The Growing Popularity of Non-Toxic Rubber Mulch

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When looking into playground surfaces like rubber mulch that will cushion a child’s fall from injuries there are a few options to consider.

Some look to rubber mulch direct, others to wood chips or mulch, and others to non-toxic loose-fill ruuber mulch like Jelly Bean.

What is the safest playground surface available for sale today? While this is up for debate, many considered safety surfaces worth buying are in the rubber mulch realm.

Poured-in-place (PIP) would be the most expensive option, usually including a sublayer of rubber tire mulch.

Rubber Mulch – The Sweet Spot Product

Pallet of non-toxic Jelly Bean rubber playground mulch

Rubber mulch is less expensive than pour-in-place by a factor of 30 to 50% or more.

Further, rubber mulch offers landscapers and playground visitors a surface that would be affected by water erosion, and is weather-friendly. This is achieved by deterring water buildup through rubber granules the size of potato chips, where water can easily run-off without buildup.

Rubber mulch can withstand the heaviest rain and is environmentally friendly at the same time.

We call it a sweet spot product at Jelly Bean, because you get the benefits of rubber without the cost of PIP.

Soft and Elastic Cushion for Falls

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The product is also popular due to its soft and elastic nature. It is often bought in bulk as mulch direct from the factory.

Rubber mulch meets ASTM standards, is non staining, quicker drying, and does not need to be replaced regularly.

Saving money is also part of the calculus when considering rubber mulch. Non-toxic rubber mulch Jelly Bean is up to CPSC guidelines and is a perfect fit for those looking for a cost-effective safety surface.

Understanding the Toxicity Concerns: What’s in Rubber Mulch?


Your typical rubber mulch is made up of dirty chopped-up tires – which are hazardous for a number of reasons.

People often say, let’s go natural then, and get wood mulch instead of rubber mulch, which is not a good option in helping your child not get severely injured on the playground. Why? Because wood mulch erodes, has to be replaced fresh year after year, and is full of allergens that could hurt children. How? through allergic reactions as they interact with the playground safety surface or sports field.

Rubber mulch can vary in terms of formulation, and that is why going non-toxic is so important.

You can find non-toxic rubber mulch directly through companies like Jelly Bean, but if just browins on the web, it is often tire crumb rubber that people see advertised online and sold in stores.

The tire rubber mulch is also notably used as an underlayment on turf sports fields.

While the product is up to ASTM standards, it is void of additional advantages due to the toxicity concerns in the product – including paint leaching, dirt, VOC’s AKA toxic smells, potential red list chemical exposure, and much more.

Health Impacts: Is Rubber Mulch Safe for Children? Is it Non Abrasive?


Rubber mulch from tires is made of, you guessed it, old dirty tires. Recycled rubber AKA crumb rubber is not safe because of toxicity and the product often includes steel wire interwoven into rubber chips.

Crumb rubber from chopped-up dirty tires cannot be defined as non abrasive either since it may contain steel wire or cord from tires.

Whereas, a non-toxic virgin rubber mulch with a certifable origin like Jelly Bean, is guaranteed to not have steel wire due to the procurement of the material from medical safety tiles and other virgin rubber sources.

Virgin rubber mulch can be labeled as a non abrasive since there are no steel wires or cords.

Environmental Considerations: Rubber Mulch and Soil Quality


Rubber mulch is a a popular choice for playground safety surfaces to help reduce fall injuries like joint and bone strain and other serious fall injuries all while saving money vs pour-in-place.

At the same time it’s also environmentally safe.

The product does not leach chemicals, has low to no smell, and allows for storms to pass through the mulch, and is thus rainproof.

Many children prefer non-toxic rubber mulch for the lack of odor, steel wire, and that it saves trees. Further, non-toxic rubber mulch has a top fall safety rating, and offers stellar cushioning, making it one of the safest playground surface materials.

Exploring Tire Rubber – Heavy Metals, Lead, Cadmium, and More


Rubber mulch made of tires on the playground is never a good idea. It is not safe for kids to play on due to the toxic chemicals that could be present within the rubber mulch.

Other playground safety surfaces like wood chips or mulch, that include organic materials, attract termites, carpenter ants, and other harmful insects.

So just because it’s not tire rubber doesn’t mean it is safe either, check for issues the surface may cause.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in Rubber Mulch

inhaler, asthma

VOC’s and tire rubber go hand-in-hand. Buying recycled tires to put on the playground is not a good idea.

Schools, daycares, churches, and even housing developments or HOAs should steer clear of tire mulch due to these volatile organic chemicals that can leach off in the heaviest rain, environmentally friendly it is not.

In the era of the inclusive playground, kids with allergies or sensitivity to VOC’s will be forced to stay off the playground altogether when tire mulch is present.

Jelly Bean: A Spotlight on a Safe Playground Mulch

People love Jelly Bean. The product is popular due to its soft and elastic nature that never uses old tires.

Jelly Bean stays put even in the heaviest rain, and yet meets CPSC guidelines and is cost-effective all at the same time.

Figuring Out What To Buy – Wood vs Rubber Mulch

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So what do you buy? Wood or rubber mulch?

Rubber mulch saves valuable landfill space, ada complaint as well, but the question is what type? Is it made of recycled tires? It is very important to consider what the mulch is comprised of.

Recycled rubber and natural mulch are both a good way to stop serious fall injuries, but rubber mulch lasts much longer than natural.

Wood mulch is cheaper, but it degrades and can contain allergens.

The safest playground surface even the heaviest rain can’t stop would be rubber mulch for its top safety features and affordability.

Mulch direct buyers prefer working with known-origin sellers, like Jelly Bean, since we can tell you where our rubber came from, that it’s virgin, and contains no road residue.