Jan 162013




Non-Monogamy encompasses a whole host of various situations: Swingers, couples in open relationships, people who identify as polyamorous or even just those who are not in committed relationships and are dating numerous people. Most of these non-monogamous people are (hopefully) well aware of safe sex practices and use them every time.

While I doubt that the majority of people bring their vibes to sex parties & clubs and pass em around like a drinking game, there are other situations outside of the realm of monogamy where sharing may come into play. Even 1-on-1 or threesomes should be treated with care if you aren’t fluid-bonded.

Cock Rings

More than half of you out there still probably own sex toys made from materials that would cause me premature grey hair, try as I might to dissuade you. But many people, even if they’ve switched to silicone vibrators and glass dildos, pull out a cock ring from their arsenal now and then and I’m betting it’s not silicone.  Most cock rings are inexpensive and made from various soft and stretchy materials: Jelly/Rubber, Elastomer/TPR (less porous than jelly and usually non-toxic, but still porous) or silicone blends (which seems to be an industry lie). You’ll see these so-called “silicone blends” show up in sneaky ways; they’ll be labeled “SEBS” which Screaming O has claimed stands for silicone-elastomer blend (a lie, SEBS stands for something else entirely), or they’ll just merely be labeled a quiet, solitary “silicone” depending on how well the retailer does their homework. As I’ve mentioned in the past, these sex toy companies can outright lie. The previous myth of “if it contains 10% silicone, they can call it silicone” is false – they can call it whatever they want, regardless of the material composition. Of course, you can whip out your trusty sex-geek-detective lighter and perform a flame test. I flame-tested a Screaming O “SEBS” cock ring, and it burned hotter and brighter than your average oil lamp. Silicone? I think not. Another quick test is visual – if the material is crystal clear, then it is not silicone. Clear silicone is a cloudy clear.

So, what’s the big deal, you ask? Unless you’re buying the truly disposable one-and-done vibrating cock rings1, then your little gummy, (possibly) buzzy ring of fun is quite porous – and can’t be sanitized nor therefore shared. Yes, this also means the ones that you purchase in the condom aisle. Unlike most vibrators and dildos, a vibrating cock ring can’t be covered by a condom for barrier protection so the cock ring could be exposed to vaginal and/or seminal fluids. If you are using a simple non-vibrating cock ring, one that goes around just the base of the cock, you may be able to get away with covering it with a condom, but keep an eye on it.  Since I’ve never tried to do that I can’t say if the condom would keep it covered or not.  There are also some silicone cock rings but again the norm seems to be jelly or TPR.

Also, don’t let a luxury price tag on the vibrating versions fool you into submission.The Lelo Bo, Tor 1, and the Bedroom Kandi Rise and Shine are all higher-end cock rings that are rechargeable but they are made from Elastomer or TPR. Soft, stretchy and free from phthalates and latex, they’re certainly better for your body than the cheap jelly versions but they’re still porous and should never be shared beyond fluid-bonded partners. The Lelo Tor II, the Tantus C-Ring, Je Joue Mio, some BMS brand rings and various Jopen branded rings are all made from true silicone. However, even though many of these are waterproof they’re still vibrators and should never be boiled or tossed in the dishwasher. You’ll be able to get a safe clean by a simple handwash.

Penis Extenders and Sleeves

The vast majority of these are not silicone. Vixen makes a few, like the Ride On, but the price is so high that it will deter most buyers. I see a lot that have “silicone” in the name, but these are all going to be TPR labeled sometimes as that liar term “TPR silicone” – therefore, porous. Many extenders/sleeves and cuffs are designed to be really stretchy and soft – that’s not a common attribute in pure silicone items. The closest I’ve seen would be the dual density outer layer of something like the Tantus 02 Cush but I don’t know if creating an item entirely from that type of silicone is even possible.  I suppose that if you’re fucking more than one person in a sitting and they both really dig the artificially extended / textured penis sleeve you’re sporting, you could put a condom *over* it but that just doesn’t seem very practical to me given that there will still be a portion of the extender that isn’t covered by a condom. From what I’ve seen, a company called Oxballs  makes a couple extenders that seem to be pure silicone but most are TPR. So please keep these porous models limited to a single partner, and keep in mind the fact that these are all porous – this means it will never get truly clean and sanitized, the softer ones could mildew if stored while still wet from cleaning, and they may retain stains and/or odors after an extended time of use.

Harnesses and Dildos

Moving on from cock-centric toys, I want to talk about dildos. Especially harness-compatible dildos. The guidelines are pretty damn simple: Cover it with a condom or stick to silicone and don’t share between non-fluid-bonded partners without a wash in between. However, even if you’re using a high grade silicone cock like Tantus, you should still keep anal-play dildos to themselves. While they can be sanitized in boiling water or the dishwasher, sometimes they can retain a bit of an odor over time if it’s used a lot for anal play. That’s not going to be a fun discovery for your partner if they decide to perform a blowjob on your silicone cock! It takes quite a bit of use to get to that point, though and sometimes it’ll never happen.

Most harnesses are made from leather or a fabric (even just strap webbing is fabric). These are porous, and should be considered a one-partner item unless they are washable, in which case please wash in between partners.

Metal, Wood and Glass Toys

Provided that the toys are free from defects2, these should be safe to share between partners and anal-to-vaginal if they are washed thoroughly in between partners and uses. Take careful note if the toy is highly textured – really make sure to scrub all around the nubs, ridges, etc to be sure you’ve removed any traces of fluids. A non-textured seamless item made from any of these materials though will be super easy to clean in between partners; you could even just keep a pack of Afterglow Wipes on hand if you’re in situations (like at a swinger’s club) where departing to a sink in the middle of multi-person fun would kill your mood. They do have anti-bacterial properties and are body safe to all but the extremely sensitive folks – I don’t know though if I’d recommend using them on a toy, using the toy on a woman, and then after that move to oral sex, I can’t imagine that Bergomot oil tastes very good with all the other chemicals but I’m ultra sensitive to that sort of thing, your mileage may vary. Please note: If you’re using a wood sex toy, the only company who makes truly safely-coated ones able to withstand alcohol and bleach solutions for sanitization is Nobessence. If you bought any other brand, I would not advise sharing it.


