Aug 142016
 

So I get a fair amount of people coming to me in fear, in panic and mostly in pain because they used a lower-quality sex toy made from a dubious material or a material that contains a supposedly “helpful” additive (hey, lookin at you Sil-a-gel) and they want to have their fears alleviated but also, you know, not be in pain. I’ve read the fear in emails from people terrified they have caused themselves some sort of permanent damage; or they went to their doctor who probably frowned and loosely diagnosed them (if they have a vagina) with BV or maybe a yeast infection. Maybe these people told their doctor about their sex toy. Maybe they themselves didn’t know that the sex toy could be the cause of their vaginal burning until they read my old post about jelly dildos or my newer post about Sil-a-gel. Regardless, they’re in pain and scared and want to be neither. Or, maybe, they used a lube with a nasty chemical in it that they have now reacted horribly to. I’ve read about mild chemical burns from shitty lubes, too.

I’m not a doctor. I’m not a medical professional of any kind. I did vet these solutions with a midwife, but you may want to check with your own doctor first. When you speak to your doctor, be honest about what is causing the problem, be it sex toy or lube. At the very least you’ll be educating your doctor because many of them don’t know that this is happening. Ask them for treatment advise for a chemical irritation/burn.

If You’re Pretty Sure The Burning Pain is From Your Sex Toy

And you are certain it is not made from silicone (and I mean CERTAIN), glass, or hard plastic – we then must assume there is some chemical in the softened plastic/vinyl (PVC is the usual culprit, possibly rubber, maybe some mystery material) that is causing this and that said material has probably begun to leach oils and break down. You may experience lingering pain and burning because the bad chemical is attached to an oil and you’re not getting the oil off your genitals. So first, let’s get those oils away from your sensitive mucous membranes.

Plain water douche OR milk douche (not skim milk) – The plain water may help, but the proteins and fats in the milk may be better. You know how when you eat something WAY too spicy from peppers and cold milk eases your pain? Same concept. This should be avoided if you’re allergic to cow’s milk. I do not know if non-dairy milks will help here – as Lorax explained their reasoning to this suggestion it was based on the proteins and fats in the milk.  You can expect to need to do this a few times over the first few days. You can also just buy a quart of organic cream and add it to water and do a sitz bath. Try both tepid water and cool water for this, see which gives you more relief. If your water is treated or hard water you may want to consider using filtered water or distilled water for this. You can get a sitz bath for your toilet at any pharmacy, they look like this.

While you (probably) don’t have a yeast infection, you might consider a vinegar douche as described here. It may help get rid of the oils, and it will also kinda reset your pH which will be helpful if part or all of the problem is that you used a lube with a pH much lower than your own.

Yogurt Everywhere – but first, the warning: You must use plain, unsweetened, unflavored organic yogurt. Anything else is bad. It would be best if it has live, active cultures. If you think that most of the burning is external then just generously frost your vulva with cold yogurt and lay there in awkward positions in the bathroom while it works some magic. If you think that some of the burning is also interior then get a plastic tampon applicator (unscented, please), toss the tampon, and fill up the applicator with yogurt. You could also use a needle-less syringe or a very clean turkey baster.

A note: While I most often hear about burning vaginas and vulvas, this could happen to the rectum/anus as well I believe. I don’t see why these things wouldn’t work for the butt – just get an enema kit from your pharmacy.

These methods will soothe & cool the inflamed tissue and remove the oils. Now what? Your flesh is still sore and inflamed so you need to keep babying it.

Methods to Soothe Inflamed Genitals

In between rinsing and sitz-ing to make sure you removed the chemical that is burning your vagina or vulva, you need to calm down the inflammation and help yourself heal. Since vaginal burning isn’t limited to sex toys, if you have vaginal burning and it’s not a sex toy or infection, look at your lube. If the pain lasts only while you’re using the lube and for a little while after, it could either be a pH imbalance or a bad ingredient. Read about that here, and get yourself some pH strips to test you AND the lube. Most likely if you’re reacting badly to a crappy lube, there’s no oil involved – unless it’s one of those warming/cooling lubes, then YMMV. If the following methods don’t give you relief, go up and try the yogurt or milk tricks.

Get an old fashioned menstrual pad (not the dry-top-layer kind, the cheap kind) or even just some clean fabric / fabric pads. Soak it in chamomile tea and then refrigerate the whole thing a bit. You want it cold. Let the chamomile tea + the chill of it all calm down the inflammation. Repeat as necessary.

For external use only, a midwife also suggested hydro-cortisone cream if things are really bad.

If you have access to it, a CBD or THC infused coconut oil salve will really help speed up healing. If you’re in Canada look for Cannalife products, especially the salve.

Ice – but please use a barrier like a thin washcloth so that you don’t burn your skin from the ice. I bet anything your local grocery store (where you’re already headed for yogurt, chamomile and pads or tampons) has an ice cube tray like this in their drinks aisle. The long, round slender shape can lay nicely between your labia. It can slip into a condom1 (giving you a little protection from the cold and tied off so that you don’t soak the bed) and then be inserted vaginally (hey, smear it with yogurt for a double-attack – yogurt as lube and soother). Smitten Kitten sells a thing meant just for the genitals but you probably don’t want to wait on the shipping.

You’re probably a bit drier than normal right now so consider moisturizing with organic, unrefined coconut oil (unless you’re allergic). Other natural oils can help, too, like grapeseed. It seems that most people that will react badly to oils around their vulva react to refined oils (like Vaseline). Keep in mind that oils destroy latex and polyisoprene, so if you insist on having sex, use polyurethane condoms.

Wear loose, soft underthings and avoid sex and masturbation until you’re fully healed.

Please let us know in the comments if anything else has worked for you!

