A buckwheat pillow is a special type of pillow that uses buckwheat hulls as the filling. Buckwheat hulls are the protective outer casing of the buckwheat grain. They have a curved triangular shape and rigid structure that helps them maintain their shape under pressure. A pillow with buckwheat hulls is known as a sobakawa in Japan – where they originated.
Buckwheat pillows have a firm feel. The hulls conform to the shape of your head but do not compress. These pillows offer excellent support and are a great choice for promoting healthy spinal alignment. The thickness of the pillow can be adjusted by adding or removing hulls from the pillow casing.
Buckwheat pillows have many advantages. They offer superb support, excellent temperature regulation, and are highly durable. A good quality pillow will last 10-20 years. Their main drawbacks are – they are much heavier than a regular pillow, they can be noisy, and they are difficult to wash. See below for everything you need to know about a pillow with buckwheat hulls.
PILLOW WITH BUCKWHEAT HULLS GUIDE
• How Is a Buckwheat Pillow Made?
• What Are Buckwheat Pillow Bugs?
WHAT IS BUCKWHEAT?
Buckwheat is a seed-like grain known as a pseudocereal. It is native to the Asian continent and has been a food staple for many centuries. Although buckwheat is a grain, it is consumed in the same way as a cereal. Buckwheat is similar to quinoa and amaranth.
Buckwheat has become a popular food source around the world. It contains high levels of antioxidants and minerals and is gluten-free. Buckwheat crops are mainly harvested in China, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Kazakhstan.
The buckwheat grain grows inside a hard casing called a hull. The hull protects the grain and allows it to grow and mature safely until it is ready for harvest. At this point, the grain is removed and collected as a food source. While the hull is inedible, it is collected for other uses – including making pillows.
HOW IS A PILLOW WITH BUCKWHEAT HULLS MADE?
Buckwheat pillows are made using the buckwheat hull as a pillow filling. The hulls are collected once the grain has been removed. They’re then washed and thoroughly dried before they are used to fill the pillow.
Buckwheat pillows have a very simple construction. They are just like a regular pillow but instead of using a cotton or polyester filling material – they use buckwheat hulls. The hulls are stuffed inside the pillow casing to provide firm cushioning. And, the casing is zippered so you can add or remove hulls to change the feel of the pillow.
PROS AND CONS OF A PILLOW WITH BUCKWHEAT HULLS
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a buckwheat pillow? Why are they so popular? Are they a good choice for you? Below we take a look at the pros and cons of a buckwheat pillow.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
COMFORTABLE FIRM FEEL
The most popular benefit of a pillow with buckwheat hulls is its incredibly comfortable feel. Buckwheat pillows feel unlike any other type of pillow on the market. The buckwheat hulls create a sturdy sleeping surface that molds to the shape of your head. They are a great choice for side and back sleepers that want a pillow with a firm feel and plenty of support.
Buckwheat pillows have a natural cooling effect. If you tend to sleep hot and want a pillow that stays cool during the night, look no further. Buckwheat hulls are small curved hollow shells with smooth surfaces. When they are packed together they contain large amounts of air pockets. These pockets promote airflow, allow heat to escape the surface of the pillow, and help keep you cool during the night.
PROMOTES SPINAL ALIGNMENT
Buckwheat pillows are great for promoting healthy spinal alignment. When you place your head on a buckwheat pillow the hulls provide a firm resting surface that holds its shape during the night.
The hulls have a solid structure that doesn’t compress under weight. This helps promote a healthy posture that remains in place while you sleep. You can even add or remove hulls to adjust the pillow size to perfectly match your preferred sleeping position.
The thickness of a buckwheat pillow can be adjusted by adding or removing hulls. These pillows come with a zippered opening that allows easy access to the hulls. If you want a thicker pillow just add some more hulls. Conversely, if you prefer a thinner sleeping surface – just remove some of the hulls.
We all have an individual preference for how thick we want our pillow to be. This is influenced by body shape, size, and preferred sleeping position. In general, side sleepers prefer a thicker pillow. Back and stomach sleepers feel more comfortable on something thinner.
LAST MANY YEARS
Buckwheat pillows are highly durable and will last many years if treated with care. A good quality pillow will easily last 10 years – and likely even longer. Buckwheat hulls are sturdy little shells and hold their structural integrity for a very long time.
In fact, it’s not the hulls that will fail first – it’s the pillow casing or zipper. And, both of these can be easily replaced. If you find the hulls are losing their shape after many years of use, don’t worry. They too can be easily replaced. Just do a search for buckwheat pillow hulls and restuff your pillow.