Again, stick to only silicone (or condom-covered TPR) and make sure to thoroughly wash it in between partners. Be sure to get down in the cracks and crevices if the toy has, say, a hard plastic handle (Like Lelo vibes). For more immediate use, if you’re able, cover with a condom. If the only sex toys you own are made from porous materials, then you should always cover with a condom even if you’re the only user. For vibrators that are entirely made of hard ABS plastic, these can just be wiped down with a little soap and water, rinsed or again cover with a condom if there’s no immediate availability to get to a sink in between partners. ABS plastic is non-porous, but you do have to watch out for nubs and crevices. Pocket rockets are the worst offenders at keeping clean. The Hitachi Magic Wand (or a similar wand vibrator) has porous material on the head; not all wand vibrators are like this, but certainly the ones originally marketed for actual back massaging. Newer wand vibrators that are made by sex toy companies are sometimes made with a silicone head like the Mystic Wand or the Lelo Smart Wand, but also keep in mind that many wand makers like to add texture and ridges to the head – those spots are harder to clean on the fly so covering it with a condom if immediate sharing is likely is a safe bet. If you’re not 100% certain though, cover the head with a condom. It’s also a good idea to continue the condom down past the exposed metal portion and onto the plastic handle if you’re going to be in a group situation with people who are copious squirters. A note about the condom: Make sure you’re buying non-lubricated condoms for this. If it’s lubricated, make sure it is water-based lube and not silicone-based.

Kink and Leather

I’m not talking about kink to those that frequently visit BDSM clubs; they are all pretty aware of safety precautions but those that just play casually in the bedroom won’t be aware about certain things. Any item that breaks/scratches the skin or causes welts that can bleed (if you get that rough) should be kept only to one person.

Gags that have leather straps would also need to be kept to one person. Cock rings can be leather. Paddles can be leather. The shiny side is water resistant but the rough parts aren’t, and none of it is non-porous.

Rope: If you tie anybody up and the rope comes into contact with saliva or other bodily fluids, wash the rope before using it on another person.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

At the end of the day, sex toys can and should be used to enhance any sexual encounter if it’s something that you and/or your partner(s) enjoys. But when you step outside the relative safety3 of a fluid-bonded monogamous couple, things can muddy up in ways that many people don’t think of. Why yes, actually, I have witnessed amateur porn where the sex toys were shared copiously with little regard to safety. It happens. The sex-positive bubble is small in comparison to the rest of the world; that much is obvious since jelly/rubber/icky toys are still such a hot commodity. The most conscientious person will always bring their own sex toy if they already own some great ones, that way there’s no worry about sharing if everyone has their own. The perfect kit would likely contain a few different types of lube (be sure to have an all-natural one like Sliquid for those who have sensitive skin issues), a few different types of condoms for both sex and sex toys, nitrile gloves, and toy cleansing wipes.  If you only ever purchase your sex toys online, like me, finding affordable sample sizes of lube can be pretty damn difficult. I only have some because of my attendance over the years at places like the NYC Sex Bloggers Calendar parties, Momentum, etc. but they are perfect little things to have when you don’t want to worry about the lube bottle spilling out in your purse or you don’t have the room for a few bottles. The sex toy retailers used to all have lube samplers; I really liked the one GoodVibes used to offer, but for some reason nobody  carries these anymore. You can find them on places like Amazon or at condom-centric online places, but many will not include the better brands like Sliquid or any all-natural lubes. They will, however, give you a full buffet of flavored samples if that happens to be your thing (it shouldn’t be though, the ingredients list on those is not palatable). You can also buy up a cube of Sliquid “pillows” of lube directly from the company, but they’re not exactly affordable for frequent use, it looks like they run around $1 each plus shipping.

But think about it: if you always had easy access to a little case containing an awesome little vibe (ahem: Salsa/Tango), 2 gloves, half a dozen condoms and lube samples plus a few single packets of Afterglow wipes4? Not only would you be the most awesome person at the sex party, but your individual random encounters would be safer and fun, always.

A note on choosing condoms for use as toy covers:

Don’t use old, expired condoms – while a broken condom on a sex toy won’t lead to pregnancy, it will negate the whole safety-from-funky-materials and sharing thing. Get an affordable pack of condoms and pay attention to the lubricant used (or get unlubed) – I’ve been told that some are silicone based and they don’t tell you this – they’ll only mention the lube if it’s water-based. While I’ve found that the higher quality silicone lubes are fairly compatible with higher quality silicone sex toys, you don’t know the quality of lube inside a condom. CalExotics makes a “toy cover” (as well they should, with all the jelly they sling) but it seems to be nothing more than a “feminine” colored non-lubricated latex condom.  I’ve not tried this out with success because the nitrile gloves in my pantry are small (and the fingers are short!), but if you buy a box of large size nitrile gloves they could act as cheap toy covers on the fly – bonus is no latex, no worries about mystery lubes. Just snip off the middle finger. Smaller rabbit vibes could also be covered by using the thumb and index portion of a glove if you’re in need.


Thanks to Elspeth Demina for her help!

  1. And actually using it once, with one person, and then pitching it
  2. And if they have defects, nobody should be using them – get them replaced!!
  3. I say relative because there are no guarantees that someone won’t cheat; there’s also the chance that if you haven’t been together for years, an STD may have been dormant and didn’t show up on your pre-marriage STD panel
  4. Also, why the hell don’t any online retailers offer such a thing? Lube samples are like the drug company logo pens of the sex toy industry. I’d certainly pay $19.99 for kit containing a dozen or so lube samples, 12 various condoms, a couple dental dams and half a dozen Afterglow wipes. Maybe I should make a company that sells those. That would be genius
Dec 232012

I thought that this recent question deserved to be highlighted more:

I want to buy my girlfriend an anal plug/toy. She’s new to anal; she tried the finger and now I believe she wants to pass to another level… I just want to give her a toy and let her experiment a little bit. Now, I am new also in the toy buying and I need your advice. Can you recommend something for beginners? I am aware about the materials but I still don’t know what to choose. I believe she needs something soft, something with a “natural feel”. Any advice will be appreciated.

