a few days later, to see how the raw latex sap is converted to mattresses, but first, we had some other things to see!

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with a huge number of sights to see. Two items on top of our list were to see the tea plantations and some wild elephants, and we got to do both, plus a whole lot more.

 
Tea Plantation

On our final day before leaving Sri Lanka, we were invited to the factory, located near Colombo, to see the sap we had seen dripping from the trees a few days earlier be converted into the resilient natural rubber mattress cores that we have sold all these years at Good Planet. 

It's a big operation, but thanks to great foresight by the founders, it's a completely self-contained operation, powered by efficient furnaces and solar power. The liquid rubber sap from the plantation is heated in molds in long ovens. That's all there is to it! No petrochemical additives, nothing toxic to soak into our sleeping bodies, just 100% natural tree sap, solidified and shipped across the world to our customers here on Vancouver Island. 

A big thank you to all of the fine people we met in Sri Lanka, at the plantation and the factory, for helping make our trip so fun, and so educational!