Aug 152018
 

At the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit this year I was a presenter, alongside Kenton (Funkit), to talk about sex toy myths specifically as they relate to sex toy materials. Pretty much everything we talked about is something I’ve already written about and I created a quick-and-dirty temporary page for Summit attendees to reference to, but decided to create a better post about it.

Sex toy myths are especially hard to dispell, even years later, because the misinformation still spreads. Every day, it seems, I have to gently (or, not so gently) correct a myth mid-spread. This list of links will mean very little to you, though, without seeing the session that inspired it.  You can see the video that was recorded live during the session below, with transcription/captioning done by Erika Lynae who also transcribed last year’s session that inspired this one. I suggest you take the time to read the transcript of the 2017 session to get a feel for why we felt so strongly about our own session, but it is not necessary. The video was filmed by Suz – thank you Suz!!! A bunch of great people live-tweeted during the session  so please check out the hashtag for it on Twitter, #sfsmyths. I encourage you to turn the captioning on because the sound isn’t all that great. I had no idea before the session how we’d be recording for live-streaming so I didn’t bring an extra microphone to better capture our voices.

Please note the best part of the captioning:

KENTON: [GLORIOUS DILDO REMOVAL POP]

AUDIENCE: [GASPS]

[APPLAUSE]

LILLY: The sex toy version of pulling a rabbit out of a hat!

Sex Toy Myths – The Material Basics

We touched on talking about the differences and similarities on material; basically TPR/TPE is a blanket term consisting of many recipes that vary from brand to brand, and these recipes nearly never have harsh plasticizers – but for some reason PVC jelly rubber does. PVC jelly rubber is a TPR, but we know a good bit of the recipe and we know the main ingredient, so we call it by it’s name. It’s like saying “Italian food” and then “Eggplant Parmesan” – everybody’s Eggplant Parm will vary a little, but we know it has Eggplant and cheese, and that it’s “Italian food”. In this strange analogy PVC is the Eggplant Parm and TPR is Italian Food. Here are a few Wikipedia links:

You can see from all of the lab tests that have been done that anything classified generically as TPR/TPE has never had phthalates.

Silicone is cured by various methods – addition-curing adds platinum or tin and this can be combined with room-temperature condensation cure (RTV). This means that “platinum” is not a grade, it’s the means of curing the silicone into a rubber-like elastomer. The only “grades” that can exist are the various medical grades and food grades. Companies can indeed use FDA-approved grades of silicone and pigments but this does not make the finished product FDA-approved.

Toxic Toys

We talked about how and why we continue to use the word “toxic” when we are talking about PVC and TPR toys, despite the fact that newer lab tests show a drastic decline in irritating, unsafe phthalates. I noted that while Doc Johnson’s PVC toys may not contain phthalates they do contain an additive they’ve dubbed “sil-a-gel” whose chemical composition is unknown but is an extreme irritant for many people.

I did touch briefly on the issues with porosity that include an increased risk for vaginal yeast infections, and you can read more about that here.

We discussed the long-standing unproven myth that covering problematic sex toys with condoms suddenly makes them body-safe; in short, no science has told us this protects us against the irritants or micro-organisms that may be present and that’s in part due to the fact that most porous toys will leach oil and oil destroys latex (the most commonly used condom type). While my recommendation to use polyurethane condoms still comes with a heavy caveat and uncertainty, I feel it’s got a slightly better chance at doing what we think it might do. However, maybe not. Until there are studies on this I don’t feel comfortable recommending it as a safety measure.

I also talked about the various definitions of body-safe, and I’ve written about it a little more extensively here.  For many more articles related to sex toy materials, visit the Toxic Toy landing page.

Silicone Lube and Silicone Sex Toys

At one point Kenton and I talked about how lubes affect materials; I reiterated the fact that oil doesn’t harm silicone as I’ve proven as much as is possible in an at-home experiment. I talked about how I’ve changed my stance on silicone sex toys paired with silicone lubes – definitely Not For Your Butt.

Kenton submerged some cured platinum silicone pieces in silicone lube and found that while that particular pairing didn’t “damage” the silicone toy, it certainly changed it. The toy absorbed lube and grew 20% in size and became 20% softer. This doesn’t change the porosity or how the pores react to water (they’re hydrophobic, which means no water which means no food for micro-organisms in the pores). It may create tears in the material because it’s now a little weaker than before, but you’ll see any tears quickly – they won’t stay small. Because the lube is absorbed, there won’t be lube left for your butt which is an absolute necessity for anal play. It’ll make it difficult and painful to remove the toy.

