Friday, April 20, 2012

Dildo Secrets!


Most gay men own one or more sex toys, but we’re pretty shy about talking about them! Because of that, most of us also usually only have hearsay knowledge about what they’re made of, how to take care of them and how to use them. 

It doesn’t help that most dildos and butt toys are stamped with a disclaimer that reads "for novelty use only.” This is how manufacturers get away with not including any instructions about their use or care or even listing their ingredients on the label. It’s also how they avoid lawsuits from people who injure themselves from playing with the toys that they make.

Regardless of any brand name or proprietary substance that manufacturers claim to have invented, sex toys are really only made out of three major materials. The first, most popular and cheapest of them is Thermo Plastic Rubber (TPR).

The overwhelming majority (80%) of all packaged sex toys are made of TPR. That’s because it is inexpensive and easily formed into lots of different shapes through injection molding. A secret about TPR that no manufacturers ever tell you is that it only has a shelf life of six to eight years. After that it begins to break down.

That’s because TPR, like all plastics, is not an inherently soft material. To make sex toys soft and flexible, chemical ‘plasticizers’ are added to their main ingredients. These chemicals, however, are also what cause the TPR to degrade and eventually disintegrate in a few years. If you’ve ever reached into your toy drawer and found a sticky, gooey mess, you’ve experienced this process! TPR toys are safe with silicone or water-based lubricants, but are degraded even faster by the oil-based creamy lubricants usually preferred by guys who like serious buttplay. 

Prior to 2008, the primary plasticizers used to soften toys were called phthalates. Phthalates were incredibly common in all sorts of products—most famously, the nipples on baby bottles­—but they were eventually linked to male hormonal defects and some forms of cancer. They have since been banned by the EPA. I mention this because if you still own any non-silicone toys that you purchased prior to 2008, you really should discard them!  

The next most common material used to make sex toys is Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). PVC toys are easy to pick out because they have a very distinct vinyl smell (unlike TPR toys, which are basically odorless). The benefit of a PVC toy is that it is safe with all types of lubricants. However, PVC toys also contain plasticizers to make them soft and flexible, and, just like TPR toys, these plasticizers will eventually cause them to break down. The shelf-life of most PVC toys is five to six years.  

Another secret that manufacturers will not tell you is that, because of their chemical composition, PVC and TPR toys are not compatible. They should always be kept separated, because if they are allowed to touch for any length of time a chemical reaction can occur which will cause one or both of the toys to melt. Although this does not happen all the time, it’s more common than you think!

The final, newest (and of course, most expensive) material used to make sex toys is silicone. High-grade silicone toys are safe with all lubricants and odor-free, plus they do not break down (at least not in this lifetime!). Silicone toys are also hypo-allergenic and non-porous. Since they don’t harbor bacteria, they are the safest and cleanest toy option.

Silicone is quickly becoming the material of choice when it comes to making butt toys. Over the past two years, almost every major manufacturer has announced a new silicone line or begun remanufacturing their classic products in new silicone versions.

My partner and I have long been fans of SquarePeg Toys. SquarePeg actually invented the first silicone butt toys and today remains known for its superior-quality, platinum-grade silicone toys designed especially for gay men. Although it produces a wide range of sizes and shapes, most are typically larger than the average toys on the market. We have owned a few SquarePeg toys for nearly fourteen years and they still look and feel like new! 

Silicone toys should be stored separately from your TPR and PVC toys because the chemicals in them can damage the silicone. Although they are more expensive, they are safer and more hygienic and you won’t have to replace them every five or so years!

When it comes to sex toys, never be afraid to talk to the staff at your local store. Ask questions about what the toys are made of and what sorts of lubes can be used with them. If the staff can’t educate you about what they carry, go somewhere else! When you get home, keep your toys separated by type. Most importantly, get rid of older toys that might contain phthalates. You only have one butt. Why stuff it with creepy chemicals?   

Until next time, PLAY HARD! 

Every other week Gear's John McBain, publishes his GenFetish column in Pulp Magazine. This article originally appeared on April 13, 2012.

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5 comments:

  1. Its really interesting post...thanks for sharing.
    tongkat ali

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  2. Thanks David! We're glad it was helpful!

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  3. Yes this is good info. but without my toys I guess I'll need to find a steady fisting relationship ??

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. We're not saying not to play with toys! Just know that some have a short shelf life! And that you should get a steady fisting partner. ;)

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