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The Low Down on Sex Toy Materials
The Low Down on Sex Toy Materials

The Low Down on Sex Toy Materials


What's in my sex toy? Sex toys are made from lots of different materials. Check out some of the basic facts about the type of materials used to make sex toys, and how to choose the best one for you. Plus, what they are compatible (and not compatible) with. Then you can decide, "What is the best sex toy for me?"





Silicone Sex Toys
- Compatible with water based lubricants
- MAY NOT be compatible with silicone-based lubricants
- 100% silicone is hypo-allergenic
- 100% silicone is non-porous and can be sterilized
- 100% silicone will not change color, texture, shape or odor


A high grade, 100% silicone product is a compound, and structurally will not separate. Silicone will not change color or texture, will not have an odor, and will not melt or react with other 100% silicone toys.

Some products may use low grade fillers, and claim to be silicone. Unless your product is 100% silicone it may not be entirely non-porous. Look for pure, medical grade silicone products from reputable manufacturers.

100% silicone is non-porous, (which means the surface will not harbor bacteria or residue), hypoallergenic, and inert. Plus, it's easy to sterilize. Silicone can be washed with soap and water, boiled, cleaned with bleach, or even run the through the dishwasher to clean.

A silicone-based lubricant should generally not be used with a silicone toy, as it could potentially damage the surface. Stick with water-based lubricants for silicone toys, if possible.


Glass Sex Toys
- Compatible with water and silicone-based lubricants, and oils
- Non-porous and easily sterilized
- Hypo-allergenic


Safe glass toys should be crafted from borosilicate glass (like Pyrex), which makes them much stronger, more chip or break resistant, and safer than regular glass.

Tempered glass products won't shatter like regular glass. If you were to drop a borosilicate glass toy on a hard surface, it might snap in half, but will not explode like a drinking glass would.

Glass toys are non-porous, hypoallergenic, and inert. Glass is easy to sterilize. It can be washed with soap and water, boiled, cleaned with bleach, or even run the through the dishwasher.

Glass is a very eco-friendly material, as it's produced from natural resources.


ABS Plastic Sex Toys
- Generally compatible with water and silicone based lubricants, and oils
- Water-based lubricant is recommended
- Generally non-porous
- Can be cleaned with soap and water, or alcohol, and air dried


ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene ) is generally a hard plastic, and contains no phthalates (a softener).

There are many different types of ABS, and they have a variety of uses in almost every industry worldwide. Some examples are hard toys, remote controllers, and the plastic on cell phones.

ABS plastic is desirable for it's hard, glossy, and non-porous surface, however it can grow brittle over time.

ABS is generally non-porous and can be cleaned with soap and water, or alcohol, and allowed to air dry. Take care to ensure there are no cracks, crevices, or nicks in the surface of ABS which might harbor bacteria.


Jelly Plastic Sex Toys
- Compatible with water and silicone based lubricants
- MAY NOT be compatible with oils
- NOT non-porous and cannot be sterilized
- Jelly plastics should not be stored touching other plastic items, as they may interact poorly and melt


Jelly plastic is a generic term that can be used to cover a wide variety of plastics. It can include a variety of colors, firmness, and textures. The exact make up of jelly plastic is often a closely held trade secret, but jelly toys are generally inexpensive. Jelly plastics are generally compatible with water or silicone-base lubricants, but water-based lubricant is recommended.

Jelly plastic toys of different types can interact poorly and “melt” when in contact with each other, if they are of different formulas. Because jelly plastic is a mixture (not a chemically bonded compound, like silicone or glass), it may also develop an oily sheen, change shape, color, or texture, even when not in contact with another plastic. Some people experience irritation when in contact with some types of jelly plastics.

Jelly plastics are not non-porous and cannot be sterilized. It is good practice to place a condom over a jelly plastic toy before use.

Phthalates are found in many, many soft plastics. A phthalate is a compound commonly used to make otherwise hard vinyl and/or jelly rubber products soft, pliable, and easy to shape and work with. They are part of a family of compounds made from alcohols and phthalic anhydride, and are colorless, odorless liquids with an oily texture that do not evaporate readily. Not all soft jelly toys include phthalates.

Recently some studies show that using an oil-based lubricant can cause phthalates to leech out of jelly plastic toys more quickly than with water-base lubricants.


Sil-a-gel Sex Toys
- Water-based lubricant is recommended
- NOT compatible with silicone and oil based lubricants
- NOT non-porous, and cannot be sterilized


Sil-a-gel is often a mixture of silicone and other plastics, advertised by manufacturers as anti-bacterial and latex-free.

It may contain some silicone, but Sil-a-gel is a trade name, and not a description of the material.

Sil-a-gel is not a non-porous material, and thus cannot be sterilized like silicone, glass, or metal. For this reason it is good practice to place a condom over a Sil-a-Gel toy before use.