This post is brought to you by a blogger roundtable on-the-fly had in the Tantus Blogger Lounge at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit 2016 (where SheVibe was my sponsor). Many suggestions from the incredibly smart Lorax of Sex, with ideas also from Taylor and Caitlin. I thank you smart folks, and my readers will thank you. As we all tossed around ideas I started frantically entering them into a notes-taking-app on my phone; my phone which kept auto-correcting “douche” to “douchecanoe” and I had to just let that go, knowing I would understand the notes no less in a week or two.

 

  1. you should probably go with the unlubed kind just to be safe
 Posted by at 8:22 pm
Jul 312016
 

DishwasherFor people with a lot of dildos and butt plugs, there’s a really fast way to sanitize your sex toys: The dishwasher. But this cleaning method isn’t as straightforward as it seems! There are some rules and tips that must be followed, but first I want to talk about something important: sanitizing versus sterilizing and how your dishwasher fits into it. Sterilizing means that you are killing ALL living organisms, whereas sanitizing is killing “most” – enough to make things safe for public consumption. When we are talking about cleaning, there’s cleaning (removing dirt and fluids and cat hair), then sanitizing, then disinfecting, then sterilizing. To understand more about this, read this article on sanitizing and disinfecting, and this article on disinfecting vs sterilizing.

Not All Materials Can Handle It

You want to stick with sex toy materials that can handle the heat – silicone, metal, and borosillicate glass (not soda lime!!). You shouldn’t put the more delicate (porous) materials like softened PVC, TPR, “jelly”, rubber, or other similar  materials into the dishwasher, as they wouldn’t be able to withstand the heat from the sanitize cycle (not that I believe it would work, anyways, because I don’t believe those materials can ever be sanitized). Which brings us to the next important point…

It’s Not About Cleaning, It’s About Sanitizing – Which isn’t Sterilizing or Disinfecting

If your toys are covered in dried lube, bodily fluids, etc then give them a quick wash with mild soap and water, first. Next, load your sex toys into the top rack. Finally, make sure you choose the “sanitize” setting on the dishwasher. Don’t have a sanitize cycle? Then don’t bother using the dishwasher. If your dishwasher has a sanitizing setting then it uses an extended hot-water rinse to kill bacteria only – it will not kill viruses or fungi. The National Sanitation Foundation has a standard named NSF/ANSI Standard 184; this means that dishwashers with this certification kill 99.99% of bacteria on this “sanitize” setting. This certification states that the dishwasher’s “sanitize” setting also must reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit during that final rinse. I expected it to be higher, so this means that boiling can potentially kill more things. Even if your dishwasher has a “sanitize” setting, if it isn’t certified then it probably doesn’t reach 150 degrees. Using the dishwasher is primarily to sanitize in larger quantities, rather than just cleaning. If you’re using the toys solo and aren’t currently battling an outbreak, a mild soap and water wash in your kitchen sink or bathtub will do the job just fine in my opinion. Let’s also consider this point: using the “sanitize” setting on the dishwasher uses a lot more energy than a normal dishwasher cycle.

Never Use Detergent

Dishwasher detergent is abrasive and you really don’t want it mingling with your sex toys. This means that the sex toys don’t get tossed in with your dirty dishes, either. One reader asked me about adding a bit of bleach to the cycle, instead: I don’t recommend this. It’s not needed plus many dishwashers advise against it – heated bleach, even if it’s not heated to boiling, is pretty caustic. 

Vibrators Stand Alone

Sorry vibes, you can’t join this party. The heat of the sanitize cycle will probably damage the electronics, even if the vibrator is sealed in silicone and is labeled “waterproof”. It’s just not a risk I’m comfortable telling you to take.

 

 

Jul 242016
 

rightyclit2For a lot of people who like direct stimulation to their clitoris / clitoral shaft (the external part), they find that one side is usually more sensitive than the other. For me I usually have no hope of orgasm unless that tiny spot is stimulated in some way – whether it’s super pinpoint stimulation or moderately-focused-yet-powerfully-rumbly stimulation.

I first noticed this years ago when I found the first vibrator that mostly worked for me – a cheap pocket rocket – and noticed that I had to angle it just so to hit that tiny little spot on the right side of my clitoral shaft. This spot is so sensitive that a vibrator that is only semi-powerful and mostly rumbly can bring me to orgasm yet a super-powered broad-stimulation wand style vibrator is hit-or-miss. Despite the many wands I’ve reviewed, they’re really not my favorite and I could happily avoid them forever. If they’re buzzy, too? Ew, nope. Never gonna happen.

So after a reader found my review on the aforementioned vibrator where my strange analogy went something like this:

“My clitoris, which is a righty btw, responds just fine to some pressure and localized vibrations to the magic spot there on the right side. Many vibrators can’t get to that exact location because they’re too big or the vibrations don’t travel well enough to reach that spot. My clitoris isn’t on Main Street, it’s in a gazebo on the town green surrounded by land with only one sidewalk leading to it and it can’t hear you from the road unless you’re loud .”

They promptly had a happy freak-out:

“THIS IS A THING THAT IS TRUE FOR OTHER WOMEN?????? I’ve never fucking told ANYONE this about myself, I was worried it was because I broke by body doing something wrong as a kid or something, I have always felt too ashamed to tell partners. And this is a THING? Having a clit that is a “righty”??? Sorry this is kind of life changing for me. I didn’t know other people were like this. Have you met other women like this? Do partners get it when you tell them? Thank you.”

Poll the Mob

For years I thought I was “broken” because my clitoris isn’t sensitive enough to orgasm from manual stimulation 95% of the time. I desperately want to prove to my dear reader that yes, THIS IS A THING and it’s not uncommon! I took to Twitter to ask how many people have a preference on the side; I asked if some have a sweet spot, but on both sides; and I asked if they have no sensitive spot at all. Then we get even more geeky and ask if the sensitive side corresponds to your dominant writing hand. And for most, it does. SEX GEEK.

