What are your sex toys really made of? And why should you care? Let’s discuss.
Toxic Sex Toy Educational Resources:
Other Articles/Blog Posts:
The Trouble With Toxic Sex Toys – Bitch Magazine
The crusade against phthalates and toxic toys – SheBop
Toxic Toys: Beyond Phthalates – Metis Black
Unsafe Sex Products and Toys – Tiny Nibbles
That Body-Safe Sex Toy Could Make You Sick – Toy Meets Girl
Melted Sex Toys – DangerousLilly
Ever thought about the toxins in your sex toys? – Grist
Flame Test Resources:
Deciphering the Results of the Flame Test – DangerousLilly
Rad Sex Shops:
SheVibe (The QUEEN of online sex shops. They do carry some porous items, so check item descriptions before you buy.)
GoodVibes (Another popular and wonderful online retailer. They do carry some porous items, so check item descriptions before you buy.)
Tantus (Manufacturer and retailer of high-quality and sometimes surprisingly affordable silicone toys)
♪ And now we’re gonna talk about sex. ♪
More specifically, sex toys. More specifically, sex toy materials, and which ones are and are not safe to be putting in and around your body.
One of the main problems with sex toys is that they’re widely used, but with sex and anything to do with it being regarded as “taboo” topics in our culture, they’re not widely discussed. And contrary to what one would think from an industry that specifically creates products to go inside the human body, the sex toy business is entirely unregulated. Which means that companies can and do make toys out of just about anything they want, regardless of quality or safety, and label them however they please.
Don’t believe me? In 2005, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency decided to assess the chemical substances commonly found in sex toys, randomly selecting 16 toys and testing their chemical composition. Of those, a quarter contained phthalates, a family of plastic softening components that is banned from children’s toys and pet toys due to being linked to all sorts of medical problems from irritation and chemical burns to cancer, reproductive issues, and organ damage.
And phthalates aren’t even all you have to worry about – the list of toxic chemicals commonly present in cheap toys is long and horrifying.
Some of the most common materials for sex toys are PVC and soft “jelly” plastics. Besides leaching oils and off-gassing phthalates and other toxic substances, these materials are also highly porous. What this means is that the surface of the toy is covered in lots and lots of microscopic holes— holes than can harbor bacteria, viruses, and fungi. And because porous toys cannot be fully cleaned and sterilized, every single time one of them comes in contact with the permeable membranes of your nether regions, you’re opening yourself up to all sorts of possible infections.
How can you tell if a toy is safe? There isn’t really any definite way to know, short of sending it in to a lab for testing, which obviously isn’t a viable option for the average person. But there are some warning signs you can look out for that give a pretty good indication that the material you’re looking at is not body safe.
- Sight. Is the toy made out of a completely see-through, soft plastic, super stretchy material? It’s not body-safe. Please keep it away from your body.
- Smell. If it has a strong chemical or plastic smell, it’s probably off-gassing toxicants. Safe toy materials should not have any obvious, lasting odor and definitely should not smell like a plastic shower curtain.
- Touch. Does the toy feel oily or sticky? Do your fingers come away a bit greasy after handling it? Safe toy materials should not disintegrate or leach oils. Unsafe materials, on the other hand… pop them in a jar for a few months and watch as the toys begin to melt and suspicious liquids start pooling in the bottom. Yeah, that happens, and it’s gross.
- Taste. Lick it. Seriously. If it has an obvious taste, or if your tongue or lips go numb, that should be a clear sign that the materials are questionable.
- Flame. The flame test isn’t 100% accurate, but it is pretty good. This is for testing whether a toy is made of genuine silicone, which is a body safe material, or something else. Again, there is no industry regulation and companies can label things however they please— just because a toy says “silicone” or “phthalate-free” doesn’t necessarily mean anything. This test involves putting flame to a silicone (or “silicone”) toy. If it melts at all, it might not be silicone. This test is a bit more of an involved topic that I don’t have time to fully cover right now though, so I’ll put some informative links on it in the description and get back to this in a later video.
Now, what materials ARE body safe?
As mentioned, 100% pure medical or food-grade silicone. Wood with a medical-grade finish. Medical grade stainless steel, aluminum, glass, glazed ceramic, and ABS hard plastic.
Anything else, especially on the cheaper end of the toy spectrum, is probably going to be porous, toxic, or both.
The best way to keep your toy box free from sketchy materials is to not buy from sketchy companies. Do your research, support trustworthy retailers and manufacturers who are committed to the safety of their products and well-being of their customers. I’ll list a bunch of my favorites down in the description, but right now I want to specifically shout out Early to Bed, who are an amazing body-safe, LGBT+ friendly shop here in Chicago and online.
If you enjoyed this video, found it interesting, maybe learned some things, give it a “like” and subscribe to the channel. I have so many things to say and learn and share, and I can’t wait to bring all of that to you.
Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time!