When Playing with Glass: Knowledge is Power (and Pleasure)
Equal parts intrigue and apprehension, the world of glass sex toys is vast and often uncharted. Glass is powerful, and this material flows like molten honey when it is worked to form incredibly strange, yet organic, objects with a compelling aesthetic.
With such a vast range in what is available on the market, glass sex toys can be confusing! Nooky Box is here to help break down the mystique that surrounds this medium and its safe uses.
Not Just For Looks
Although glass toys can be stand-alone works of art, that’s not the only reason they often catch the eye of the sexual adventurer. Their non-porous surface makes them impenetrable to viruses and bacteria, making glass toys a safe, easy-to-clean alternative to other materials commonly used in the sex toy industry.
Glass lacks any defining smell or taste; it is phthalate-free and has no reactivity with most ingredients frequently used to produce lubricants, spermicides and condoms. Glass is also one of the most hypoallergenic materials available, which is why it’s so frequently used in medical settings. If you or your partner experiences frequent skin sensitivities or reactions to other toys and intimate products, glass might just be the answer you’re seeking!
All glass is not created equal. Decorative glass items around your house may have a seductive look, but they are NOT designed to go inside a human body – so don’t put them there! Unsafe glass can be contaminated with a whole host of unsavory chemicals from contaminants used in the manufacturing process. Penetrative toys are not an arena to practice your upcycling skills; if you don’t know how it was manufactured, don’t play with it!
But what if it cracks?!
This is always (rightly so) the first question that comes up. The truth is, even poorly made glass toys are unlikely to break during sex. Of course, nothing is 100% safe all of the time so use good judgement; if your glass piece has been compromised in any way (dropped or jostled around) it needs to be retired. Even if chips and cracks are not visible there are no guarantees that it will not crack or shatter. We don’t think we need to elaborate on why that would be really bad. That being said, properly crafted glass toys can be incredibly durable and are often designed with the intent of lasting quite a long time.
Let’s clear up one thing. Pyrex is a brand of products, not a type of glass. Sure, your Pyrex casserole dish that can go directly from the fridge to the oven exhibits the temperature-resilient qualities one seeks in a glass sex toy; however, many other products, like tupperware lids, also carry the name. Historically, the Pyrex brand was a leader in high-quality glass products; but this trend has diluted over time and modern Pyrex kitchenware (or toys!) show significantly more stress when tested against older items.
Be careful not to get fleeced by unethical suppliers. The sex toy industry is woefully unregulated at times, and some companies import shoddily-made products to sell at low prices. Their advertisements can be misleading, so educate yourself about your purchases. With all toys, but glass especially, it is important to buy from reputable and trustworthy companies. If you’re shopping for a glass toy and the manufacturer stresses the type of glass used, rather than the process for its creation – watch out! This is a red-flag that the supplier does not prioritize your long-term health and sexual education over their short-term profits.
A properly manufactured toy can be an amazing investment in your sex toy collection; but remember, this is an investment! Don’t hunt too hard for cheap deals when the risk of a bad purchase is this high. If you’ve found a $15 “glass” dildo, a deal that seems too good to be true – it is. A properly made glass piece is a work of art; make sure you’re paying a fair price for it.
The safety concerns revolve around how much stress the glass underwent during production. Most toys are manufactured from borosilicate or soda-lime glass. There’s much debate as to which of these materials is better; however, ultimately either can be safe if the item has been properly annealed and/or tempered.
Annealed vs Tempered Glass
Annealing is the process of slow-cooling a glass item after it is created in a controlled environment. This slow cooling process allows the temperature to decrease evenly throughout the entire item which relieves internal stress. Annealing results in a stronger overall product that is resistant to breakage and some moderate temperature changes. Fucking Sculptures, a high-end glass toy supplier, uses annealed glass; these dildos are rumored to be tough enough to withstand a drop on concrete… but we wouldn’t recommend putting that to the test. Annealed glass may be strong, but when it does break it can shatter into sharp pieces of varying size, so be careful and always retire a toy if you suspect it has been damaged.
Tempered glass takes longer to create than the annealing process. It is almost four times as durable as annealed glass and if it does break the pieces will shatter into lots of small pieces that do not have jagged edges. As a result, tempered glass is often used for sturdy windows or protective barriers. It can be quite expensive, but if you invest in one you’ll likely need to add it to your will – these toys can last a lifetime, or longer!
Glass experiences “stress” when it is bent or unevenly cooled when it is created. While changes in angle or thickness in the design of your toy can feel good, these toys would be better made from a body-safe silicone or metal material.
Also, watch out for glass that has been painted or coated in another material. Some manufacturers will add a logo, or decorative colored material, (AKA “lusters”) to the outside of the main piece. These textured bumps and ridges might look and feel fun, but if they’re not made from body-safe materials they can be quite toxic. Responsible glass artists use pre-colored glass rods, or melted crushed glass, when crafting colored pieces which have no adverse health effects.
Touch Of Fire
Once you’ve decided on the perfect erotic art piece for your sex life, the fun can really begin! While boiling water might be a little too hot for your new plaything, the rest of the temperature spectrum is up for grabs.
Glass holds its temperature quite well, relative to silicone or plastic toys. Rest your piece in a bowl of warm water, or pop it in the freezer for a few minutes to explore the range of sensations temperature play can bring!
If icicles don’t give you shivers (you know, the good kind) check out Warm: The Experience. This heating system brings enough gentle warmth to make anyone blush, and is the perfect accompaniment for glass or metal toys that retain temperatures. A durable layer of protection, this system also makes it safer and easier to take your toys traveling with you!
Curious to know more about Warm? Check out our blogpost!
There Are No Glass Yogis
Glass, similar to metal, has no bend or flexibility to it. The smooth and firm feel of glass can be amazing, up until the moment that it is anything but that. When playing with anal penetration be careful to remove the toy before changing positions. Sitting up quickly from a reclined position can put too much pressure on the coccyx or rectal wall, potentially causing damage.
Glass buttplugs (like these masterpieces we love from Hedonic Glass) are not as dangerous as the flared base prevents them from being inserted far enough to cause problems. Vaginal penetration is also less risky, but can still cause bruising or pain if you aren’t careful. Know your toys, but also, know your anatomy in order to play safely!
Supporting The Arts With Your Sex Life
Glass toys should not be bought impulsively or without proper research. Once you’ve put in the legwork to educate yourself, however, a properly crafted glass toy can be an investment in your sex life that you (and your partner/s) will never regret! These intimate artifacts will show those closest to you what amazing taste you have in art.