Materials Guide

Sex toys are made from all sorts of different materials. Some of these are totally safe to use, and others are potentially dangerous. Some are quite environmentally sustainable, and others wreak havoc on the planet.

At Other Nature, we know what materials our toys are made of and label everything clearly, so that you know exactly what you'll be getting up close and personal with. We'll also let you know how to clean and care for your purchases, so that you and your toy can play together happily and healthily.

All our toys are phthalate-free and those designed for penetration are made from body-safe, non-porous materials, such as 100% silicone, glass, and stainless steel.

Below you’ll find some important info about the most common materials used, so that you can make informed choices when it comes to your sex toys:

100% Silicone

Silicone is an awesome material for sex toys. It isn’t toxic like jelly, and won’t crack like cheap plastic. Also, 100% silicone sex toys are often made by small companies which take great care in producing fabulous designs with your pleasure in mind.

But not all silicone is made equal, meaning that the quality of silicone varies. When you’re shopping for a silicone sex toy, make sure to look for 100% medical or Platinum grade silicone – like the ones we sell at Other Nature.

Because of the increasing demand for silicone toys, and the fact that the sex toy industry remains largely unregulated, many novelty sex toy manufacturers label their products as “silicone” when they actually only contain a very small amount of silicone. These silicone imposters normally have a detectable odour when you open the packaging and can be slightly transparent. They are also often significantly cheaper than 100% silicone toys. Real silicone is normally opaque (you can’t see through it) and doesn’t smell like anything. And though it is a bit more expensive, it lasts a super long time and won’t leak noxious chemicals into your body.

More benefits of silicone:

  • it warms quickly to body temperature, and retains heat well

  • it’s really easy to clean, and can be sterilized in boiling water (5-10 minutes)

  • it’s dishwasher safe (top rack!)

  • it transmits vibration effectively

  • it’s flexible, yet firm

  • it comes in different textures, ranging from very rigid to soft and skin-like. For a soft, realistic-feeling toy, check our selection of VixSkin and dual-density dildos.

  • it’s safe, non-porous, and phthalate-free

  • the manufacturing process is as clean as the final product

  • silicone toys come in a huge variety of fun colours, sizes, and shapes

Glass

Glass is non-porous and environmentally friendly to produce, which makes it a great material for sex toys. It also retains hot and cold temperatures well, adding even more fun!

The firmness of glass makes it an effective toy for G-spot and prostate play, like stainless steel.

If budget is a big concern, glass is a nice option, because it’s not too expensive and is generally cheaper than medical-grade stainless steel. However, watch out for glass toys that aren’t Pyrex or Pyrex-quality equivalent.

At Other Nature, you’ll only find high quality glass toys, and for good reason – they’re shatterproof! (Of course, you’ll still want to check for cracks, especially if you toy was dropped on a hard surface.)

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is another non-porous material, which is easy to clean and/or sterilize like silicone. For folks who like a firm touch, stainless steel is your new best friend.

These toys are strong and weighty, and make excellent G-spot and prostate toys. And while it may be cold to the touch at first, stainless steel takes on your body heat quickly and allows for fun temperature play possibilities (try sticking your toy in the fridge or a bowl of warm water before you play and see what happens!)

But be careful, because – like silicone – not all stainless steel toys are top quality. The toys we carry at Other Nature are made of medical grade stainless steel, which – compared to cheaper grades – is super strong and tough, and stands up incredibly well to corrosion (i.e. rust). These toys are made to last. And last. And last …

Wood

Wood can be a body-friendly, not to mention extremely stylish, alternative to other materials. It’s smooth and luxurious to the touch, and warms up during use. When choosing a wooden toy, make sure that it’s sealed properly with a non-toxic sealant that won’t break down or dissolve over time. This creates a smooth, splinter-free finish. Wooden toys which use a proper, phthalate-free sealant are non-porous, waterproof, hypoallergenic, and completely non-toxic.

Hard Plastic

Hard plastic vibrators are an excellent choice for those on a budget – they’re relatively affordable and also non-porous and easy to clean. If you like a strong vibration, hard plastic is where it’s at, as this material transmits vibration really well.

The main drawbacks with hard plastic toys are the environmental pollutants caused by manufacturing plastics, seams that trap bacteria and may need to be filed down to avoid irritatation, their tendency to crack when dropped on hard surfaces, and the cheaper motors that come with less expensive hard plastic vibrators.

Elastomer and Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)

Elastomer is a type of stretchy rubber that is phthalate-free, latex-free, and hypoallergenic. This means that it’s a better material for sex toys than jelly rubber blends.

Generally speaking, elastomer is less porous than jelly, but not completely non-porous like 100% silicone. Toys made of elastomer can’t be sterilized, and should be used with a condom, especially if they are shared or used both vaginally and anally. Elastomer is usually compatible with water- and silicone-based lube, but not with oil.

Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) is a special kind of elastomer, which has the properties of both rubber and plastic. Like rubbers, TPE has elastic properties, but it also has the potential to be recycled, like plastics. Also, TPE isn’t loaded with low-cost fillers. TPE can be slightly porous or completely non-porous, depending on the manufacturer.

Jelly

Jelly toys are often low quality, they’re very porous, and, in short, they kinda gross us out!

Jelly (also called jelly-rubber, latex-rubber, jelly-silicone, jelly-vinyl) and Cyberskin (a realistic-feeling material made from mineral oil) can be particularly harmful to our health and environment.

Because they absorb bacteria, it is impossible to keep them fully clean. Also, a lot of jelly and Cyberskin toys are still made using phthalates, which act as chemical softeners and are currently being phased out of many products in Europe and North America.

Furthermore, the manufacturing processes of these porous materials releases large amounts of toxins into the air, and the products themselves continue to off-gas potentially dangerous chemicals forever.

If you’re going to use jelly sex toys, here are a few things to remember:

  • You should always use a condom on your porous toys to prevent them from absorbing bacteria (this is especially important if you’re sharing toys.)

  • You can use a toy-cleaner to clean your porous toys. Toy-cleaners normally contain harsh chemicals that effectively kill bacteria. But keep in mind that a porous toy will also absorb some of the toy-cleaner. So rinse it thoroughly!

  • Don’t store two or more jelly toys together, as they will stick, creating a (potentially very cool-looking, but unusable!) mutant toy.

  • Water-based lubes are the safer choice for jelly toys (if you're using a condom, then water- or silicone-based lubes are fine.)

Attention! Your sex toys might contain Phthalates...

Phthalates are chemical plastic softeners commonly found in products made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). These include electronic appliances such as computers, car components such as interior upholstery and floor mats, construction materials such as wall coverings and flooring, and many consumer goods such as toys, shower curtains, drink bottles, food containers and other packaging. They can also be found in certain household cleaners, personal care products, air-fresheners, nail polish, paint, etc. Because they make plastic flexible, they’re also often used in sex toys to increase flexibility and durability.

Recent research has found that phthalates pose serious health risks, specifically to the liver, kidneys, and reproductive organs. Studies show that some phthalates disrupt the endocrine system (they mess with our hormones) by mimicking oestrogen. They’ve been linked to infertility, birth defects and liver cancer.

If you want to avoid sex toys containing phthalates, the safest materials are 100% silicone, shatterproof glass, and 100% stainless steel. Hard plastic, Elastomer, TPE, and wood (sealed with a phthalate-free coating) are normally also free from phthalates.

And in case you missed it earlier on this page, it bears repeating...

At Other Nature, all our toys are phthalate-free and those designed for penetration are made from body-safe, non-porous materials.