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Help! We are looking for a 'non toxic' sofa

(65 Posts)
princesschick Tue 13-Mar-12 15:48:06

Is there anyone out there who can suggest a company that sells real, proper non toxic and preferably organic sofas? I have found one company so far, Harlands, however they are £2,999 before they are covered in fabric. ouch This is way beyond our modest budget.

We have looked high and low, thinking that we had found two companies (ID Patriot and only to be disappointed by their rather misleading sales blurb.

Ideally looking for something that doesn't contain any petrochemicals or nasties - main problem here being the flame retardants. We found out that standard flame retardants are tested on rabbits, fish, mice, rats.... and that some companies who stuff their cushions with feathers are using bi-products of the meat industry... that's foie grois geese to me and you.

Any help massively appreciated. Or I will be saving very hard and sitting on cardboard in the new home for a few months!!!

inmysparetime Thu 15-Mar-12 16:40:41

I don't know about companies, but you could buy your sofa from a charity shop (British Heart Foundation have a furniture shop near me), that way you are supporting a charity instead of a sofa company, and ensuring a sofa gets a new home. The chemical nasties will still be there, but you will not be the cause of their production, the original owner would be.

princesschick Fri 16-Mar-12 05:49:15

We are thinking of having an antique sofa reupholstered with 100% natural materials. We're particularly worried about the effects of offgassing on our health and not just the production side of things. Although the animal testing is a massive turn-off for me.

Great tip tho as we could get our sofa to do-up from a charity shop and hopefully save some pennies :-)

kellestar Sat 24-Mar-12 19:53:00

There are re-upholstery companies out there that use natural materials instead of foam padding and natural fabrics too.

I think the hard thing is that new sofas have to be flame retardant to meet BSEN safety standards, which means that the ones that use natural materials and processes will charge more as it's often a longer/harder process to make them flame retartdant.

I would enthuse buying a decent solid wood framed sofa and re-upholstering professionally, or if you fancy it there are courses run at colleges around the place.

Strode College being one that is close to me. But I know at least a dozen more that run similar courses. Alternatively google is your friend.

flub Mon 09-Apr-12 19:59:17

Hi, can I ask what was wrong with ID UK Patriot? We've just found their website and were thinking they may be a good option. We want something that won't offgas nasty chemicals.

The other company I heard of is Tetrad International ( or call 01443 402644) but I can't find a website for them. There is a separate company called Tetrad but they don't do eco sofas.

If you do find a good option, let us know!

princesschick Thu 18-Oct-12 14:29:53

Oh wow, I stopped watching this because I didn't think any one was interested blush and it looks like I missed a whole bunch of stuff. And that was ages ago too.

flub we called ID Patriot and asked them all sorts and they couldn't give us any straight answers. The materials were treated with flame retardants I seem to remember, which was our biggest bub bear.

However, I found an excellent guy called Weave, Wood, Watson and we're going to be using him. Hopefully an old sofa with sheeps wool filling, covered in kevlar, which means no flame retardant on the material. We will choose an organic material. He also makes the headboards for Abaca now and has a great relationship with them too. We are chuffed as we decided to get the bed from Abaca ages ago because they are the only soil association certified bed manufacturer.

cearai Sun 09-Aug-15 09:40:40

Hi Princesschick,

I know this has been some time but wondered how you got on with your sofa from Wood, Weave & Watson please? We are looking at options now for non-toxic sofas and it's proving near impossible.


bowsaw Wed 12-Aug-15 11:30:30

do you mean the flame retardants? unless you go for wicker or second hand where its off gassed a lot then your going to have to make your own

EmiliaRose Tue 15-Sep-15 07:45:23

I'm looking for a non-toxic sofa, too. So far, I've found Green Woods Furniture in Bristol who offer one (nice) design but can build custom designs, too, so this may be the answer to my ercol longings (ercol uses chemicals, sigh).

It's not cheap, but comparable to ercol, which I was going to give my right arm for.

EmiliaRose Tue 15-Sep-15 08:02:07 looks quite affordable. And they offer bespoke, too.

ecosofa Thu 17-Sep-15 09:44:16

Thank you, EmeliaRose. We’re glad to see that you are pleased with our range of EcoSofas on offer.

We specialise in handcrafting eco-friendly sofas and chairs made using carefully sourced natural, sustainable and recycled materials. Our models are filled with natural fibres; we do not use any chemical flame retardants, or brominated fluorides, and we only use non-toxic water-based adhesives, combined with a natural fabric to give you the purist upholstery possible. We have a selection of seat and back cushions made using natural fillings. If you have any allergies or concerns, we are more than happy to discuss alternative fillings.

Please take some time to visit our website for more information, or alternatively you can e-mail us directly at or telephone Roger on 0115 9786699.

hairbrushbedhair Wed 07-Oct-15 13:27:46

Sorry to be slightly cheeky but can anyone give me a price bracket estimate? I need a new sofa and want to avoid flame retardant if I can avoid it but modest budget

jennymor123 Sun 01-Nov-15 17:15:51

You need to be wary of claims made by makers of organic sofas containing only natural materials. The fact is the UK's furniture fire safety laws are very stringent and it's difficult for manufacturers to pass them without using powerful chemicals that have been proven to be harmful. For example, some organic makers use latex for filling materials but latex is highly flammable and it's extremely unlikely that it can be made to pass the flammability tests without chemical treatment. You should ask the manufacturer to confirm that any latex fillings he uses have passed the required test for filling materials.

