Nov 062016
 

Womanizer vs Satisfyer Comparison Guide

The Womanizer vs Satisfyer Comparison Guide

This thing has taken on a life of its own as I polled folks for the comparison info they most wanted to see. This meant that the once-tidy-and-small comparison chart has grown to monster proportions. Below you’ll find a small graphic of the chart; click to see it full-size. If you need to see the text Excel spreadsheet, visually-impaired readers can comment here or contact me and I’ll send it to you. If you’re curious on what some of the measurements mean you can just ask me or see the incredibly bad drawing at the bottom of the post.

The chart provides a large amount of quantifiable data and a few subjective opinions. The brief product overviews below provide more insight into my personal opinions on each item, while the full reviews hold back nothing (naturally). A lot of you want to know which product(s) I’d recommend the most and, as usual, my answer starts with “it depends…”.

If you…

  • Have certain mobility issues, flexibility issues, grip issues, or a larger body: Womanizer PRO40 has the best button placement & ergonomic design
  • Are curious about the tech and wonder if it’ll work for you: Satisfyer 1 is cheap enough to test, get you by for a few months & then upgrade if you want
  • Agree that intensity navigation is important but can’t afford the Womanizer PRO40: Satisfyer 2 is your only option
  • Don’t have grip issues, don’t have small hands, and want the best quality: Womanizer Deluxe (W500) is the top pick for many
  • Prefer rechargeables, but can’t afford the PRO40: Satisfyer Pro 2 is slightly better than Satisfyer Pro Penguin in a pro/con list
  • Care about supporting an ethical company: Womanizer PRO40 and Womanizer Deluxe (W500). For more info, read on
  • So far seem to have a definite preference for wands vs pinpoint stim: Buy a Doxy.
  • Like pinpoint stimulation but have a notoriously picky clitoris, and prefer rumbles: Womanizer PRO40. Satisfyers can feel too buzzy!

For quite some time I regarded the Womanizer with a healthy dose of side-eye; I was quite sure that it wouldn’t work for me. I remained skeptical of the many glowing reviews. When you’ve been reviewing sex toys for 8 years, you can often get a really good feel for the facts just by reading a handful of reviews. But the Womanizer shocked me – in fact, it left me speechless. It took me months to write my first Womanizer review because I felt like I couldn’t explain why I liked it or who else might like it (or hate it). I felt that the price of the Womanizer W100 was too much when I couldn’t confidently tell someone they would like it if they like X Y and Z. So for all of my issues with the build quality and company ethics of Satisyfer, I have to appreciate models like the Satisfyer 1 for their sheer affordability.

A Note on Suction: And this applies to every Satisfyer and Womanizer pressure-wave toy on the market: These seem to have very little actual suction. Suction can be great for bringing in extra blood flow to the genitals, and there are vulva/clitoral pumps for that purpose (or that awful pre-arousal thing, Fiera) – so I don’t want folks expecting any appreciable suction with these toys. I’ve been told by Womanizer there is no vacuum/suction, instead, the technology is “pressurized air pulses”. Yes, despite what parts of their site say and many other sites say, I asked and they responded. It may mimic the feeling of suction to a small degree, perhaps. I was able to see this better with these Satisfyer models, as shown in this video. There’s a lil nubbin in there moving rapidly in a small space, creating air pulses that match the nub’s speed. Then I did an informal experiment on a Womanizer toy to show that air is coming out, not being drawn in. It’s confusing, trust me. epi24 (Womanizer) said: “We prefer to call it Pleasure Air Technology”. Well, alrighty then. I’ll see what Satisfyer has to say, if they ever answer me.

A Note On Using These Underwater: While every other test seemed to tell me the same thing Womanizer did – that there’s no vacuum motor – putting these underwater did yield some suction. Mild, but more than regular use which is nearly nothing. I also noticed that if I held the nozzle tip a millimeter or so away from contact – just hovering – the “jackhammering” sensation kicked in and was the most amplified with the Satisfyer Pro 2. It reminded me a lot of the Wahl on high. I ran every model under water for a bit to make sure none were immediately affected adversely (I don’t have a tub, so I can’t use them this way). A few have reported that using the Satisfyer Pro Penguin under water resulted in getting water trapped somewhere in there, so I do worry about their quality (again).

Womanizer vs Satisfyer Comparison Chart

Womanizer vs Satisfyer Comparison Chart *

Womanizer vs Satisfyer Comparison Chart

If you need more details or views on the various silicone heads, please ask.