My response1:

A plug is something you wear around for hours or you can also just use it for the occasion, while just a simple toy is used as-is. The most comfortable plugs have a definitive difference between the neck and the body, with a decent base. The neck is what sits at the sphincter level; the sphincter prefers to be closed so a plug that will feel the most natural and least like she’s about to poop will have a thin neck.

I would also caution against looking for something super-soft and cushy/squishy simply because you need something with a bit of “backbone” to be able to penetrate the ass. That first sphincter muscle, especially, can be quite stubborn for beginners on letting anything inside the ass. Biologically speaking, it’s not natural. Your rectum and sphincter are built for exit-only; when the sphincter is open, it wants to close. And when things come out it is much easier than putting something in. That’s not to say that anal play is bad or dangerous; not at all if done right. I’m just pointing out that it’s not the biological function de facto which is why things may seem a little tricky at first.

If she’s taken nothing other than a single finger, I would highly suggest that no matter what else you get, you get her a warm-up dildo or two. Preferably two. The Tantus Silks are the absolute best. I have them both and in my opinion you cannot just jump to the medium if you’re brand new to anal.  I was steered towards the Silk Small as a warm-up and introductory toy to my Crystal Delights plug; despite the fact that I chose their smaller plug, it was still a little too big for me to just jump right to. The Silk Small was amazing. Only after sufficient play with the Silk Small would I graduate up to the Silk Medium. Even after numerous play sessions, to get used to the “weird feeling”, I would still start off each time with the Silk Small as a warm-up before moving on to the Silk Medium.  These are smooth, plain and great for getting the anus and sphincter used to having something there. Other small, silicone options include plugs like the Tantus Little Flirt which if you get from their “Grab Bag” section, is under $20. The same can be said for the Ripple Small from Grab Bag. Tantus Meteorite is slightly bigger than the Little Flirt, but the fun colors demand a higher price tag.  Tantus Warm Up dildo is a newer design, and is another small 1″ option. This would actually be great for prostate play introduction. If you’re looking for something a bit more realistic in design, consider the Vixen Small Bent. They make one in standard Vixen silicone, and then the Spur is the soft, Vixskin option. That will give you a little cushion and comfort.

Plugs that receive rave reviews from everyone are the Njoy Pure Plugs. I know that stainless steel can seem intimidating to a first-timer, which is why warm-up toys are imperative. The Pure Plug Medium though has a max diameter of 1.25″ and a nice, long thin neck. It’s built for comfort and to wear around for hours and hours. The steel might be cold at first, but you can warm it up in a bowl of *semi-warm* (not hot) tap water if you want.

If you’re already ready to move past the 1″ and under set, the Fun Factory Bootie is highly recommended for something under $50. The Tantus Ryder is also a good pick.

Make sure you use plenty of lube! Thicker gel-like lubes work best for anal play. While many companies will tell you that you should avoid silicone-based lubes with silicone toys, the higher quality silicone of Tantus can tolerate certain higher-quality silicone-based lubes. I’ve used Wet Synergy (a silicone and water blend) with success, and they have recommended brands like Sliquid as having high compatibility.

Random Important Anal Play Information:

  • Please AVOID anal numbing  / desensitizing creams, gels and sprays. I can understand that newbies will be nervous about it feeling weird or hurting, but the anus is very special – if you do not use enough lube and you use a toy that is too big, too soon, you can create tiny tears in the skin called fissures. This is bad because then you are at a high risk for getting fecal matter into the open skin; you’re also at a higher risk for transmitting diseases of all types through broken skin.
  • When you’re using fingers, it’s really best to put on a nitrile glove. This is a safety trick for both the receiver (fingernails!!) and the giver (broken skin? fecal matter under the fingernail?)
  • Never, ever ever ever share anything between the ass and the mouth or the ass and the vagina. Never. Ever. Have I made my point clear? Ignore what they do in porn. Those butts have been cleaned out better than your average endoscopy requires, and there is no fecal matter that might transfer. You or your partner could become very sick if you don’t heed this warning. This also applies to sex toys. The only toys that should ever be used in both holes are non-porous ones that can be properly sanitized  – silicone, glass, metal. And you absolutely must sanitize in between orifices.
  • There will sometimes be a little poop. It’s a fact of life, it’s going to happen. Just have warm, wet washclothes or baby wipes right near by.  If your partner cannot handle this, then you need to rethink anal play with them.
  • Anal play, when done right, can be very pleasurable – for women and men. Men have the added bonus of a prostate to enjoy, but that’s for another guide. Many women have experienced g-spot stimulation via anal play (the wall inside between the vagina and rectum is very thin).
  1. My response is directed to the asker, who has a female partner. However, my information is the same for all genders – I just am focusing on the butt, not the prostate this time
Jul 192012

All of my readers know, or should know, that I think vibrators are awesome. Spectacular. A boon to sexual health. Not everybody will agree with me, though. So today when I ran across a post that sounded very anti-vibrator, I’ll admit…my hackles were raised in right quick order.

N of My Dissolute Life allows readers to ask questions for him to advise on. Today’s question was “I can’t orgasm without a vibrator. What should I do?”. My answer is obvious: Embrace it. Bring it in to your partnered sex life. Be happy that you can achieve orgasm whatever way that works for you. As I commented on N’s post, I spent 10 years not having orgasms because I didn’t know any better. It’s not that sex didn’t feel good….no, it felt great. But I couldn’t push over that edge and I was ashamed of it. I didn’t tell my partners. I hid it. That was a disservice to myself AND my partners. But I didn’t really know about sex toys and I had no idea that a vibrator could help me. Today, a vibrator is present in damn near every sexual encounter I have, unless to do so would simply be cumbersome. My husband has no problems with it. He’s very much a part of and responsible for my orgasms during sex. My husband, and any partner I choose to have sex with, is evolved, sensitive, realistic, secure and respectful about my sexuality and my sexual needs.

