In this post, we are going to try to tackle some of the often asked questions about materials onaholes / onahos are made from, sort of like an onahole material FAQ. We'll try to keep this from being too technical and if you are wondering right now "What is an Onahole/ Onaho?", our other post here is a quick read explaining what an Onahole is.
What is TPE/TPR and why are almost all onaholes/onahos made from it?
If you look through our website, you will find that almost all onaholes list TPE as its material. A few onaholes are listed as TPR which really is very similar to TPE which we'll get to. So what is TPE? The long name for TPE is Thermoplastic elastomers. It is a copolymers, meaning a mix of different polymers usually plastic and another polymer like rubber. The mixed material gives you the best of both worlds. TPE is flexible, can be very soft, and stretchable like rubber while being easy to work with and make stuff out of like plastic. It is a liquid in higher temperature and cools to a solid in lower room temperature range. This allows you to pour the material into an onahole mould and pull the onahole sleeve out once the material cools. (This material quality also make TPE an easy to recycle material)
TPR is basically the same as TPE but uses a difference base material for the copolymer that's more like rubber. For the TPR that is used for onaholes, this creates a stronger bond and better tensile strength for the material. However a stronger material also means it won't feel as soft as TPE. Many onahole users prefer TPE which is why most of the onaholes are made in TPE.
Phthalates, Oil, and Silicone?
One of the question we get ask a lot about TPE/TPR is, "Is it Phthalate free?". The answer is an easy "Yes it's phthalate free". The most common follow up question is "How will you/I know for sure?" The answer is also simple although not as short.
First we need to go into what Phthalate is, and what issue people have with it. Phthalates are a compound chemical made from phthalic acid and was/is commonly used(because it's cheap) as a plasticizer(softener) for polyvinyl chloride, more commonly known as PVC. The issue people have with it is that scientist have found some types of phthalates can disrupt or affect hormone or reproductive system in animals. Currently according to CDC, it's affect on human is still being studied. We aren't scientists but there are plenty of research showing Phthalates doesn't easily get absorbed through skin and that people are only exposed to small amounts in their daily life that isn't enough to cause issues found in animal. The main point however is that Phthalates are used to make PVC soft. The keyword here is PVC.
PVC is another material that used to be used as a material for onaholes a few decades ago. By the time we(ToyDemon) were around (13+ years ago as of this post), all male onaholes in the Japanese market were TPE and only a couple of old female products used Phthalate-free PVC. (Phthalate = PVC but PVC doesn't necessarily = Phthalate) Phthalates only work as a plasticizer(softener) for PVC and not TPE, making all TPE Phthalate free.
The next question you might ask is what make TPE soft? The simplified answer is oil. For many onahole manufacturers it's a food grade vegetable derived oil. The softer the material, the more oil needed to be mixed into the material. Another property and a con for the TPE material is that the copolymers that makes up the material does not chemically bond to the oil. The best analogy for this we can come up with is that TPE is like a dry sponge. Without liquid in it, the sponge is hard and not flexible, and might even tear a little if you force it to bend. However once soaked in liquid, the sponge is soft and flexible. This is the exact reason why we tell people to not use soap to clean their onaholes. Soap bonds with and leeches the oil out of the material. Since oil is what makes TPE soft, the material becomes hard and can form cracks/tears easily.
So is TPE a safe material? TPE is a safe material and is used in many things outside of onaholes including items in the automotive, medical, and food industry. High quality TPE is non reactive on skin and hypoallergenic. There's probably something made from TPE(that's not an onahole) within 2 feet of you right now. Often on female sex toy sites, they state the only non-metal or glass safe sex toy material is silicone. Silicone is certainly one of the safest and preferred sex toy material over TPE for female toys. The main issue of TPE for female toys is often not the safety of the material itself but the side effect of porousness of the material. TPE being porous means it needs to be more thoroughly cleaned and dried after use and the eventual need for it to be disposed of once worn out. This kind of goes back to our sponge analogy which perfectly describes this. If you've ever felt silicone material, you'll also notice it is a much harder material without much give or stretch to it which is great for female sex toys but not so much for male sex toys or onaholes. Many manufacturers have tried and experimented with male silicone onaholes and we've been fortunate to get some of these for feedback. For those used to TPE onaholes, we can say that silicone isn't a viable option yet for onaholes. Technology advances non-stop and maybe someone can work some scientific wonder on silicone or some new safe material yet to be discover but right now TPE is the material of choice for onaholes.
A final word of caution
We do want to warn that just as with any other materials, there can be a spectrum of quality to materials. When we mentioned silicone above, we meant the platinum cured or "medical grade" version that should be used for sex toys as the more common tin cured version shouldn't be used for sex toys. Just as PVC (although no longer being used in onaholes) didn't have to use phthlates as a softener. It's all about the quality of the material. All of the brands we carry use a high quality TPE / TPR material as well as the softening oil. However there are unbranded products, fakes, and knockoffs (topic for a future post perhaps) that use much cheaper material, softener, and filler that isn't at the same safety level as the TPE/TPR material used by the onahole brands featured on our website. Not all TPE are the same and just as with anything else, the source of any onahole should be carefully considered. A major factor of an onahole's pricing comes from the amount of TPE material used. There's a base cost for high quality TPE priced by weight. You should always think twice before buying that super cheap, never heard of brand with a similar look of a popular onahole online. Especially since that onahole is gonna be touching your private part. You have to wonder with these cheap onaholes what's really going into the material or even if it's really TPE versus something full of harmful fillers. It doesn't make much sense for an item to be so cheap since no-name brands aren't buying their material in super bulk like the well established name brands. We aren't trying to scare you but with any popular products or industry, there's always a hidden and dangerous side to it.
We hope this helps answer some of the questions you might have about onahole materials. We tried not to be too technical and summarized important points but it still turned out longer than planned. Got comments about this? Let us know what you think in our community discussion.