14 October, 2012

Sex Toys: Choosing the Right Material

When picking out a new sex toy, there are a few things you'll need to consider: shape, size, price, uses, and quality. All of these factors are important in your decision to purchase a toy or other adult product. Many of them rely on one factor: the material the toy is made out of.

First, I'd like to introduce some of the basic material types for sex toys: jelly, UR3, plastic, rubber, TPR, silicone, wood, glass, ceramic, and metal. Each material has a different feel and different properties to it. These different properties make some materials more suitable for use than others.

Jelly is one of the least safe materials sex toys can be made out of. It's porous, which means that when you use it, little bits of bacteria can get trapped in the surface of the toy and can be spread to any partner(s) you're sharing the toy with. Jelly is not made to last a long time. In fact, it can break down very quickly, especially if it is stored in with other open jelly toys. In that case, two or more jelly toys can bond together and quickly become junk. While not all users experience it, jelly can cause a burning sensation when used in or around the vaginal opening. Jelly toys can be used with water and silicone based lubricants. Jelly toys are generally soft and easy to use.

UR3 (or Ultra Realistic 3.0) is just as bad as jelly. It's also a very porous material, so it can't be cleaned very well. This material is made to feel like real skin. It's very sticky, so it must be dusted with cornstarch after cleaning it to keep it useable. Like jelly, these toys are soft and easy to use. They also can be kind of squishy, depending on the toy. UR3 toys sometimes have a scent to them that is supposed to help cover up the odor of the material. It sometimes makes them resemble Jell-O. These toys are more difficult to store because the material is so sticky. They should be kept inside of a bag or the original packaging. UR3 toys can be used with only water based lubricants.

Rubber is a slight step up from jelly and UR3. It's very porous however it has a much longer life due to the fact that it is water resistant. It tends to feel much more firm than jelly and UR3, however it will have some bend and squish to it. Rubber is safe to use with silicone and water based lubricants.

Plastic is a fairly common material in sex toys. It's often used underneath coatings of higher quality materials to provide a hard core for the toy. Lower priced vibrating bullets and traditional vibrators tend to be made out of plastic. Plastic is a smooth, nonporous material. It's pretty safe to use (almost as much as silicone, glass, and metal) and easy to clean unless the plastic gets deep scratches in it. It can be stored however you'd like. Plastic is safe to use with water, silicone, and oil based lubes.

TPR is a middle-of-the-road material. It's not as safe as higher quality materials, but it's much safer than jelly and UR3. It can feel like a more firm version of jelly. Toys made out of it will be flexible (unless they have a plastic core) and will conform easily to your body. TPR can either be porous or nonporous, depending on how the material was made. It's safe to use with both silicone and water based lubes.

100% silicone is one of my favorite materials for toys. Silicone toys can range from extremely firm to soft and flexible depending on the build of the toy. Unlike lower quality toys, silicone is nonporous and extremely easy to clean. Dildos and toys without electronic parts in them can be boiled if you so desire. Silicone tends to have more friction to it than smooth materials. It is compatible only with water based lubricants.

Wooden toys are slightly less safe than silicone toys. Wood is a very firm material, though it does tend to absorb moisture. Many wooden toys have a protective coating over them to keep the toy from absorbing lube and other liquids. Wood is sometimes considered an Earth-friendly material due to the fact that it's very abundant and is a naturally replenishable source. Wooden toys tend to be very pricey toys.

Glass and metal toys are very similar. Both are very hard, nonporous materials. They can retain heat pretty well. You can stick a glass (no metal!) toy into the microwave and warm it up if you'd like. The only difference is: glass can break. A small chip in a glass toy can give you a serious cut. Glass toys must always be carefully inspected before being used. Both kinds of toys can be used with water, silicone, and oil based lubricants.

Ceramic toys are made out of clay. The clay has been shaped into a toy, then heated to fully dry the clay out. The clay is then glazed and heated again. It's nonporous. Ceramic toys can be treated much like the way you'd treat a ceramic dish: they can be washed with soap and warm water and wiped dry. They are compatible with silicone and water based lubes.

Choosing a material out of these can be a difficult decision. I strongly suggest avoiding the lower quality materials: jelly, UR3, and rubber. They can be dangerous for your health, especially if you share them with a partner. I highly recommend using silicone, since it's safe to use and both firm and a bit squishy. Glass and metal toys are a good choice for those who have had some experience with sex toys before. Plastic is a good choice for a first toy, since it's really inexpensive.

You'll need to keep in mind that price does not dictate the quality of the material. Glass toys can be purchased from $10 and jelly toys can run as high as $40. Look over the description of your toy before you purchase it. If the packaging or web site does not indicate the material, you may want to skip it and pick a different one or go somewhere else. Always know exactly what you're getting into, especially if you plan on inserting said toy into your body.

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