Image of Womanizer and Satisfyer silicone nozzle heads view 1 Image of Womanizer and Satisfyer silicone nozzle heads view 2

Womanizer Models

While I still feel that the overall cost of the Womanizer Deluxe (W500) is way too high, and I worry that the price point of the Womanizer PRO40 ($99) can’t compete with the Satisfyer range, I feel pretty confident about the build quality of the Womanizer line. Maybe their Deluxe W500 model wasn’t built for someone like me, but their PRO40 definitely was. It’s clear that thought and purpose when into the designs, and as Womanizer has noted – they pioneered this technology.

For those asking: I will review the Womanizer +Size when it comes out. I was originally told it’s not out until April, despite being featured on the site for the last few months.

A note on the 30-day guarantee with Womanizer: Recently on Instagram Womanizer said “orgasms guaranteed” and I had to comment; I asked if their 30-day money-back promise was still in effect and they said “Yes! For the Deluxe and Delight versions!” Uh…wtf is the Delight version? They informed me that the Deluxe is W500, and Delight is W100 (except, it’s been discontinued). They stated there is no guarantee on the PRO40, sadly. There is no mention on the website of this 30-day money-back guarantee. If they give you a hassle, you can show them this screencap from Instagram where they publicly said it’s still a thing.

Womanizer W100

Womanizer W100Definitely discontinued – One thing that the Womanizer W100 has that the others lack is a really nice storage case. Sure, it’s baby-pink and has “Womanizer” emblazoned on it, but it’s really nice to keep the extra head, and charging accessories, all together. The W100 is the quietest model because it lacks the more intense levels. I feel that when the Womanizer W100 is pressed against your vulva, it’s nearly silent. Even when you break contact, it’s not that loud – 62 decibels. The Womanizer W100 has only one button but the power button can be tapped during use to bring you back down to the first intensity level. As of February 2017 update to this guide, no website is carrying the W100 model and it has been discontinued.

Womanizer Deluxe Pro / W500

Womanizer W500One word: Awkward – For as much as I loved the Womanizer W100, I thought I’d love the Deluxe W500 even more. Sure, it introduced the necessary plus and minus buttons to easily navigate the increased levels, but the power button was harder to press. The buttons are now located on the back side of the body, facing away from you, and are located in a place that is very awkward for me during use. The short, fat stature also makes it harder for me to hold. The designs of the Womanizer W500 are a little more classy, but still very femme with the exception White Chrome design – but even that has a Swarovski crystal “element” as the power button. The W500 is priced way, way too high at $219. It’s absolutely ridiculous and I can’t recommend this model with the other choices available. The W500 comes in the aforementioned White Chrome; Black Leopard, Red Roses, and Magenta Lace. The Womanizer Deluxe also comes with an XL head; the measurements aren’t in the chart because it’s complicated. While most nozzles have some extra width where the silicone touches your body, the canal of the nozzles are pretty straight. The Womanizer’s XL head is decidedly more funnel-shaped, so when I measured the interior, I put the calipers about 2mm down inside the “funnel” since I think part of the interior is going to touch flesh. The exterior ridge is 22 x 24.5 mm, and the interior is 18.6 x 19.9 mm.

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe
—> View/Download User Manual

Womanizer PRO40

Womanizer PRO40Practically Perfect – Until this model, Womanizer remained an overpriced, luxury item. And while $99 for the new Womanizer PRO40 still is considered luxury, out-of-reach pricing to many, it’s a bit more attainable than the price of other Womanizer models. The Womanizer PRO40 came out in response to the much cheaper Satisfyer knock-offs – and unlike the W100 or W500, the more affordable Womanizer PRO40 is waterproof, with a plain design that is a welcome change. It may still be more expensive than any Satisfyer, but the PRO40 has the features that keep me coming back to the Womanizer brand – comfortable nozzle heads, intuitive designs, and better navigation buttons. The PRO40 combines the best of the W100 (body, button placement) with the best of the W500 (extra power for those who need it, and up/down level navigation buttons), adds in waterproofing and takes away cost. I’m happy to have a slightly louder motor in exchange. The Womanizer PRO40 also comes with an XL head; the measurements aren’t in the chart because it’s complicated. While most nozzles have some extra width where the silicone touches your body, the canal of the nozzles are pretty straight. The Womanizer’s XL head is decidedly more funnel-shaped, so when I measured the interior, I put the calipers about 2mm down inside the “funnel” since I think part of the interior is going to touch flesh. The exterior ridge is 22 x 24.5 mm, and the interior is 18.6 x 19.9 mm. 

