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.

 

 

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.

tumblr_inline_nqv9whWOSd1qzq5sg_1280
tumblr_nqsh7qHs5A1qzpyxjo5_540

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
Apr 102016
 

13 Tips to remove odors from your butt plug - photo shows a purple butt plug on a kitchen towel with coconut oil, vinegar and baking soda containers in the backgroundMany people like to wear a butt plug overnight or during the day, and we’re all told that silicone is a fabulous sex toy material – truly body-safe, essentially non-porous1, able to be sanitized, etc. Yet for all day wear like this it’s a secondary material to glass or stainless steel. Some people are not able to afford a good glass or steel butt plug or may have found that the material doesn’t feel as comfortable to them for all day wear2, so they stick with silicone only to find that sometimes when the plug is removed it basically smells like a fart. When you’re dealing with butt play, shit happens3.

I’ve talked to people who have even experienced some staining if they wore it for long enough and their rectum wasn’t completely free of fecal matter4; this can happen after one use or slowly over time. They all wonder how this can happen with silicone, it’s non-porous! It’s safe! Yes, but this isn’t uncommon. I’ve had it happen with silicone kitchen stuff – never let tomato sauce stick around on those more expensive, softer silicone spatulas, let me tell you. Also, never use a silicone ice cube tray for making ice cubes from anything smelly5. Softer silicone is more apt to staining. If the staining issue would be a concern to you, then purchase black or very dark-colored silicone plugs.

From what I’ve read the odors on your silicone sex toy tend to happen because the bond between the oil-soluble odors and the silicone is strong. One of the better tips I’ve seen therefore involves oil – smearing the silicone plug with coconut oil for a little while and then washing it well with a very mild soap and hot tap water. I’ve also heard that if you use a plant-based oil as your lube (and thoroughly coat the silicone toy with it) it can prevent the odors from clinging to the silicone.  Many people have reported that boiling their sex toy does nothing – while some have reported that a long (30 minutes) boil has helped.

Keep in mind that you should consider checking with the manufacturer of your plug before trying these. Tantus specifically has recommending baking but will this work for cheap $20 silicone butt plugs? I don’t know. I’d assume so, but I’m obviously not an expert on every brand.

13 Tips for removing odors from your butt plug:

  1. DO NOT shove the stinking plug into a plastic bag or other container and shut it. This will only trap the odors and make it worse.
  2. Try to simply air it out for a day or three. Even better if you can get it exposed to sunlight for awhile.
  3. Boil it! Add a little vinegar to the water, but don’t boil straight vinegar. This only works if the toy is 100% silicone, no other materials. (this option has worked less often)
  4. Bake it! Yep. Start out at 250 degrees for 20 minutes6. This only works if the toy is 100% silicone, no other materials.
  5. Some menstrual-cup companies recommend a brief soak in hydrogen peroxide, but I’ve also read that this could degrade silicone. Try it as a last resort.
  6. Try soaking it in room-temperature vinegar. A 15-30 minute soak should do the trick. Please be sure to wash it well as soon as you remove it from the soak, soap and water, and then let it air dry for awhile.
  7. Try soaking it in a 10% bleach solution. Please be sure to wash it well as soon as you remove it from the soak, soap and water. (this option has worked less often)
  8. Try soaking it in a liquid solution of Oxyclean for 15-20 minutes. Follow with a good wash in warm tap water and a mild soap.
  9. Create a solution of baking soda water – maybe a cup of baking soda in 4 cups of water, doesn’t need to be scientific. Soak for an hour to a few hours. Rinse well, air dry.
  10. DO NOT ever boil a bleach solution!
  11. Smear it first with coconut oil, let it sit like this for an hour or two and then wash well with mild soap and warm water.
  12. Don’t be afraid to try a few of these tips if one of them doesn’t dispatch the smell/stain 100%
  13. Try a bit of preventative measure: Pick up unlubed condoms (because most use a cheap silicone lube) and cover the plug with the condom; to be extra safe I’d recommend bringing the condom down over the base and tying it off like a balloon.

None of these options will work though if your sex toy isn’t actually silicone. Make sure that it’s not PVC, rubber, TPR, etc. If it is, then simply throw out the stink bomb and buy something in a better material.

If you have additional tips or can report one of these working well/not at all for you, please comment below and let us know!