You could still use silicone lube for shorter external and vaginal use. I’ve personally never experienced lube-absorption with the Sliquid Silk hybrid lube but your mileage may vary. Check out a few of Kenton’s tweets in addition to his info in the session for more about silicone lube and silicone sex toys.

The Flame Test

We did talk a good bit about the flame test; why it’s used, how to read it, why the results were unexpected a few years ago. In short, silicone can burn and if it does catch a smoldering flame it’ll give you gray ash which is silica dust. It won’t get shiny or melt, it won’t burn like an oil lamp – all of that describes the reaction PVC and TPR will have to a flame. You’ll also usually get results sufficient enough to make a material determination in 5 seconds or less.

The flame test isn’t perfect and the inaccuracies from the early days continue to plague us with incorrect result readings but I feel confident enough with it to know what my materials really are when I do the test. I have performed the flame test enough times on known materials and received the expected results every time thus far. The flame test is really the only affordable, at-home “test” consumers can do if they doubt that a material is silicone as advertised.

We Don’t Need No Regulations

I talked about how sex toy companies can make any material claims they want, because no governing body regulates this. People are disturbed when they hear this and ask why the FDA doesn’t get involved and why I don’t want the FDA involved. The FDA wants money – a small fortune per SKU – and animal testing. The cost factors would prevent most sex toy companies from ever creating anything and would result in drastically fewer choices with vibrators always years behind on tech because FDA approvals can sometimes take years. I pointed out that the FDA has approved KY (gross) and Nonoxynol-9, a spermicide that was shown to increase STI transmission. The FDA is only concerned that the ingredients are “Generall Regarded As Safe” (GRAS list), not if they’re a known irritant. I’ve also noted in the Lube Guide that FDA-approved lubes don’t have to publish their ingredients list – so this would mean that probably the materials in the sex toy would remain a mystery, as well, and if so what is the damn point? Most companies utilize specific import/export codes to avoid being classed as a medical device and rely on the “Novelty Use Only” tags to help with this because if it is classed as a medical device, then FDA approval is required. The Novelty tag doesn’t necessarily mean that the manufacturer is setting out to deceive and harm you.

Sex Toy Myths About Silicone vs TPR

In the 2017 panel there were numerous arguments given for why they feel educators and reviewers are wrong for insisting on silicone for soft toys; the person heading up the panel was the publicist for Screaming O, a company that makes silicone and TPR sex toys. One point brought up was that nothing beats the realistic feel and the softness and the stretchiness of TPR or PVC. Nearly all mainstream penetrables/strokers are made of TPR or PVC, but Kenton pointed out a few of his products that showcase just how soft, pliable and stretchy silicone can be. The shore durometer he uses for his flogger can be stretched to 800 times it’s unstretched length. He even made a silicone penetrable stroker out of this same type of silicone. The better quality sleeves from brands like Fleshlight and Tenga are not what I would call affordable, so a large company buying silicone in bulk could in theory make comparably priced silicone masturbators. You can’t really see me pulling on the flogger in the video above but this is the de-molding video Kenton mentioned in the session for those who like hearing the satisfying sounds of silicone popping out of its mold. The stretchiness of it is fairly evident there.

They also argued price – that most of the silicone products we insist are better are not affordable to many people. Body-safe (non-porous) sex toys are becoming increasingly more affordable. I mentioned that SheVibe stocks nearly 500 body-safe sex toys, and they certainly don’t stock every body-safe sex toy on the market. I also only counted up the major categories such as clitoral, g-spot, classic, and mini vibrators; silicone and glass dildos; regular and vibrating butt plugs, prostate massagers, and anal beads. I’d counted up the number of individual models, not colors offered.

While I’ve got a comparatively small list of sex toys under $35 you can see from the count above that there are hundreds.

Other Bits and Bobs

We talked about cleaning methods a little; most of those are detailed on the Care and Cleaning guide page. You do not *need* high-priced UV sanitizing boxes to keep your silicone products safe. There are links to all the various posts about the Jar of Horrors (the TPR and PVC jar) on the Toxic Toys page, and this is the link to the post about the silicone jar.

I think I’ve covered everything here? If not, let me know! Have questions that didn’t get asked? Ask em here, we’ll do our best.