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe
—> View/Download User Manual

Even though the Womanizer Pro 40 is a little louder vs W100 or W500, it’s now my top recommendation over every brand and model. As of Feb 2017 update, PRO40 has been out of stock at retailers without a known restock date. I’ll update when I hear more.

Satisfyer Models

The lower quality of build is definitely common across all Satisfyer models, and this is something that is honestly only apparent to me because I’ve tried all 3 available Womanizer models. I admit that I felt that many elements of the W100 seemed cheaply done when the price is taken into consideration, but it feels elegant in comparison to most Satisfyer models. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, that I realize I’m pickier than most. And I also want to point out my privilege in not finding the word “Womanizer” triggering, the way many non-binary, genderqueer, and trans folks might. I realize that, for them, my insistence on preferring the Womanizer PRO40 is very frustrating. I know that some sex toy shops won’t even carry the Womanizer because of the name. The part of me that refuses to work with sex toy shops that heavily gender their sex toy listings is incredibly frustrated that I can’t find a Satisfyer product that I like overall half as much as I like that damn Womanizer PRO40. 

On the higher intensity settings, the Satisfyer motors tend to all feel buzzy, like a vibrator. They lose that unique quality of “tapping” or rapid pressure taps that can mimic oral sex in a way. Instead, many become overkill, and feel very uncomfortable for me.

If you forced me to rank the Satisfyer models from best to worst I would be cranky and say: Satisfyer 1, Satisfyer 2, Satisfyer Pro 2, Satisfyer Pro Penguin, Satisfyer Pro Deluxe. Completely subjective, though.

A note on Satisfyer models and the User Manuals: Every user manual seems to be roughty the same when it comes to the warnings, and they all warn you not to get your credit cards too close, etc because of magnets. I don’t understand how there would be magnets in these, except for the few models that charge magnetically. Not all do, though. Strange.

A note on Satisfyer and warranties: Despite not advertising it at all, buried in legalese in their Terms and Conditions is mention of a warranty. I’ve been told that there is a 1 year warranty, and if you need to use that, email info@satisfyer.com. Thanks to Nikki at Fairvilla’s Sex Things for letting me know that they’ve tested that warranty and had a good experience! I don’t know what the parameters are, but you can download a copy of the T&C here, PDF.

Satisfyer Pro 2 – The Old and The New

Satisfyer Pro 2Affordable? Nah, Cheap – Rather than rename the Satisfyer Pro 2, the company made two changes and kept the name and design the same. This means that with most retailers you won’t know which model you’re buying, because they’re priced the same, too. You’d only know to see it in person – the new version has “Satisfyer” in raised lettering along the handle (shown here). Satisfyer boasted that the new Pro 2 was “90% more quiet” than before. Using my amateur decibel meter the difference is 9 points – the loudest rating on the lowest setting is 63dB on the new model vs 72dB on the old – it’s been explained to me by others that this does equal a 90% difference. It’s definitely a noticeable change, yet it is still one of the loudest models on the lower settings. And the high levels? Identical when not pressed against the vulva – when pressed against the vulva, the new Pro 2 is a bit more quiet. One strange quirk: The clicky clacky of the buttons on the Satisfyer Pro 2 is the loudest in the entire bunch. Louder than the motor itself. The Satisfyer Pro 2 comes in one color that is very gender-neutral, even if the packaging isn’t1. The button location isn’t the best for me and my preference but it may not bother you as much.

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe
—> View/Download User Manual

Satisfyer 1

Battery-powered and basic, Satisfyer 1 is a decent introduction to pressure-wave toys. If you think you’ll want the Womanizer models but are afraid to drop that much money, try out the Satisfyer 1 for awhile, knowing that upgrading to the Womanizer will only make your experience better. If the Satisfyer 1 doesn’t work at all for you, then I doubt any of these will work. It’s pretty cheaply made, so I actually don’t expect it to stand the test of time. Satisfyer 1 has the most comfortable head of the cheaper Satisfyer models; it is similar to the Pro 2. The single-button design is basic, but the intensity isn’t awful (and is better than the Penguin). It’s not the most powerful Satisfyer, but it’s definitely in the running.