  1. I say essentially because it is technically porous, but bacteria/mildew/yeast/etc cannot live in the pores
  2. Although every report I’ve had about the Njoy Pure Plugs has deemed the very comfortable for all-day wear
  3. Sorry. I couldn’t resist.
  4. And I think it has to do with your body, your health, etc
  5. Before I found powdered buttermilk I would freeze my liquid buttermilk in cubes since a carton would go bad before it could all be used up in baking recipes – after doing this twice the silicone retained an odor I couldn’t remove, but then I never tried these tricks. It was no doubt the fat in buttermilk making the odor stick around
  6. Tantus has stated it’s safe for their silicone to go to 350 degrees for 30 minutes
 Posted by at 1:14 pm
Mar 232016
 

Sex toys and condoms - Should you really cover your sex toy with a condom? Shown are 3 dildos with condom wrappers, one of the dildos is a clear, red jelly dildo covered in a condomFor as long as I’ve known about porous and toxic sex toys I’ve heard the old “cover it with a condom and you’re fine” mantra1. It’s an oft-used phrase to make buying a toxic or porous toy seem more “safe” than it is and I am starting to get really cranky about how easily this is bandied about. I can understand how someone came up with this idea – a condom is a great barrier against STI’s and pregnancy, so shouldn’t it work in this situation? Well, that depends on a number of factors, like the situation and the condom material. It’s true, not all condoms are created equal for these purposes – and bad news: the condoms that are right for these situations are probably not the condoms you already have in your drawer. So if you’re going to use, or recommend to others the use of, a condom on a sex toy please make sure that it’s the right condom otherwise you’ll end up with sad toys or mad genitals. At the end of the day I’d really like to see this band-aid “solution” recommended a lot less, but I think that most educators and reviewers say it as a last-ditch attempt to keep others safe; those who insist on using porous sex toys. We want you to be safe and would rather you avoid porous insertable sex toys2 but we know that some of you are going to use these materials anyway.

A note for those new around here: I talk about toxic and porous toys separately. Not all porous toys are toxic. TPR/TPE is non-toxic, but still porous and still breaks down and sweats oil.

Using A Condom to Protect Yourself from Toxic Chemicals

Absolutely no research has been done to prove that this is true. Of course, no official research as been done to prove it’s not true, either. I’ve heard from numerous people that they still experienced a burning sensation despite covering a toxic sex toy with a condom. One person confirmed that the condoms they’d tried were latex and polyisoprene and they still felt the burn; neither of those condom types play well with oil. Why does that matter? All porous sex toys have oils in them. This jar is proof of that! When the toys sweat/break down, even just a little, there’s a constant sheen of oil on them. This oil will render latex condoms so porous that it’s useless against the fight. You might be able to succeed with using polyurethane condoms or nitrile condoms but again this is a theory and not proven. Polyurethane and nitrile are safe with oils but I don’t know if they’re a barrier against the toxic chemicals in some sex toys. If you’re going to take the risk on sil-a-gel, sex toys with phthalates, “jelly” sex toys and more, at least use the right condom to have a shot at this theory working. 

For the photos I put a Trojan Magnum condom on this disgusting jelly dildo3 I have; I left it on there for maybe 5 minutes while I took some photos. Then I decided to try and cover the whole sex toy with the latex condom – after all they’re stretchy enough to cover a large fist and go up to the elbow, surely it could cover the whole jelly dildo, right? Wrong. The condom broke about 30 seconds after this pic was snapped when I tried to stretch it a little farther – the ring came off and the condom tore lengthwise a little. Then I put a Magnum over the Tantus dildo in the photo and was able to stretch it over the balls, the base and have more room leftover to theoretically tie it off like a balloon if I had more nimble fingers – Also, I was very careful with the condoms when stretching them over the dildos, but then I stopped being careful with the condom over the silicone Tantus. I stretched it out more at the opening, and even held the dildo up by the part of the condom I was grasping in my fingers in the photo. The condom that spent a little time on the oily dildo tore easily. The condom over the silicone dildo remained tough and intact.

Photo shows a latex condom stretched over the whole red jelly dildo, including base and balls  Photo shows a discarded condom with the base ring torn off laying next to a large purple silicone dildo that has been covered entirely in a condom, from tip to base  Photo shows me pulling a condom entirely over the base of a large purple Tantus dildo, able to twist excess condom tightly as if to tie it off like a balloon.

tl;dr: No latex condoms. Only polyurethane or nitrile. Or just stop buying potentially toxic materials, and if you must must must buy cheap porous toys, then buy TPE/TPR if you can’t have silicone. I mean I’d rather you avoid all porous materials but I realize I can’t have it all.

Using a Condom to Extend the Life4 of Porous Sex Toys

Again we have the wrong-condom issue: most condoms that people buy are the kind that are useless in the face of any oils5; but to really protect the toy (and yourself) you would have to cover the entirety of the sex toy to really really be safe. Even if you cover most of the dildo, part of it is still quite likely to get into contact with your bodily fluids and could retain bacteria, etc. These microorganisms would spread inside the porous material, past the surface. Remember, with a porous sex toy you can really only clean the very surface. You would have to probably use two condoms, one over each end, overlapping a lot, to really be sure. But that’s 2 polyurethane condoms a pop – the best price I can find on Amazon has them at $1.58 each.  That’s $3.16 per use if you’re going to really make it worth the effort.  So unless the item you want simply cannot be had at all in silicone…I don’t see why you’d save money by buying a porous toy and then pour money in a slow trickle down the drain with condoms. Having never used polyurethane condoms, I don’t know if they’re as stretchy as latex condoms. I was able to get a Magnum condom to cover the entirety of the Tantus dildo in the photos and maybe even leave enough room to tie it off like a balloon (if I had more nimble fingers), so if your sex toy has no balls, you could use one condom in this manner, for money-saving purposes.

