These pillows aren’t dirty


A little while back I wrote about my search for a vegan mattress.  In the comments, shamir wrote:

what about pillows? everything out there (besides buckwheat hulls) seems to be down, fake down (=fossil [fuels]), or wool. are the organic cotton ones even any good?

At that point, I wasn’t planning on buying new pillows anytime soon, but when I saw that it’s suggested you replace pillows every two years (if you can fold your pillow over and it doesn’t bounce back into place, it’s time to replace it), I realized I was about five years overdue.  When I bought my previous pillows, I made sure that the filling wasn’t down, but unfortunately the only choice I had at the time (because I was young and naive) was made by a company that had Down in their name.

So a search began for some nice pillows.  Ones that were eco-friendly, comfortable, and would last a while.  After lots of time wasted spent researching, I decided on kapok pillows.  Kapok is a fiber extracted from the seed pod of the kapok tree.  The fiber is non toxic, odorless, resistant to rot, and non-allergic.  A pillow made with kapok filling has “all the qualities of down [without the cruelty, and] is hypoallergenic.”  Kapok pillows can supposedly only be sold as decorative pillows because they are highly flammable.  As you may remember, many states require a doctor’s note in order to buy the vegan mattress I got.   Between our pillows and our mattress, it’s a good thing we don’t smoke in bed, because we’d be screwed!

Kapok pillows can be a tad expensive (~$50 each for queen size pillows), but they reportedly last longer than regular pillows and get more comfortable with use.  I managed to find a woman on eBay that handmakes them and sells them for about $60 a pair (about $72 after shipping).  Last night was my first night sleeping on one.  It was a tad firm, but supportive and quite comfortable.  I look forward to seeing how it changes over time with use.

So, yay for kapok, my new highly flammable friend.

11 Responses to “These pillows aren’t dirty”

  1. SallyT

    It’s also possible to buy kapok on line and make your own pillows. sells it. I used some to make a zabuton. It’s held up nicely but it does compact quite a bit. I thought about using some of my leftover for decorative pillows but haven’t gotten around to it.

  2. ryan

    That’s great, Sally! Very reasonable prices, too.

  3. violet913

    I bought bamboo pillows at Target awhile back. 60% bamboo, 40% cotton made by Springs Industries. Not sure if you are opposed to shopping at Target but just thought I would let you know about this option.

  4. Patrick Clark


    I just noticed your thread about pillows and thought I would add my .02

    You mentioned my company’s website: –which is how I found you.

    My wife and I use kapok futons, kapok body pillows, buckwheat sleeping pillows. Kapok is unusual in it’s properties. It does compact with use. For a three inch thick futon, we stuff it with 16 pounds of kapok. Our futons are traditional Japanese style. That means each one is a single. We put two side by side and put a comfoter over the whole thing to hide the crack. The small size fits better in small spaces and is easie to move. For optimal use, airing out in the sun like they did in Japan is the best. It gets fluffy after an airing. It starts out huge but goes down in a few nights use. Then it is quit firm. However, firm has been documented as healthy. It takes awhile to get used too, but actually provides a more restful sleep and alleviates many back problems, etc. Kapok breaths very well as a mattress or pillow. Buckwheat breaths much better, and shapes better for good neck support. Join my newsletter if you want to find out more.

  5. Andrew Somers

    Kapok is NOT hypoallergenic. I for one am highly allergic to kapok, as I am for down. Kapok is a common allergen, and included in enviornmental allergy tests that your doctor might do.

    Don’t assume you can use kapok instead of down if you have a down allergy – you may well have a kapok allergy, and only an allergy test can determine that affirmatively.



  6. Vanessa

    I’m not sure they’re highly flammable just that they aren’t covered in the flame retardent chemicals bedding is usually required to have. which is fine by me ^_^

    I remember having my best nights sleep ever at my Nan’s house on one of these pillows.

  7. danielle

    I am not sure that it is non allergic. My son is very allergic kapok. We are looking into a bamboo pillow for him.

  8. Beverly

    So your mattress is make with kapok. I have been wanting to make a buckwheat mattress, by stuffing buckwheat into an organic futon cover, but was told buckwheat would shift and make spaces under the body. would kapok solve my problem, eventhough i really dont know what it feels like. I feel like sleeping on buckwheat would be divine

  9. Ann Christiansen

    I recently began using a kapok pillow and am not sure what has caused this but my eyes are so red, I look like I have pink eye. I want to the Doctor and he said it is not pink eye but probably an allergy. I started to think, what have I done differently? Could it be this pillow???

  10. Jan Tasker

    My husband has woke up 3 times now with a swollen lip, he thinks its his bambillow, is it hypoallegenic?

  11. Jan Tasker

    My husband is allergic to his bambillo

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