But N’s “non-kinky” answer was : “The generic one is this: you just need to break your addiction. Plain and simple. STOP masturbating with a vibrator. Sure, you’ll have some period of time when you’re dying to cum, dying to take out your trusty old friend. But you need to use that desperation in service of your elusive manual orgasm. I promise: if you go a month without an orgasm by the vibrator, you’ll be able to have one by hand.” (read his whole post here)

I got so upset at this that I immediately put on my commenting hat and my hands were actually shaking. Yes, I did jump on the “mansplaining” cart perhaps a little too quickly but maybe not. I’m not about to tell any man that the method he uses for orgasm is bad and he should stop it, if he should come to me feeling insecure about it. I will suggest to him ways to incorporate it into partnered sex. But since I lack a penis and prostate, I don’t have any actual experienced knowledge on how the male orgasm works.

I cannot say this enough: Vibrators are not a problem. They are not bad, they are not habit-forming, they are not dangerous, you are not weak and broken if you need one. Personally, I’ve found that my use of vibrators has increased my sensitivity. When I first started,  I needed things that were super strong. As I’ve tried more toys I’ve discovered that it’s about more than just the strength, it’s the depth of the vibrations. I need more than just the external head my clit stimulated. It’s that simple. Since I’ve been using vibrators I have indeed been able to orgasm with just fingers or tongues and yes, I was delighted about this. I’m happy to try again because it leads to a different-feeling orgasms than the vibrators and it’s a novelty to me. It’s the same thing for me as if I tried to bake a loaf of bread and it turned out well. Yay! But I suck at baking so 90% of the time I’m going to purchase pre-made bread and that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with having someone or something else make my bread.

This isn’t the first time a man will proclaim vibrators to be bad for us, and I’m quite sure it won’t be the last. In fact I’m sure that there are women who are anti-vibrator. (I don’t understand why, though. Why the fuck are so many people so fucking judgmental when it comes to how someone else does something? What do you care if I need a vibrator? It’s not hurting you. Don’t shame me into thinking I’m broken. Live your life and be happy, let me do the same. You don’t personally like or need vibrators? Great! More power (or not) to you! I’m starting to think the hippie compounds of the 1960s had it right. )

Embrace your sexuality. Embrace your kinks, explore whatever avenues you want. But rest assured you are not alone in whatever it is you need and like for your orgasms or arousal.




Apr 292012

There are two sex toy materials that seem to scare the uninitiated: Glass and wood1. It is ironic considering that the material you should be the most scared of is the one 50% of customers purchase willingly and gleefully. But glass is strong, non-porous, is not made with chemicals and is compatible with every type of lube.

The World of Glass Sex Toys

The glass we use is Borosilicate glass (often known as the trade name “Pyrex”). A 1-inch rod of Pyrex glass requires more than 3000 pounds of pressure to snap in half and has a crush strength of over 8 tons. Our glass pieces, after being formed initially,  are put back into the kiln and “annealed” (heated) almost back to melting point. This gives each piece its final smoothness and brings the glass back to its full strength because all the parts have been completely fused together into a single solid work of art.  This adds hours of extra time to the process and is one of the first places that will be scrimped on with the much less expensive glass products.  Knowing where the glass comes from is really important to help you understand that every piece you receive is a unique handmade piece of art crafted lovingly just for you!

Shellie, owner of Crystal Delights glass dildos and plugs

Not all glass sex toys are created equal, however. I’ve certainly been disappointed in quality issues with glass dildos I’ve received (the most obvious being the ugly one) – mainly because despite the “hand-blown” buzz word, the toys were mass-produced and failed to look like the photos provided. When you buy a glass sex toy you absolutely must be prepared to receive something that is not a perfect replica down to the millimeter of the photos and specs on the retail site you’re purchasing from. But yet too much of an anomaly leads to surprises of the bad kind, disappointments, and sometimes leaves you with a sex toy you have no desire to use. I’ve owned glass dildos from Pipedreams, Joyful Pleasures, Dream Toys and SSA Glass. Joyful Pleasures was probably the best out of those but it still was a let down due to the size difference from their stats to what I actually received. The SSA Glass dildos were all huge disappointments in all aspects: quality, design and consistency. But then again the saying “you get what you pay for” is true; SSA Glass is cheap and it shows. The cheaper glass sex toys still won’t break during sexual use but they might chip more easily. They certainly won’t have the artistic beauty and careful construction like truly hand-made glass toys will.

One thing that all of the above sex toy manufacturers have in common is that their glass dildos are produced in a large plant in China. This isn’t necessarily a death sentence but it depends on how involved the manufacturer is in their quality control – I’ve dealt with companies who manufacture in China and they turn out quality products that are consistent. But what if you knew that your sex toy was made locally by a skilled artisan and that it passed through only a few hands before arriving on your doorstep?

Crystal Delights – Small Manufacturer of High-Quality Glass Sex Toys

Crystal Delights Twist dildos and anal plugs Crystal Delights display case - glass dildos, glass plugs, a bunny tail and more One of the many unique Crystal Delights "vintage" series, made from antique buttons, medallions, etc. This one is mine!!

I have talked with Shellie, the owner, a few times about sex toy businesses and her glass sex toys. Talking to her always reinforces why we should make the effort to choose small sex toy companies over the Founding 5. Shellie designs the toys, inspects them and packages them up for shipment herself. You’ll never receive a plug or dildo or paddle that she hasn’t personally looked over to make sure it meets her standards. She uses just one local glass blower who is very adept at creating consistently high quality items. While you still see minor differences in size because there is no mold to fill, you can also do something with Shellie that you can’t do with larger companies: Talk to her. I know, it’s a novel idea! But let’s say that you’re eying up her small glass butt plug and you’re still really new to anal plugs. You might feel a little nervous about the size and wish that it was a little smaller. All you have to do is email Shellie and tell her that you’d like a plug that runs a little under the normal specs. If you’d like to go even further you can contact her to make a custom piece!