There’s no normal. There’s no “broken”. There’s atypical, there’s fussy, but I can promise you, dear readers, that someone else out there is just like you. Whether you have a spot, or you don’t, you’re normal.

How to Pamper your Righty (or Lefty)

As for wondering if partners get it when I tell them? I would hope so! My husband has figured it out on his own due to my reactions. However I haven’t had sex with anyone that I cared to give directions to since I figured this out and understood it. Penises have sensitive spots, too. My husband has one little spot where I can do the slightest thing and get a big reaction, so why wouldn’t a clitoris be the same? I’ve found that most sexual partners want to know how to please you best, and how to make you scream out an orgasm. Most partners would *love* to be shown and told exactly what you need. If they are not receptive to this or somehow get offended? Ditch em or fire them from clitoral duty and do it your self.

Some of my favorite vibrators for pinpoint stimulation are: The Crave Vesper; the We-Vibe Tango (super intense and rumbly); the Iroha Kushi and Yoru (and probably the Tori, even though I haven’t tried it); the Leaf Fresh+.  If you don’t mind kinda-buzzy vibes consdier the Jimmyjane Form 2; but I’m reluctant to recommend it with the problems I hear. Maybe the Crave Duet? I really need to try one of them.

 

The photo for this post is a “pussy galore” pendant from this Etsy store; I thought that the little gemstone next to the pearl was a good illustration for the sweet spot, although mine is typically up a little higher – if you’re looking at the clitoris, my spot would be at about 10 or 11 o’clock.

 Posted by at 5:42 pm
Jul 162016
 

Today we're talking about Doc Johnson sil-a-gel sex toys, and why they're causing chemical burns on genitalsOn the days that I wonder if I’m still relevant, if I’ve done enough of worth1 to make this blog helpful, I have to remember situations like this email. My heart absolutely sunk as I read it. I was grateful that I wrote about Doc Johnson sil-a-gel additive and all of its problems so that this reader could get the truth on what could be happening to her, but I am so angry that this is happening. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING, DOC JOHNSON??? Why do you insist on trying to polish the turd that is heavily-softened PVC by boasting about some mysterious “anti-bacterial” chemical that you add to your porous materials? A chemical that is clearly NOT rainbows and puppies judging by the number of people who have told me that their Doc Johnson sil-a-gel containing sex toy caused rashes, redness, small blisters and extreme pain.

Because I am not a doctor, and some parts of this email concern me even more, I’m sharing this with you, dear readers, to see if anybody can chime in. I’m also sharing this story because I want to know how many complaints like this will it take for Doc Johnson to ditch the sil-a-gel?

Although I have been very sexually active from a very young age I have always had an aversion to sex toys and never tried them. An accidental pregnancy put my libido into extreme overdrive while at the same time isolating me from my husband due to stress and tension, so I emotionally braced myself and decided to join ranks with all of the other women I know by masturbating with a Doc Johnson double ended dildo I received at my roller derby team’s white elephant christmas party. 

I have been suffering from repeat bouts of what I first thought was a yeast infection or BV, because of extreme itching and burning on my inner labia, but I haven’t had any discharge or foul odors. It literally feels like a chemical burn and often causes my clitoris to swell and the skin to peel. 

My list of drug allergies is like a mile long, including benzocaine, lidocaine, and micronazole and I get contact dermatitis from most soaps and anything that contains fragrances so I have always been very careful about what I put on my skin. My midwife suggested that it must be an allergic reaction to my husband’s body soap, the pH of his semen, or just my sensitivity to the pH and hormonal changes caused by my pregnancy. The only thing that seems to “calm” it is an ice pack followed by a thick layer of vaseline. 

As weeks went by, I realized my husband was intentionally avoiding sex with me and I suspected he might be having an affair, so then I worried that all of it could be an STD. I accused/confronted him but all my tests came back normal and he explained that he too had experienced a rash on his penis after having sex with me and didn’t want to get it again. We tried condoms (non latex) but it happened again AND I have also been suffering from an irritable uterus which means I get pre-labor contractions that force me to lie down and relax, so he pretty much decided we should just abstain from intercourse while I’m pregnant.

So out of sexual frustration I began using that dildo even more regularly, but really I am tired of it and it doesn’t provide the intimacy that I am craving. Desperate to figure out how to end this vaginal irritation, it dawned on me that the combination of petroleum and the rubber dildo might be a problem since I know you aren’t supposed to use vaseline as a lube with condoms so I began researching it and stumbled across your piece about Doc Johnson Sil-a-Gel.

So now I feel like “Eureka!” that’s got to be the root of my problems, but what are the full consequences? Obviously I am ditching that dildo and being such an awful first experience I doubt I will ever try a different sex toy, but how long will it take for me to heal?  And more importantly are there any documents or studies concerning phthalate toxicity during pregnancy??? I know this is a super long email and that you are not a doctor, but I am pretty freaked out and would appreciate any guidance, information, or direction you can give me.

So let’s delve into a few things first. Dear reader, please don’t let Doc Johnson sil-a-gel ruin you for sex toys. There are thousands of true, body-safe sex toys out there that won’t cause reaction – silicone, aluminum, stainless steel, glass, wood, and hard plastic to start with. Because I can’t recommend a dildo without knowing much more information, I’m reserving that for future conversations with the reader. Secondly, I’m not a fan of Vaseline in the vagina or on the vulva, so let me suggest some organic, non-refined coconut oil to help protect and moisturize the irritated skin without affecting your pH – only if you know you aren’t allergic to that. A small percentage of people are.

For those willing to make educated guesses and suggestions here, I do want to note I’ve already discussed lube with the reader, and know that it isn’t the cause of her problems.