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe
—> View/Download User Manual

Satisfyer 2

Battery-powered and confusing. Satisfyer 2 adds in something that no other Satisfyer model boasts: plus and minus up/down navigation buttons, a feature I’ve come to rely on. Unfortunately, the body design of the Satisfyer 2, combined with button placement, makes it unwieldy. It’s also the loudest model now being sold. Some may even say it’s also the ugliest version; the boxy 1970’s-style body reminds you of a straight-stemmed tobacco pipe, or maybe the Nike logo. The batteries rattle around, too. It has more silicone in the nozzle than the Pro Deluxe or Pro Penguin, but less than the Satisfyer 1 or Pro 2. If the noise factor and button location dooesn’t bother you, and you really feel that you, like me, need the extra plus and minus intensity navigation buttons, this is a begrudging green-light to buy this if you can’t yet afford the superior Womanizer PRO40. I will forever curse the button placement on the Satisfyer 2 because it coulda been a contender.

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe
—> View/Download User Manual

Satisfyer Pro Penguin

Satisfyer Pro PenguinSmall and cute, the Satisfyer Pro Penguin will appeal to those not as picky as me. I have a huge gripe about the teeny, tiny silicone nozzle head that pops off easily (even during use, for me), and it’s corresponding lack of comfort plus difficulties maintaining a “seal”. The angle of head-to-body is less than other models so this means that the body of the toy will be angled further away from you. Coupled with its short stature this may mean it’s hard to hold for some folks with larger bodies or shorter arms (or the annoying combination of the two, like me). Like many Satisfyer models it has a brightly glowing LED light under the translucent silicone button. This is the only Satisfyer model that has the button facing your body, which is more comfortable for me but thin folks may find this causes the LED to glare in their eyes if they use it in the dark. I would probably recommend the Satisfyer Pro 2 over this, unless you simply cannot ignore the cute factor. You can read my full review here for extreme detail.

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe (Canadians find it at CAYA)
—> View/Download User Manual

Satisfyer Pro Deluxe

Move Along. It’s awful, and I won’t recommend it to anyone. The design is way off the mark and it’s not comfortable to hold. Buy literally any other model. The Satisfyer Pro Deluxe has no redeemable qualities, unless you think that pranking someone by wrapping it up like a potato would be your idea of a good time. But even then, don’t buy it. A short, but rage-filled, review is coming soon if you don’t believe me on how awful it is.

* A few things to note about this comparison chart:

  1. As new similar products are available to retailers, and I try them, I’ll add them to the chart. By similar I mean no vibrations, just this air pulsing whoosiewhatsit.
  2. The decibels were tested with my phone and a sound meter. Due to the idling-engine type sound that the motors make on low, the sound meter jumped around a lot. The lower numbers then represent the loudest that the first settings will get. Also, I tested the sound levels without the nozzle being completely covered, like it would be in use. When the nozzle is completely covered the sound is dampened a lot.
  3. Charge and use time reports are varying from retailer info to manufacturer website / product manual info. One reports the Satisfyer has 120 minutes of use, while their web-version user manual reports only 30 minutes. When I can get an accurate number, I’ll add it.
  4. I feel that the fat & short design of the Womanizer W500 is awkward to hold and more awkward to press buttons. Womanizer boasts it being more comfortable to hold. We’ll agree to disagree, I guess.

The Knock-Off Issue with Satisfyer

Like anything popular, counterfeit and copycat products quickly flooded Amazon, AliExpress, eBay, etc. It never takes long after “white label”2 versions of popular brands are available for the emails about them to start hitting my inbox3. As you can see in this email screenshot there’s a knock-off of the Womanizer tech in a different body with a wholesale price of $20. At first glance, Satisfyer seemed to have fixed the primary complaints about Womanizer: design, name, price. But when you use any Satisfyer model side-by-side with any Womanizer it’s glaringly obvious that the price increase with the Womanizer will get you a product that is better made. I also just have a really hard time supporting a product that is such an obvious rip-off – maybe you don’t agree, and you need to have the most affordable option which I respect.

When I saw the Satisfyer brand, it was really clear that they’re going after the Womanizer market4 with this non-vibrating air-pulsation technology – they went the cheap route though with the motor and design, allowing the retail price to be so much lower than the Womanizer that they were guaranteed to steal a large chunk of the Womanizer’s potential customers5.

