Which weighs more, a ton of feathers or a ton of bricks?
Of course, they both weigh the same. But the space they take up is very different. The same can be said of weighted blanket fillings.
If you were to fill a weighted blanket with feathers, to get it to weigh 6kg, you’d have to use A LOT of feathers – in fact, the blanket would be around 22-foot thick! Whereas if you used bits of brick, it’d probably be just a few inches thick.
Neither material is a good choice for a weighted blanket, but the concept needs to be remembered because the materials that are good for weighted blankets differ in weight, which means the volume of space they take up is different.
This has the biggest impact on blanket comfort and the feeling of weight transfer - and more does not necessarily mean better in this case.
Here are the most popular weighted blanket fillings:
Plastic pellets are the cheapest weighted blanket filling. The vast majority of weighted blankets use plastic pellets made from BPA-free virgin polypropylene, which is safe for food contact and perfectly safe as a blanket filling.
These pellets tend to be larger than glass pellets because they are not as dense, so they have to be larger to offer the same weight. This means weighted blankets filled with plastic pellets have more pellets overall (they take up more volume).
How it wears
Some users of weighted blankets with plastic pellets have noted they can ‘feel’ the pellets moving and shuffling around when they do (undesirable weight transfer). This is because the pellets are larger, so they are noticeable under a blanket. This can be remedied with a thicker cover, or by fixing the blanket in place.
How to buy
You will find most cheap weighted blankets use plastic pellets. As a general rule of thumb, buy a blanket with a thick outer cover to counteract the larger pellets. This can present issues with heat though. A weighted blanket that is too hot to use in the summer is wasted, and a thinner outer cover will only reintroduce weight transfer.
If this is your first foray into weighted blankets, you might be tempted to throw caution to the wind for the cheaper price. We say set your budget a little higher. Glass pellets are a far better choice, as you’ll find out below.
Glass pellets are used in high-end weighted blankets, although a few cheaper brands have started using them too. Glass pellets are superior to plastic pellets because they are smaller but denser, weighing the same in a smaller footprint.
This makes a massive difference for comfort. You remember the issues we mentioned regarding weight transfer with plastic pellets? These don’t exist with glass pellets because the smaller pellets can move more freely.
Because the pellets are smaller, the blanket can also be thinner. This means blankets with glass pellets tend to be more usable more of the time.
How it wears
Like a dream! Users of weighted blankets with glass pellets love wearing their blanket around the house, and they tend to sleep with it all the time. It feels like a big, giant hug and helps ease the symptoms of anxiety and stress. This is a much nicer experience than you get with a blanket filled with cheap plastic pellets.
How to buy
With a perfect weight transfer, glass pellets are the best choice for a filling for your weighted blanket. With that aspect of your blanket sorted, the next most important thing is the outer cover. Ideally, this needs to be reversible or replaceable, so you can have a warmer cover in winter and a cooler cover in summer.
The Koala Blanket is one such product with a reversible outer cover. One side is Ultra-Soft Mink; the other side is Silky Bamboo. These materials feel divine against your skin and make you feel relaxed. They’re akin to wearing a gorgeous dressing gown. Ultra-Soft Mink is for cold weather while Silky Bamboo is for warm weather.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are all-natural fillings. These include grains, dried beans, stones, aquarium fillings and other polished objects. Very few brands use these, with them largely reserved for homemade blankets.
These fillings are incredibly cheap and do provide weight to a blanket. However, the experience of wearing one is hardly divine. For a start, organic fillings make noise when they rub together, and they are porous too. This makes them unhygienic and impossible to clean - you have to replace them again and again.
If you want to make your own weighted blanket at home, we recommend you ditch all-natural fillings and opt for the same stuff the established brands use - plastic pellets, glass pellets or a mixture of both. You can buy them online for relatively little. These will give you the ‘retail-like’ experience you’re after.
Glass pellets are easily the best type of filling for weighted blankets because they are smaller, but denser, than plastic poly pellets. This means the volume of space glass pellets take up in a blanket is less than plastic pellets. In other words, less pellets need to be used, giving you a more natural blanket experience.
Plastic pellets are okay. These blankets are dirt cheap, but they are less comfy and suffer from that nasty weight transfer (where you can feel the pellets shifting). Because they are larger, you can sometimes feel their shape too.
Some blankets also use a mix of plastic and glass pellets. These are cheaper to produce than all-glass blankets but solve some of the issues of plastic pellets.All-natural fillings are unhygienic and not used in retail. We recommend you steer clear from these unless the filling is non-porous and food safe. The filling needs to be washable, so you can clean your blanket every now and again.