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Myths: Toxins in Sex Toys
Common Myths Regarding Toxins in Adult Novelties

Along with helpful information on the Internet designed to keep consumers informed and empowered there are also many myths that are unfortunately repeated as if they were true. It is important to remain focused on factual information rather than fall into the dramatic claims that many are now making. It not only hurts falsely accused companies, but it denies the public of accurate information and products that are perfectly safe for them to use.

Below we will explore some of the most common myths regarding sex toy safety and toxins. If you have one that you would like us to review and add to this resource, please let us know as we are always interested in hearing from our readers.

Myth: If it has a scent then it is toxic.

One very common myth that is often repeated in the adult novelty industry is the smell factor. It has been said that if a sex toy has a chemical scent that it is toxic and that is simply not true. This myth began with many saying that a scent much like that of a new shower curtain smell means that it contains phthalates (toxic plasticizers used to soften PVC vinyls). The problem with that story is that some phthalates are almost odorless. Some phthalates have more odor than others and different odors at that. Most manufacturers who use phthalates in the construction of their sex toys do not use pure phthalates for their molded products (especially those made in Asia). The phthalates being used are often mixtures of different phthalates and residual byproducts. Therefore, different products that are plasticized with phthalates are going to have their own characteristic gradient of volatile components making the scent of them in some cases almost nonexistent while others can be very strong.

Types of Phthalates
  • Mono-methyl phthalate (MMP)
  • Mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP)
  • Mono-isobutyl phthalate (MiBP)
  • Dimethylphthalate (DMP)
  • Diethyl phthalate (DEP)
  • Di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP)

On the other side of the spectrum you can have a perfectly safe sex toy that contains a polymer that is safe yet has a scent, particularly when it is new. This is a form of what is called off-gassing, which is when a chemical called an amine found with in the sex toy (a type of digestible drug that is used in condoms and the bags that are used today for breast implants) makes it smell initially until it is done off-gassing.

Therefore, you can see that in these two examples you cannot simply tell if something is toxic just by smelling it.

Myth: Only 100% medical grade silicone sex toys are nontoxic.

There are some that claim that if a sex toy is not 100% silicone then it is toxic and contains phthalates. This is not necessarily true, as it depends on what other ingredients the manufacturer uses.

Myth: All Jelly Sex Toys Are Toxic

The myth is that ALL jelly style sex toys are toxic and full of phthalates but as mentioned, that would not necessarily be true. The truth is that not all jelly sex toys are toxic, rather it depends on what materials were used to create the "jelly" sex toy and how it was constructed.

Myth: If it Contains 10% Silicone It Can Be Labeled as Silicone

There is a myth in the adult novelty industry that there is a federal regulation that if a sex toy contains 10% silicone it can be labeled as silicone. The truth is that there are no labeling regulations as to the materials in sex toys and the 10% silicone labeling is a myth. Why is this an issue with consumers? Labeling a product as silicone when it is not may lead a consumer to think that the product is not porous (as 100% silicone is not porous). When a sex toy is porous is can more easily harbor bacteria, mold and STIs and STDs which makes it important for consumers to be aware of the importance of cleaning and in some cases using a condom over the sex toy to prevent potential health issues. Manufacturers should only list sex toys as silicone if they are 100% silicone.

Myth: TPR Silicone is A Material Used to Make Sex Toys

TPR (Thermoplastic rubber) is not able to be blended with silicone and therefore there is no such thing as a TPR Silicone blend. There can be a sex toy that has both materials but TPR Silicone as a single material does not exist.

Myth: Rubber & Silicone Cannot Be Blended

Silicone rubber/elastomers can be blended to make a sex toy material. A mixture of high molecular weight silicone elastomers (dimethicone crosspolymer) in cyclopentasiloxaneis also used in skincare, haircare, color cosmetics, suncare, antiperspirants and deodorants, etc.

Myth: Sex Toy Manufacturers Always Know What is in Their Products

While most major sex toy manufacturers go to great lengths to determine what is in their sex toys to ensure that they are safe to use, most sex toys are made in China by a third party and those are the true manufacturers of these products. In some cases they can present a prototype using safe, nontoxic materials, but then send the bulk shipments using cheaper materials that can contain toxins. This can be a serious issue and one that can potentially cause harm to consumers leaving even the manufacturers and sex toy resellers in the dark.

Myth: Phthalates are the Only Toxin to be Concerned About

Common toxins found in unsafe sexual products include arsenic, antimony, lead, cadmiumparabens phthalates, sulfides, mercury and more.


Sex Toy Stores Typically In The Dark

Most people who sex toys are often in the dark about what makes something toxic let alone what materials are in the products they are selling. Part of the reason for this is the lack of information provided by sex toy manufacturers. Sex toys are not regulated (they are classified as novelties rather than medical devices by FDA classification). This means that there are no labeling requirements in regard to the materials used of the safety of the products.

What Retailers Can Do About Sex Toy Safety

  • Provide truthful, responsible information to consumers.
  • Provide research to help consumers with the most up to date information.
  • Refuse to carry products that contain known toxins or products that are questionable.
  • Provide recycling information on the materials in the products you sell.

Sex should be relaxing, fun, pleasurable and we want to make that as easy as possible for you to enjoy. If you have any questions or feedback about this article, please feel free to contact us as we are happy to hear from our readers.


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