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.

goodandbadglass minorglassstress

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.

annealedglass

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.

moderateglassstress

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.

pipedreambroken

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.

wholejar meltingglitter

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

JarMay16-3

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
Oct 142015
 

SilicaGelSilicone. It’s the “gold standard” material of sex toys for most, and it’s also the material we’re the most leery about. You see, for years we were tricked. For years we were sold silicone sex toys that were anything but, because there are no regulations and they can tell us it’s made of fucking unicorn poop and wouldn’t get into trouble. So we started taking a lighter to it and calling it out when we’d find something that didn’t deliver on its claims. The industry seems to have gotten a lot better with silicone usually being silicone, and us seeing more affordable silicone options.

But we still have a lot of confusion. I recently cleared up the whole Sil-a-gel debate (additive; not material) but I keep getting asked about Silicon and “Medical Grade Silica Gel”. Take a guess at where we’ve heard the latter. Come on, I’ll give you three guesses. Yep, AMAZON. Ebay. AliExpress. So I decided I had no choice but spend some money and see what is what.

Is Medical Grade Silica Gel Even a Thing??

The term “medical grade silica gel” is coming up so often on the sites I don’t recommend you shop at for a major reason: I suspect it’s a language barrier thing. When you see it you can assume that the listing is made by one of those companies that is selling knock-offs and cheap crappy toys straight from the China plant they were made in. Most of the items listed on Amazon as “medical grade silica gel” shipped from China; it was hard for me to find some that were on Prime (because I’m cheap AND impatient). The other thing I notice: On most listings that say “medical grade silica gel” they ALSO say “medical grade silicone” somewhere in there, or just silicone. The only thing I can find for silica gel is the desiccant stuff; it’s found in hard pellets. It’s related to silicon. It’s NOT a sex toy material and should never be trusted. I think that if you see something listed as this, run the other direction. You have a 2 out of 3 chance that it’s not silicone.

The first item I picked, I picked because it obviously wasn’t silicone – the material is crystal clear. This rabbit is weird and cheap and who would want soft spines?? Anyway, what’s interesting is now the listing mentions nothing of medical grade silica gel, or silicone. You can see in the screencaps below that it used to. It’s now listed properly as TPE.  It’s a good thing I got screencaps; I did that initially because I assumed that at some point they would stop selling the item. I didn’t realize some would actually change the material listing.

SilicaGel6 SilicaGel7

The second item I chose because it looked like it *could* be silicone, and it was cheap and didn’t come directly from China. On Amazon, it’s called  Utimi brand – the rabbit up above did come in branded packaging that said Utimi, but this blue thing came branded as Shaki. Hey, it’s not the first time they called it one brand on Amazon and I got another. This Utimi brand also wasn’t the only brand I tried to purchase – I tried to purchase two others of a different brand, from a different seller, but they both were canceled. The listing showed something like “12 in stock” but then shortly after ordering it was canceled. They wrote to tell me they’re sorry, it’s out of stock. And never coming back in. And here’s a refund. It felt kinda shady, if I’m honest. Oh have I mentioned that my user profile on Amazon links to my blog? Is that relevant? hmmm

SilicaGel3 SilicaGel4

And the third item is a little bunion-protector/toe separator. I’ve seen these and similar foot things on the site just as silicone, or as the silica gel. I actually purchased something similar a few months back, looking for a cushioning heel cup. I thought the material felt identical to the Tenga Eggs, but since I wanted to return the item I chose not to burn it. There are a ton of these on the market, most are listed incorrectly in terms of material, and the material looked a lot different than the rabbit. Since the “frost” sorta reminds me of the white O2 layer on some Tantus toys, I thought there actually was a chance it could be super-soft silicone.

SilicaGel2 SilicaGel1

The burn verdict: The crystal clear rabbit was obviously not silicone, but we knew that just by looking. The material lit up easily and burned like an oil lamp, the material merely melting/deforming. No ash. The blue thing behaved exactly like silicone – a scorch mark I wiped away, ash when it finally caught a bit of a burn, not much material destruction. The toe thing? Behaved just like the crystal clear rabbit – it burned bright, hot and easily with obvious deforming/melting and no ash.

Silicon

The use of silicon vs silicone doesn’t really seem to be a cultural thing or a language-barrier thing; I’ve seen all variety of people misusing this term. It becomes even more confusing then, and makes us side-eye real hard, when a manufacturer rep uses that term on social media.

Silicon (Si) is not silicone. Not even close. It does eventually make up another awesome sex toy material though – glass. Guess where else it’s naturally found? Quartz. This isn’t something that eventually makes up your average soft dildo, folks. Whether it’s a typo or just a lack of understanding of science and the elemental chart, the use is too common and should be corrected whenever you see it. Does seeing it being used mean that they may be lying? I’m not sure. It’s too easy to mix up the two when you are not paying attention to basic material information.

