May 152016
 

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

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

wholejar meltingglitter

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

purpleshiftNovember

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

MeltedJarNov14 MeltedJarNov14pt2

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

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

JarMay16-Whole JarMay16-4

JarMay16-1 JarMay16-2

JarMay16-3

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

 

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

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

 Posted by at 11:49 am
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
Oct 142015
 

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

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

Is Medical Grade Silica Gel Even a Thing??

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

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

SilicaGel6 SilicaGel7

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

SilicaGel3 SilicaGel4

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

SilicaGel2 SilicaGel1

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

Silicon

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

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

Silicone

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

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

  1. yes, you can get rid of the odors, yes I’ll write about that down the line
 Posted by at 3:00 pm
Mar 222015
 

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

In The Beginning…

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

Recently Lab-Tested Sex Toys

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

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

Not Enough Studies

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

Is PVC Toxic?

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

It’s Still Porous

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

Will a Condom Protect You?

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

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

Will the Industry Change?

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

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

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

  1. Dioctyl terephthalate
  2. Said in the article “One PVC shower curtain can release as many as 108 volatile organic chemicals into the air.”
 Posted by at 12:34 pm
Aug 272014
 

Silagel or Sil-a-gel, no matter how you spell it, should be pronounced as “avoid”. It’s a confusing matter in the sex toy industry, because we apparently cling really hard to our myths. At some point, some retailer assumed that the “sil” in sil-a-gel stood for “silicone”. Not surprisingly, most toys containing sil-a-gel do look “gel-like”. This grand misconception might even be where the “silicone blend” bullshit came from; or vice versa. But I don’t feel like playing the “which sex toy myth was spread around first” game today. I get asked about Sil-a-Gel often enough that I’m writing here about it. 

Sil-a-gel is strictly a Doc Johnson creation, so far as I can tell.  From their site: http://www.docjohnson.com/ask-the-doc

Q: What is Sil-A-Gel?

A: Sil-A-Gel is an anti-bacterial compound that we add to all of our Made-in-USA products. It is not a coating or a separate material. It is added into our material in the raw mixing phase so that the anti-bacterial agents are actually engrained into the product and will not wash away with use. Sil-A-Gel helps stop the spread of unwanted and potentially bad bacteria forming on your favorite products. Although you should always wash your products with mild soap and water, Sil-A-Gel is our way of going the extra mile to make sure that your products are as safe and clean as they can be.

Testing

Dildology had the James Deen realistic dildo sent to the same labs that BadVibes.org used to deformulate the dildo. It gets run through the same machines you hear about on crime scene type shows. Their results actually found that the dildo contained 61% phthalates – meaning 61% of the whole item’s make-up was phthalates ….. the thing they claim it’s free of. The rest was simply PVC. There was nothing else in there that the machine could detect. Now, this is only one lab test. I am reluctant to fully condemn Doc Johnson for lying until we see another lab test run, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. These tests need to be funded, they cost something like $400 a pop, I think. 

Sil-a-gel is an Additive, NOT a Material

Despite what you may have heard or seen at other retailers who haven’t kept up with the toxic toy times, sil-a-gel is not a material. This bears repeating. However, any material that sil-a-gel is added to is still very porous and potentially toxic. Oh, I know, all these SilaGel added dildos claim to be phthalates-free. But you know they can lie as there are no regulations for sex toys, right? Right. And Doc Johnson only claims that it will act as an anti-bacterial agent. What about fungi like mold and mildew? All of these can live in the pores of these low-quality sex toys. Until I see unbiased lab tests that prove that Sil-a-gel is present AND WORKS, I won’t believe in it. You know what anti-microbial additive does work? Silver. Tenga is starting to use it. 

But are Sil-a-Gel Treated Items Non-Toxic?

While Doc Johnson will continue to say that they don’t use pthalates in their facility, phthalates aren’t the only toxic chemical we need to worry about. And many people still have a bad reaction to these “phthalates-free” sil-a-gel sex toys; the same reactions that are reported from known-toxic sex toys – rashes and skin burns, mainly. And that’s just what we can see/feel. Most people report that these sex toys stink, which means VOCs are present. 

A reminder, folks: True silicone is considered to be effectively non-porous, able to be sanitized, and is chemically inert – meaning it won’t break down. The materials that need to be softened with chemicals and/or mineral oil – jelly, rubber, PVC, vinyl, TPR/TPE, elastomer, cyberskin, etc etc – are all chemically unstable and will begin to break down over time. And the old line of “put a condom on it” shouldn’t be supported, either. There have been user reports of skin irritation continuing AFTER they put the condom on the dildo. And, by logical deduction, if a sex toy is softened with mineral oil and there’s any amount of oil seeping from the pores, it could break down your average latex condom, providing you with a barrier that’s as effective as Swiss cheese. 

TL;DR – Treat it like every other toxic sex toy. Throw it out and buy safe materials from reputable manufacturers and retailers. 

 

 The opinions expressed in this post are my own, gleaned from information I’ve gathered through my own research and speaking with other sex toy users. Until more tests are run, information on what, or how effective, sil-a-gel is or is not is merely supposition and not fact. However, when sex toy materials that are proven as completely safe exist, why risk it? 

 

 Posted by at 4:03 pm
Aug 122014
 

“TPR-Silicone”? Silicone blends? NOPE. Not possible.

For quite some time, we used to believe that there was some bizarre “10% rule” where a manufacturer only had to create a sex toy that contained 10% silicone in order to actually call it silicone for marketing. When I learned that there are no regulations, I learned that the “rule” was a myth and companies could be lying about the material. They could use any material, and claim it to be any material. There is nothing stopping them from out and out lying. And then the lies get spread further because the retailers usually have no option but to parrot the information given to them by the manufacturer.