As I researched the Doc Johnson “Ask The Doc” archives for some more info on their sil-a-gel products, I briefly pondered submitting my question about why people are experiencing chemical burns from using a Doc Johnson sil-a-gel containing sex toy. But then I came across so many flippant AND WRONG answers from whomever is in charge of this page that I am just absolutely stunned. Completely gobsmacked. I can only assume that Doc Johnson is never going to admit that there’s a chance that something about sil-a-gel is caustic and stop using it in their sex toys. They repeatedly advise their customers that it’s safe to use oil/oil-based lubes on their PVC dildos. Um, no, no it’s not. How about we look at this jar, which began with one large chunk of PVC as part of the dry mix and quickly degraded from the oils put out by other sex toys in the jar? Then they tell their customers that it’s safe to put their dildos in the dishwasher. Subjected to heat. A: this won’t do any goddamn good for getting it “clean”, because it’s porous and 2: ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? I don’t believe for a minute that softened PVC will withstand the heat of a dishwasher.

Customer asks: Can I use silicone lube with silagel? Doc Rep answers: "Yo...So Sil-a-gel is an antibacterial compound that we add to our "Made in America" products. It is not a coating or a separate material. It is added into our material in the raw mixing phase so that the antibacterial agents are actually engrained into the product and will not wash away with use. Although you should always wash your products with mild soap and water, Sil-a-Gel is our way of going the extra mile to make sure that your products are as safe and clean as they can be"

Customer asks: Does platinum silicone have platinum in it and is it 100% silicone". Doc Rep answers: "Just silicone....the Platinum is like... when you get a Platinum credit card it's not platinum. At least mine isn't"

*facepalm* Yes, actually, there are trace amounts of platinum left behind and they can be detected in lab tests. It’s called platinum silicone because platinum, the mineral, is used as a curing agent. Not because it’s like a “platinum credit card”. For fucks sake, really?

Customer asks: What grade is your platinum silicone toys (ex: food or medical grade)? Doc Rep says: "that would be health grade"

Um….can you show me what “health grade” is, by definition? Can you tell me it’s even a thing? Because I can’t find that.

Customer asks if coconut oil is safe on PVC, Doc Rep says "we don't test coconut oil on our items. But as far as I know PVC is a very hardy material and if you wash right after use it should be fine"

So here we have one of many answers that the person/people behind this section of the website should really just answer with a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE:

Customer notices that they see answers here saying that PVC can be used with "any lube we like" which they assume to also include oil-based lubes, but every other website says that PVC degrades from oil (which, it does). They ask what lube they SHOULD use. Doc rep says "R5 (PVC) can be used with water based, silicone, or hybrid lubes".

Here they kinda get vague, by not really answering the question directly. And yes, every other website DOES say PVC degrades from oil, because it’s true. So while they won’t outright admit they’re giving wrong info, they vaguely say that it can be used with “water based, silicone or hybrid lubes” and they don’t say “Hey sure! It should be fine with oil!” like they do in all these other answers. “Should” be! SMH.

Customer asking if oil-based lubes can be used with Doc Johnson products, particularly the crystal jellies. Doc rep says: "Our UR3 pleasure items can only be used with water based lubes. All of our items made of PVC can be used with just about any lube you want". Way to dodge the actual question!

Customer asks: "will oil based lube degrade phthalate-free PVC toys? I'm not talking about if it's safe for humans, but only if it negatively affects the toy itself (resistance, durability). The Doc Rep answers with a mere: "Should be just fine". SHOULD BE.

Oh and yeah. Dishwasher safe. They never tell you to turn off the heat drying. I’ve always been under the assumption that heat is bad for these unstable materials. Given that the rep(s) don’t even acknowledge that oil is bad for their non-silicone materials, I don’t trust these recommendations, either, and neither should anyone else.

Customer asks: Is the crystal jellies classic dongs dishwasher safe? and Doc Rep says: "Oh yes. you can put them in the dishwasher but use the top rack".

customer asks: How do I clean / disinfect a Softee dont? (PVC) and Doc rep says: " warm water and liquid soap work great. You can even try the top rack of you dishwasher" (typo theirs) (and yes, they say "try" without giving any qualifiers on avoiding heat)

You know, I really liked the Truskyn line. I’ve assured others that Doc Johnson silicone IS silicone. I’ve said that while I don’t love their immense offerings of porous sex toys and I fucking hate their sil-a-gel bullshit, that they weren’t as bad as some of the other big companies. I don’t know, now. I just don’t know. Their responses when someone questions them are really fucking lovely: 

customer says: hello. I've been reading a lot about PVC and the safety factor of its use in sex toys. Since you supposedly do not use phthalates in the Titan men rumpy butt plug may I ask which plasticizer is used? and Doc rep replies: "All of our material that we use has been deteremind to be body safe. Oh....and we do not give out proprietary information. And...I have learned not to believe everything I read online"

Customer asks: Why do the silagel products always smell extremely abhorrent? Doc Rep repeats the same explanation about sil-a-gel as above, but says first "So...sil-a-gel isn't a material and doesn't smell" LIE!

“Sil-a-gel isn’t a material and doesn’t smell”

BULLFUCKINGSHIT IT DOESN’T SMELL!!

 

Please, don’t buy sil-a-gel-added products. Just don’t do it. This may mean you have to avoid Doc Johnson as a brand if you do not want to spend the money on silicone sex toys.

  1. and yes, after 8 years I still have those days
 Posted by at 3:57 pm
May 292016
 

Is your glass sex toy safe? Image shows an array of glass sex toys on a teal backgroundEverybody and their brother claims to be creating/selling high quality glass sex toys; they may tout brand names like Pyrex or toss out the term “borosilicate” as if those words automatically mean quality anymore. When we know how shady many sex toy companies can be and how they can say whatever they want about their product without the need for truth in advertising, people naturally get skeptical regarding the true safety of glass sex toys. I’m always trying to find new ways of testing sex toys at home for quality, material, and relative safety. Since one of the few things I could do is burning to see if it’s silicone or not, I never thought I’d be able to test a glass sex toy at home until Crystal Delights talked about using a polariscope on some glass pieces which shows stress in glass. I figured out how to run the test at home, cheaply, and then proceeded to spend more than a few dollars buying various brands to test. I tested them all for glass quality and lead content  – I have no way of testing for Cadmium or other harmful heavy metals, though. I have always received questions about the relative safety of inexpensive glass sex toys and I can finally give you some more in-depth answers. I suspect we won’t stop with this post; I’ve already talked to Crystal Delights years ago and I plan to present you with a more in-depth chat with the people behind Fucking Sculptures, soon.