Silicone

Silicone can be a liquid or a solid. People sometimes say “silicone rubber” and they don’t mean they think it’s a blend, they’re saying it to convey that it is a rubber-like version of a silicone product. I’ve also seen some say “silicone elastomer” to convey the same meaning, but without the negative connotations of the word “rubber” (they don’t realize it’s redundant to us, and makes us wary). It can be super soft and squishy, or really firm. Silicone can hold onto strong odors1. It won’t melt when it touches other cured silicone products. It’s essentially non-porous and bacteria, mold, and other fungi won’t breed and make homes in the tiny pores. When you burn it, if it catches, you’ll see a light grey ash. It can be cheap or expensive.

But please, don’t ever call it ‘Silicon’ and run from places that say ‘Medical grade silica gel’.

  1. yes, you can get rid of the odors, yes I’ll write about that down the line
 Posted by at 3:00 pm
Oct 072015
 

Author’s Note: This post is continually updated as things happen so please be sure to read to the bottom for the latest updates.

I’ve been accused once of being a bully, and a mean girl, on social media because I dare to stand up for myself and other bloggers. At the risk of facing more accusations like that I’m writing this piece and bringing this situation to light because the further we dug the more it went from “weird” to “predatory”.

In my research on glass sex toys I came across a scare-tactic article from “A Touch of Glass ®“, a UK glass sex toy retailer. Much of their information is correct (the cheap mass-produced China glass items are indeed cheap and can break easily) but they take it a step further, warning folks that shady companies might use “window glass” and insinuating that the glass dildo can shatter to bits while in use. That’s false, and it irks me.  Given that they sell many designs that are commonly found elsewhere in the industry from many companies, I have my doubts – one such design is known best in the reviewing circles as the Bent Graduate from Don Wands. It is replicated by EdenFantasys, SSA Glass, and dozens of no-name glass sellers on Amazon and even Etsy. Every version of that glass dildo that I have tested by polariscope has failed. Yet their company claim leads one to believe that one wouldn’t find a dildo in their shop that doesn’t pass a simple stress test: “To maintain such a venerable high standard, our glass dildo product range specifically excludes the cheap far-eastern imports of dubious origin and questionable quality, flooding the mass market these days.”1

I don’t follow this company on social media but I’ve seen them around and yesterday a photo they posted for #asswednesday, oddly enough, tweaked my Spidey Sense. I did a reverse image search and surely enough….there’s the photo they used but on The Chive, a “bro” site that frequently does round-up posts of selfies from around the ‘net. Then I did a reverse search on the avatar – and found that the unedited version is used on many adult dating sites as a “teaser” image for “some of their members”. This same avatar image is also used for “Jenny Dillar” on Facebook who is listed as the Owner/Partner2 of ‘A Touch of Glass ®‘.  On Twitter recently a new employee was introduced..yet even her headshot is fake. Why even do that? When you read the “About” pages on their website which introduces us to three lovely women (Carol, Jenny and Lauren) is it said that LAUREN is the person controlling the Twitter account….yet Jenny’s picture is used. It’s all very weird and shady, isn’t it? Now it could be that the photos that they are posting on Twitter and Facebook are really this young woman who also submits such photos to Tumblrs which causes them to get picked up and used without credit by these many adult dating sites, porn sites, and The Chive. It could be. I’ll allow that possibility to stand. But it is my opinion that that isn’t the case, that they have plucked these photos from the web and use them as their own. Their tweets and commentary on the posts when they share the photos usually insinuate that they are saying the photo is of them, “Jenny” or “Lauren” or whoever. 

TouchofGlass1 TouchofGlass2 TouchofGlass3
TouchofGlass4 TouchofGlass5jennydillar

Even if these photos are real…this is pretty unprofessional. It feels a bit odd that a retail shop would allow their social media manager or even a company partner to flirt, approach others for photos, and share personal risque photos of themselves on a company account. Of course, this might be something they think they need to do to stand out from the crowd of adult retailers. Since the website claims that Lauren is running the Twitter account they also fill us in on how Lauren is a model3.

No stranger to yoinking photos from the ‘net, ‘A Touch of Glass ®‘ is also using a random image of Jennifer Lopez on their homepage. I’ve got a feeling they’re not paying to use her likeness.

TouchofGlass6 touchofglass8

But the real owner of ‘A Touch of Glass ®‘ isn’t hard to find. When I was asking my fellow bloggers if they were as weirded out as I was, David over at The Big Gay Review did a quick web search to find that ESHOPS (UK) owns ‘A Touch of Glass ®‘ and that the owners of ESHOPS are David Mattocks and Janet Mattocks4. As David (Big Gay Review) puts it the “information is from Companies House – it’s from the UK governments business registry – so that is who owns ESHOPS, which in turn runs A Touch of Glass ®.” and this is public knowledge. Updated Info on this: It seems that they stopped doing business as A Touch of Glass last year, and now just operate as EHOPS, which Jessica pointed out to me last night. Neither place seems to show any employees, but I’m not certain one would have to report that in this manner? I’m not 100% that regular employees are shown on this site. Also note that ATOG was registered to: David Mattocks 44 Rectory Avenue Corfe Mullen Wimborne Dorset, his home address. He probably dissolved this when he ran for Town Council or whatever it’s called.