I have my own glass plug2 courtesy of Shellie and I’ve seen all of her stuff in person a few times. The vintage plugs, the Swarovski crystal plugs and dildos, the glass paddles, the tail plugs – it is all, without a doubt, the most stunning and sparkly glass sex toy collection I’ve ever seen. Not one piece looked weird or wonky. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even read a bad review on her stuff.

A pile of Crystal Delights glass butt plugs sparkling in the sun - taken in the vendor room at MomentumCon 2012

Image courtesy of Crystal Delights

I asked Shellie a few questions because I’m a Sex Toy Geek!

How do you come up with your designs?

The basic design is the easy part!  You can get inspiration from almost anything, it can be the color, the shape, the attachment (crystal, medallion, tail) or even a customer request, can I have this but bend it this way or add a bump here, shorter, longer, you get the point.  But that really is the beauty of glass, it is very adaptable!

Do you do a lot of testing and revamping the designs before you list them?

That is a difficult question, sometimes things just come together and its fast and perfect right off the bat, but other times it takes months to get it just right, there is testing here before it goes out to my “product testers” and then feedback from them before it is ready to launch.  What I think is a brilliant idea sometimes isn’t!

What sort of “quality control” things do you do that a large manufacturer overseas wouldn’t do?

This is one of the things that I love about glass manufacturing, I touch and look at every piece of glass that goes out the door to a customer. And I am the second line that has done that, because the glass blower has already looked at it as well.  We want to be able to take those extra steps to make sure we are giving you the best possible product for your money.  We know that you have many choices and we want you to be glad you picked us for your business.   I try to be available as much as possible via social media, email, even phone to help with anything that might come up, we want you to know we take customer service, and our products seriously.

Can you work with people to create a custom design or size?

We can and do!  I have several custom pieces out there already and I often contact people when I get a special tail, or medallion in that I think they would love.  Again that is part of what is special about handmade glass from a small company; I like to know my customers and what they want and ,if there is any way possible, get it to them.  That isn’t a possibility from the big box manufacturers importing from China.

Glass Sex Toy Pros, Cons and Myths

  • Pro: Glass is non-porous and free of any chemicals that might be harmful
  • Pro: Glass is compatible with any type of lube
  • Pro: Glass is easy to clean (depending on the design, of course as some more elaborate designs can require more than just a rinse to get in the crevices) and can be sterilized in boiling water or the top rack of your dishwasher. Check with the manufacturer, though, before subjecting it to high heat.
  • Myth: Glass sex toys will break during use – I don’t know what people think when they think of glass sex toys but the truth is that they’re made out of a very sturdy and solid glass (borosilicate) that is resistant to cracks and damage. This isn’t like your grandmother’s antique glassware or anything. 98% of glass sex toys are solid, not hollow3.
  • Myth: Glass sex toys will cut/injure you – Unless you managed to chip it, that’s simply impossible. Before you use your glass sex toys you should always inspect them for damage. While they are difficult to damage with normal use, it’s still possible to accidentally drop it on the wrong surface at the wrong angle and incur damage. 
  • Pro: Glass is a natural and reusable material. Have a glass toy that chipped? Safely smash it up to bits and use it in a mosaic somewhere; otherwise try to locate a recycler who takes this type of glass (Just ask if they recycle Pyrex-type glass).
  • Con: Glass is very sensitive to temperature – great for temperature play if you do it correctly (warm or cool water only) but you must be careful! You know what happens when you stick out your tongue and lick a frozen lamp pole, right? Yeah. Don’t ever freeze your sex toys for sadistic play. Don’t dunk them in boiling water for cleaning without donning silicone oven mitts or having another safe method of retrieval.
  • Con: One chip and you’re done for. Yes, it can chip. It’s not something that happens easily and I’m not saying that you should only use glass sex toys in a padded room but do be careful. When you’re boiling it for cleaning, have a tea towel in the pot to protect surfaces and only do one sex toy at a time. Dishwashers are fine. I’d caution clumsy people against using a glass dildo if you’re in a room full of concrete or ceramic surfaces (in case you drop it).
  • Pro: You won’t need as much lube for a clear glass (i.e. non-frosted) sex toy
  • Pro: Can double as art! I’ve seen some stunning pieces that could easily sit in a china cabinet. Of course you should only do this if you’re prepared for the “Ohhh that’s pretty…..what is it?” question.


Steele Malone Glass "Dilettos"/Dildos

Image Courtesy of Steele Malone, manufacturers of artistic glass dilettos

Just like with any other sex toy, you should be mindful of which glass sex toy manufacturers you entrust. Not all glass toys are made from damage-resistant heat-resistant borosilicate and not all borosilicate glass toys are annealed for extra strength! This is why I personally  recommend Crystal Delights and other small manufacturers like Simply Blown and Steele Malone who all use glass-blowers and keep things simple and local4. I’ve also seen some very unique glass sex toys on Etsy which are made by glass artisans and can range from the mundane been-there-done-that to beautiful, original works of art.

Do you have any more questions on glass sex toys? Ask and I will get the answers!

Already familiar with the joys and beauty of glass? Tell me in comments what your most favorite pieces are!

