Latex, Rubber, PVC…. Wtf?

Scientific names get spouted off all the time by people trying to sound smarter than they are, and chemical names are the worst culprits. A few weeks ago I heard about some YouTube-type thing where people were fooled into signing a petition against dihydrogen monoxide. That’s water, folks.

So, in this spirit I would like to break down some commonly-used words and phrases around sex toy materials.


Latex is the sap from certain trees that has interesting characteristics, the two humans seem most interested in is its pliability and bounciness. Most condoms are made out of latex, and lots of people have allergies to this natural material. It’s porous and can’t be sterilized (as I’ve mentioned approximately 3 million times on this site already) and will break down over time. It’s not the most common material to find sex toys made from anymore – that’s Jelly Rubber – which will get to in a mo’. Go here for more in-depth info on latex.


Rubber can be made from latex or synthetically. It has the same issues as latex and more info on it can be found here.

Jelly Rubber

Oy. Now here’s where things get a whole lot messier. Most things called Jelly Rubber are PVC with a plasticizer/softener in it, most likely a phthalate. But there is no defining ingredients in anything calling itself “jelly rubber” because the sex toy industry is notoriously unregulated. They’re usually soft, squishy, are sometimes scented to hide a rubber-y odor, and feel kind of tacky to the touch. There are massive health concerns out there about phthalates, and PVC. This stuff is in *everything* though – from kids toys to household products to machinery. Companies are scrambling to make something that doesn’t need a plasticizer in it, but not fast enough in my humble opinion. All you need to do is google the phrase “jelly rubber” and you’ll find tons of info on it out there.


Last, but certainly not least, is PVC. PVC is a common material in jelly rubber, but it’s most common use is in construction. There’s concern about it releasing dioxins into the air and fucking things up. It’s also found in clothing – lots of fetish wear is made of PVC – so please, please, please do your research on this stuff and make informed decisions about what you buy. Please see here for more info.

That’s my round-up of the most commonly thrown around chemical names in the sex toy biz, minus silicone which I think I’ve covered pretty thoroughly here. The point of this is that there’s tons of unscrupulous businesses out there ready, willing, and able to make a buck off of people’s confusion, ignorance, and shame about what their sex toys are made of, and that pisses me off to no end. I’m fine with people making an informed, shame-free choice in their sex toys even if I wouldn’t agree with what they buy, but when toys can be made out of a material that doesn’t even NEED to be described on the packaging, that just isn’t possible.

If you’ve realized you have a toy that is one of these materials and you’re freaking out about it, please know that I personally feel okay with using my jelly rubber dildo WITH A CONDOM. That way it’s not leaching anything out into me and into my porous vaginal walls. But I do suggest upgrading to some nice, medical-grade silicone as soon as your wallet is okay with that.


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