I haven’t had tests run on their glass pieces yet5 but my suspicions are strong that their glass isn’t what they represent it to be. And them using fake photos and creating what I speculate is a fake persona for social media isn’t criminal or anything more than weird, but things make a quick turn into predatory when I am told by no less than four reviewers that they were privately asked to send over explicit video of them using the product, in exchange for being sent the product for review. Luckily the bloggers who revealed this did NOT send this person their explicit video but I fear that others might, or already have. Here is the account of one blog reviewer who would like to remain anon for now, and I’m sharing this with her permission:

I was messaged via Twitter asking if they could send me products… in exchange for a VIDEO for the ‘VIP section’ on their site. I have no idea what or WHERE this ‘VIP area’ is. I said no and avoided them for a while. I have since reviewed for them (quite recently in fact) with no issues, but I know they are still (over a year on) unsolicitedly asking people for videos in exchange for toys and I just think it’s kind of, well… icky.

TouchofGlassTweet

This “VIP Section” is referenced when you view the “About Lauren” page on their site, they say that Lauren is running it. But it sounds like they have been asking this of reviewers for many months now with no VIP section coming to fruition. I don’t take kindly to my troupe being taken advantage of, and that’s what this seems like. It’s my opinion that the UK glass sex toy retailer ‘A Touch of Glass ®‘ selling at theglassdildoshop.com cannot be trusted by reviewers OR customers. A Touch of Glass ® appears to be misrepresenting the identity of the person running their social media networks, causing people to assume they’re speaking with (or sending photos to) a young woman when it fact it could very well be they’re sending them to an older man. When they use this misrepresentation of identity to make other people feel more comfortable about sending them explicit photos, this feels predatory. This feels wrong. It doesn’t feel like a company I could ever recommend you to trust, and that’s why I’ve decided to write this post. I can’t not tell you what I’ve found, so that you can make up your own mind based on that, versus the smoke and mirrors the company has apparently laid out.

I have not approached the company privately, because we are not connected on social media. If the company would be interested in replying and clearing the air here, they are welcome to do so. If my speculations and opinions are wrong, and there is a more honest situation going on here, I’m very willing to publish their story. I would have gone to them first if it were merely about the fake photos but once I found out that they had asked many reviewers to send explicit video (something I have never had ANY company ask me for) I decided that my speculations and opinions, and the information from other reviewers who may comment here and share, warranted public light. You can make up your own mind if you want to do business with this company, whether you are a reviewer or customer. I wouldn’t, and that’s my opinion. The image just below is a screencap of the account runner offering a mere dildo as payment for an explicit video.

TouchofGlasssolicitation

Readers and bloggers, does this information change your level of trust of this company, or any company that might do this? Have you ever seen these actions elsewhere by another company? Have you had any interaction with this company that strikes you as unprofessional, or troublesome? If you’d be willing to share your story but do not want to do so under your blogging identity feel free to use Disqus anonymously and I will make sure it’s published, and your identity won’t be shared by me.

 

UPDATE: Shortly after this post went live the @eroticglass Twitter account was made private. Those who are Twitter friends with the account say that some of the photos I called out above as being fake are now gone. The Jenny Dillar fake Facebook account is gone, however Jenny lives on still (for now) on Google Plus and Linkedin. The actual website for the shop used to list David Mattocks as the site designer and linked to his personal page, but they removed that as well, you can see the image below though that shows it was there. There is also a screencap of a little interview talking about “Carol” and her “friends Jenny and Lauren” starting A Touch of Glass. The entire story seems to be a fabrication. I wouldn’t expect this company to last much longer, as David seems to sell his businesses all the time. The detail someone else commented about below, matching car photos both about being in Colorado on the same day from David’s personal FB account (the post is public, btw, but I obfuscated details just because I’m wary at this point) and the ToG picture is shown, screencapped before they locked their account down. Speaking of Jenny’s G+ account – I can’t see much, but I can see two other photos that, judging by the filename (Jenny250) and their use on her page seems like they’re claiming it’s Jenny…despite that face looking nothing like her profile picture. A reverse image search found it being used by a Mary Thompson from Michigan on a Moms page; later on someone named “Jenny D” used it on a moms group page when the talk turns to “sex toy testers” re: Lovehoney.

TouchofGlassJennyGTouchofGlassJennyLTouchofGlassfooter TouchofGlassStory

TouchofGlassCar1 TouchofGlassCar2JennyMomsTouofGlassJennyG+

Update 2:

Day 2 after the post went live, there are new “closings” and changes. The Google + page for Jenny Dillar no longer has that fake profile photo.  The Twitter account that was made private in the hours after the post went live is now completely gone. The “About Carol/Jenny/Lauren” pages on theglassdildoshop.com site have been taken down, but we have screenshots. Other websites and Twitter accounts also owned by David Mattocks, like “Amelia of Mayfair” are now gone.  Kara found this page which talks about the businesses that David Mattocks runs; judging by this I wouldn’t be surprised if they close down A Touch of Glass and start a new one up in a few months or a year. Below are more screenshots of things now missing, or just more information as it’s found.

Also, David Mattocks has yanked his personal davidmattocks.com site which was pretty much just a page of pompous bullshit, no major loss. He seems to not understand that 1. The cat is out of the bag and 2. Erasing Twitter accounts, web sites, and pages from websites doesn’t erase them from the Internet Archives, doesn’t negate our screencaps, and doesn’t hide the fact that he runs the business and ran with this predatory deception for so long with A Touch of Glass.