  1. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a comment about Nobessence or Hans wooden dildos saying something along the lines of “I’d be scared of splinters!!” I’d be a somewhat rich woman. Still annoyed as hell, but at least rich and annoyed
  2. It’s fucking gorgeous, I love so many of her vintage ones but this one spoke to me, you can see it here
  3. Actually I’ve only seen one hollow glass dildo and it was made by Don Wands. It was hollow because they painted the design on the inside. This left a small hole in the dildo where the miniscule brush went in and during use small amounts of body fluid and lube would get in. During cleaning, water would get in. It also resulted in a dildo that left a lot of people feeling nervous about its strength
  4. I’ve never seen or tried out a Simply Blown or Steele Malone dildo, though, they’re not common at online stores and they’re too pricey for me to buy!
Apr 222012

Everybody goes on and on about how “green” and environmentally superior rechargeable sex toys are, but I’d bet that you didn’t know this fact:

Alkaline batteries can be safely disposed of with normal household waste. Never dispose of batteries in fire because they could explode.

Due to concerns about mercury in the municipal solid waste stream, we have voluntarily eliminated all of the added mercury from our alkaline batteries since 1993, while maintaining the performance you demand. Our alkaline batteries are composed primarily of common metals—steel, zinc, and manganese—and do not pose a health or environmental risk during normal use or disposal.

It is important not to dispose of large amounts of alkaline batteries in a group. Used batteries are often not completely “dead.” Grouping used batteries together can bring these “live” batteries into contact with one another, creating safety risks.

Proven cost-effective and environmentally safe recycling processes are not yet universally available for alkaline batteries. Some communities offer recycling or collection of alkaline batteries—contact your local government for disposal practices in your area.1

So the typical AA and AAA batteries you go through fast enough to warrant purchasing them in bulk from Costco are actually not that damn bad for the environment! I did not know this. However, rechargeable batteries – both the AA kind and the ones permanently lodged in your luxury sex toy – should be recycled. I’m betting a lot of don’t do this.

Due to the chemicals in them, you should recycle rechargeable, lithium, lithium ion, and zinc air batteries.

In addition to “traditional” rechargeable batteries like AAs or AAAs, rechargeable batteries like the ones found in everyday household items such as cameras, cell phones, laptops, and power tools should also be recycled. Look for the battery recycling seals on rechargeable batteries.

As part of our commitment to the preservation of the environment, we help fund the nonprofit Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) and its Call2Recycle® program. To find a rechargeable battery recycling location near you, visit www.call2recycle.org.2

Sex toy recycling sites have started disappearing. I read about one guy based in Tampa, Florida who had a site and the article (from 2009) stated that he was currently operating at a loss. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise then that the website named in that article is now gone. Another sex toy recycling site that seemed to be active, also around 2008-2009 appears to be defunct. LoveHoney does still run their “Rabbit Amnesty” program where they’ll give you points towards future purchases for sending them in sex toys (for some reason turning in a rabbit vibe gets you more points) to recycle. Unfortunately this is a UK site and I’m having trouble finding anything like it in the US.  Of course, there’s always going to be idiotic media bloggers who are all “Ewww recycled sex toys?? That’s so gross!!” because they’re fucking idiots who don’t even know what an anal toy is, but I digress.

So here’s the section of my post wherein I don’t have an answer and I look to geeks who are geekier than me to tell us: Let’s say we can’t find an actual sex toy recycling program. But can we remove the rechargeable battery from our high-end sex toys if we decide that they’re taking up space and we hate them and no longer use them and just want to be rid of them? I have to be honest I wouldn’t even know how to go about breaking open something like a Lelo vibrator. As much as we are given the argument that all these rechargeable sex toys are greener and better for the environment, I have to wonder about that given that 98% of the sex toy owning population doesn’t recycle their expensive toys. Let’s face it: You’re going to buy a rechargeable sex toy that you hate at some point if you haven’t already. Fuck, most of my rechargeable sex toys I’ve ended up hating or just not liking enough to use. But then again, I keep half of them for comparison purposes for future reviews and the other half of them go to new homes via the ToySwap network. But if I didn’t have those two reasons, I would most likely just toss it. And that is not green.

As I quoted from Duracell up there, the alkaline batteries actually aren’t that bad for the environment but some of those rechargeable ones really can be. Lithium-Ion/Polymer batteries are not toxic but *should* be recycled3. Upstanding companies like Lelo4, Fun Factory and Swan/Leaf etc use Li-Po batteries. NiCad rechargeable batteries though are bad for the environment and really must be recycled and disposed of properly. But with shady companies making sex toys out of “silicone” when it’s really a porous silicone blend, can I trust them that they’re not using a cheaper rechargeable battery on their $125 sex toy? I actually looked at the CalEx site and there are no specs there that tell me what kind of rechargeable battery is in their toys. I couldn’t find out anything on my Topco brand Climax Twist rechargeable toy. I don’t know what Vibratex is using either.

I could go on and on about more aspects of “green” and sex toys, but that’s a topic for another day. Really though I just wanted to point out that your Energizer or Duracell standard batteries are not going to turn our earth to a manky, gooey pile of decay and if you think you’re being green just by trying to choose rechargeable sex toys…..think a little harder about green aspect beyond just the battery. While no electronic item is truly green, there are varying levels of “green” and it all comes down to how the sex toys are produced. Technically if you want the greenest vibrator, you could choose a Tantus sex toy. The pure silicone is chemically inert; the vibrator portion is small and can be removed easily and replaced when the motor dies (instead of replacing the whole sex toy); the Tantus toys that use an N1 style bullet, the bigger ones that resemble the RO-80mm style, take an alkaline battery.

Want to recycle your batteries, no matter what? Go here.

  1. Courtesy of Duracell
  2. Also courtesy of Duracell
  3. Unless of course you feel like purchasing a Li-Po battery drainer thingie and soaking the battery in salt water THEN you can throw it out
  4. I might not think much of their products anymore from a cost vs quality aspect but I do respect that they are using the better type of rechargeable battery and that they appear to be running a more conscientious China factory
Feb 092012

Silicone sex toys are heralded as the most superior sex toy material to many people. Silicone dildos can vary through a range of densities and silicone vibrators can feel plush without the potential for harm (like jelly or rubber). I picked the brain of Metis Black1, the fabulous woman behind Tantus Inc, makers of some very awesome silicone sex toys. She is one of very few sex toy manufacturers that I fully trust to tell me the truth. Get your sex geek on and find out some myths and facts about silicone sex toys!

