Tantus was the first company to bring body-safe, silicone sexual health products to mainstream America, as well as the rest of the world.
As a company built on progressive ideas about pleasure and safety, it’s only natural that we should be the ones to answer common questions about the material we use to make our toys possible: Silicone.
The Name Game
Let's start with how products are labeled. One of the most important things to remember when talking about sex toys is that the novelty industry is completely unregulated. Manufacturers can create any ratio of materials and label them however they want; their product descriptions are not required to follow product content guidelines set forth by a governing body.
People always ask: Is it possible to have ‘blended’ products whose material is a blend of silicone and other rubbers? The answer is yes. A classic example is ‘siliconized’ caulk you use around your bathtub or shower. It is a combination of latex or acrylic and silicone oil, but it is certainly not a 100% silicone product. In our industry, novelty products may advertise similarly, labeling items as ‘Silicone’ or ‘100% Silicone’ when they may only have a marginal amount of silicone, such as silicone oil. But in order to understand what makes a toy actually ‘silicone’, we’ll have to get a little nerdy.
Let’s talk science. Silicone is a polymeric elastomer, a chain of molecules made of silicon and oxygen, combined with silica and other materials that strengthen the final product into a stretchable, tear-resistant solid. All silicone products are technically blended since pure silicon crumbles and has really no durability. Therefore silcone must be reinforced with additions to give it strength and stability for our industry’s intended use.
Now let’s talk fillers. Some additives like dimethyl silicone fluid or dimethicone, which you find in most silicone personal lubricant, act as filler and do not contribute to a solid silicone’s structural integrity. Oil fillers can leak out of a solid material, which is why some toys leave a grease stain when placed on paper or cloth.
Some additives, such as pigments, can lower a product’s quality and durability and increase toxicity. Tantus uses only non-toxic pigments that do not affect the product’s quality. Silicone can also be formulated with antibacterial properties imbedded into its chemistry, but for Tantus’ use of silicone, embedding those properties can add higher than expected levels of toxicity to the material and tend to kill helpful bacteria in the human body.
Dimethicone is one of the cheapest fillers at only $1 per pound, while pure silicone can be as expensive as $50 per pound. Once blended, raw silicone material can cost anywhere within this range, depending on the amount and quality of a product’s additives versus the purity of the silicone. Tantus has created its own unique formula of 100% Ultra-Premium Silicone, using just enough additives to maintain quality and durability while trying to achieve the purest silicone in the our industry. Tantus silicone’s high quality makes it extremely safe and pleasurable. It’s even safe to use with some premium silicone lubricants which don’t react with our ultra-premium silicone.
Because silicone is comprised of cross-linked polymers, all silicone is technically porous. However, the porosity depends on the quality of the blend as well as its density. High quality silicone has a very low surface energy, making it hydrophobic and naturally bacteria resistant. Without water, the silicone’s tiny pores are not conducive to bacterial growth. Softer silicone is more loosely cross-linked polymer and has a higher level of porosity. Conversely, the harder the silicone, the tighter the cross-linking and the less porous the material.
We are often asked if it is possible for silicone to retain an odor, even after cleaning. The answer is yes – though silicone is naturally bacteria resistant, it is porous and is able to absorb gases that smell. Thankfully Tantus’ 100% Ultra-Premium Silicone toys can easily be heated to 250 degrees for short periods of time, and can be put in an oven to bake out a smell.
Grades & Certification
Another question we get on a regular basis is what makes a certain grade of silicone?
Most silicone is not graded. However, grades of silicone represent different types of testing certifications, not necessarily of material differences.
- Food Grade Silicone is certified through extractable testing, where the silicone is weighed before and after being left in an environment to measure the amount of material that is released under those conditions.
- Medical Grade Silicone is tested for toxicity and skin sensitivity for use in the body against biological membranes. Using “real” medical grade silicone - not just labeling a retail package “medical grade silicone” – means using a product that has been certified safe for use in and against our most delicate areas which includes the mouth, genitals, and anus.
Tantus uses its own unique formula of 100% Ultra-Premium silicone that has undergone a rigorous toxicology testing panel for use in the human body.
Tantus is passionate about sexual health and safety. As a small company built on honesty, integrity, and passion, we’ve always been the underdog and we fight for consumer rights about pleasure and safety each and every day. Education is just another part of the mission to protect and empower our customers.
I hope that we have helped satisfy the nerd in all of us with this little article. I also hope we have enlightened you on why you may pay a little more for a toy from Tantus and why we feel Tantus is the right choice! Thank you for supporting Tantus, and we invite you to join our mission for Good Clean Fun and Education and become a Tantus Pleasure Revolutionary.
© Tantus, Inc. 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Metis Black is a Pleasure Revolutionary: the Founder and President of Tantus, Inc. The realization of her sex toy manufacturing company in 1997 helped to change the profile of sexuality products by mainstreaming silicone products and educating the industry on material safety and sexuality.
Metis' success has brought her accolades inside and outside of her industry. Her articles on material safety standards in sexual products and the chemistry of personal products such as lubricants have been widely published. Some of her publishing credits include American Journal of Sexuality Education, Good Vibrations Online Magazine, On Our Backs, Adult Novelty Business, XBiz, and The Free Speech Coalition. In 2015, she was also elected onto the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance's Board of Directors.
Over the last decade and a half, Metis has proven to be a champion for sex educators and a mentor to other small business owners.