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12162337_10153792491134683_670442011_o 12077271_10153792546494683_217176053_ndavidmattocks1davidmattocks2

UPDATE 3: I received an email from a very shaken-up UK woman who wanted to remain anonymous, as she no longer is a sex blogger, but she grew to trust the person running the Twitter account. She was talked into sending them video, and she did. She received video too, claiming to be Jenny, but she never viewed it. She was sent nude photos and sent photos in return, until one day when David Mattocks slipped up pretending to be Lauren: “I swapped some photos over DM again just last month but then a couple of weeks ago she messed up, I then realised I had been sending photos to someone who was lifting photos from sites after a photo was sent to me with a message and then the same photo but cropped and the same message was sent again, they obviously didn’t realise that they could delete the photo and message but I would still see it. I saw the Uncropped photo which was from porn hub of a Caity Minx. I felt thoroughly used, disgusted at myself and like a total idiot now I feel more of one. I spent so long tweeting this account in a normal way that I wasn’t suspicious when things were approached in a business way with a bit more of a fun twist shall we say.”

Another blogger tried to email Lauren and has received back an error message that indicates the email account for Lauren has been deleted.

Becks sent me her Moody Blue glass dildo to run my home polariscope test on. While the upcoming glass test post is a bit of ways off, this much I can tell you now: You do NOT want to see rainbows. Rainbows means not annealed. Not annealed means it was made cheap and fast, and most certainly in a China plant. They tried to claim to one person that the glass dildos they source are hand made in Germany. I think not!!! A Touch of Glass / theglassdildoshop.com specifically has warnings all over their site about cheap China glass, with assertions that THEIR products are not. Are we surprised that they’ve outright lied? Customers, you have overpaid.

ToGwarning ToGwarning2 2015-10-10 09.23.49

Update 4:  Another blogger contacted Jenny, Lauren and Support emails to request their affiliate balance be paid out – emails to Jenny and Lauren bounced, naturally, but the Support email went through. They did not receive any response, but DID receive a payment of the balance of their account. If you are an affiliate of A Touch of Glass and would like to cease your relationship with them, it seems they are honoring requests to pay out and close out accounts – albeit silently. Any attempts at emailing David Mattocks have gone unanswered.

Update 5 / November 8th: It was brought to my attention on Twitter that A Touch of Glass is BACK on Twitter as @PleasureGlass now and is right back to trying to solicit videos this time under the guise of instruction girls to be “information” rather than “pornographic”….but still explicit. Right. ALSO: Within mere hours the Twitter account went from private (but not before blocking all bloggers involved in this post) to deleted.

ATOGblocked ATOGPLeasureGlass1

  1. from their “About” page: http://www.theglassdildoshop.com/about-us/
  2. whereas in the About Jenny section of their website, Jenny is listed as Commercial Manager and Carol is listed as the person who started the company
  3. From their site, the About Lauren page: “Also – if you hadn’t already guessed it – before corporate life, Lauren was a model. Well, she is drop-dead gorgeous. And go take a look at our Twitter page and guess who’s picture that is. The one on the left. Yep! See what we mean now? Mind you, the stunning shot here is nothing short of eye-watering don’t you think? Lauren is currently busy with setting up our VIP Club that will include restricted member-only access to our exclusive Connoisseur Collection of glass dildos – which we’d rather refer to as ‘dilettos’ – plus a portfolio of photographs and videos which we consider to be far too racy for unrestricted public access. More details coming soon, but if you can’t wait, please contact Lauren for an update.”
  4. Who are no strangers to owning businesses, as was found here: http://www.endole.co.uk/company/04080498/sunbelt-solent-limited
  5. This will happen shortly, I have an item on its way and two other reviewers will be testing from afar – this will be listed in my large post about glass testing that will be live sometime later this month
 Posted by at 2:12 pm
Aug 202015
 

I often wish there was a sex toy / sexuality version of snopes.com. There are so many myths, uncorroborated theories and flat-out wrong ideas. This will have to do! Comment with your own myths or ask if one you’ve heard is myth or fact. 

You can test a vibrator in-store by putting it on the tip of your nose.

photo of a brochure from CSPH saying: Fun Fact: Test vibrators out on the tip of your nose while in the store, it will give you a better indicator of how the vibrator will feel against your genitals (vs testing the toys out in your hand). If it makes you sneeze, it is probably too strong for you. This isn’t really myth or fact, it’s just subjective. The theory is that if it “makes you sneeze” it is probably too powerful for your clitoris. I actually saw this tidbit in a brochure for the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in my Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit 15 swag bag and it saddened me1. I love this organization and have supported them, but this “fun fact” worries me that those who need something strong will feel shamed or will not get the vibrator they really need. My clitoris (and I know I’m not alone) is not very sensitive. I require strong, rumbly vibrations. If the vibrations are particularly rumbly, then it doesn’t have to be super-strong (hello, Tango, I love you even on level 1). Every vibrator that will work for me bothers my nose. Hell even vibrators that will never be enough for me can make me sneeze, particularly surface-buzzy ones. 