 

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  1. features a white femme person
  2. White label is when a manufacturing plant makes a product, but they are not necessarily a brand – they offer to make things for your brand. You, the brand company, don’t really design anything, you just slap your brand name on the packaging and maybe pick a slightly different color scheme. This is why you can often see a dozen nearly-identical sex toys on the sub-par retailer market
  3. Side note: why the hell do these companies think bloggers are retailers?
  4. **After this post went live** two folks commented via Facebook about their interactions with Satifyer reps at SHE NYC. One said: “True story, at this years SHE Expo in Brooklyn the Satisfyer representative said flat out to my wife and I that they took the “poorly designed Womanizer and made it better” then proceeded to essentially brag about how they got away with it adding how they considered a powerful patent lawyer part of the cost of bringing the Satisfyer to market. I mean, the guy was chuckling about it.” You know, this is not how a decent company behaves. At all. Jesus fuck.
  5. The company behind the Satisfyer has denied that they’ve outright copied the Womanizer tech; Womanizer responded by slapping them with patent infringement but it won’t hold water outside of Germany
Oct 232016
 

Silicone sex toys have come a long way, baby. I often am asked to give someone my opinion on whether or not a sex toy is actually the silicone it claims to be. When the material is opaque it’s hard to tell visually but the proliferation of clear jelly/TPR material in sex toys gives me a leg up in making a call. I’ve frequently warned on my blog that “clear silicone sex toys won’t be crystal-clear, they’ll be cloudy-clear”. Yet earlier this year I was reassuring multiple people that a new guy on the block, Funkit, was definitely creating clear silicone sex toys. Why the panic? Probably because my differentiation between “crystal clear” and “cloudy clear” is skimmed over and the focus is on “clear”. Today I’m hopefully going to give you better tools, and a better understanding, of the differences between clear silicone sex toys and clear TPR sex toys if you don’t want to, or can’t, do a flame test.  And while Funkit isn’t the only brand to use clear silicone it is the brand people have asked me about the most lately. Other brands that have used a clear silicone include Vixen and Vamp; you’ll notice Vixen using it in their Hitachi Wand caps. Vamp uses a clear silicone but heavily infuses it with glitter. A brand that has been around awhile, quit, moved to Etsy, quit again was Jollie/Chavez Dezignz – they made the polka-dot dildo many of you would remember.

Clear As….Water?

In many past posts I’d used the terms “crystal clear” to describe what PVC/TPR/Jelly toys look like and “Cloudy Clear” to describe what clear silicone toys look like. Kenton, the ingenious person behind Funkit, graciously allowed me to pick his brain to help better explain things to y’all. According to Kenton the term “water-clear” is a better descriptor to use, and he’s right (unless your water isn’t clear…). While both materials are certainly translucent (and thin samples of clear TPR might even be considered transparent), the silicone we would want our sex toys to be made of can never be water-clear. There is water-clear silicone, something Kenton reminded me of that Metis told me a long time ago; but it isn’t a sex toy material, because it gets brittle and doesn’t hold up well, plus is very hard.

Cloudy-Clear vs Water-Clear

When it comes to a relatively thick chunk of translucent silicone, like the head of the Funkit dildo shown below, you can see that it wouldn’t be called water-clear. This is the perfect example of “cloudy clear”. Even with the Funkit silicone paddles, as thin as they are, you can still tell that it’s kinda cloudy. But as you can see below the head of the TPR vibrator is as thick as the head of the Funkit dildo – And as thick as it is, it’s still a lot more translucent than the clear silicone.

Most clear silicone sex toys will never be any less cloudy than this, which is considerably less water-clear than translucent TPR

If you’re still unsure, and you can see it in person Kenton told me about the light trick, which is pretty neat:

Visually, cloudy clear, but highly transparent silicones often lend an amber hue to light that passes through them, especially thick parts. This is true of my toys, at least, and all the silicones I’ve worked with, including many Wacker samples and Reynolds Advanced Materials. That’s a pretty good test, but flame testing is still important.

When I just held my LED light up to it I didn’t really notice what he was talking about but the moment I shone the light through the material onto a white surface, the answer was clear. Below this paragraph in the photo on the left I’m shining my light through a Funkit Swing dildo; you can see the light that passes through is very amber-yellow. The photo on the right shows the same light shining through the head of the Tracy’s Dog not-silicone rabbit vibrator. There’s no color distortion to the light as it passes through.  I don’t know how this test would fare if the clear silicone were tinted, like many water-clear TPR toys, such as this. Kenton has said that it is possible to all-over tint the clear silicone like that, he just doesn’t do it.