Mar 062018
 

Coconut Oil and Silicone Sex Toys - A jar of coconut oil is surrounded by various silicone sex toysThe world is divided on their feelings about coconut oil as lube, but I didn’t know that people truly believed that coconut oil and silicone sex toys were incompatible. It doesn’t work well as a lube for everyone; it’s not the perfect lube (there isn’t one perfect lube). But it does work well for many folks! It’s not good for those who use condoms – unless you can use the hard-to-find polyurethane or nitrile condoms – but it is great with all body-safe sex toy materials.

I’ve talked about the fact that coconut oil and silicone sex toys are compatible but then recently a sex toy shop published a Very Incorrect article on why they hated coconut oil as lube. Among their many opinions touted as (incorrect) facts was that they claimed it would destroy silicone sex toys, making them look “decayed”. That’s…that’s not a thing that happens…ever.

Despite myself and other bloggers chiming in about their long-time use of coconut oil lube with silicone sex toys, the shop’s social media manager was not swayed and they got really shitty with folks. But since they were not the only ones surprised that coconut oil and silicone sex toys can have a long, happy marriage I decided to run a little experiment. Y’all know how much I love experiments.

Geeky Metrics

I wanted to be sure I could tell you that there was no change to the silicone with no doubts, so I had to use proof beyond my pictures and my words. I borrowed a durometer to tell me the shore strength (squish level) of the sex toys before and after their exposure to coconut oil. I weighed them in grams to make sure that no oil was absorbed. I photographed them before and after each time they bathed in coconut oil.

Coconut oil and silicone sex toys - showing various silicone sex toys with coconut oil on themThe first time I put the coconut oil on the sex toys I had melted the oil and brushed it on with a basting brush. I did it this way because once the coconut oil is in your body it’s warmed up enough to liquify. But this meant that I was worried there wasn’t enough oil on the sex toys to be convincing because the oil slid right off the shiny Tantus dildo and dripped off the others in slow motion. Because we keep our house temps at 68F, though, the melted oil eventually solidified on the sex toys. I waited 30 minutes before I washed and dried them. 

The second time around I scooped out some slightly-softened-mostly-solid coconut oil and spread it on the sex toys. This time I left it on the TPR toys for only 2 hours and decided to leave it on the silicone sex toys overnight. The coconut oil and silicone sex toys marinated for 15 hours the second time.

Coconut Oil and Silicone Sex Toys

My first test time of 30 minutes “marinating” the coconut oil and silicone sex toys was based on this poll I ran asking people how long their sex toys were usually covered in lube.

My second test time of 15 hours1 was because I wanted to make sure that a cumulative effect of many uses would also not have any effect. I was too impatient / couldn’t gaurantee the consistent cleanliness of my kitchen to run 5 or 9 half-hour tests so I figured that a long exposure would be fine. 

As expected, the coconut oil had no effect on the silicone. There was no absorption of oil into the silicone. There was no change in shore strength. There was no “decayed” look. There was no effect: coconut oil and silicone sex toys are perfectly compatible.

Coconut oil and silicone sex toys - close up views of silicone sex toys before coconut oil was applied and after the final 15 hour test

Coconut Oil and Fun Factory Toys

It came to my attention tonight, thanks to Epiphora, that it does void the warranty on Fun Factory toys if you use coconut oil or other oils – however, it’s not because of the silicone. I find this kind of ironic because one of the toys I tested was Fun Factory. WHOOPS. The toy is fine, though. Anyway, it’s because oil damages their plastic handles / the controls. I’ve never personally experienced any issues with coconut oil and other plastic sex toys or their plastic handles but I cannot tell you to risk voiding your warranty when the manufacturer is so explicit.

Which Coconut Oil?

I did my tests with “extra virgin, unrefined” coconut oil. When I first did my research on coconut oil as a lube information seemed to point to unrefined, organic, extra-virgin as being the “best” and healthiest. Refined goes through processes to sanitize it but those processes also destroy a lot of the good stuff. According to LiveStrong:

Of the two options, refined oil remains a cheaper choice. While the refined product still contains the valuable medium chain fatty acids, the damage done to many nutritive factors such as the polyphenols during processing means that the unrefined oil stands out as a healthier choice.

Some refined coconut oils can have partially-hydroginated fats added in, which could increase the pore-clogging factor of oil for some people. I think that as long as you make sure it has nothing added and it’s organic, there’s no harm. Fewer benefits, but reduced cost.

If you’re someone who is most worried about pores being clogged because you’re prone to that then you could try liquid coconut oil – it has the solidifying fat removed so it’s considered non-comdedogenic. Of course this is also the most refined and it removes most, if not all, of the health benefits you may want from coconut oil (anti-fungal, anti-microbial, etc).