When I first started reviewing in 2008, we (the consumers) thought that silicone blends and “TPR Silicone” was a thing. The manufacturers called it that, the retailers (of course) called it that. In fact, many retailers still do! A google search of that term shows that it’s still being used on many sites. I don’t know, can’t know, which retailer was the first to explain the various materials – Edenfantasys, for all its downfalls, did a service in providing their material safety rating scale which helped educate a number of people about jelly, cyberskin, etc. The material safety was ranked on a scale from 1 to 10. In order to give credit where credit is due, the material safety scale was created by Shanna Katz and someone who went by “Delilah Douglas” on EF.  Sadly though, they still list TPR Silicone as a material. Many new sites model after their material list, and the myth/misinformation perpetuates. Given the drastic decline of Edenfantasys, I highly doubt that there’s anyone there who would care enough to change their information.

How to Tell TPR from Silicone

Ever since I started burning sex toys, I’ve noticed certain traits. For one, jelly and TPR can be completely clear, crystal clear, but silicone can not be. Silicone can be clear, but it is a somewhat “cloudy” clear. TPR and jelly has also a certain feel that you’ll never get from silicone, and an elasticity you’ll not get from silicone. So if something is crystal clear and can stretch to fit around your ankle? That cock ring is not silicone.

ScreamingO

Most often, when I find a sex toy still being advertised as “TPR Silicone” on a retail site, a look at the manufacturer’s site shows that they’re merely calling it TPR. It’s hard to say who is to blame for the inaccurate listings…..did the manufacturer wise up and the retail store hasn’t made changes to the listing? Or is the retail store trying to fool you? Information changes, so what we used to believe as fact is no longer, and when this old, incorrect information still persists, the myths persist.  Sites like this are not out to purposely misinform, but I hope that the information given will be changed as more is learned about these materials and the truth. Information changes, so what we used to believe as fact is no longer, and when this old, incorrect information still persists, the myths persist. 

The Confirmation – TPR Cannot be Blended

I have a few industry friends I can turn to for further investigation when I get one of my hunches, and this was no exception. I can’t name names nor say anything about my “informant” but they work with materials and and have worked for a few large sex toy manufacturing companies. They confirmed for me that it is not possible to blend TPR/TPE with silicone. They’re different materials, and simply cannot be “blended” to create one material type.  They said that one could, technically, layer the TPR and silicone, so that the silicone layer is what is seen by the consumer, but it’s a stretch and it’s very expensive to do so – therefore that negates the whole reason for it. This person reiterated what I’ve suspected, which is that “a lot came from [earlier in the industry] when silicone started to become popular and some were trying to pass it off by saying TPR/TPE silicone”.

Once Again I Lash Out at Screaming O for their “SEBS Silicone” Claims

I decided to dig deeper because of the material naming discrepancies that I still sometimes see; one culprit as mentioned above is Screaming O. I’ve burned their cock rings that they claim are made of a “material” called SEBS, which they claim stands for “silicone elastomer blend”. Not only can you not even blend silicone with a thermoplastic elastomer, but everywhere else in the chemistry world, SEBS stands for styrene-ethylene/butylene-styrene.  The Screaming O cock rings are extremely stretchy and soft. They’re probably over 80% plasticizers (likely mineral oil). When lit, they burn like Indiana Jones’ torch – hot, bright and resistant to extinguishing from a gust of air. The Screaming O rings were the only thing I’ve burned that I couldn’t extinguish by blowing out, I had to toss them under running water. Silicone doesn’t behave like that. And of course, after being burned, the Screaming O rings left no ash — the hallmark of silicone — just a look of melted plastic.  I can’t tell if the material Screaming O is using truly is this SEBS stuff or if they’re just using that acronym as a made-up term for their made-up material. I’d have to raise funds to get a ring sent to the lab like I did with the Hello Touch to find out for sure. I’m skeptical of their material, though, highly skeptical. Styrene is a chemical that many are side-eyeing pretty hard, and aren’t sure how toxic it could be.  If we’re gonna continue to get all technical and science-y, Screaming O (and other sex toy companies too, like Vibratex) use the term “Elastomer” as a material name, when it’s actually a material type. I’d be willing to bet that when most companies are describing their item as being made of Elastomer, it’s really TPE – thermoplastic elastomer. Wikipedia says it’s “also called” thermoplastic rubber (TPR) so I am not yet sure if there is a chemical difference between TPR and TPE, if they’re the same thing, etc. There are different types of TPEs, but I don’t know if all of those types could be used in the sex toy application. We’ve seen these mystery materials come in a variety of shore strengths, too. The softer they are, the more porous they are, and the more likely they are to break down. There’s a big different in how the TPR like these items behaves vs the TPR of say the Eroscillator. I’ve yet to hear that someone’s Eroscillator attachment melted or started to break down, or got “greasy”. Those attachments have much less softening content, though, too. I’ve tried to contact Eroscillator about the material, but they won’t respond.

The term TPR Silicone is very misleading and very incorrect; people hear “silicone” and think that it’s safe, and non-porous. I’d like to see retailers eradicate the language, and I can only hope that when they’re contacted, they will change the terminology.  If you see a site selling items listed as “TPR Silicone”, please consider contacting them to change the wording.

 

Disclaimer: I am explaining things in the best way I know how. I’m dealing here in many “facts” that I can’t promise are all 100% accurate – we lack the ability to be super scientific about this. I don’t have a chemist by my side, I don’t have a lab. I’m sharing with you what I think, what I’ve been told, what I am inferring from my own test results thus far, and what my reason and logic is filling in. The information here may change as we learn more–this post is evidence that as the years go by in the sex toy industry, things are changing and past truths are becoming myths.