The Best Floor Cushion Filling Material


Your floor cushion’s filling is the most important and least visible of its attributes. You’ll be spending a lot of time sitting on your floor cushion so you want to pick the filling that best fits your needs.

Potential fillings fall into 3 major categories: plant based, animal based, and synthetic. In this article we will review the advantages and disadvantages of each category with some specific examples, and tell you what we think is the best overall filling for your floor cushion.

If you haven’t got time to read this article we’ll cut to the chase. Buckwheat hulls are the best filling for a floor cushion. If you need convincing please read on!
A floor cushion needs to be strong enough to hold its shape under your weight and soft enough to be comfortable for long periods of sitting. A floor cushion that is strong enough to hold its shape and soft enough to be comfortable will provide you the most support. And it should achieve all of this while doing no harm. Your comfort shouldn’t come at the expense of our environment or the creatures we share the planet with.

The floor cushion trifecta: Strong, Soft, Supportive.

Strong

The average weight of an adult in North America is 177.9 lbs or 80.7 kg. That’s putting a lot of pressure on a floor cushion. It needs to be strong enough to retain its shape with 177.9 lbs sitting on it for extended periods of time, without flattening or becoming misshapen.

Soft

Your floor cushion needs to be strong, so why not fill it with titanium? Not only would this make the cushion as heavy as the person sitting on it, but it wouldn’t be comfortable! You’d never use the cushion. Yes, you want your floor cushion to be strong enough to retain its shape, but you also want it to be soft enough that it’s comfortable to sit on all-day. It is difficult to balance strength and softness - we usually think of these two attributes as opposites. You generally don’t go to a navy seal for help writing a love poem. And you wouldn’t go to a poet for help wage a way. Your cushion is a sitting paradox: it is strong and soft.


Supportive

Striking the perfect balance between strong and soft will give you something that is supportive. If I had to pick one word to describe the ideal floor cushion, and partner for that matter, I would pick ‘Supportive’. 


Filling Categories


Synthetic


The main advantage of synthetic filling materials is the cost. Generally, synthetic filling is the cheapest option. What risks are associated with the low cost? Let’s discuss.


The first risk of synthetic filling material is that the industrial manufacturing processes employed use harsh chemicals and preservatives. Formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene are a few of the solvents required to manufacture synthetic filling materials. The gaseous forms of the chemicals used in these industrial processes can get trapped in the synthetic filling materials. Over time these trapped gasses will find ways to escape and leak into your home, if you’ve chosen a synthetic filling material. The process of these gases escaping the material is called outgassing (or off-gassing). If you live with men or children I am willing to bet there’s already plenty of ‘gassing’ going on in your home - there’s no need to add toxic chemicals to the mix.


Another trade-off is the insulating effects that many synthetic fillers have. They will trap heat and grow warm with use. Has anyone on the planet ever enjoyed sitting on a warm toilet seat? Enough said.

Animal based

Down feather and wool are the two classic examples of animal based filling materials. Both down and wool make for serviceable head pillow fillers. They have the advantage over synthetic materials because they are not manufactured via the same industrial processes that lead to outgassing. Unfortunately, they do depend on animals being plucked, shaved, or harvested to collect the material in any appreciable quantity. I’m sure that the collection of down and wool can be done responsibly. But is it worth it?


Neither of these materials provide the strength required of a floor cushion. Floor cushions have very different requirements than head pillows, particularly in the strength department. Animal based options like wool and down just won’t do the heavy lifting required of your floor cushion.

Plant based

Plant-life on our planet is exceptionally diverse. We use plant based products in almost every facet of our lives, from construction materials to pharmaceuticals to clothing and many things in between. The ways we use plant based products are always expanding as we find new ways to transform these materials and discover new plants with unexplored properties. Luckily for you there are plants that manufacture the perfect floor cushion filling. How convenient!


Buckwheat or Fagopyrum esculentum is grain-like crop harvested, primarily in China and Russia, for its grain-like seed. The triangular seeds are encased in a hull that splits down the middle when dried, creating two pyramidal hulls. These hulls, referred to as buckwheat hulls make an ideal floor cushion filling material. 
Buckwheat hulls are strong, and are an extremely durable filling material. You can sit for extended periods of time without flattening your floor cushion. The small size of the hulls means your cushion will be filled with many, many hulls. Because of this, they will respond to you sitting on them by shifting slightly and forming to match your body. They are both durable and strong, but flexible enough to be comfortable and feel soft. Buckwheat hulls’ strength and softness make them incredibly supportive, and hands down the best floor cushion filling.

Pros of Buckwheat Hulls

Non-insulating

Buckwheat hulls do not reflect heat efficiently. This means they will not trap heat or act as insulators, like many synthetic filling materials. You’ll always have a comfortably cool cushion.

Environmentally friendly

Make sure you’re purchasing buckwheat hulls, or cushions made with buckwheat hulls from organic farmers. This reduces the environmental impact of your purchase. At Solum, we source our buckwheat hulls from organic Canadian farmers who use sustainable farming practices.

Antimicrobial

Buckwheat hulls have been shown to contain natural compounds that have antimicrobial properties. In a study done by The Institute for Food Technology showed that 3 gram-positive and 3 gram-negative species of bacteria were sensitive to the antimicrobial compounds found in buckwheat hulls. Another study discovered that one of the antimicrobial compounds is 6,7- dihydroxy-3,7-dimethyl-octa-2(Z),4(E)-dienoic acid. Stay that 5 times quickly.

When deciding on a filling material for your floor cushion make sure to keep the floor cushion trifecta in mind. Strong. Soft. Supportive. Remember that, while cheap, synthetic filling materials come with baggage. Baggage in the form of toxic chemicals, environmental damage, and outgassing. You’re going to be spending a lot of time on your floor cushion. Pick a filler that is sustainably made and doesn’t smell like formaldehyde. You’re probably familiar with animal-based filling materials from your history with head pillows. Forget them. Animal based fillers are not strong enough to support your floor cushion. If you go with an animal-based filler you’ll end up with a misshapen, flattened floor cushion. We have explained why buckwheat hulls, a plant-based filler, best embody the floor cushion trifecta. 

Buckwheat hulls have the strength to support you, and the size to mold to your body. Strong and soft. In our opinion, buckwheat hulls are the best floor cushion filling. That’s why Solum cushions are filled with organic Canadian buckwheat hulls.

References

  1. Walpole, S.C., Prieto-Merino, D., Edwards, P. et al. The weight of nations: an estimation of adult human biomass. BMC Public Health. (2012), 12, 439.
  2. Čabarkapa I. et al. Antimicrobial activity of buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentums Moench) hulls extract, Food Processing, Quality and Safety. (2008), 4, 159-163
  3. Cho et al. Isolation and Structural Elucidation of Antimicrobial Compounds from Buckwheat Hull, J. Microbiol. Biotechnol. (2006), 16(4), 538–542

 


Leave a comment