Sex Toys for Women, Men & Couples

How Do Vibrators Work?

How Vibrators Are Made And Work

Vibrator sex toys at Little Shop of O's in Austin, Texas.Knowing how vibrators are made and work explains a lot of differences between a $20 mystery material gel wand and a $200 doesn’t-even-look-like-a-vibrator-how-in-the-hell-do-you-use-it? medical grade silicone toy.

Most vibrators are made with a rotary vibration motor. A wire connected from a power source (usually a battery) feeds the power to a cylinder that spins an off-centered weight that causes motor to wobble (vibrate). The speed control – a button, switch or dial – feeds the amount of voltage that powers the cylinder. The higher the voltage, the faster the cylinder spins. The faster the cylinder spins, the more intensely the motor vibrates.

Some of the other downsides of rotary vibration motors , especially inexpensive ones, is that they break quickly and easily. Short circuits in the wiring is a top failure. Moving parts wear or burn out quickly. The motors are often loud. It’s not a great way to convince the kids that you just want to shut the door for a short “nap”. (“What’s that noise, Mom?”)

Outer materials play a big role in quality and price, too. Hard plastic does a fantastic job of transmitting vibrations between the motor and your skin and tissue, but they don’t feel good, especially internally. If you have a hard plastic toy with a motor built in the base, your arm will likely go numb if you have that baby cranked up on “high”. Plus, hard plastic breaks easily. Once an outer casing cracks, you must throw it out.

Jelly toys are popular because they feel more lifelike and can conform to your body. However, like many plastic toys, they’re made with phthalates, plastic softeners that have been linked to health problems. Phthalates bind to estrogen receptors in the body that can cause things like adverse reproductive effects and breast cancer. Eww! You don’t want that stuff touching or going into your body.

Check package labels to make sure they’re phthalate-free. If they don’t say so, don’t buy it. Also, look for the CE mark. It’s a mandatory conformity marking for certain products sold within the European Economic Area where sex toys are regulated. (They aren’t in the US.)

If you really love jelly toys, there are phthalate-free sex toys that are made with hypoallergenic elastomers. Vibratex Sugar Pop  is a great pick. So is Pipedream’s Fancy Rabbit Pearl if you love what those rotating balls in the shaft do to your vaginal walls. Ooo-wee!

For the ultimate in touch and sensation, silicone is the way to go. It’s buttery skin-soft , does a great job of uniformly distributing vibration throughout the toy, and is non-porous so bacteria doesn’t leech into the material. Like jelly toys, silicone can mean a lot of things. A sex toy only needs to contain 10% silicone in order to pass as silicone. Again, check for material information and the CE marking on the packages.

Once you get into silicone territory, the pickings get very interesting and techie. At this price and quality range, things go way beyond just “high”, “medium” and “low” like the Lelo Mona 2. Not only does it pack a lot of power, but it has a microchip that’s programmed with six different vibration patterns, not just a steady buzz. Talk about variety! The shape of it is great for G-spot stimulation but is also excellent for the clit, nipples and scrotum, too. Since it’s 100% medical-grade silicone, you can rub it down with bleach-water solution (you don’t have to go crazy with the bleach), which can deteriorate most other sex toy materials. Plus, it has a rechargeable battery with its own charger so you don’t have to run out to your neighborhood warehouse club to stock up on batteries … or get strange looks when you show up at Hazardous Material Recycling Day with a bucket full of batteries.

If you’re looking for a less expensive rechargeable silicone vibe, the Je Joue Uma is worth checking out. It has five speeds and vibration patterns and is made with FDA body-safe silicone. It’s not medical grade, but still very high quality.

Need more warmth in your self-loving? Svakom’s Leslie Warming Vibe has an internal rod that heats up to 104 degrees , about the same temperature as the water a hot hot tub. And 100% medical-grade silicone is a great conductor of heat as well as vibration. Plus, its rechargeable battery provides 48 hours of fun on a charge.

Remember what I said about rotating vibrating motors and how the parts in the motors eventually wear down or break? How about a motor with only one moving part? The Revel Body Sonic clitoral stimulator delivers magnetic pulses of alternating positive and negative forces to a magnetized reciprocating element. Since this magnetic motor doesn’t need as much voltage to run as a rotating vibrator motor, it’s more powerful and holds a charge for a charge for a very long time. Plus, it looks like nothing like a vibrator, so you can leave it on your nightstand while it gets charged. The only crazy question you’ll get from nosy houseguests is, “Why do you have a sculpture plugged into the wall?”

Speaking of charge, The Revel Body Sonic gets juiced up on a USB charger, which gives a whole new meaning to plug and play. The only downside is that it’s only an external stimulator, but does a great job on the clit and nips. It will be interesting to see if Revel will bring this technology to other types of vibrators.

What’s on my techie vibe wish list? An oral sex simulator that works like the real thing! I’m sure that’s not too far off in the future.