You won’t know if a vibration type or strength is good for you until you try it. You can start with cheap vibrators and one that I like recommending for external play is the Doc Johnson Black Magic Bullet. It’s not high quality and might not last you more than a couple months. But it’ll give you a really good idea of where you stand especially if the last vibrator you tried was too mild. Maybe the Black Magic isn’t enough, maybe it’s pretty good but not quite enough for some days, etc. Whatever the case may be, you now have a barometer. Put THAT to your nose (or drop your jaw and put it in the hollow of your cheek – see how far the vibrations spread) and or your hand and memorize how that feels. Did it make you sneeze? Ok, so what. It’s what you need, so it’s fine.

If there were such a thing as “too powerful” then the Magic Wand wouldn’t have gained a cult following as a genital vibrator for masturbation.

Toy Cleaner is all you need to keep that PVC dildo perfectly safe

Myth until the end of time. The whole thing is porous (but not absorbent) so you can only clean the surface. Since the material breaks down over time and things are living in the pores, the community in your dildo will come out to play. And you definitely don’t wanna hang with that crowd. This goes for rubber, TPR, jelly, “realistic materials” of unknown origin, etc. “Toy cleaner” for non-porous is just kinda pointless unless you’re traveling and plan to share with non-fluid-bonded partners because there are other easier and cheaper ways to clean/sanitize your sex toys. 

Covering a sketchy sex toy with a condom will solve all your worries

Unproven. This might (and boy do I stress might) help for a little while with TPE/TPR dildos if it’s a polyurethane condom. TPE/TPR seems to be the only porous material that doesn’t give a chemical burn (I could be wrong, FYI, and they could be lying) but it is porous and unstable (hence using polyurethane condom because the instability means its leaches oils and oils ruin other condoms). The condom might buy you some time with regards to keeping bacteria out of the pores, or to keep fungi in the pores from coming at you during use, BUT you need to cover 100% of the sex toy surface. I don’t mean the surface going in you or on you. I mean the whole. damn. thing. Handle too.

Silicone sex toys will “melt” or deform if you let them touch in storage.

I have covered this to death but I couldn’t leave it out of this round-up, simply because I hear it so often. Even when I make a post specifically showing that it’s not a thing.

Large girth sex toys will “ruin” a vagina or make your butt incontinent

For most people and in most circumstances, the body is really damn elastic. Vaginas can birth a 10 pound baby and not have the cavernous qualities of a small garbage bag afterwards.

Can the PC muscles lose their tone and affect things like tightness and bladder control? Yes, but they can be toned and exercised and brought back to full strength – without necessarily needing surgery. 

Wood sex toys will splinter, glass sex toys will shatter

I’ve already covered the wood thing in great detail. Glass sex toys, even if they’re not annealed or even made from tempered glass, are very unlikely to shatter in use into tiny pieces as is suggested here. It could crack, yes, if it’s a cheap glass item. But unless you’re shoving something like a lightbulb inside of you (btw….don’t do that) you’re using something that is solid, not flimsy and hollow. More details on glass sex toys and their quality/strength to come shortly, by the way – I plan to do testing and research that will educate you and yes concern you but I will  not use scare tactics based on dramatized situations.  Straight dope, y’all.

If you want something soft, you HAVE to buy jelly or “realistic” mystery materials

After Woodhull I can personally assure you this is wrong. I squeezed so many super-duper soft silicone items from Lunabelle’s treasure trove. I was shocked that someone could even use something so soft. These aren’t mainstream brands (yet) but it is out there. Damn Average, Frisky Beast, Bad Dragon, and so many more. Even the Vixen Vixskin and Tantus O2 is very soft and squishy – they have solid cores to make it easier to use, but it’s still soft. Yes, many silicone toys are very firm but not all. Don’t let that deter you. 

Vibrators will desensitize you and make it so that you cannot orgasm without them

I will not disagree that certain vibrators (for me, it’s the Magic Wand and similar) can give you a very temporary numb feeling. I am not a doctor (not that most doctors know a damn thing about sex toys and pleasure) but I feel pretty confident in saying that this is a myth. In fact, over my time with sex toys, I’ve been able to orgasm with less vibration strength than I used to need. I’ve had more instances of hands-only orgasms since I started using vibrators and those orgasms used to be about as rare as a brown spider monkey2 but are probably at African Penguin3 level now.

Sex toys are only for single people (who aren’t having partnered sex)

This is like saying that now that you’re in a relationship, you never masturbate anymore, in any way. Masturbation is healthy. It’s not something you necessarily do because you’re not attracted to your partner. Masturbation/orgasm can be very relaxing, can help you sleep, can help you focus, can ease anxiety, and so on. Sex toys are merely a tool. That’s it.

Sex toys can be used in partnered sex and to great results. Again, they’re a tool to enhance sex. It’s not like a sex toy says “You, the person I care about, are not attractive enough / good enough sexually for me”. Do you wear lingerie for your partner? Do you light candles? Yes? So how is a sex toy really any different? The notion that only your partner’s body should/can provide you with pleasure is very antiquated, and very damaging.