SEBS Silicone Sex Toys
- Water-based lubricant is recommended
- MAY NOT be compatible with silicone and oil based lubricants
- NOT non-porous, and cannot be sterilized


SEBS (Styrene Ethylene Butylene Styrene) Silicone is a mixture of silicone and other plastic. It can vary widely in, color, firmness and texture.

SEBS Silicone is best described as a material which has the characteristics of both silicone and rubber, and can be worked more easily than silicone, possibly replacing liquid silicone in some consumer products.

It contains some silicone, but also other plastics as well. There are many different types and quality grades, and they have a variety of consumer uses.

SEBS Silicone is not a non-porous material, and thus cannot be sterilized like silicone, glass, or metal. For this reason it is good practice to place a condom over a SEBS silicone toy before use.


PVC Sex Toys
- Water-based lubricant is recommended
- MAY NOT be compatible with silicone and oil based lubricants
- NOT non-porous, and cannot be sterilized


Poly vinyl chloride, PVC, is a very common soft plastic, that has a great deal of versatility. It can be found in a variety of colors, textures, and quality grades.

PVC can be found in faux leather clothing or straps, and also in some soft plastic toys. Without a plasticizer (commonly phthalates, but there are others) PVC is a hard plastic (think PVC pipes).

With a plasticizer PVC is very soft and flexible, and can be used in place of common natural latex rubber. You will see this material a lot in shiny faux leather items, and adult toys.

A water-based lubricant is recommended. Different grades of PVC may interact poorly with silicone or oils.

PVC is not non-porous, and thus cannot be sterilized like glass, metal, or silicone. For this reason it is good practice to place a condom over a PVC toy before use.


CyberSkin, SoftSkin, etc. Sex Toys
- Water-based lubricant is recommended
- MAY NOT be compatible with silicone and oil based lubricants
- NOT non-porous, and cannot be sterilized


Touted as phthalate and latex free plastic, the actual make up of Cyberskin is a very closely guarded trade secret.

Other similar materials may go by the trade names of RealSkin, SoftTouch, and others. This material is soft to the touch, and feels much like real skin. Water-based lubricant is strongly recommended. The compatibility of these materials with silicone-based lubricants and oils varies, and could interact poorly.

Cyberskin may react or melt when stored with other soft plastics if they are of different formulas (similar to jelly plastic). Cyberskin, and similar materials need to be carefully cleaned with soap and water, and allowed to air dry.

Cyberskin and other similar materials may need to be regularly refreshed with Cyberskin powder, talc, cornstarch to maintain the soft touch.

Cyberskin toys are not non-porous, and cannot be sterilized like glass, metal, or silicone. For this reason it is good practice to place a condom over a Cyberskin toy before use.


TPE Plastic Sex Toys
- Generally compatible with water and silicone based lubricants
- MAY NOT be compatible with oils
- NOT non-porous, and cannot be sterilized
- TPE plastics should not be stored touching other plastic items, as they may interact poorly and melt


Thermo Plastic Elastomer, TPE, is sometimes thought of as the same as TPR. The basic difference is in the bond structure when it is created. TPE can be processed on plastics machinery, and typically does not require curing or vulcanization. This makes it less expensive to work with.

TPE may not be quite as strong as TPR, but may be more flexible. TPE is desirable for how easy it is to use in injection molds because of the softness, and the soft-touch and texture in finished products. There are many different types and quality grades.

Some common elastomer examples are nitrile rubber and silicone rubber. However some products may contain low quality fillers, affecting how porous the final product is.

TPE toys are generally not non-porous, and cannot be sterilized like glass, metal, or silicone. For this reason it is good practice to place a condom over a TPE toy before use.


TPR Plastic Sex Toys
- Generally compatible with water and silicone based lubricants
- MAY NOT be compatible with oils
- NOT non-porous, and cannot be sterilized
- TPR plastics should not be stored touching other plastic items, as they may interact poorly and melt


Thermoplastic Rubber ,TPR, is best described a material which has the characteristics of both rubber and plastic. It may be desirable, because often TPR can be worked like a plastic, but maintain the characteristics of rubber when finished. It can vary widely in, color, firmness, and texture.

There are many different types and quality grades, and they have a variety of uses in almost every industry. Other uses for TPR are the rubber/plastic soles on shoes, window seals, and gaskets. TPR may be used where flexibility and a soft texture is desired.

TPR is not non-porous, and cannot be sterilized like glass, metal, or silicone. For this reason it is good practice to place a condom over a TPR toy before use.


Copyright ScarletGirl.com

Resources:
phthalates.americanchemistry.com
Kinsey Confidential
CDC
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Tox Profiles
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, DEHP Fact Sheet
EPA, Phthalate Fact Sheet
Siliocone.jp
GLS TPEs, HIGH PERFORMANCE CLEAR THERMOPLASTICS ELASTOMER
Taylor and Francis online, Validation of the Use of SEBS Blends as a Substitute for Liquid Silicone Rubber in Injection Processes


This article was added to our catalog on Thursday 30 January, 2014.

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