Q: Why is there powder on my condom?

Q: I opened up a non-lubricated Trojan condom and there was powder on the inside! What the hell is it? Is my condom defective?


A: There are a couple of reasons why there may be powder on your condom– but don’t worry. None of them mean that someone is trying to poison you!

Oftentimes, non-lubricated condoms, like your Trojan ENZ Non-Lubricated, have a starchy, white powder on them. This is usually just cornstarch. Cornstarch is a natural material taken from corn kernels and used in all sorts of things– like making plastics and thickening soups and sauces. If a condom doesn’t have lubrication, it can be difficult to unroll, or even stick together and tear when you attempt to unroll it. The cornstarch prevents this.

Sometimes that cornstarch is mixed with other things. Usually these are preservatives– antioxidants or silica (silicon dioxide) to make the condom last longer and prevent the latex or other materials from breaking down when compressed. Neither should have a great impact on the body, but if you’re finding that you’re having a reaction, it could simply mean that you are allergic to one of these ingredients. If that’s the case, it would be best to go to your doctor for an allergy test and switch to a different condom brand or product.

I realize that the word, “silica,” sounds kind of scary, probably because you’re used to seeing it written on those little silica gel packs that come with electronic products and such– the ones that say, “DO NOT INGEST!” That type of silica has a different chemical formula and is called precipitated silica. The silica often featured in condoms is actually very similar to the silicone found in silicone-based lube. Both are a part of a much larger family of silicone-based products, both natural and synthetic.

Dental dams, like our favorites by Lixx, can also come coated in cornstarch or preservatives. These chemicals won’t hurt your body if you ingest them, but you may prefer to wash them off (if they aren’t flavored) for taste’s sake.

Often, people will assume that the powder on their condoms is talc or talcum powder. A lawsuit found that talc is dangerous for womens’ health, that putting it on condoms can lead to as serious diseases as ovarian cancer. Twenty years ago, it was very common to find talc coating condoms, but that is no longer the case.

If your condom was supposed to come lubricated and you opened it to find it dry and powdery, then you may have a reason to be concerned. Check the expiration date and see if these condoms have expired. Also, check the packaging to see if there are any other holes or abrasions separate from the one you made to open the package yourself. Chances are, it may have been accidentally opened in some way and the lube dried out. Do not use this condom– throw it away and grab another. You don’t know what shape a dried up condom is on the molecular level and this can put you at an increased risk for STIs, including HIV, or unwanted pregnancy.

As always, if you don’t feel that the condom is safe, even if it looks perfectly fine, never be ashamed to toss it and grab another. If you’re worried about the whole pack, hold of having sex until you can be sure you have a properly functioning device. You can never be too safe.

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