If you have read some of our other blog posts you may remember that condoms, in one form or another, have been around millennia. And that over time, they have been made out of all kinds of materials. But have you ever given thought to how a modern latex condom is made?
We at ONE® give a lot of thought to the premium quality of our condoms, and thought it might be interesting to explain just how they’re made. We promise that by the end of this, you will be just as excited about these processes as we are.
For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll focus on external condoms (previously referred to as male condoms) because they are the most widely manufactured. Come on, let’s go!
A Note on Ingredients and Sustainability
Before we talk about the manufacturing process, let’s talk about what goes into our condoms. We at ONE® are committed to using only the most premium, sustainable and quality ingredients out there. Every ONE® Condom that you wear is made with our own proprietary soft and silky smooth latex called Sensatex®. Get it, because of the amazing sensation?
When we make condoms, we’re not only thinking about you as the customer, but we also think critically about our impact on our planet and everyone/everything that shares it with us. When you buy ONE® Condoms, you can be confident that they are non-GMO and vegan-friendly, that the packaging tube itself is actually made completely out of recycled cardboard and that our production facilities are more energy efficient than ever.
All of this is done to make sure that you feel comfortable and protected in using our products. After all, when you use condoms correctly, condoms work to reduce the risk for transmitting sexually transmitted infections (also known as sexually transmitted diseases) and to prevent pregnancy.
To read more about our commitment to creating one-of-a-kind condoms, as well as our commitment to sustainability, please check out more about our sustainability efforts here.
Dipping, Heating, Cooling
Believe it or not, the first step in manufacturing condoms actually involves glass. That’s right! To shape the condoms, cylindrical shaped glass “formers” are dipped in our soft and silky Sensatex® liquid latex.
Fun fact: this is where we can create fun and pleasurable styles of condoms, unique to ONE® Condoms, like the Pleasure Plus® or Super Studs™ condoms. By using special glass formers with special grooves, ribs or studs, we can mold how the condoms are shaped throughout the manufacturing process. This is also the point where you could add a dash of color if you wanted to – which gives certain condoms a different color. Cool, right?
This process is repeated at least two to three times, depending on the style, to ensure that the liquid latex is evenly distributed across the entire surface of the glass and is the proper thickness and strength. Now you know why we discourage using two condoms at once – you’re already getting two powerful layers of latex protection! Between each dip, the condoms are cycled through an industrial oven, and then cooled before being dipped again for good measure.
Drying, Leeching and Tumbling
After the dipping and heating process has been completed, these fledgling condoms are then dried by industrial fans and then pushed through to the leeching process. This process is critical, especially for people who have a latex allergy. Through the leeching process, excess chemical products and proteins formed during the dipping and heating process are removed.
Generally speaking, most people experiencing a latex allergy are actually allergic to the proteins found in latex – leeching removes many of these proteins. (Note: There is also another option besides latex condoms for those with a latex allergy: consider a polyurethane condom!) We use a series of small but mighty water jets to wash the condom, inside and out (quite literally rinse and repeat). This process is also repeated a few times to ensure the condom has been thoroughly cleaned.
Now you have a bunch of very clean, but very wet condoms, now what?! Well, just like a drying machine you might find in your garage or at the local laundromat, the condoms are actually tumbled dry. And voila, you have what we call in the business the “raw” condom! Because the latex is a little sticky in this form, it is powdered and dried (to make sure it doesn’t stick to itself inside the wrapper) within large industrial dryers. We told you it was kind of like laundry!
Lubricating and Packaging
Once condoms are dried and powdered, they are prepared to be lubricated and packaged. Each condom is rolled, and then before inserting into the wrapper, a small drop of lube is placed at the top of the condom. Over time, that one drop slowly disperses down the full length of the condom. But this lubrication process may vary based on the amount of time between the condom’s manufacturing and when the customer uses it.
We decided to innovate! In some of our newer condoms, like myONE® Custom Fit™ and UltraFeel®, we have tapped into our new proprietary technology called TotalGlide™. Basically with TotalGlide™, we use a machine to add lube along the entire length of the condom before it is rolled up, which guarantees that it is smooth and silky from tip to base.
Pretty cool, huh? And don’t worry, if you want to add more you can always check out our great selection of hybrid, water and silicone-based lubricants here and apply as liberally as needed. (Note: We strongly recommend adding extra lubricant during sex, as lube significantly helps reduce condom failure. *Wink*)
From there each lubricated condom is placed within one of our snazzy wrappers (check out some of the condom wrapper designs here), and packaged up for your pleasure in one of our sustainable recycled cardboard tubes!
Testing and Quality Control
No premium product like ONE® Condoms would be complete without rigorous testing and quality control! As a medical device, there are international standards for production that must be upheld, and we at ONE® like to exceed those standards.
There are six main stages of testing for our condoms: electronic testing, dimensional testing, air burst testing, leak testing, tensile testing and package integrity testing. We are very thorough, but each test is designed to spot any micro-deficiencies in the condoms. Your sexual health is worth it! Here’s a little more on each of those steps:
- The electronic tests are simple but rigorous. Firstly, the condoms are pulled over metal cylinders (called mandrels), placed within an intense electrical field to determine whether there is electric conduction. For those of us a little rusty in physics, because rubber does not conduct electricity, there is no reason any electricity should register for these mandrels. Simple right? If electricity reaches these mandrels, there is a pinhole or microscopic tear in the latex and the condom must be discarded (this is done automatically by the machine).
- Next is the dimensional testing. Because ONE® Condoms are standardized in size, they must be measured for length, width and thickness. If any condom is found not to be measuring up, it is also discarded.
- Air burst testing is very aptly named. There is an internationally regulated amount of air pressure and volume that condoms must withstand without breaking. Basically, a sample of each batch of condoms is filled with air (much like a balloon at a party store) but until it breaks. The level of air pressure at which each sample breaks is then recorded, and if it doesn’t meet the standard, the entire batch is discarded.
- Similar to air burst testing, leak testing involves filling a random sample of condoms with 300 milliliters of water, and then inspecting and applying pressure. If water begins to leak or seep out of the condom, it means there are deficiencies and that condom batch is discarded.
- To make sure the ring at the base of the condom is not too tight or loose, tensile testing is done by laying the condoms flat, cutting away all latex material but the ring and using equipment to pull and stretch the ring until it breaks. Once it breaks, that pressure is recorded and this helps validate claims for “extra strength” condoms.
- To make sure each and every customer receives a condom that is not tampered with or damaged, we select a random sampling of condoms to conduct package integrity testing. Using basic vacuum technology, we look for any air leaks or holes in the wrapper seal. If even one damaged package is found, the entire batch is discarded.
To learn more about our approach to product testing and quality control, please feel free to browse through the overview here on our site.
- How Condoms Are Made | ONE® Condoms
- The Malaysian Insight | This is How Condoms Are Made
- Global Protection Corp. | Condom Testing