Ask Lilly: What IS Sil-a-gel?

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

Sil-a-gel is strictly a Doc Johnson creation, so far as I can tell.  From their site:

Q: What is Sil-A-Gel?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


8 Responses

  1. Octavia says:

    Did you see the response from Doc Johnson that Dildology has since put up on their page? They claim the plasticiser that accounts for 61% of the dilo is not a phalate. The lab report has it correctly listed, but it seems someone either at the lab or dildology (it is unclear) assumed that substance was the same as a known phalate (I don’t know enough to verify this, this is Doc Johnson’s claim). Doc Johnson claims the dildo is straight PVC and plasticiser. No mention of the “anti bacterial Sil-A-Gel” though.

  2. Yep, I saw it.

    That lab has been around for decades. They tested the toys for I don’t know that I believe that they could get this wrong. When it comes down to it, if I had to place a bet, I’d put my hat in the ring of the lab. They have no reason to lie, and they have tested many many many things. Doc Johnson though…..well, they would have reason to lie. Maybe they’re not. Maybe the report is wrong. Maybes all around. I’d like to see another one tested.

    Regardless…..I also listen to the many people who report the same skin burning sensation and same floral + shower curtain smell as is often experienced in older PVC phthalates-ridden dildos. Something doesn’t add up here.

  3. DonJean says:

    Two things. You are right not to make a judgment one a single test. From my quick scan of the website it seems this was a gas spectrography test. It is pretty good at giving you an idea of what a compound is but there has to be other test to give conclusive result especially with solid material. The issue is that it gives results as % of you sample if each element. ie. Water or H2O would be out put as 33% hydrogen and 66% oxygen. The techs the. Try match those percentages to known materials. A toy would have multiple materials but they break down to basic elements which can give you very skewed data especially with stuff not in the data base. Hence the extra other tests.

    Silver used is likely to be nano silver which is untested as to its down stream effects environmentally and body safety long term. Though it is now widely used in all sorts of products and is a great anti bacterial. Just food for though that 5 years from now those same toys maybe listed as toxic toys

  4. Tmcaurinus says:

    Um. Phthalates ARE plasticizers. So essentially, it’s as though Doc Johnson is saying, “No, there’s no chicken in these sandwiches. They are made only of bread and poultry.”

  5. Yes phthalates are plasticizers but not all plasticizers are phthalates.

  6. Tmcaurinus says:

    Okay — just read the actual letter. The DJ rep did not simply say that the dildo in question is made from PVC and plasticizers. He(?) said it’s made with NON-PHTHALATE plasticizers. I might have been more inclined to fully believe their assertions if their rep didn’t throw in numerous subtle insults to the lab and everyone involved in the testing.

  7. Tmcaurinus says:

    Btw, the supplier company of the plasticizer — the one that the lab found in the Doc Johnson James Deen Realistic dildo — classifies it as a phthalate, themselves:

  8. FieryRed says:

    After reading your new post about DJ and Sil-A-Gel, I’m wondering if the plasticizer they use may not be technically a phthalate, but still be a toxic irritant to mucous membranes or even a common allergen.