Please note: This piece is to inform and educate, not scare you. If you are worried about the glass sex toys you own after reading this, please contact me. Send me a link, send me photos, etc. I’ll help you determine if you need to toss it or just baby it.

Pyrex Means Nothing

You probably associate the name Pyrex with tough glass – glass that can stand up to a drop, that can be boiled, etc. On the boiling front, you’re right – borosilicate glass can be boiled or can be the vessel for boiling. But Pyrex just isn’t what it used to be anymore – namely it used to be well-made borosilicate and now it’s soda-lime.  Sometime in the 1990s Corning and their Pyrex name were bought out by a Chinese company called World Kitchen. Since then, Pyrex items just aren’t as tough. I ran the glass test on some Pyrex branded items I own – the new Pyrex measuring cups showed rainbows in the parts. The lid from my 1950s CorningWare casserole dish was completely clear on both the polariscope and polarimeter. A lab flask from the 60s was also showing clear on both tests. So when you see glass companies bragging about how they use Pyrex glass? They’re full of shit. Pyrex isn’t a type of glass, it’s a brand and it is no better or worse as a name brand than anything generic. If you want glass brand names that mean something look for people talking about Simex or Schott glass, which are used for medical purposes. Plus, if the glass isn’t annealed then nothing matters. I’ve seen a lot of cheap glass sex toys boasting “Pyrex” and they’re not annealed. Most of these same sex toys that use the term “Pyrex” also say “borosilicate”. Since Pyrex is no longer borosilicate this presents a bit of Pinocchio situation. So what are they really? They may very well be borosilicate glass, which is fine but just saying that doesn’t really make it any better than soda lime glass that is annealed – soda-lime is used by Fucking Sculptures, Steele Malone, Standard Glass and Simply Blown, to name a few. Even when annealed though you can’t plunge a soda-lime glass dildo into boiling water. But annealing does strengthen glass and make it able to withstand some abuse. My Fucking Sculptures soda-lime glass dildo may not be able to withstand boiling water but it definitely is hardy and break-resistant because FS makes their pieces carefully and properly. The cheap “Pyrex” now made in China hasn’t been made carefully; my newer measuring cups have all chipped on the lip/spout.

What Annealing Means (and doesn’t)

I talked to a lot of glass experts when researching this and I could include information from many people here. Some have said that it’s nearly impossible to anneal away all stress in thick glass sex toys; some disagree. Some “internet experts” have gotten the terms annealing and tempering confused; you probably wouldn’t find a tempered glass dildo.  First, here’s some information from Maria at Fucking Sculptures:

It is both theoretically and actually impossible to remove all stress from any glass, and especially so with objects that vary in thickness, shape, and color. Some stress actually strengthens glass, that extreme being known as “tempering” (also from metallurgy) or quick cooling, which is done to car side windows (not windshields!) and some drinkware. It makes them VERY hard to break up to a certain point way beyond that of annealed glass, but at which point they break into a zillion pieces. Do note that as stressed out as they are, car windows and drinkware never break themselves! Someone has to do it for them. So, having said all that, yes, our dildos do have some stress. We do anneal them in a longer cycle than most anything else made in our studio, because they are relatively thick. We anneal them in the upper part of our oven, which provides more evenly controlled heat. We also know that having some stress makes them stronger, having dropped them on various floors, even sometimes concrete won’t break them. There are other issues going on, too. Hard or soft, the skilled and careful glassmaker has to keep whatever object is being made fairly evenly hot throughout the sculpting process, thus taking a lot of the stress out of the glass before it even reaches the cooling oven. Design plays a part, too. That butt-plug ring you mention should never have existed in the first place, and more subtle things are prone to break as well – abrupt changes in thickness or angle can be interesting features in metal, for instance, but doomed in glass. Factory production of course is riddled with risks- harried or unskilled employees, quotas, deadlines, budgets- all of which increase chances for error, or worse. We avoid all that by having 2 people (sometimes a third) make everything.

Next, I want to share with you what Standard Glass told me:
 
Looking for strain with a polariscope is not just as simple as rainbow or no rainbow.  Yes, totally clear is a good sign.  But there are varying levels and intensities of coloration, and reading them is something that takes training.  Strain in glass doesn’t always make it weak, it can also make it strong.  Think about tempered glass, like is used in skyscraper windows.  Tempered glass has a controlled pattern of stress put into it during manufacturing.  It is very flexible and durable, and takes immense amounts of bending from wind, earthquakes, etc.  Regular, annealed sheet glass would surely snap, but the tempered glass doesn’t.  However, once the tempered glass reaches its limits, it blows up into little square chunks like auto glass does.

This would be bad for a sex toy, but is an example of how complicated strain is.  The junk import “pyrex” toys are just formed at a torch and likely allowed to cool on a tabletop.  Maybe they go into a kiln, but I’ll bet not.  This is not good strain in glass, and it’s not safe.  I’m not expert enough to properly read the stress in the images you sent, but my basic understanding is that the tighter/brighter the rainbows are, the higher the stress levels are.  The mellow brown/purple haze is likely safe for use.  You might try going to your local university and seeing if they have a scientific glassblowing lab in the chemistry department somewhere.  Down there, there will be someone who knows quite a bit about polariscopes and glass.  They will likely also have a much fancier polariscope with graded dials, one that can let the user rate strain in ranges and give a better idea of its stability.

