The first quality most people are concerned with when choosing a sex toy is, of course, the feel-good factor. It is always best to ensure the toys you use are well-suited to how you like to get off. It’s also nice, especially when you’re putting on a show, to have toys that are beautiful as well as functional — you want your viewers to enjoy looking at them, after all!
But, in the name of self-care, be careful when toy shopping, and make sure each toy is safe for your body.
(To recap this quick run-down on the basics of toy toxicity: After straight-up poisons, the second-worst feature of dangerous sex toy materials is porosity. Porous substances will harbor fluids and bacteria in uncleanable microscopic holes, so repeated use can introduce nasty microbes through your mucous membranes. The safest common toy materials are 100% silicone, ABS plastic and medical-grade metals like stainless steel.)
In recent years, trendy toy materials like crystal and wood have skyrocketed in popularity. These natural materials also create insertables that are less likely to contain toxic synthetic chemicals than petroleum-based plastics, as well as pretty to look at — on display or in use. However, some less common materials are only safe for internal use under certain conditions, so make sure you know whether and when a substance can be considered “body-safe” before buying.
Plain old wood is porous, but a well-coated wooden sex toy that uses a body-safe sealant will be both gorgeous and perfectly safe.
High-quality wooden dildos (such as those made by NobEssence) are sanded totally smooth and sealed with food- or medical-grade waterproof coatings. This makes them non-porous, protecting them from both bacterial growth and moisture damage. Avoid uncoated wooden toys or toys with toxic finishes, and if you can’t find info on what coating was used, avoid those, too.
Make sure you take good care of any wooden toys, though — any cracks or scrapes in the finish will expose the wood to potential moisture damage from internal use, and it will have the same porosity issues as unfinished wood. You can test your wooden toy’s coating by dipping it in water for a few seconds and checking whether it seems to absorb any water.
Store and handle your wood carefully, and inspect it often.
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The Yoni Egg Conundrum
Crystal minerals have become very trendy materials for sex toys, both for the aesthetic and for the mystical properties some believe they impart. Some minerals are fine and safe to put in your body, but others are highly poisonous. Here are some basics on what to look out for.
- cannot be scratched easily, preventing bacteria-harboring imperfections in the surface
- won’t react chemically with the moisture or pH of your inside bits
- contain no dangerous substances your body could absorb, and
- grow or are formed in a single solid mass
Unsafe crystals may have many dangerous qualities:
- soft, i.e. easily chipped or scratched
- soluble in water at room temperature, or soluble in moderate acid (pH level of the human vagina)
- metallic, which could rust, or composed of toxic metals like copper, lead, zinc, etc.
- artificially colored, which can only be done if the crystal is porous
- formed in layers (which may appear as stripes, rings, or veins), as these are more porous
- fibrous, as they often contain asbestos, plus bits can come off (and, again, porous!)
The most common (and trustworthy) are silicate minerals like rhodonite and undyed quartzes and obsidians. Unscrupulous or uneducated sellers may still offer pretty-but-toxic crystal toys like malachite, selenium or tiger’s eye, so you may want to bone up on your mineralogy before buying.
Oh, and it should go without saying, but please make sure your crystal insertables are smooth, without cracks, rough patches, sharp edges or pointy ends. Do not subject your delicate anatomy to unpolished rocks. Chakrubs is an interesting brand to consider.
Glass and Ceramic
Quick note: Yes, glass and ceramic are totally safe — if you get the right kind. Whether borosilicate or soda-lime, make sure any glass toys are properly annealed for strength, without extreme shape changes that create weak points in the glass. Ceramic insertables are safe only if they are both vitrified (giving it glass-like qualities) and fired with a a non-toxic glaze to form a waterproof coat.
So, now you can go forth and get yourself some new toys that are prettier than just silicone, well-armed with enough knowledge to make sure you stay safe as well as sexy. Just keep in mind that the materials listed here must be cleaned and cared for more gently than silicone or metal. And, as always, do your own research on any piece you intend to purchase to ensure you get the best — safest — toys for you. Your internal flora will thank you.
Monday Lovelace is a queer Black writer and graphic designer out of the Pacific Northwest. They’re out here to live their best life and help others do the same. Contact Lovelace via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Header image via Unsplash here.