NATURAL ORGANIC PRODUCT
Buckwheat hulls are a natural product. They are compostable and biodegradable. Most buckwheat pillows are made using an organic pillow casing such as cotton – which makes them suitable for vegans. The hull filing includes no plastics or manufactured materials. And, many are organic certified.
Another interesting advantage of a buckwheat hull pillow is the subtle fragrance they emit. These pillows have a gentle natural scent thanks to the plant-based hulls used to stuff the pillow. This is a welcome change for many compared to the synthetic smell you get from most new pillows. Plus, if you choose an organic buckwheat pillow you can be sure it contains no synthetic or toxic chemicals. If you are interested in natural alternative pillows, check out Bamboo Pillows, Kapok Pillows, and Wool Pillows.
A pillow with buckwheat hulls can double as a supportive cushion and can be used in a range of ways a regular pillow cannot. Thanks to the firm supportive feel of a buckwheat pillow they are ideal for use as a supportive cushion. They work great placed on the back of a desk chair for lumber support. And, they’re a great choice for adding a little height for kids at the dinner table.
MAY REDUCE SNORING
Snoring is a serious problem for many couples. It gets in the way of a good night’s sleep and forces many people to seek refuge in a spare room or even the sofa. Snoring is often caused by bad sleeping posture that restricts the airways.
Using a firm supportive pillow that promotes good alignment can help keep the airways open while you sleep. And, a buck wheat pillow is ideal for delivering the support needed. The thickness of the pillow can be adjusted by adding or removing hulls. This allows the user to achieve an ideal thickness and sleeping angle.
Additionally, the firm support of the buckwheat hulls will contour the head and remain in place throughout the night. All of this helps promote healthy alignment and prevent the airways from becoming obstructed. Great news if you’re trying to stop snoring.
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES?
CAN TAKE TIME TO ADJUST
One of the main disadvantages of a pillow with buckwheat hulls is that they take some time to get used to. A buckwheat pillow has a completely different feel compared to a traditional soft cushioning pillow. The hulls are solid and do not compress. This means they shape around your head and stay in place throughout the night. It takes up to 7 days to adjust to the firm and supportive feel of a buckwheat hull pillow.
HEAVIER THAN REGULAR PILLOWS
They’re also a lot heavier than a regular pillow. Most of us are used to a lightweight fluffy pillow, filled with cotton, down, or polyester. The hulls pack considerable weight and these pillows often weigh up to ten pounds. Because they are so heavy, you won’t be able to prop them up to watch TV – gravity will just pull the hulls downwards and the pillow will collapse.
CAN BE NOISY
Are you looking for a quiet pillow? Well, another drawback of a pillow with buckwheat hulls is that they can be noisy. At least, noisier than a traditional pillow. The buckwheat hulls are rigid follow shells and make noise when they bump into and pass over one another. You will hear a gentle rustling when you first rest your head on a buckwheat pillow. However, like anything else you will get used to it over time.
DIFFICULT TO WASH
Buckwheat pillows are difficult to wash. You have to remove all the buckwheat hollows from the pillow casing before washing. The pillow casing can be washed as per the manufacturer’s instructions, most likely in a regular laundry cycle. However, you never wash the hulls. Keep them to one side and throw them back into the pillow casing once it has been washed and completely dried.
Buckwheat hull pillows have a distinct subtle aroma. And, while many consider this as an advantage some will not. They emit a gentle grainy scent that you will not find in any other pillow type. The scent is completely natural and is strongest when the pillow is first unpacked and dissipates with time.
POTENTIAL BUCKWHEAT ALLERGIC REACTION
Some people have an allergy to buckwheat. If you suffer a buckwheat allergy you should obviously avoid using a pillow with buckwheat hulls. In the worst-case scenario, a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis could be triggered. If you have any concerns you should consult a medical professional before trying out a buckwheat pillow.
WHO IS A PILLOW WITH BUCKWHEAT HULLS GOOD FOR?
Now we know what a buckwheat pillow is and how they work, let’s take a look at who they work best for.
PEOPLE WHO WANT A FIRM PILLOW
Buckwheat pillows are a great choice for people that want a firm supportive pillow. There are few other pillow types that offer the same firm feel of a pillow with buckwheat hulls. The hulls do not compress under weight and stay in place throughout the night.
PEOPLE WHO SLEEP ON THEIR SIDES & BACK
They’re a great choice for people that sleep on their side and back. They deliver superb support and are great for maintaining sleeping angle during the night. And, you can adjust the height by adding or removing hulls from the inside of the pillow.