You can also try out the new options on the market that are specifically marketed as lube, which includes Coconu and Sliquid. Both are combinations of various plant-based oils and butters; I have no idea how much of the anti-fungal -microbial properties would remain in these lubes so if that’s an aspect that is important, go back to unrefined coconut oil. It’s also considerably more expensive that buying plain coconut oil – 2 ounces of Sliquid is $12, but 32 ounces of organic, unrefined coconut oil is $14.

There are no studies on coconut oil as a lubricant that I’ve found, but a number of studies showing that coconut oil is great at killing candida. I’ve found a study on mineral oil and vaginal use, which is bad, but not coconut oil. No studies talk about the pH because, as far as we know, oils don’t have a pH. Some people have reported increased vaginal infections with coconut oil and feel it’s down to the fact that oils can help bacteria hang out for longer in your vagina – they can, but unrefined coconut oil is anti-microbial. So what could be the problem?

Well, it could be how you’re getting the coconut oil on your bits. Are you digging a finger into the tub of oil? You’re introducing bacteria. I suggest “decanting” an ounce of oil into a smaller container with a lid. The article linked above also suggests that using too much coconut oil can disrupt the flora balance and make an existing yeast infection worse, not better, so it’s a delicate balance. People who easily get yeast infections may want to take caution.

“The fact that coconut oil kills candida and yeast can help with yeast infections and candida issues, but can also cause a healing crises or candida die off when used internally. If you have never used coconut oil internally before, start with a 1 teaspoon (5 grams) and test your body’s response.”

A little goes a very long way with coconut oil as a lube.

Oil and Silicone Elsewhere

A few months ago the myth of “silicone toys touching in storage” came up again on social media in part because of Lovehoney’s incorrect assertions that some silicone wand toppers shouldn’t be used on silicone-headed wand vibrators and my jar experiment of a few years ago didn’t seem to be “enough”. I went to a kitchen supply store, I looked around my own house and pointed out the many many silicone kitchen ephemera that exists peacefully as a group, all touchin’ up in each others’ business. The silicone items at the kitchen store touching in long-term storage. Nothing. Happens.

People seem to forget that silicone exists in the world outside of sex toys. Silicone wedding bands, and gasket rings, and various kitchen and bath items, and cell phone cases. How many times do you use oil in your cooking and baking and it comes in contact with a silicone item? For me it’s a lot – spatulas and basting brushes and measuring spoons. Many people wear a silicone wedding band and I’ve not heard of one problem with the band being destroyed due to contact with oils. They don’t warn you in the care instructions to avoid oil.

Like the myth that silicone-touching-silicone will result in damage to your sex toys I think this myth is something that has hung on from the unchecked industry issues of companies or retailers saying that something is silicone when it’s actually TPR. If your sex toy is damaged, melts, deforms from storage or oil? It’s not silicone. You’ve reached an timely end in your adventure, now turn back to page 14 and start over, this time by flame-testing that sex toy to make sure it’s actually silicone.

Bonus Section: Coconut Oil and TPR

I expected to see visible destruction given the results of my jar (the liquid in the jar is the oil that’s leached out of the toys and my theory is that that speeds up and encourages more breakdown of material). What actually happened mildly surprised me. 

I could not find any change in the texture or softness of the two TPR sex toys. One was more firm than the softest silicone and one was so squishy it reminded me of a masturbation sleeve and it was softer than the Shore A durometer could measure. What I did notice, however, was how the oil behaved. The liquid oil on the TPR never solidified. The solid oil on the TPR started to melt AND seemed to draw out some of the oil in the material. You can see the differences in this video. The oil on the cutting board beneath each TPR sex toy was slightly sticky, too. 

I even left the softer TPR dildo in contact with coconut oil for an entire day – the coconut oil in the dish solidifed (I’d melted it) but the oil I’d put on the dildo was gone and the oil that dildo was touching in the bowl also remained liquid. It’s really strange. I couldn’t see any damage like visible material distortion or anything but I could see some literal holes in the dildo that teared easily when I pulled on the material a little.

Without having access to more in-depth scientific tools I can’t tell you exactly what happened to the TPR. It’s a known thing in the industry that you can’t mix TPR or PVC with oil lubes so this wasn’t a thing to prove – it was merely a “compare and contrast” and “because I can” addition to the test.

 

Do you use coconut oil as lube? What have been your experiences?

