Bean bag filling: What type and how much?
Bean bags have been used as furniture since the 1960's when they were first designed by Italian company Zanotta. It is said that they noticed the staff would sit on bags filled with styrofoam during their coffee and cigarette breaks. Their original beanbag chair was called "Sacco", which was a pear-shaped leather bag filled with styrofoam beans and is still in production today.
Since then, bean bags have been a staple furniture item for kids and adults in many homes around the world. There are hundreds of designs and shapes today and many different materials used in production. The filling however, has stayed mostly the same since the 1960's, styrofoam beads or beans (depending on where you are from).
We all know them, and if you've ever tried to fill a bean bag by yourself, you know how light and elusive they are if you ever spill some (and you will).
Traditionally bean bags are filled with EPS Beans (expanded polystyrene). EPS is a hard-celled plastic very similar to Styrofoam, which is extruded polystyrene (Styrofoam is actually a trademarked brand and the correct term is EPS). Besides bean bag beans, EPS is used for disposable coffee cups and as cushioning material for packaging and shipping.
EPS beans come in different sizes which can change the comfort level of your bean bag. Smaller sized beans generally give a more comfortable feel but may be more expensive.
Shredded Memory Foam
Memory foam or compressed foam was originally invented by NASA in the 1960's and is most commonly used in mattresses and pillows. Recently the off cuts from the mattress industry, known as shredded foam, has been used to fill bean bags.
Due to it's properties it gives a soft, spongy feel to your bean bag and has a springy effect to return to it's original shape. It can also be compressed to about 25% of it's original size which makes it easier and cheaper to transport.
However, it is more expensive than EPS beans and makes the bean bag much heavier.
There are other options such as an eco friendly version of beans called BioFoam. Distribution of the product is limited at the moment, but more environmentally friendly options are always welcome, but they do come at a higher price.
Other natural fillers such as dried beans or other dried grains, such as rice or corn have been used. We don't recommend them (and you shouldn't use them in our bean bags) as they make the bean bag very heavy and are messy and unsafe when they naturally break down.
What's the best option?
For comfort, form and price, EPS beans are the best option and the one we recommend for Throne Boss Gaming Bean Bags. Shredded memory foam compresses too much when you sit on it and doesn't allow the bean bag to keep it's shape and high back support. Shredded memory foam is a great option for round, loose fitting bean bags, but for a gaming bean bag chair where you want support for hours on end, EPS beans do the job!
You can easily adjust the support and comfort level by having more or less beans in the bag. More beans equals more support and less beans means more comfort.
Bean Bag Safety
No matter which bean bag filler you use, it is important to remember that any small, lightweight objects, such as the beans described above, may pose a risk to children if they are inhaled or swallowed. Because of this, all bean bags sold in the U.S. are required to be strongly double stitched. All bean bag zippers in the U.S. and Australian must have a parental locking mechanism and have the zipper tabs removed. However, it is up to you to ensure that all bean bags are properly sealed before using them. Bean bags may cause a fire hazard. Be sure to keep your bean bag away from naked flames and open fires at all times.