PEOPLE WHO TEND TO SLEEP HOT
These pillows are great for people that sleep hot. The hulls inside the pillow are surrounded by thousands of air pockets that allow hot air to escape the pillow surface. This will help you stay cool while sleeping.
PEOPLE WHO WANT A NATURAL PILLOW
Buckwheat hulls are a completely natural product. They are the protective casing of a buckwheat grain. If you want to choose something natural and avoid a pillow made using synthetic materials – buckwheat hulls are a great choice.
PEOPLE WHO WANT TO IMPROVE SPINAL ALIGNMENT
Buckwheat pillows offer the firm support needed by people looking to improve spinal alignment while they sleep. The pillows hold their shape and do not compress throughout the night. This delivers the support needed to promote good posture while you sleep.
PEOPLE WHO WANT AN ADJUSTABLE PILLOW
They’re a great choice for anyone looking for an adjustable pillow. The pillow casings are zippered and can be easily opened. This allows you to add or remove hulls and adjust the pillow thickness. Buckwheat pillows and be easily customized to anyone’s preferred thickness.
PEOPLE WHO WANT A PILLOW THAT WILL LAST MANY YEARS
People looking for a durable pillow should consider a buckwheat hull pillow. The hulls are rigid and will hold their structural integrity for many years. Treated with care a buckwheat hull pillow will last 10-20 years.
PEOPLE WHO WANT TO STOP SNORING
A buckwheat pillow is good for people that want to stop snoring. The firm nature of the hulls provides the necessary support to promote spinal alignment and help keep the airways unobstructed while you sleep. This may help ease snoring.
WHAT ARE BUCKWHEAT PILLOW BUGS?
Buckwheat pillow bugs are regular pillow bugs that can be present in any pillow type. There is no specific buckwheat pillow bug. Buck wheat pillows are made using the protective hull of a buckwheat grain.
The grain is a food source and is separated from the hull before it is used to make a pillow. Only empty hulls are used to manufacture pillows. Empty buckwheat hulls are of no interest to pillow and bed bugs. They contain no food source and are an excellent pillow-filling material.
However, cheap buckwheat pillows that have not been produced to a high standard may contain hulls that have not been separated from the grain. Our advice is to avoid low-quality buckwheat pillows. For some tips on how to avoid bugs, check out How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs.
BUCKWHEAT PILLOW FAQ
HOW DO YOU WASH A BUCKWHEAT PILLOW?
You wash a buckwheat pillow by carefully removing the hulls and washing the pillow case. Once, the case has been washed and dried the hulls can be replaced inside the pillow. The hulls themselves are not washed.
HOW MUCH DOES A BUCKWHEAT PILLOW COST?
A good quality buckwheat pillow costs anywhere between $50-$100. They’re highly durable and treated with care you can expect a buck wheat pillow to last 10-20 years.
HOW MANY YEARS DOES A BUCKWHEAT PILLOW LAST?
A good quality buckwheat pillow will last 10-20 years if treated with care. The buckwheat hulls are incredibly robust and hold their structural integrity for many years. The pillow casing or zipper will often fail before the hulls need to be replaced.
CAN THE THICKNESS OF A BUCKWHEAT PILLOW BE ADJUSTED?
Yes, the thickness of a buckwheat pillow can be adjusted. The pillow casing can be opened using a zipper and hulls can be added or removed to adjust the pillow thickness to your liking.
DO PILLOWS WITH BUCKWHEAT HULLS HAVE AN ODOR?
Yes, buckwheat pillows have a subtle fragrance. They have a gentle grainy plant scent thanks to the hulls used to fill the pillow. The hulls are completely natural and are the protective casing of the buckwheat grain.
ARE BUCKWHEAT PILLOWS GOOD FOR SNORING?
Yes, buckwheat pillows are a good option if you want to try and stop snoring. They have a firm feel and offer strong head and neck support. This promotes good spinal alignment and can help prevent the airways from becoming obstructed while you sleep – and may ease snoring.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SARAH FOY – Mattress Expert
Sarah joined the MCG team in the summer of 2021. She is our in-house foam mattress expert. Whether it’s memory foam, latex foam, or straightforward polyfoam – she has you covered. Sarah has a particular passion for the unique body contouring effects and soft cradling support of latex and memory foam mattresses.
She has over 15 years of experience in the bedding, furniture, and textile industries. Sarah is a native of Arizona where she graduated from Northern Arizona University in the mid-noughties. When she’s not in the office she likes to tend to her apple tree orchard in Flagstaff where she lives with her husband and two daughters.