All Weighted Blanket Fillers are Not Created Equal
Manufacturers of weighted blankets use a variety of materials to provide the weight for their blankets. The type and quality of materials varies and may include items such as plastic pellets both virgin and recycled, glass beads, river stones, sand, steel ball bearings and even various organic materials such as rice, wheat or other grains. Before purchasing a weighted blanket you should always check on what materials were used in its construction.
Each of these materials accomplishes the goal of adding weight to the blanket but some of them can have drawbacks or even be dangerous making them unsuitable for use.
- Plastic Pellets – Plastic pellets are currently the most common material used. They are non-toxic, hypoallergenic and do not damage the fabric or thread of the blanket. Because they are less dense than some of the other materials it means that a given size blanket cannot be made as heavy as blankets made from other materials but overall, they are the safest and best option.
- Glass Beads – While glass beads, which are typically used in the abrasives industry to restore automobiles and to remove burrs from metals (1) have become more common in weighted blankets, they have several drawbacks. They can chip or break when inside the blanket developing sharp edges which can cut through the stitching. More seriously there is some concern that glass beads may contain toxic materials such as lead or arsenic which is a serious health hazard (2) and in some finely ground glass beads you may find small pieces of metal which makes them unsuitable to be used when having an MRI in a hospital setting.
- Rice and other Grains – While they are inexpensive there really is no good justification for using these as they are organic and thus provide a good place to grow mold and attract insects and may also induce allergic reactions in some people
- Sand and River Stones – Believe it or not they are both porous materials. This makes them difficult to dry completely and also provides a good place for mold to grow.
- Steel Ball Bearings – While these are clearly the densest material on this list, the downside is pretty apparent. Imagine two siblings who decide to use one in a pillow fight!
To be safe, make sure you ask the vendor what they use for materials inside the blanket before you make your purchase.
- Retrieved from Marco® on Glass Beads http://www.marco.us/abrasives/glass-beads
- Retrieved from CA Dept of Toxic Substances Control http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/ToxicsInProducts/GlassBeads.cfm