If you want to avoid the worst of the chemicals, buy a leather sofa or one that contains an interliner. For the latter, IKEA put interliners in their sofas so they don't have to use the more dangerous chemicals in the covers. The label under the sofa will tell you whether or not it contains an interliner.

crystalle Thu 05-Nov-15 20:13:06

Hi, thank you for this information,
I was also searching for a flame retardant free sofa, and so far only ecosofa seem to offer an affordable option, but they have a long lead time... do you know if the Ikea removable covers would be free of chemicals? I was thinking of buying a spare set and stuffing them with feathers... not sure if this would work!

jennymor123 Thu 05-Nov-15 20:38:35

I would think so since I'm fairly sure IKEA use interliners with all their sofas. You could always ask them. The only sofas/beds I know of that are completely free of flame resistant chemicals - both in the cover fabrics and the fillings - are made by Cambridge Natural Mattresses: They make sofa beds rather than simple sofas. But they're the genuine deal and pass all the flammability requirements. I don't work for them by the way!

jennymor123 Thu 05-Nov-15 20:42:07

Oh and by the way, I've just noticed that Cambridge Natural Mattresses say on their website that they do not use any adhesive sprays on their products. This is in reference to the habit many furniture suppliers have of spraying your sofa/bed with anti-stain sprays (they'll often ask you if you want this at extra cost). The fact is these sprays make covering fabrics flammable!

crystalle Thu 05-Nov-15 22:29:26

thank you for all this info! I am always searching for ways to avoid flame retardants, but that is a good tip about the anti-stain sprays, i will check for that! Thanks

gloriagumdrop88 Wed 04-May-16 13:14:44 - any good?

jennymor123 Sun 15-May-16 10:57:35

I've had a quick look at the Ecosofa site. It's difficult to tell but I'm a little sceptical. It is possible to produce a sofa that complies with the regulations, using natural materials, but it would be very expensive, and these seem a bit cheap. They mention they use interliners - ask them if theirs contain chemicals, since an interliner has to do the job that chemically-treated cover fabrics would normally do, which essentially is to protect the fillings. Also, ask them to show you proof that their cover fabrics, fillings and interliners pass the requirements of the regulations. This normally takes the form of certificates issued by an approved test laboratory.

I'm also sceptical that their fillings can pass the relevant test. Because their fillings are a mixture of materials, the cover fabric has to bear the brunt of preventing ignition, and that would be difficult without chemicals of some sort.

IKEA's interliners contain chemicals but those that currently at least are not regarded as being as harmful as the type normally used to treat cover fabrics.

jennymor123 Sun 15-May-16 10:59:44

Oh, I should have said: the reason that Cambridge Natural Mattress's products are not hugely expensive is because they have developed a natural cotton fabric that is able to pass the flammability tests without chemicals having to be added to it. Again, I don't work for them but I have seen the results of tests carried out on their products.

jennymor123 Sun 15-May-16 11:05:01

Something else to look out for:

Many sofas are more flammable than they should be. One reason for this is that the lab test for cover fabrics is done over a thick slab of foam. But in a finished sofa, there are several parts that are covered by only a thin layer of foam, e.g. the sofa arms. In most modern furniture, all kinds of highly flammable materials can appear under the foam - cardboard, hessian, etc. Which means if you drop a match or candle on to the main cushion, you'll be okay, but if you drop it on to a sofa arm, a fire will develop in a matter of seconds. A fire that will fill the room and your lungs with highly toxic chemical fumes.

So, ask manufacturers what materials are used in their sofas.

specialsubject Mon 30-May-16 16:24:59

If you are on a burning sofa the fumes won't be a worry.

And if you are concerned about toxins ypu wouldn't be smoking or lighting stinky candles.

Don't ask if they add chemicals, clearly a silly question. Ask what materials they use.

jennymor123 Mon 30-May-16 16:57:24

‘If you are on a burning sofa’ is misleading. Of course you wouldn’t be on a burning sofa if conscious/sober. Your implication is that the flames will get you before the toxic fumes. However, this is not necessarily true. If you were asleep upstairs and in the room below a sofa caught light, there is a very good chance the toxic fumes will get you before you can escape the fire.

‘The fumes won’t be a worry’ - taking this statement at face value, what is it based on? There is a whole mass of evidence that flame retardants - particularly brominated flame retardants - have all sorts of negative effects on health and the environment. Only a few days ago, articles based on research appeared in several papers, e.g., detailing how flame retardants cause thyroid problems.

You’re quite right about smoking and ‘stinky’ candles which is why I don’t do either. But advising to avoid risks in two product areas does not automatically deny the risks from another. Also, it’s arguable that without knowledge (not freely offered by furniture retailers), it’s not easy to avoid sofas that contain flame retardants. Everyone needs a sofa, pretty much, so unless you know what to go for, you’re saddled with flame retardants in your house dust.

Why is it a silly question to ask if they add chemicals?

Asking what materials they use will not tell you what flame retardants are in those materials.

Do you work for the flame retardant industry?

jennymor123 Mon 18-Jul-16 17:02:00

(Copied from another thread for info)

Regarding Ecosofa, I wrote to them recently to ask them how they manage to pass the flammability tests without using flame retardants (FRs). After much faffing around they told me that they use interliners (which is permissable with cover fabrics that are 75% or more cellulosic, e.g. cotton) and that they use no FRs in their sofas. I said that almost all interliners contain FRs. They then sent me a certificate from a test house that they claimed proved their interliners don't contain FRs. However, the certificate shows that the test house pre-washed the interliner which is only required if it contains FRs! I wrote back to point out that their certificate actually proves my point, not theirs, at which juncture they threatened me with libel!

micemicebabies Sun 31-Jul-16 13:55:30

Jenny thanks for posting that about Ecosofas, will definitely not be using them!

I've actually been looking into making my own sofa but I'm a bit of a dummy when it comes to diy and my past creations leave a lot to be desired so I have been looking for one online just in case!

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