The toys we produce at Standard Glass are of soda lime glass, not pyrex, and if we put our toys on the tabletop after making them, they would blow up before they’re cool.  Everything we make goes through a computer controlled cooling process in a large, well calibrated, custom kiln.  We have made clear toys and both polariscope tested them (polariscope only works on clear glass), and also test them by breaking/sawing them into pieces.  Glass with stress breaks/cuts differently than well annealed glass. 

Color is also a source of stress.  Making colored glass changes the physical attributes of the glass, and so the color formula needs to be chemically tweaked so the final result “fits” with the clear glass you’re using.  At our shop, our color is made in New Zealand, is tailor made for our clear glass and our process, and is tested at their factory.  We also test each batch of color with our product/process here at the shop before we use it.  In China or any other glass shops, there’s no telling what’s happening.  Hopefully they’re being thorough, but that’s why it’s best to stick with long time, tested toy manufacturers. When I see a Chinese glass dil with two or three colors in it for $17 retail, I definitely wouldn’t recommend putting it inside anyone.  Stick with older, more trusted brands.  Stay domestic.  Pay a fair price.

What’s the Big Deal?

Cheaply made glass sex toys are still unlikely to break while they are inside of you. When a cheap toy has a stress point (thin necks, like butt plugs or handles) there is a greater chance that it will break at this spot. As you’ll read below I’ve come across one instance of a glass sex toy breaking while inside someone’s body.

What is more likely to happen is that your glass sex toy will simply break/crack easily even with great care. As it gets used and handled over time the stress inside the glass gets worse until one day it falls off your bed onto your carpeted floor and breaks in half. Or a chip forms on the base of your plug. As long as you thoroughly examine your glass toy before every single use and after every single time you clean it I don’t feel that there is a huge risk of bodily harm in most cases.  I’ve heard from many people that cheap glass sex toys have arrived to them already broken, scratched, etc.

Sadly, as is the case with porous materials versus body-safe materials, there will always be a large number of people unwilling or unable to buy a properly made glass sex toy. When an improperly made glass sex toy can be had for under $20 while an annealed, hand-made glass toy can cost hundreds of dollars the choice to take the risk is understandable. Amazon is, naturally, appealing but take a look at what happened when I tried to order a few “name brand” pieces from Amazon as part of my testing phase.

Bottom line: cheap glass sex toys will need to be replaced; high quality glass sex toys won’t. A cheap glass sex toy may break easily; a high quality glass dildo won’t.

How to Test Your Own Glass Sex Toys

The test only works on clear or light-colored glass. Dark glass won’t show you much, if anything. Pastel blue, pink, lavender and maybe glass with small shots of color running through will all work well in the test. All you need is a computer monitor and a circular polarizing lens – I used this exact one in part because it was a lot bigger than my existing camera lens 1 (my c-polarizing lens that I use on my camera is 40-some mm, fairly small) and in part because it was cheap. Since I wanted to take photos that showed both the view from behind the lens and naked glass, I didn’t want to attach the polarizing filter to my camera lens. I also used a small light tent box to make sure that what I was seeing wasn’t a reflection of other things. It seemed to work best when the room was dark with no overhead light. It also worked best to have a totally blank, bright white screen, so I used this webpage and F11.

Depending on which way you look through the lens you are creating either a polarimeter or a polariscope. The polarimeter shows color where there is minor to moderate stress, but it requires a degree to figure it out. The best answer I could get was from Glass Alchemy who said that “totally clear is best, but those showing gold and indigo are still relatively strong and shouldn’t be a problem”. You will only see the gold and indigo if you’re using it as a polarimeter. How to tell if you’ve got -meter or -scope? When you hold the lens and rotate it, the -scope side should at some point black out the monitor, as shown in my photos below. Now according to Glass Alchemy and Fucking Sculptures, showing some stress isn’t bad. According to Crystal Delights, showing any stress is bad. If I test items that I know are made to withstand drastic conditions (vintage Corningware Pyrex casserole lid and a lab flask) they show zero stress. Personally, with the small market share of glass sex toys that have been annealed being what it is, I’ll still recommend some brands that show *some* stress versus a lot of stress just because the list of “no stress” perfect glass sex toys is woefully small. I know you need choice

How to Evaluate the Results

This is pretty much the one time in life where rainbows are bad. It doesn’t matter which side of the filter you look through, if the piece is mass-produced in China with no tempering or annealing in any way then you will see rainbows. This means the piece is holding on to a lot of stress at various points and can break easily. It can be fine for a few years and then one day break easily – Sunny Megatron described this to me with a dildo that was great for a couple of years and then one day it took a light fall 2 feet from the bed to the carpeted floor and it broke.

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crystaldelightsstress Pipedreamstress

Conversely, a properly annealed glass sex toy could be dropped from a few feet onto a hard surface and probably suffer no damage. Maria from Fucking Sculptures has said that they’ve dropped their annealed pieces on a concrete floor and they didn’t break. Standard Glass has said the same.

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What you ideally want is a glass sex toy that has been annealed – and it’s highly unlikely that the mass produced China products have been. Annealing means that after the hot glass piece is done being created, it is put into an oven which is brought up to a certain high temperature, over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and then slowly cooled at a precise rate. This takes two things the China plants usually don’t have – time and money. In my testing I only ran across 2 mass produced brands that had pieces that weren’t filled with rainbows.

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Are Colored Glass Sex Toys Safe? Is Painted Glass Safe?

I’ve seen some shady stuff in my searches, like CalExotics dildos with decals painted on and Pipedream dildos with a weird irridescent glaze to them. I’ve also wondered about the colored glass bumps, dots and swirls we often see added to the design. According to Ryan at Luscious Playthings: “There are “lusters” that can be applied to the surface of glass and then fired on in the kiln, sort of like a glaze, but they’re highly toxic. As for bumps or texture being added to the surface, as long as it’s melted in good it should pose no threat.” Nearly all glass artists are using colored glass – they get pre-colored glass rods to create the lines, swirls and flowers/mushrooms or “frit” which is crushed colored glass that can be used inside the clear or rolled onto the outside (the latter is how Fucking Sculptures does it).