Does your partner like a hand job (penis)? Do you enjoy seeing them receive that kind of pleasure? So a masturbator sleeve is going to feel even nicer than your hand – this you can surely understand, yes? It’s softer. It might have nubs. So why wouldn’t you want to use this on your partner and watch them experience even MORE pleasure? Now think about this in relation to every other body part and every sex toy on the market. When my partner uses a sex toy on me, or watches me use it, it is just as (if not moreso) intimate than applying the body part to the body part. If you live giving your partner pleasure then why wouldn’t you want to give them even MORE pleasure? 

Sex toys made specifically for partnered sex are The Thing and need to be Hands-Free

Every couples” toy I’ve tried has not worked for me. The idea behind these specific things is that the vulva-owner wears them for PIV sex; they’re supposed to be unobtrusive, and require little effort once they are in place. But when you combine friction and slippery stuff, the chance something could really stay hands-free is fairly slim. Plus they usually rely on your body being built the exact way that the toy makers demo vulva/body is, and if not may not fit just right.  The We-Vibe can work for some and I hear good feedback. But I also hear just as many disappointed people who experienced all fails. In my opinion that’s a lot of money to spend for a maybe, when you could just re-work your foreplay and sex positions to include your toys. Would you rework those things if one of you became injured or disabled? There’s your answer.

Hands-free is very hard to achieve, so maybe let’s let that one go? Or consider the toys with suction cups, or the Liberator toy mount pieces.  And there’s no need to look for a specific “sex toy for couples”. If you’re using it together, during partnered sex….guess what? It’s now a “sex toy for couples”. You’re welcome.

I got a man! (What’s your man got to do with me?)

FYI someone needs to remake a video for this song and have a dildo be the dude in the song.

To the cis men saying their “girl” doesn’t need a “rubber penis” because: cis dude exists: Your penis is not a god. Let me ask you something, cis dude: You have consensual access to a vagina/butt/whatever now that you have a partner. Are you really trying to tell me you’re never gonna jerk off? Ever? That is some bullshit. Ever stick your dick into something other than another human, and had it feel good? Yes. Why should your partner be punished because you have a god complex? Try using that dildo you’re so afraid of on your partner, with your partner. It’s sexy to watch. You can get a view you normally wouldn’t during sex. And you’re still participating in giving them pleasure.

For those who think that because they “have a man” they don’t need a silicone dick, well, that’s your choice I guess. You’re the receiver, so you choose what you want. You can angle a dildo in a way that the attached penis probably can’t move. You can twirl and twist the dildo, and an attached penis cannot (should not) do that (unless the body attached to the penis is rigged to the ceiling like a Cirque du Soleil gymnast and there’s a whole lot of complicated…stuff…going on). That’s neither bad nor good, it’s just a thing and if it feels good then do it. Maybe you have tried dildos and do not like them. Maybe you tried dildos that weren’t right for you (been there, done that, so keep going and maybe try a Pure Wand) but hey maybe you just don’t like dildos. THAT’S COOL. I’m not saying you have to like a dildo. If you have zero trouble getting off clitorally with your hand or your partners fingers/tongue? Bravo. You’re lucky. Carry on and don’t experiment with pleasure if you don’t want to. BUT YOU CAN, ok? And if you cannot orgasm at all or with any frequency/reliability from your partner’s fingers/tongue/penis? You are not broken. There is no shame in using a sex toy to help. 

Cis men who enjoy anal/prostate play must be gay/queer

It’s not about the things you like having done to you during sex, it’s who is doing them.  The prostate is often called the “male” g-spot (starting to hate that term but, whatever, if it helps the cis men I talk to, then fine) and it feels fucking awesome for most people to have it stimulated. The ass also has a ton of nerve endings – these are there regardless of gender. We all have the same nerve endings. Every butt, regardless of gender or sexuality, has the ability to really fuckin love the sensation of beads, penis, dildo, plug, or vibrations in and around this sensitive zone. Don’t like it? Fine. But it has nothing to do with your gender or sexuality. 

Calling it: Myth now and forevermore.  Wanna read more? Start here

Anything can be a sex toy if you’re brave enough

That should be changed to actually read “dumb enough”. Just the other day I found someone selling anal beads on Etsy that consisted of sead beads and larger round beads strung onto jewelry-making beading wire with other wire involved. The beads? No. They are glass and those can break off. Plus cleaning between them??? OH NO. No. And then, the wire?? It could puncture you internally. It could be fatal. The seller doesn’t seem to agree with me and others, it seems. Primary email interaction isn’t getting my point conveyed and they seem to feel their stuff is safe. Kinda like the person who made those clay and wax dildos, but he got super angry with me. 

See also: carrots/vegetables/food, markers, salami, syrup bottles and cold cream jars – not a dildo

Sex toys are amazing tools and you should try one or 24 at some point in your life

Fact. Or I wouldn’t be here right now on this blog, doing all the things I love. Granted, not all sex toys are amazing but speaking in generalities? Magical stuff, people.

Thanks to Artemisia, Girly Juice and Reenie for reminding me on a few of these. 