Shining a bright light through clear silicone sex toys distorts the white light to a warm amber Shining a light through a clear TPR sex toy won't distory the light color

Price, Brand, Feel

Price, and brand reputability, will give you many clues. The brands you will see claiming their water-clear material is silicone are nearly never being sold through reputable retailers and are almost always under-$40. One brand that I’ve only seen on Amazon, the terribly-named Tracy’s Dog, is one example. While the company does produce silicone items that are indeed silicone, they also sell items like the rabbit vibrator in my pictures – priced at $13.98, you won’t find clear silicone sex toys for that price. But what if it’s a frosty translucent material, from an Amazon brand, and cheap? Is it silicone? I think I’ll have to purchase it and do a flame test. I do know from my trials with items listed on Amazon as “silica gel” that you can have a soft, nice-feeling frosty translucent item that is NOT silicone. The “guess by looking” isn’t fool proof, obviously, but we have to start somewhere. However, the more clear the silicone is, the better the quality of the silicone, the higher the price.

Another clue is confusing listings with poorly-translated ad copy. As you’ll see from these Amazon listings the material can be described as silicone, TPR, and medical silica gel all in the same listing. “Medical silica gel” is not a sex toy material so when in doubt always assume the lesser material if you can’t tell just by the level of transparency.

I mentioned price up there when I talked about the cheap items you might find on Groupon, Amazon, AliExpress or Ebay. But not all PVC/TPR rabbit vibrators are cheap. For reasons I’ll never understand companies like Doc Johnson and CalExotics, or Evolved Novelties sometimes charge a pretty penny for TPR rabbit vibes – but at least they’re honest now in the materials description, and call it TPR – so long as you’re shopping with a reputable retailer.

Often when you see bigger brand clear silicone sex toys, like this silicone rabbit vibe, the silicone is more cloudy (frosted?) than the stuff used by Funkit, Vixen, Vamp, etc. It could be down to a difference in shore, silicone type & quality (medical, food grade1, etc) or silicone price (the more clear, the more expensive). It could also be a difference between RTV silicone that is hand-poured and LIM or liquid injection molding.

Feel – this one is harder to put into words, for me. Often a TPR or PVC clear material can feel a bit oily, but not always. When I was trying to find a word to describe what I was feeling, what came to mind was “squeaky” but that’s a sound, not a word. I can rub my thumb over these materials and I actually kinda can hear a sound. When I’m done rubbing my hands over these materials, if they don’t feel obviously oily, my the skin on hands still is left feeling strange – like there’s a chemical residue. I don’t experience any of this with silicone. The only residue that’s been left on my hands after fondling some silicone is a silky feeling. I think that once you can feel both materials side by side, you’ll always know how to tell in the future.

Thanks Kenton!!

Kenton Johnston is the man behind Funkit, and he’s creating some pretty amazing stuff. Yes, the vivid swirls of pigment suspended in translucent silicone is different and gorgeous but he also is thinking way outside the box – from his unique suction-cup-and-butt-friendly base design to these really cool hand sex silicone texture rings he’s trying to get funded on Indiegogo – I’ve seen them in person and I definitely think they’ll work as advertised. He’s a big sex geek, like us, and fortunately was happy to let him pester him with all sorts of questions to help me easily show you how to tell if these clear silicone sex toys are really true to their advertising. For now you can buy Funkit products direct, but I hope that soon he’ll get his stuff into the hands of progressive retailers like Early to Bed, Smitten Kitten, and Shevibe.

 

Clear silicone sex toys, even when the material is thin like the base of this Funkit dildo, are still more cloudy than transparent TPR

Find Funkit on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  1. Medical grade isn’t everything, and I feel confident now recommending other grades especially when it’s listed as food grade. Kenton told me that “Food grade silicone is tested to FDA standards for food safety, which involves submerging a sample on ethyl alcohol, water, oil, and acetone and seeing if anything leaches out in any of these. If harmful substances come out of the material, it is bad, and should feel bad. Medical grade silicone has to be able to be implanted for a certain amount of time, and is tested differently for different duration. There’s also medical silicone for prosthetics, and this has its own tests as well. Medical grade silicone is also made in cleanroom settings. The thing is, a sex toy is something that is most likely going to come in contact with mucous membranes. It is not going to be implanted into your body. Anything that is safe for food necessarily has to be safe for mucous membranes like your mouth and anus, so food grade is a perfect fit for sex toys. While medical grade sounds better, it’s really overkill for the cost it adds, considering the extra effort in testing doesn’t add anything for a simply sexual  purpose.”
 Posted by at 9:55 pm
Oct 172016
 

This might rank as one of the questions I see the most; it’s usually asked by cis men shopping for a (usually first) sex toy for their cis woman partner. If the question is asked vaguely in a more public forum the answers from others most often include the Magic Wand; if the seeker has any ideas it’s usually either a suction cup toy or a rabbit vibrator. I have great reservations about willy-nilly recommending something as high-powered as the Magic Wand for most people’s first vibrator and of course I have strong feelings about rabbit vibrators. Speaking as both a professional sex toy critic and someone whose own first sex toys were purchased by her boyfriend1, I’ve got a lot of opinions and feels on this topic as a whole so it’s time I answer this question long-form.