Edited to Add: The morning after writing this I decided to locate one of the TPR toys I bought for testing purposes. Unlike the red jelly dildo above, this TPR toy didn’t feel greasy to my fingers. It’s a pretty firm TPR, too. I put the latex condom on, first rolled it all the way down to the bottom and then rolled it up just partway to show that it wasn’t baggy on there, it was snug. I rolled it back down just a little bit closed to the handle, maybe another inch, and left it alone. Then I walked away for a little while (an hour at most? I kinda forgot about it while I responded to an irritating email and then made coffee) and came back. I tried to roll the condom the rest of the way down to see if I could tell a difference between the latex actually on the toy vs the latex that wasn’t touching the toy because it wasn’t fully unrolled. The condom promptly tore. You can see how the condom looks more “roomy”, like a bag, and retained some weird texturing from the dildo. 

4 images show a latex condom rolled over a pink, translucent vibrator made of TPR. In 2 photos the condom is snug fitting and intact, and in 2 other photos the condom has torn while part of the condom remains on the dildo

Making it Easier to Keep a Somewhat-Porous Sex Toy Free of Stains

One of the few instances that I can get behind the “throw a condom on it” mantra on is for things like the Magic Wand Original and similarly-made wands. The material is still kinda porous, but doesn’t seem to be as porous as the soft materials (the more softening agent that is added, the more porous a toy becomes and the more likely you’re going to see telltale signs of hitchhikers. Also I’ve never seen a Magic Wand head deteriorate like most porous toys), but the Magic Wand WILL stain if you’re bleeding and the leather-like texture makes cleaning difficult. In these particular cases, since these wand heads aren’t chemically unstable and sweating oils, latex or polyisoprene will be okay.

tl;dr: No latex condoms. Only polyurethane or nitrile on porous toys. Better yet, stick with non-porous materials like silicone, glass, and metal and never worry again!

Using a Condom on Non-Porous Toys

The only times I really think it’s necessary at all to use a condom on a non-porous sex toy is when you want to use a sex toy both anally and vaginally in the same session but don’t have the means / ability to properly sanitize in between uses OR if you’re in a situation where sex toys are being shared about the room with people you aren’t fluid-bonded with. Or if you’re bleeding and just don’t want to deal with the extra hassle of blood on your vibrators buttons, you could put a non-lubed condom over the handle. 

In these situations, especially if you’re putting the condom on silicone sex toys, I highly highly recommend buying non-lubricated condoms. I didn’t know this until recently but the vast majority of condoms are lubricated with silicone lube. We don’t know what kind, so I’d not recommend combining it with a silicone sex toy. Some high quality silicone lubes are fine with high quality silicone sex toys (like Tantus and Pjur are said to be best buds), but there are a bunch of different types of silicone that can be used in a lube, and most are used in a combination, so I don’t know which condoms would be considered safe with high quality sex toys – condom makers almost never tell you the ingredients of the lube on their condoms. There are some condoms that are rumored to use water-based lube, but I suspect most (if not all) would contain ingredients that are best avoided by most people. Also, there are lists I’ve seen claiming so-and-so’s particular condom uses a water-based lube but they got their info from the manufacturers, and I don’t know how long ago this was – formulas can change and I can’t get confirmation from the manufacturer’s websites.  So again, I’m back to recommending non-lubricated condoms.

I’ve seen it recommended occasionally that you should always use a condom on your sex toy, even if it’s non-porous, being used in a single hole by a single person with no current infections – i.e. best-case situation. I can totally understand wanting a condom for anal use for easier clean-up, but I’m less convinced of the need for vaginal use, personally. There are quick, easy, and cheap ways to clean or sanitize your sex toys if they are made from a non-porous material. But if it makes you feel better, if you cannot possibly stand the thought of using them without, then go right ahead but again….non-lubricated condoms, please. You can buy them singularly for 50 cents each at SheVibe, by the 100 at Amazon (Atlas Brand) or a value pack at Amazon of Trojan Enz.

tl:dr: non-lubricated condoms!

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a non-lubricated non-latex condom. If you have latex allergies I don’t know what to tell you here; the non-latex condoms all have silicone lube in them. I suppose you could try to rinse out the silicone lube but that seems unlikely, since silicone repels water.

 

  1. myth?
  2. Porous penetratable sex toys are kinda unavoidable for the most part and there are definitely non-toxic brands that I recommend, but ya gotta keep a really close eye on these materials for sour smells and black spots
  3.  Yes, I have an old “true” jelly dildo in my possession. I was sent it for testing purposes, to see what would happen to condoms (wanted to see if I could test for myself how quickly/obviously the latex would deteriorate on something like this dildo). The dildo smells of chemicals, and feels oily.
  4. And in theory protect yourself from whatever is living in your porous toy
  5. The reason? There’s really only one brand making a polyurethane condom so it’s not a majority leader on the shelf
 Posted by at 5:55 pm