  1. In the video I said 10 hours but that is because I have no concept of time, and guessed. But when I looked at my IG post from the day before to see when I’d actually put the oil on the toys the second time, it said 15 hours
Mar 232016
 

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

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

Using A Condom to Protect Yourself from Toxic Chemicals

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

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

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

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

Using a Condom to Extend the Life4 of Porous Sex Toys

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

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

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

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

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

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

Using a Condom on Non-Porous Toys

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

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

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

tl:dr: non-lubricated condoms!

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

 

  1. myth?
  2. Porous penetratable sex toys are kinda unavoidable for the most part and there are definitely non-toxic brands that I recommend, but ya gotta keep a really close eye on these materials for sour smells and black spots
  3.  Yes, I have an old “true” jelly dildo in my possession. I was sent it for testing purposes, to see what would happen to condoms (wanted to see if I could test for myself how quickly/obviously the latex would deteriorate on something like this dildo). The dildo smells of chemicals, and feels oily.
  4. And in theory protect yourself from whatever is living in your porous toy
  5. The reason? There’s really only one brand making a polyurethane condom so it’s not a majority leader on the shelf
 Posted by at 5:55 pm
Aug 202015
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wood sex toys will splinter, glass sex toys will shatter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Actually, it’s what prompted this whole entire post. And I also want to reiterate that I love the Center and Megan and all who help run it, but I don’t like that tip/fact and wanted to speak about it, it just happened to lead to other myths
  2. Critically endangered
  3. Endangered
 Posted by at 7:22 pm
Nov 082014
 

What happens when we cut up silicone sex toysand leave them in a jar, in a hot room over thesummer for a total of 5 months all up in each others business? LET’S FIND OUT!When I continue to see people warning others that their silicone sex toys need to be stored in separate containers, I get a little twitchy. I mean sure, it won’t hurt, but it’s not necessary. We need to reassure people that silicone is 100% safe, not scare them with false facts! Cured silicone is pretty damn stable! So to help me prove my point, months ago I cut up some pure silicone sex toys and put them in a mason jar, just like I’d done with a bunch of TPR/PVC toys. I let this closed jar of toy bits sit in the one room of my two-story house that is not air-conditioned. It got pretty hot up there this summer! Even without the benefit of heat, though, my first jar full of gross sex toys had a reaction. I never had to subject it to heat.  Those toys reacted to each other because the oil-based chemicals that help soften them also kill them – as one toy started to break down, the oils from it would be the catalyst to starting a nearby material to break down and it gathered like a snowball rolling down a bank. Yet I wanted to put the silicone sex toys to harsh conditions, to dissuade anyone from having a doubt.

To clear up confusion: as I mentioned above and will show below, yes, I had to cut up most of these into smaller pieces. I do not own a huge glass jar nor do I have room for one . Cutting the sex toy into pieces doesn’t affect the results (in either jar).

prejar1 prejar2

So how did we get here? Why do some still think that silicone can have the same reaction as TPR/PVC/Jelly? Because just a few short years ago many of the big-name manufacturers were trying to scam us, and would call something silicone that was absolutely not silicone. We still see this here and there, but not nearly to the degree of past years. Screaming O is a big offender, their cheapie disposable (crystal clear, burns like a damn oil lamp) vibrating cock rings are labeled as silicone or some weird creative “silicone elastomer” fake material name. And so, because these toys were falsely labeled as “silicone” and they were in fact a very unstable, gross material…..they had reactions. But pure silicone will not.

To ensure variety, I included three types of Tantus silicone  – a cross-section from an O2 dildo, a portion of firm silicone from the Flex and the Panty Play which is made overseas and is a silky-soft silicone. Oh and part of a Protouch, I’m not sure if that’s the same silicone as the Flex or not. There’s a portion of a very inexpensive CalExotics toy; I don’t remember the name of it, it seems to be discontinued. I did flame test it though, and it passed. Also included is a piece of a Doc Johnson silicone dildo that is very cheap; it too passed the flame test. 

It’s been 5 months….what will we find?

 

Want some updated photos of the Original Jar of Horrors? There’s been some activity! Gravity? Further decomposing?  Using the markings on the jar I can point out what’s happened. When you view the original photos you can see that the bright blue thing (a masturbation sleeve) once was mostly above the Ball logo.  And there’s a dark purple bit, that used to be partially behind the Ball logo on the lower half.  There also appears to be a lot of liquid but it’s a slow-moving heavy oily liquid. I can’t tell just how much material has settled at the bottom of the jar so I don’t know how much displacement there is with the liquid or if there’s more liquid….or just a changing landscape of melty TPR.

MeltedJarNov14  MeltedJarNov14pt2

 Posted by at 10:29 am
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.