The Chemistry of Silicone

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I want to introduce you all to a new blogger for MyPleasure, Dr. Elizabeth Red of Red Sneaker Diaries. She is a chemist by day, sex blogger by night and will be teaching us all about the chemistry of sex. In honor of  MyPleasure picking up 9 new high quality Tantus products, her first post discusses silicone sex toys.

I still remember that episode of Star Trek where Kirk fights the silcon life form. It was confusing to me because it was a rock, and the way my understanding of the world went, rocks weren’t alive (and thus, not threatening). I remember asking my dad – a scientist – who overwhelmed me with an extensive explanation of why it was feasible in the realm of imagination Star Trek hung out in (the one where faster than light travel is common). Growing up to be a chemist, I get it now: life is built with carbon, which can form big long chains (with other stuff, like oxygen, mixed in) which are what make up our tissues and our…well… everything. Silicon basically COULD be just like carbon. In a another time, another place, another  universe … life could be silicon based. And while silicon is an element, silicone is something different. Silicone is actually a name given to any polymer that features long chains of silicon (with other stuff, like oxygen, mixed in).

Perhaps this means that today’s dildos could well be precursors to tomorrow’s silicon based life forms.

At any rate, huge variety exists under the term ‘silicone’.  Shorter silicones? They hang out as liquids – oils, if you will – and they make awesome lubes. Longer silicones? They’re rather solid, almost like rubber. They’re fancy and modern takes on our classic workhorse in the household and pleasure products realm – petroleum based (carbon) products. Just like the general rule of thumb about not using oils on rubbers exists (like-dissolves-like), one should be wary of solid silicones coming into contact with silicone oils.  Like will dissolve like, if you’re unlucky!

So now I’ve clarified ‘silicone’ to mean just about any polymer containing the element silicon, it’s important to realize that there is no rule that makes it so that the claim of “silicone” can only be made when something is pure silicone polymer.  Quite the contrary, in fact. Manufacturers can get away with shocking little silicone polymer in their composite that they turn around and sell as “silicone” – and this is especially relevant to the sex toy consumer. A composite (which is a mishmash) that contains silicone will be a better product (from a sex toy stand point) than one without (usually), but is nowhere near as non toxic, safe and non-porous as 100% pure platinum cured silicone. And that, my friends is how you, as a sex toy consumer, can find out – if the label says 100% silicone, it’s 100% silicone polymers.  If it says “silicone!”, it’s not. So be aware of how things are labeled and if silicone is what you want as a sex toy material, you need to make sure you get what you want, no exceptions. And do remember to keep the silicone lubes away from solid silicones and silicone composites – the wrong kind of accident could land us all in a world of silicon based life form trouble … or at least might destroy your toy.

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