  1. Actually, it’s what prompted this whole entire post. And I also want to reiterate that I love the Center and Megan and all who help run it, but I don’t like that tip/fact and wanted to speak about it, it just happened to lead to other myths
  2. Critically endangered
  3. Endangered
 Posted by at 7:22 pm
Mar 222015
 

Showing a jar of toxic sex toys on the left with a lot of clear liquid in the jar and a jar of silicone sex toys on the right with no liquid and no damageThe first official lab test of sex toys happened in 2006, with results confirming that toxic sex toys were a big problem. But the industry has come so far since then. While there are still many stores that stock a lot of gross, crappy sex toys, the overall percentage of porous materials in sex toys is on the decline. Beyond that, it seems like phthalates are on the decline, as well, in porous toys. But does this make them any more safe? Can the major companies be trusted? And really, what proof do we have that the cheap sex toys are safe?

In The Beginning…

Back in 2006, Badvibes.org, headed up by toxic-toy pioneer Jennifer Pritchett of The Smitten Kitten, had a whole bunch of sex toys tested at a lab. They did a material analysis, looking to find out if something called silicone was really silicone, and to see what level of phthalates were found. The results were staggering – high measures of phthalates. In the years since, savvy consumers simply tried to avoid the porous materials by sticking with silicone but until recently we had many shady companies using the word “silicone” when the product was actually made of a thermoplastic elastomer, rubber or PVC. So another pioneer, Metis Black, came up with the flame test. It took a long while to really understand the nuances of the flame test and how any given material would react. We thought that pure silicone could never burn up and disintegrate but found out that when the sample is thin and is a softer, stretchier silicone burning and material destruction can and will happen. I found that out when I decided to get the Jimmyjane Hello Touch tested at the same lab that Badvibes.org used.

Recently Lab-Tested Sex Toys

Then, Dildology tested a Doc Johnson dildo labeled as “phthalates-free PVC with added Sil-a-gel” to see what was up. True to PVC nature, the dildo had an awful odor. Lab results came back which indicated that phthalates were present. This test was run July 2013. In September of 2014, Badvibes.org again sent out a large batch of sex toys to the same lab for testing; including the infamous James Deen PVC dildo. The lab results on the James Deen dildo showed a compound that ends in -phthalate when Dildology had it tested, but the Badvibes test came back with a different percentage of compounds and a plasticizer called “sebacic acid dibutyl ether“. In addition, every single other item that Badvibes had tested September 2014 came back showing zero phthalates. Despite a chemical found that has phthalate in the name1 , what was found is a non-phthalate plastic softener. The only bit of “bad” found in the tests from September 2014 was a Pipedream product called “Silicone Lil’ Pearl Pleasure Sleeve” that wasn’t silicone at all, of course, but a compound that looks like it’s similar to what the Screaming O rings are made of and seems to be considered non-toxic.

Since we know that the industry is not regulated and that manufacturers can lie on their product packaging (or, in the case of Screaming O, have a years-long miscommunication from the material supplier result in years and millions of packages incorrectly labeling the product as a type of silicone, an error that was not of malicious intent), we’ve been very reluctant to trust. Just because the 2014 Badvibes test showed no phthalates doesn’t mean they’ve been eradicated. One item they didn’t test that I would love to get tested is anything from the Pipedream Basix collection, but alas I have no spare money to do more testing. Further, there’s something else I want to point out – this supposed Sil-a-gel additive that Doc Johnson uses in their porous PVC items which is supposed to basically be an antimicrobial? I see no evidence of anything other than PVC and plasticizer in both lab tests of the James Deen dildo. Maybe it’s something that wouldn’t show up in the FTIR test the lab ran? I don’t know. Many people who own a Doc Johnson product advertised as containing Sil-a-gel experienced burning, itching and redness of the genitals and report a very strong shower-curtain-perfumey smell.

Not Enough Studies

Here’s the thing – there are chemicals and materials in play that we don’t know much about. We don’t really know how they’ll affect us when used as a sex toy. Some people report that for the minimal time a sex toy is inside your body, there’s no way that phthalates, if present, are going to cause damage to your endocrine system. Hell some people believe that phthalates aren’t harmful to us at all! I don’t know of any studies done on people who used phthalates-ridden sex toys for years. If someone did get sick, get cancer, etc…..what are the chances that that illness could even be traced back to their sex toy use? Some people might say that because we do not know, we should not worry. I say that because we do not know we should err on the side of caution – stick to pure, safe, chemically-stable non-porous materials like silicone, glass, medical-grade metals, properly coated wood and properly glazed ceramic as well as hard ABS plastics.

Is PVC Toxic?

It’s commonly said in our industry that PVC without phthalates isn’t toxic. This isn’t what everyone believes2. A recent study of Dollar Store items showed a lot of toxic chemicals in their stuff, and I felt that the study hit home for our industry – just because a person cannot afford the current cost of most non-porous sex toys, doesn’t mean they should be saddled with the unhealthy chemicals. So when the people who buy, for example, a Doc Johnson PVC dildo with added Sil-a-gel experience itching and burning and redness….are they reacting to the toxins in PVC that are NOT phthalates? Or are they reacting to whatever this Sil-a-gel stuff is, if it exists?

