If you have a bean bag, chances are that
- you know how to enjoy life; and
- the bean bag uses EPS beans or beads as its filling.
Open up the inside of your bean bag and you will discover these small white balls of goodness that bear your weight and conform to the shape of your body as you sink into bean bag bliss.
But, how do they do that? Let’s find out more about these pearls of comfort.
So What is EPS?
EPS is Expanded Polystyrene. Polystyrene is commonly used to make packing material for fragile items and foam food boxes like those you eat from when you dabao [takeaway] chicken rice.
So why do most bean bags use EPS as refill?
EPS beans are produced using blowing agents that form bubbles and expand the foam. Since most of what makes an EPS bean is actually air, it provides a good cushioning effect.
Again, because of its “airy” nature, EPS beans are well-suited to be used as filling for bean bags that can be moved around wherever one desires to lounge at (unlike armchairs, for example).
Good vs Bad EPS
So as long as it is EPS, it is good, right? Not quite so.
The optimal size for a regular beanbag bead / bean is 3-5mm. If the beans are smaller, their movement within the bean bag will be restricted, causing the bean bag to feel more rigid*. Just imagine sitting on a sand bag.
If the beans are larger, they make the bean bag less smooth to the touch, especially for single-layered ones where there is no inner bag to act as an additional layer.
* However, the exception is for bean bags that use stretchy material such as spandex, where the use of micro EPS (1-2mm) creates a smoother texture while still allowing the beans to flow about.
Another thing to take note is density, defined as mass per unit volume. I assure you, this is not a straightforward matter.
High Density = BAD
6.9 million people on 720 square kilometers – trains get overly packed during rush hour and break down.
High Density = GOOD
Curry Puffs – the more fully packed it is, the more shiok [enjoyable] and value for money!
Ok, what about beanbag beans then?
Because bean bag beans are already “airy”, if they are not sufficiently dense to begin with, they will compress more quickly, and you will need to top up your bean bag sooner than if you got denser beans.
So generally speaking, for the same volume, you want to get heavier beans because that means that they are denser and will last longer.
|Brand||Volume (L)||Weight (g)||Density (g/L)|
|SG Beans EPS||50||710||14.2|
|Other Brand EPS||50||460||9.2|
Finally, some people do ask why bean bags, especially new ones, have a “chemical smell”.
The smell comes from the blowing agent used to inflate EPS, and because it’s not part of the EPS itself, it will diffuse after some time. If you have any concerns, a quick and simple solution is to remove the outer cover (if your bean bag has an inner bag) and place the bean bag at a well-ventilated area for a few days.
So now you can proclaim to know all about bean bag filling – or so you think. We will delve into other types of bean bag refill in our following articles, so stay tuned!