Another interesting tale which involves, naturally, Pipedream’s Icicles line. Jane told us about someone who boiled a red Icicles dildo and the water turned red! Whatever was going on here, they weren’t using red glass. It sounds like they were using some sort of luster or paint. Not safe! I tried boiling some colored dildos to see if there would be any bleeding in the water and I didn’t detect anything. Someone else commented here about the color flaking off during boiling of their Pipedream Icicles.

And what about metallic coatings? How hardy and body-safe are they? Unfortunately I don’t know. It would take lab tests to find out the material they are using combined with extensive wear tests to see if it rubs off like the metallic coating on Lelo items.

Another question has been about leaded glass – is the cheap stuff riddled with lead? Turns out, nope. Not a single item in my possession tested positive for lead. Only one glass thing in my house did test for lead, but that was a decorative ornament. I used the 3M Lead Check swabs.

Glass Sex Toys to Avoid

At this point, I’m reluctant to tell you to avoid certain brands. Sure, if I had my way about it I’d tell you to avoid Pipedream and retailer-branded glass, and of course everything from Amazon. They’re not going to be annealed, ever. I don’t feel, nor does anyone else I’ve spoken to, that most of these designs will break/snap while inside your body. I don’t see you exerting enough force on the object, nor would the temperature change from cold to internal body temp be enough to stress it to breaking.

There is one major design I cannot recommend: The style with a pull-ring at the end. If you see this style made by the cheaper companies, AVOID IT. The following story is true:

An employee of Nitecap Megastore on Staten Island shared the photo with me. She purchased this to use on her partner, after finally working through his skepticism on trying prostate stimulation. The piece in question had been handled with care on her end and this happened the first time they used it – the pull ring broke while it was in his ass. “Luckily the plug wasn’t even fully situated in his ass yet so he was able to contract his muscles and push the piece out on his own”, she told me. I’ve spoken many times about the amazing “vacuum” nature of the butt; if a large salami or bottle of pancake syrup can get sucked up and require a doctors care for removal, I’m sure you can imagine how easily that incident with the broken glass piece could have been a serious accident. The lacerations he would have sustained internally could have been life-threatening.

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Other tips for deciding if a glass piece from an artist is truly their own, or not: check to see if the design(s) are common. One of the most common designs was (originally? I think?) the Don Wands Bent Graduate. SSA Glass called it the Amethyst. I’ve seen it all over Amazon and I’ve even seen it in the small Etsy shops where they claim to hand-make all their own glass to the highest of standards. Could they just be making that design because it’s popular, and it’s still a quality handmade piece? Sure, absolutely. But when I look through their shop and see generic designs that feel familiar, I move on.

One company I will tell you to avoid is The Glass Dildo Shop aka A Tough of Glass, a UK seller. The company owner is a lying sack of crap, so there’s that, but their site has this ridiculous scare-tactic post warning you about low-quality glass sex toys, how easily they break and even show a photo of a shattered glass plug to scare you further. The irony here is that their pieces are the exact things they warn you against. In the height of the drama as we uncovered more info about The Glass Dildo Shop someone sent me one of the dildos they received for review and it didn’t pass the polariscope test. Rainbows galore! Their post which talks about “regular window glass” is an infuriating piece of bullshit, especially given their lies. It’s not about the glass, it’s about the annealing!! They talk about second-hand glass dildos leading you to “contract something nasty”, and while used products are certainly a possibility in some crappy markets, glass is truly non-porous and very easy to sanitize.  I fucking hate this company and would like to see them disappear from the internet for good, along with the owner David Mattocks.

Glass Sex Toy Brands I Endorse

When I was gathering up glass from various companies, and in many cases speaking to the company owners/glass blowers, it became clear on who you can trust to give you a high-quality product.

Crystal Delights: They inspired me to write this piece and do the testing; I couldn’t get the polariscope they used, so I fashioned my own. I fully trust every product from Crystal Delights. I even tested an item from them myself and it was perfectly clear with no visible stress. You can buy direct from CD, or purchase select pieces at SheVibe.

Fucking Sculptures: I couldn’t test their pieces with the polariscope because of the colored glass they use, but I’ve dropped a piece (no damage) and have talked extensively with Maria. I’ve seen videos of their work and I fully trust that every product from Fucking Sculptures is annealed and made properly. You can also buy these at SheVibe.

Luscious Playthings: They currently sell on Etsy, and used to have a few styles that were sold by GoodVibrations under a different name. The piece they sent me shows as nearly clear in my tests, I only notice a bit of gold/indigo when I turn the product certain ways – however the piece they sent me is also much larger/thicker than the other items I’ve tested. It has been noted that with the thick pieces it would be pretty damn difficult to get rid of all stress from annealing. I’d rate their glass highly. While their stuff isn’t as fancy as Crystal Delights or Fucking Sculptures, you’ll find a lot of moderately-priced interesting designs that work well. They have a lot of glass butt plugs, and a really interesting handled dildo (which they sent me to try out) which I quite enjoyed – the shaped and handle were great but I don’t like textured bumps as a personal preference. I tried not to let the bumps affect how I feel about their piece overall. You know I like dildos with a long handle and curve for easier use and theirs certainly lived up to my standards. I would definitely recommend Luscious Playthings as a safe company with great products.

Glass by Woozy: They also sell on Etsy. I purchased a really small, clear piece from them just to test and it passed the annealing test. A number of bloggers have reviewed their items and have always been happy with the end result.