Myth or Fact: Silicone sex toys will “melt” or degrade if they touch each other while in storage

I own a lot of silicone. Scratch that; I own a lot of quality, true silicone. And I’m not diligent about storage. So if there’s anybody who can say that this is a myth, it’s me. And Metis. I asked her about this and she said:

I think this came from so many toys that were TPR or TPE that were (and continue to be) mislabeled silicone. Thermoplastic materials melt because they are unstable (they have free electrons that try to bond to other materials). As these electrons leave the toy, the toy disintegrates. No silicone is going to melt. At 600 degrees F it turns ashy. A silicone toy like the O2, with extra soft silicone, may burn off some of the dimethicone – flaming a little and becoming sooty- but still not melting.

So in other words if your silicone sex toy has any issues in your toybox, then it’s either not truly silicone or some rogue silicone lube from another toy got on it.

Myth or Fact: Silicone lube should never, ever be used with a silicone sex toy!

99% of the time you will be told that you shouldn’t use silicone lube with a silicone sex toy. I’ve parroted that info as well because it’s all I know. However a couple of manufacturers, Fun Factory for one, used to2 advertise that you could use silicone lubes with their silicone sex toys. 

The Metis quick-n-dirty science geek answer:

The only thing that links silicone molecules is silicone so that’s why you may need to avoid lubes. The quality of the silicones in the lubricant and in the toy make a lot of difference.

Let’s say you really like your silicone sex toys and you really like using them in the bath or shower. Water-based lubes will fail you here. Are you out of luck? Not quite. A higher quality silicone lubricant won’t mess up a silicone sex toy – usually (Metis recommends Sliquid and Pjur brands)

Even with these brands we recommend you do a patch test (just like you’re supposed to with hair dye): on the base of the toy put a dab of lube and see if the lube gets gummy (it doesn’t ever melt). If it does get gummy it will happen pretty quickly and with only a small patch, you can clean it off with your finger nail.

So if it’s possible that yes, the two CAN meet, why the drumbeat of “Use only water based lubes!”? Litigation.

It became a liability issue when someone claimed it “melted” the toy as they were playing with it and so the customer went to the hospital. The companies who made the lubricant and the dildo paid that hospital bill and made a settlement; they also started publicizing that their materials were not compatible.

If you purchase both high-quality lubes and sex toys then you should be safe to mix, but test it first. I can tell you that the Fun Factory Body Fluid was smeared all over a Fun Factory and 2 Tantus silicone items with absolutely zero reaction that damaged the toy. There was a little bit of a “machine shop” odor though (see really-long-footnote #2 if you haven’t already).

Silicone is perfect, it is non-porous and the ultimate in safety! Right?

A few weeks ago I pulled out some travel bottles called Go  Toobs that are a soft, silicone body and plastic flip cap. They boast as being really great for travel. It’s food-safe grade, which is still pretty good quality, but everything in my travel tubes dried up. I thought, how is this possible? And the woman from the company tells me that silicone is porous. Wait, what? This went against everything I’ve been told and have told others about silicone sex toys. They’re non-porous! Body safe! Yes, they are. 

Actually Silicone is porous but where silicone holds its benefit against bacteria is that Silicone, by nature, has low surface energy and is hydrophobic  “water-fearing,”. These two features greatly reduce the risk of giving bacteria a place to live. Most bacteria needs a moist environment to live and Silicone, by its very nature, typically prevents that from happening. Silicone can also be made with antibacterial properties embedded into its chemistry but for Tantus’ use of silicone, embedding those properties adds higher-than-expected levels of toxicity to the material and may tend to kill helpful bacteria in the human body. And finally, Silicone can typically withstand temperatures of 125 C for short lengths of time without breaking down its structural and physical properties. The ability to withstand high temperature allows Silicone to be sterilized between uses.

Ok so they can still be sanitized. They’re not going to hold onto larger things like mildew, viruses or bacteria. This is the important stuff. An odor can be gotten rid of. Just keep an eye on your anal toys consider 10% bleach washes more often on those. 

ETA:Super-soft silicones, like the outer layer on the Tantus O2 dildos, can absorb small amounts of dye depending on the situation. A few years ago it was reported that ForYourNymphomation sex toy cases had a lining with a dye that could transfer to certain toys. The more solid silicones will not take on any dyes but really soft types can. They’re still medically non-porous, however.

Myth or fact: If you see a clear (or stretchy, i.e. a cock ring) “jelly-like” sex toy that claims to be silicone, it really isn’t

This is fact.

Contact Lenses can be made from silicone so yes it can be ultra clear- however silicone that clear is really hard, brittle and about 10 times as expensive for raw materials. It’s beautiful but I’ve never been able to figure out an application in toys where I could justify charging that much. If it’s clear and super stretchy- there is no way it’s silicone. Tantus is shortly introducing the first super soft c-rings- they are nicely stretchy. Every buyer who’s seen them has been really excited- they are coming out later this month, in about a week. As you’ll see however, these rings aren’t clear.

Which leads me to the next question…..

How can the consumer tell if their sex toy is truly pure silicone versus PVC or thermoplastic?

Really it’s still a buyer beware situation. After we burned “silicone” in Australia a few years back, another vendor friend said his stuff was silicone- I told him it wasn’t. I saw this friend’s website recently telling me and you that all their crystal clear super stretchy cock rings were silicone. They aren’t. China told them they were though, and they seem to be sticking to China’s authority. Remember most “manufacturers” don’t manufacture anything but package design and sales strategies. Sometimes they do some engineering but often they don’t even do that. This allows companies to rapidly enter the market- all they need is a warehouse for storing boxes.

