Whether you are new to the Cottage Industry of independent sex toy makers (or "Dongsmiths" as they have become affectionately known), or you already have an ever-growing collection of colourful silicone wonders, you may find some of the terminology referring to silicone a little mystifying. If you wish to learn more about what makes it so wonderful for fantasy toys, Fran Tickle will try to give you the lowdown to help you understand and appreciate your rubber beauties!
You may have seen the silicone used in your toy referred to as 'Platinum Silicone'. This refers to the chemical reaction in the presence of platinum, which produces a stable rubber that does not give off by-products like other types of silicone. This makes it an excellent product for uses such as the medical and food industries and, of course, sex toys. Other benefits that platinum silicone has over other silicones include:
- A high tear strength i.e. it stretches a lot before breaking
- Excellent translucency, which makes it ideal for adding an array of colourful pigments
- Highly hydrophobic, allowing it to be boiled and soaked to sanitise
- Fine reproduction of detail, making it possible to design intricate beautiful toys
- Non-yellowing (compared to materials of similar clarity), meaning that your toys will look vibrant for years to come.
Platinum silicone (also referred to as 'addition cure silicone') starts life as two separate viscous liquids which are mixed together and then degassed in a vacuum chamber to remove most of the bubbles caused by mixing. You may or may not have heard or read the term 'curing' when refer to the setting of silicone (as opposed to 'drying'); this simply means the chemical change that occurs is irreversible and produces a new product. Like a beautiful bouncing dildo.
You will notice that Tentickle toys are available in different firmness levels, referred to in terms of their "shore hardness". A tool called a Durometer is used to measure the fimrness of rubbery materials by pressing the tool into the surface and measuring the resistance. There are a number of shore scales that measure different firmness ranges but when it comes to silicone adult toys, we are only concerned with the very soft 'OO' shore scale and somewhat firmer 'A' shore scale. Handmade toys generally range anywhere from a super-soft floppy stretchy OO20 shore to a firm upright (though still flexible) A25.
When choosing a toy it is important to consider that the firmness is magnified by its size. For example a mini toy in a shore A10 may feel similar to a very large toy in shore OO50, even though the mini toy is made of a firmer shore of silicone. The size and firmness level will also effect whether the toy can stand up on its own, or whether it leans or falls over.
SO ALL SILICONE TOYS ARE EQUAL, RIGHT.....?
Well, unfortunately no. Sadly, the adult toy industry is largely unregulated due to prejudices against the sex industry as a whole. There are mass-produced toys on the market which may be listed as a "silicone blend" or even "silicone", when they may not contain a single gram of silicone. If you have doubts about the safety of a cheap toy you have bought in the past, there are a few ways to check if it may be made of a cheaper inferior material such as TPE (thermoplastic elastomer). If the surface feels greasy then it has already started to break down, or if it is left on a sunny windowsill for a few weeks you may notice an acceleration in the break-down. When offered up to a flame, platinum silicone will not melt; it will merely form ash on the surface whereas a TPE toy will melt and burn strongly. It can be tempting to opt for a cheap deal when it comes to soft sex toys (I have been guilty of this in the past), but the chemical stability, safety and durability of platinum silicone is what makes it worth the extra cost.
CARING FOR PLATINUM SILICONE TOYS
As mentioned before, the chemical stability and non-porous nature of platinum silicone makes it ideal as a safe and durable sex toy. It can be sterilised effectively by either soaking in boiling water, using antibacterial soap and warm water or using a dedicated toy cleaner. Some people even choose to clean their toys in a dishwasher (without detergent) when they have multiple toys to clean! Talk about time-saving! It is best practice to store silicone toys away from other non-silicone toys and to avoid silicone-based lubricants. It is also wise to avoid compressing silicone toys under large amounts of other toys for long periods of time as this can eventually warp their shape a little. Platinum silicone loves to attract dust and lint, and this issue can be helped by storing toys in drawstring bags made of a material like linen or polyester. If you choose to do this then be sure to prewash the bag, which limits the staining from any excess fabric dye. Despite its durability platinum silicone should be kept away from sharp objects, since once it is sliced into it will be vulnerable to tearing.
Hopefully this have given you a better understanding of what makes your platinum silicone toy great, and why it is a worthwhile investment in terms of safety and durability. Until regulations catch up with the need to keep sex toy users safe, now you can at least apply your own silicone knowledge when it comes to toy purchases.