Why Not to Buy Handmade Sex Toys

In an effort to save money or to own a one-of-a-kind sex toy, people are buying potentially unsafe handmade toys from online artisans.

We love ‘Condoms in Fine Art,’ but using fine art as sex toys? This can be hazardous.

As an experienced artist, I am privy to more information about art materials and supplies than the average Jane. Oftentimes, what makes art so pretty, sparkly and vibrantly colored comes from toxic materials. For example, red oil paint usually contains cadmium lead and is considered to be a toxic and carcinogenic substance in the state of California.

Pain in the Glass

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Hopefully, you are already aware of the possible dangers of using porous sex toys. But, did you know that even seemingly nonporous toys can pose a risk to your health?

Borosilicate glass, which is often called Pyrex glass, is body safe and can withstand a greater amount of temperature variances than other types of glass. It’s also less likely to shatter upon impact with a hard surface or object. Many high quality glass toys are made from this material. Sounds great, right?

Here’s the problem, though. There is a very important, yet time consuming process in glass blowing, glass fusing and glass casting. This step is called annealing. Annealing is an additional heating of the glass, which bonds the molecules together making the glass much stronger and less porous.

Visually, it is impossible to tell whether a piece has been annealed or not. If the artisan is inexperienced or cutting corners, they may have skipped this step altogether. This can lead to tiny cracks forming in the glass, rendering it into a porous material, or to the glass shattering, which is obviously very dangerous.

Another huge issue is what goes into the glass toys. A toy can be called a Pyrex toy, when in reality, there may only be a thin coat of Pyrex on top of a slew of toxic glass. And, if this toy was not annealed, these toxins could escape. One type of toxic glass is called dichroic glass.

Dichroic glass is used in jewelry making, stained glass and in art glass. It is responsible for the beautiful and alluring rainbow of glittery, iridescent and metallic portions of the toy. Dichroic glass can contain: uranium, cadmium, selenium, aluminum, sulfur and/or arsenic. Yes, that’s right– uranium.

Without federal regulations and quality control standards, artisans are free to incorporate any of these, or other equally harmful materials, into their work of art– which in this case are sex toys. That is why is so important to avoid buying those pretty pieces and to go with a toy you know you can trust, like the Don Wands Cobalt Blue Nubby, pictured above, and matching Bubble Plug from our sister site, Spicy Gear.

Don’t Play with Clay

clayfeaturedAn even scarier option for a handmade sex toy are ones made from polymer or air dry clay. My fellow writer Sam has even seen ones for sale with acrylic paint on them, which is not safe, waterproof or non-toxic in any way. These clays often contain plasticine, which also makes them melt at higher than room temperatures.

But what about fired clay? Even nonporous kiln fired ceramics pose some dangers, as the glaze used on them can be toxic as well. Like red oil paint, red glaze is especially notorious for containing cadmium. Other colors can contain: bone ash, chromium oxide, nickel and zirconium.

Plus, to keep the object from sticking to the kiln shelves during the firing, one portion of the piece must remain unglazed (just like the bottom ring of a mug). This means that the clay sex toy will not be fully sealed, which can lead to the harboring of bacteria, viruses and mold.

As mentioned in “Using Condoms with Unconventional Objects,” and “How-To: Use Condoms with Sex Toys,” using a condom on top of a porous toy is always an option for staying safer. The Caution Wear Grande is a great option for providing adequate toy coverage. If you want to make your toy into a textured one, try using a Durex Intense Sensations condom for a safer and bumpier adventure.

The Solution: Get Sex Toys from a Store

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I am all about supporting small businesses and local artists. But, I choose to buy art to hang on my wall or put on my shelf, and not with the intention of sticking it into my precious body. Why buy mysterious bathtub gin, when you can go to the liquor store and buy some Hendricks? Instead of ordering a handmade dildo off of Etsy, I’m content to use my safer, phthalate-free Spicy Temptations vibrator made from silicone.

About Condom Depot

The Condom Depot Learning Center provides free safer sex ed and has recently been resourced by Men's Health, Go Ask Alice, Her Campus, LifeHacker, Scarleteen, Bustle, Madame Noire, Jezebel, Vice, Stallion Style, aPlus, Sex Talk Tuesday and Adult Sex Ed Month.

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