Standard Glass: They only sell to particular stores; Babeland and Smitten Kitten being a few. They sent me a totally clear version of their product to include in my testing and it showed absolutely no signs of stress. It’s well made and the colored versions are beautiful.

Ttamage: Another Etsy seller; also has seen a good number of blogger reviews. I haven’t tested anything from them but I have spoken to the owner/blower when I’ve done research and he knows his stuff. I would recommend them.

Simply Blown, Steele Malone, and Phallix Glass are also brands that I’ve heard good things about. Phallix is hard to find, and so far I’ve only seen it at Holistic Wisdom.

Glass Sex Toy Brands and My Testing

The following items I purchased or received for testing purposes did not pass – results were obvious with a lot of rainbow action: Lovehoney brand, 50 Shades of Grey line, 2 knock-off dildos from Amazon, Spartacus Blown, Pipedream Icicles, Edenfantasys brand, A Touch of Glass/ theglassdildoshop.com brand.

The following items showed extremely little or zero stress: Crystal Delights, Standard Glass, Glass by Woozy. These items are as perfect as my vintage Pyrex/Corningware lid and my lab flask.

The following showed indigo/gold (low-to-moderate) stress: Luscious Playthings, Jopen Key Comet G Wand, Glas Chili Pepper (this one showed the most indigo), NS Novelties Heart Wand, Sinclair Institute.

A few miscellaneous things I wanted to note: as part of my test I was going to send an already-photographed rainbow-y dildo over to Crystal Delights and have them anneal it. Yes, they can anneal an already-made toy, and have done so on their own to show that it wasn’t the glass quality giving a bad polarimeter reading, it was the lack of annealing. However, the research and massive undertaking of this project meant that I first started researching and gathering product as early as August of 2015 and only now in almost-June of 2016 am I publishing this piece. I feared that if I put this off any longer I would never get this beast of a post published.

Also in the vein of “I need to get this published, it is looming over me and stressing me out” my photos aren’t as awesome as I wanted them to be. I guess it only really matters that I am showing the differences, but still. My apologies here.  When I locate the larger lens filter I’ll re-shoot the images here.

 

 

  1. By the time I was ready to click publish I realized I didn’t have nearly enough photos – and suddenly I couldn’t find my large polarizing lens. Squinting to see through my little 40mm one was pure hell
 Posted by at 10:12 pm
May 152016
 

It was September of  2013 when we first met the cast of the Jar of Melted Sex Toys aka Jar of Horrors…..

When I filled the jar May of 2013, I filled it to the lid. After seeing the Smitten Kitten original jar (which you’ll see in the video here) I knew that I could put these old sex toy bits to good use. The blue Blossom Sleeve and the clear pieces are TPR; the purple bit is from an old tentacle dildo from ZetaPaws and it was PVC probably with phthalates. I’m not sure anymore what the orange things are made of – I’d assumed TPR but they’re not deflating as much (probably because they had less fillers and softeners) so your guess is as good as mine. The sex toys had a bit of a head-start with breaking down, as they had been in storage for awhile. The Blossom Sleeve was the last thing to be shoved in. It only took three months though to have a small puddle of oil and overall content shrinkage of about and inch-ish.

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In November of 2013 I noticed that the liquid in the bottom of the jar seemed to have doubled. The purple thing had drifted down into the abyss a little, while also losing a bit of its mass. 

purpleshiftNovember

Fast-forward a year, to November 2014. By this time I’d already unveiled my boring Jar of Silicone in February (which is still unchanged, btw…no reactions).The purple bit which was once up to the Ball logo is now down at the bottom. Overall, the contents had fallen even further, leaving more empty space.

MeltedJarNov14 MeltedJarNov14pt2

In June of 2015 I unpacked my jars a few months after our move. Because the Jar of Horrors ended up on its side for a few months the contents really shifted. It was then that I realized that the clear, glitter-filled TPR rabbit vibe material seemed to be a glacier-like mass of goo, probably about the consistency of half-set jello, maybe? It was capable of looking like a puddle of oil or just a mass of ice. It only took a few hours of the jar being uprighted to see the glacier of goo shift and change. To be honest I was pretty fascinated.

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Today I decided to take more pictures as I come up on another year since the last time we checked it. The jar took a trip to Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit in August of 2015 so that people could see it in person, but I’d pretty much ignored the jar since then.

JarMay16-Whole JarMay16-4

JarMay16-1 JarMay16-2

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I don’t think that what appears to be oil filling nearly half the jar is actually a liquid. I think it’s a combination of this clear TPR which has deflated and transformed, plus all the oil. Let’s take another look though (sorry about the noise – it’s windy today!)

 

These materials, toxic or not, are all porous and “chemically unstable”. The materials have a high amount of plasticizers (plastic softener) which is sometimes phthalates, sometimes mineral oil, sometimes….who knows what. There is oil in all of these materials; you can tell this when they start to first decompose and “sweat” and feel greasy. I believe that for some toys, even if stored alone and in proper conditions, they won’t break down very quickly. All it takes is some stop-touching-me contact though and suddenly it’s a horse of a different color – it’s like a snowball effect. They touch and the oils from each somehow start a reaction in the other toy. This multiplies and continues; the more oil, the more touching, the more it all deforms and deflates and oozes. The liquid in the jar is heavy and thick like mineral oil, maybe even a little thicker than that. It’s fascinating in a science-geek way. It’s gross because this is how these crappy materials behave, this is how unstable they are and thousands upon thousands of people are using them. They don’t know because they assume that if these materials are being sold to us, then they must be safe. They don’t start researching online until something bad happens – until their sex toy deforms in their drawer, grows mold (which shows up at first as black dots) or burns their genitals.

And lest you think that this only happens in certain conditions, like a jar, I can point you to other images. Like this time that a reviewer left a TPR masturbation sleeve on the PVC head of the Doxy Wand for an extended period of time (past his use of it).

 Posted by at 11:49 am