It’s Still Porous

I also say that even if the material in question is non-toxic (like most TPR/TPE type elastomers) it is still porous, and that is still a major concern. Porous sex toys can never be sanitized much less sterilized; they should never be shared between non-fluid-bonded partners; and you should never use the same porous toy both vaginally and anally. The porous sex toys can hang on to bacteria, mildew and other fungi, cleaning chemicals that you thought you rinsed off, and so on. Since the materials are not chemically stable, as they break down they will feed these microorganisms back to your body. I have read many comments on places like Amazon where people bought what is claimed to be a TPR, non-toxic sex toy and experienced the burning and itching that is associated with phthalates. Could they be mislabeling the material? Sure. Could the porous material be hanging on to the chemicals used in the manufacturing process like mold release agents? Sure. It could be anything.  In this age of all the “phthalate-free” claims, I get plenty of feedback from people who’ve experienced long term chemical burn problems.

Will a Condom Protect You?

The party line has been “cover it with a condom” but how did the collective we arrive at that? Just because condoms can prevent pregnancy and STIs doesn’t mean they can be put on a chemically-laden bacteria-infected porous dildo and keep you safe. But let’s think about this logically for a minute – the jar of melted sex toys that I have, and the recent Smitten Kitten jar both displayed oils seeping out of the materials. From what I know of the materials in my own jar, only one item was PVC with probable phthalate content. The rest were a TPR material, as best as I can guess. And there’s a lot of oil in that jar! And guess what doesn’t play nice with oil? Latex condoms. There have been no tests run to see if the latex will break down enough for the irritating chemicals, bacteria or fungus to get through. If I could do this test myself, I would. I don’t know who to contact to run such a test. There is one possibility and that is using nitrile condoms (like the FC2 Female Condom) or polyurethane condoms (like Japanese import Okamoto or Trojan Supra) but have you seen the prices on these? Also, they’re not going to cover the entire toy (leaving nothing exposed is the best protection) PLUS they’re probably not big enough for the extra-large specialty toys that are cost-prohibitive when made in silicone.  If you’re going this route, or any route with a porous material, I recommend replacing it after 4-6 months (4 months for anal use, to be safe). This estimate is not scientific, but based on my own prior uses with toys and watching how long it took for them to change color, get oily, etc.

Update: I did a few home tests and more research on this topic, read about it here and see what happens to latex condoms on porous sex toys.

Will the Industry Change?

I understand budgets. I understand that by the time you save up for a $30 sex toy, something else will have happened to your $30 that is more important than a sex toy and you’re back to the original $15 you could spare which means buying a PVC or Jelly toy. I understand it; I wish I had a better fix for you. If a polyurethane condom is something you have access to and can purchase in small doses per use, and if it’ll cover your toy completely, then go that route. I cannot stress enough that this isn’t ideal. I don’t want to tell you that you’re not worthy of masturbation and enhancing partnered sex. This just means we need to see a change in the industry. The more silicone purchases that are made, the more companies will understand the need and make changes.

I think that the change has already started, just by looking at percentages of stock. Let’s look at Lovehoney UK, as an example. For dildos, they have 299. 100 of them are made from a safe, non-porous material – silicone, glass or metal. That’s 1/3. It’s okay, but I’d like to see it at 2/3 or more. For vibrators, they stock 391. Looks like roughly 215 of them are a safe, non-porous material – silicone or hard plastic. That’s a little over half which is good but again I’d like to see that number a lot higher. Here’s one more example – sextoy.com, a US-based site that I do not recommend to my readers, currently lists close to 2000 dildos on their site. A little over 1200 of them are made from a porous, potentially toxic material – this leaves only 800 non-porous options. I think that the companies that make many hundreds of sex toys could make their silicone sex toys even cheaper if they manufactured more. The bigger the bulk order is for material, the more their cost goes down, right? That’s my thought, anyways. There needs to be a large selection of truly safe AND very affordable sex toys.  It is beginning to happen – we’re seeing under-$30 pure silicone dildos (in small doses) from companies who previously only produced toxic, porous junk.

This post references research I’ve done and is my personal opinion. In the end, you make up your own mind but I’m going to give you the tools to be as well-informed as possible. I would ideally like to see my readers ditch the porous materials (except for penetrable toys, that’s largely unavoidable) but I also know that there are gaps in the industry. I do feel that a porous, “non-toxic” material has the potential to be harmful, depending on what is living in the pores. I know that lower-end mass production companies might have heavy metals in their pigments, something that is ignored but still a toxicity problem. I know that we have no idea about the effect of these phthalate-replacements on our bodies when used in a sex toy. I know that VOC’s are a problem, and it is present in the cheap materials that have a strong odor. We still have a long way to go. To see a change we need to continue to educate and be vocal and encourage readers and customers to “vote with their money” by buying the silicone options when ever possible. Shop at reputable retailers like the ones listed here, and choose wisely. If you’re ever uncertain, ask me!

  1. Dioctyl terephthalate
  2. Said in the article “One PVC shower curtain can release as many as 108 volatile organic chemicals into the air.”
 Posted by at 12:34 pm