Thanks for your question. You are right its a minefield. The FR guidelines are incredibly strict to ensure the safety of the public with furniture. The guidelines are wholeheartedly appreciated by independent handmade mattress manufacturers like ourselves. It keeps customers safe.
We don’t sell any entirely chemical-free fire retardant mattresses. This is because even with a natural fibre cover it will still need to be treated somehow to ensure its consistent with fire retardancy guidelines. Cotton, for example, isn’t fully FR without some form of chemical treatment. The damask, cotton or polyester used in most mattress covers is treated to ensure it is FR which is chemical based.
You could theoretically have a 100% wool covered mattress but it would need to be relatively a thick both to support the mattress contents as you move it, sleep on it etc and to enable the FR tests to pass with success. Although theoretically possible in reality this would make the mattress incredibly expensive and difficult to upholster given wools tendency to fray if put under extreme stress, ie seams and the weight of the mattress upholstery. Whereas cotton, damask and polyester are incredibly resilient for this purpose.
The covers are where the majority of the FR treatment takes place. Then the top upholstery layers such as wool or polyester under this cover are checked as well with the different FR tests used. ie Smouldering cigarette, match and crib. Each manufacturer has to have each model tested and then routinely tested to ensure that the products pass all the guidelines.
We were recently discussing this with a supplier who has informed us there are laboratory tests on a natural FR treatment for fabrics being undertaken at the moment. It still hasn’t been released yet though so won’t be in the main market for some time and is quite hush. If we hear any more we will let you know and update our site accordingly.
If you do come across a manufacturer selling chemical free mattresses please enquire as to how they are meeting the tests. They may have thought of something that we haven’t in all our years of mattress development and manufacture!
We hope this helps you in your search. All the best