Who Really Wants It?

Frequently the request for advice is accompanied by “she doesn’t know what she wants, she told me to find her something” or the request is for something to surprise them. I have to admit that it’s times like these that I wonder if she has actually made the request. The only way I can imagine letting someone pick out a sex toy for me would be if I actually didn’t want one and had no intention of using it. If I wanted it then I would be the one to shop for it (or shop with my partner). I feel like if I could better understand the mindset of someone who is so laissez-faire about the topic that they give their partner carte blanche, then I could better answer the queries.

It’s Subjective

When someone asks the “I/we want a vibrator” question and starts out very vague, I run through a list of questions. I try to avoid recommending specific sex toys without knowing details about the person using them. Let’s be realistic – my favorite vibrator, the Tango, is going to be too intense/pinpoint/hard for some people. You shouldn’t be buying a sex toy for someone else unless you are absolutely certain you have the correct answers to these questions:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 5, how easily can they orgasm from manual clitoral stimulation alone? 1 being never or very rarely, 5 being easily and often.
  2. Do they know where their g-spot is? Have they successfully experienced pleasure from massaging it?
  3. What size?And no, “small” or “large” are not specific answers. If you, their partner, have a penis go measure yourself. Be sure you know if they want something the same size as you, bigger, or smaller. In the US most sex toy shops measure their insertables by telling you the diameter of the widest portion (elsewhere you’re told the circumferece) and yes, when it comes to diameter a mere 1/4″ inch can make a big difference. I can enjoy a 1.75″ wide dildo but will run away from a 2″ wide dildo. A 1.25″ vibrator is just too slender for me while a 1.5″ (or slightly bigger) is perfect.
  4. What shape? Some people do like perfectly straight toys, some really prefer a curved shaft or curved tip. Some would like a tapered shape, while some would prefer that the head is the largest part. This may be something you only learn by trial and error.
  5. What color / level of realism? Are you really sure your partner wants a heavily realistic sex toy?
  6. Have they ever owned a sex toy before and if so which one and how much did they like it? What were the pros and cons?
  7. Do they like direct clitoral stimulation? Some require pinpoint stimulation and some hate it, and would prefer a wand-style vibrator.

Champagne Wishes and Rabbit Dreams

The rabbit vibrator, a dual-stimulation sex toy, seems to be what people think is the ultimate holy grail vibrator. I can understand – it seems to do it all! It provides the internal and external stimulation simultaneously and easily while having more options than you can shake a stick at. But the rabbit vibes that many people are drawn to are, for some reason, the porous ones with the rows of plastic beads under the skin that rotate in various directions. I’ve personally never thought much of the rotating ones, but that’s just me.

There’s a lot of problems with buying a rabbit vibe:

  1. The Motors: Instead of worrying about 1 motor being the right intensity and type (rumbly vs buzzy) now you have two motors to worry about. Many rabbit vibes seem to have a more intense internal arm than clitoral arm which was always the opposite of my needs
  2. The Fit: Genitals aren’t the same; there isn’t a formula. Some have a smaller, buried clitoris. Some have larger labia. Some have a clitoris that is closer to the vaginal opening, some are farther away. Some have a g-spot that is right inside the entrance, some have one a little further in. Some prefer A-spot stimulation, and the A-spot is closer to the cervix than the G-spot is. Some people like pressure on/near their clitoris, some don’t. And while I’d like to say that there’s a rabbit vibe out there for everyone, there isn’t (or at least you shouldn’t spend the $500 it may take to find your perfect rabbit vibe).
  3. The Fit, Part 2: And then after all of that, we have to worry about the width and shape of the internal arm.
  4. They can be overly complicated or too simplistic – depending on how many buttons, options and settings there are
  5. They can be expensive – at least many of the better ones are, but there are some decent, affordable ones. Sadly many of the cheap ones are worthless.
  6. They’re more likely to break, and sooner – It’s like the old days when you could buy a TV with a VCR or DVD player built in…what happens when one part dies? The more parts, the more motors, the greater chances of an early demise.