Now, Metis isn’t recommending that we all turn into pyromaniacs, but the infamous “lighter test” will work to melt TPR, Sil-a-gel, silicone blends and other silicone-look-a-like materials. I’ve recently added a post all about the flame test for silicone sex toys which includes video so that you can see exactly what happens with true silicone products vs silicone blend products (which are marketed as merely “silicone”) when you light them on fire (or try to).

What do all these words mean, isn’t silicone silicone? What makes Japanese silicone better than medical grade and what is platinum? Why do they have to confuse us??

Because they’re salesmen? Platinum isn’t just a word used for high-selling albums and expensive wedding bands. Metis said first to me, in part replying about the lube compatibility issue that “It’s about different chemistry, some lesser grades of materials bonding. Originally it was a Tin not a Platinum silicone (this refers to chemicals that are in the silicone which make the two liquids into a solid– vulcanize it).” But of course you’ll never see Tin used to describe a sex toy.

The refining process of making silicone was originally created by GE back in the 50’s and they sold the patent to Dow. Then GE apparently figured out the value of it, and created a totally separate method of processing it. There are several other raw processors who make the base materials from sand, ‘silica’. One is a German company Wacker, another a Japanese company Shin Etsu. The only reason to reassure people that it’s Japanese or German is because there is inherent quality believed by consumers to belong to products coming from those two countries.

So apparently the general public has been heavily swayed by cars. Awesome. Also? “Wacker”. *snickers* Yes, I’m 12.

But on the other side of the naming coin is the trickery used by lesser quality manufacturers to make us think that something is silicone. You may see things called TPR-Silicone, Silicone-Elastomer Blend, SEBS, Cyber-Silicone. These terms were either made up for marketing purposes years ago or is a result of a communication gap between the manufacturing plant overseas and the branded company. What would be the point in adding in some (much more expensive) silicone to a cheap and porous material? It won’t suddenly make it non-porous. It won’t actually provide any benefit. Sex toy companies started to learn that many people want silicone, so they started to come up with clever ways to make it seem like they’re giving you something special, when they’re not. It should also be noted that sex toy retailers copy from each other, and that they don’t quickly update their information – so if a manufacturer was once using the false “blend” term, and then stopped, the retailer likely won’t change. I used to see a lot of sex toys on EdenFantasys labeled as “TPR Silicone” and when you look at the manufacturer’s site, they usually refer to it as “TPR”..

Is there a difference between the shiny silicone, the matte silicone, the stuff they stretch over vibrators, etc?

Yes and no. I started off comparing things like the shiny and hard Feeldoe to the matte texture of the soft-exterior Cush O2. Metis said:

Matte silicone just has a different finish on the master or the mold. Molds on the Feeldoe, for example, are highly polished. The difference with the Cush is that the super soft silicone has a different chemistry- it has more of the silicones that are in lube, making it a little less stable (with silicone lubes). 

Ok but what about the silicone that gets stretched over mechanical vibrators?

The silicone on a Lelo, or a WeVibe, etc, is an injection material that needs heat in order to cure. You can make dildos with this material too but it’s a process that is much more effective with thin small amounts than with larger amounts.  You can tell a silicone toy that is injected like this because the molds have parting lines with small tolerances. Most of Fun Factories designs are made this way. Vixen and Tantus’ products mostly aren’t. The silicone again for both processes is very safe and stable.

I’ve also recently (after writing this post) read about Lelo’s silicone process. They coat their items with something called SST (Silicone Soft Touch) which aids in lending that powdery-silky feel. I know that a lot of other luxury silicone toy companies use this product (it’s basically a liquid silicone that is also body-safe) and so when you flame-test these toys you’ll get a different result than when you flame test the shiny/sticky silicone products. You can see in my video of flame testing that items coated with SST will show a scorch mark that rubs off whereas other non-coated silicone products develop a pale ash, from the dimethicone burning.

Myth: Silicone doesn’t feel as “realistic” though as Cyberskin/Jelly! Silicone isn’t as fun/sparkly! Silicone is expensive!

I hear too many people trying to defend lesser quality materials with arguments like these. Silicone doesn’t mimic a realistic feel or look? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Mentioned before, the Tantus O2 line is a dual-density that has a really firm core with a layer of plushy silicone over top. Vixen Creations also makes some very realistic dildos. Two things though that these manufacturers won’t have in the “realism” department that a gross rubber/cyberskin dildo will have: multiple colors for a realistic skin look (i.e. painted-on veins and a pink cock head) and/or fake pubic hair. I mean, if you really have a burning need for that dildo to fool you into thinking it is a magical, dismembered human penis then I can’t stop you. But that fake pubic hair will trap all kinds of gross shit and the painted-on realistic features? That will wear off after awhile. Where is it going???? Think about that one. Silicone might not be clear and gem-like, but they can certainly add glitter to it. I’ve seen both Tantus and the almost-defunct Jollies LLC do it.

People will also complain that silicone toys are too expensive. I know, they can be. Some manufacturers exploit the whole “luxury sex toy” angle. But there is a valid reason why silicone sex toys cost 2-4 times the prices of jelly, rubber or TPR. And frankly if after reading this whole post you don’t understand why……then I give up! But if you are on a super-strict budget, just watch for sales or keep an eye on the closeout bin at Tantus.

  1. I picked it so much that she might need a few days to re-generate; I really came close to being annoying. I might make a good reporter!
  2. While the site has changed and they no longer recommend that, they don’t forbid it, either. Manuals on the site will say that using a silicone lube might cause an unpleasant smell when the two collide. However, I found the packet of Body Fluid, FF’s silicone lube, and it came with my Ellove vibrator. The packet lists only two ingredients: dimethicone and dimenthiconol. Currently EF lists the ingredients of Body Fluid as dimethicone and Dimethiconol Cyclomethicone. Is there a difference? I opened my packet of Body Fluid and put it on the Ellove Vibrator, a Tantus dildo that is 5 years old and a Tantus dildo that is 2 years old. Nothing happened. Other brands of silicone lube include other types of silicone in with the dimethicone, so that could be why they will react with a silicone toy since like is touching like. End longest footnote ever.