I have a few favorites, but by and large, I hate recommending them until I’m absolutely certain that someone knows exactly what they need and we can find numerous blogger reviews of the rabbit to ensure that the motors are going to suffice. It’s just better to buy two separate toys, I think. This way you have more variety and leeway.

Dildo vs Vibrator

People who don’t understand the types of sex toys may say dildo but mean vibrator. They may think that anything you insert is called a dildo, and if it vibrates it’s a vibrating dildo. While they aren’t really wrong, it leads to confusion when you’re talking to someone who is aware of the nuances of the industry. A dildo is an insertable object that doesn’t vibrate. A vibrating dildo is a dildo that has a removable motor, like Tantus products. A vibrating dildo could also aptly describe the (rarely silicone) highly realistic, squishy things that vibrate2. But most things that vibrate that are meant for insertion are just merely called “vibrators” and left at that. They may resemble a penis or not at all. They’re usually broken down into categories: Mini vibrators and clitoral vibrators are often interachangable3; G-spot vibrators usually have a curved shaft, a curved tip or a bulbous tip; “Classic” vibrators are usually straight. Decent shops will also have an anal vibrator category, which should only feature vibrators that have a flared base or some design feature that prevents the vibrator from getting lost up inside the butt. Many brands will claim their product is an anal sex toy when it doesn’t have a flared base, but that’s a rant for another day.

I’ve also seen a lot of dudes looking to simply get a sex toy, any sex toy; and without asking their partner first they just gravitate towards a dildo – the reason may very well lay in their insecurities. A lot of people, especially cis men, believe that a sex toy will replace them, that they are in competition with a sex toy. They don’t want their partner to have a vibrator because they “can’t compete with that”. This level of controlling behavior and irrational insecurity is probably best kept for another post, but suffice to say that every person is different and some may prefer dildos while some really need a vibrator. If I can’t orgasm from cock by itself, I’m unlikely to orgasm from a dildo by itself.

The Solution

Unless you can answer all of the questions I listed above, then any recommendation will be a random guess. Even with all of the information from you/your partner, a recommendation is a guess, but an educated guess and more likely than not to be correct. I really don’t want to see you wasting your money which is why I’m writing this post and why I’m giving you the answer you don’t want which is: shop with your partner, not for your partner. There are a lot of awesome surprise gifts out there that you can buy; sex toys usually aren’t one of them. The bonus? Shopping together, whether it’s in-store or online, is really fun. It builds anticipation, sparks communication, and more.

One more reason why I’m so reluctant to make recommendations for your partner: if you choose wrong, the whole thing may backfire on you. Your partner may actually be upset if you chose something drastically different than what they would have picked for themselves.

The best way to pick out a sex toy is to make sure you both research every aspect. Start out by reading guides that introduce you to the various types of sex toys. Make sure you understand what a body-safe sex toy material really is (and what it’s not) and the issues with porosity. The last thing we want is for someone’s sex toy to cause genital itching or burning and have them be scared of sex toys after that. There are thousands of body-safe sex toys out there. And keep in mind that a sex toy is going to feel different from a penis or fingers – so just because your penis is 1.5 inches diameter doesn’t always mean that that’s the perfect size for a sex toy – because of the firmness your partner may find they want their sex toys to be slightly smaller than you. Or because a sex toy is wielded differently than a penis, it could mean that they can tolerate (and want) a sex toy larger than you. There are a lot of under-$50 body-safe dildos to choose from so before you invest in something like a high-quality dual density silicone, or high-quality metal, glass and wood sex toys, you should try out an affordable silicone dildo to get a decent idea of whether or not a size is right for you & your partner.

A few exceptions to the rule of “no surprises” come into play when the item is meant to be used by them, on you (like buying them an upgraded strap-on harness after you’ve tried pegging and you’re both into it) or when you skate from sex toys to BDSM products.

As always, I’m happy to help you find the right sex toy but needed to get into detail about why the most common request is such a difficult subject to tackle. If I’ve directed you here then hopefully this post will help you understand why I’m not just randomly suggesting a few products – let’s work towards getting your partner a sex toy they’ll enjoy, and avoid you wasting money!

 

  1. and no, I didn’t like the ones he bought
  2. And no, I don’t like recommending the ones that aren’t silicone because the material is so porous and iffy
  3. But sometimes there are vibrators that really are best just for the clitoris and not general multi-purpose use
 Posted by at 9:22 am
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.

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

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

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

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

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

Glass Sex Toys to Avoid

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

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

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

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

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

Glass Sex Toy Brands I Endorse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glass Sex Toy Brands and My Testing

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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