Sex

These Radioactive Cock Rings Claim to Help You 'Stay Harder Longer'

You can now buy radioactive cock rings, but they’re not dangerous and they’re not better than regular cock rings.
28 January 2020, 5:16am
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Radiation and quack medical products have a long and infamous history. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory, America’s premiere nuclear research institute, keeps a list of discontinued radioactive snake-oil. Distributors looking to make a quick buck have claimed radiation could keep teeth brighter, reduce the amount of tar in cigarettes, and cure arthritis. The latest twist: ionized cock rings to “maintain fuller erections,” “stay harder longer,” and “enjoy intense orgasms.”

The products come from ShenZhen Yek Technology Co., a Chinese manufacturer that sells products like “cell phone anti radiation quantum shields” and an ion producing card that promises to save you money on your electric bills. The cock rings aren’t advertised as radioactive, but as full of negative ions. In its product picture, a cock ring sits on an “ion tester.” A geiger counter is a device that detects ionizing radiation. Selling an item as producing negative ions is a way to rebrand radioactivity as a health benefit.

Grant W. Trent, an industrial electrician in Florida who collects and tests radioactive ephemera as a hobby, discovered the cock rings. Using a geiger counter, Trent tested the rings he’d ordered online.

“They are actually radioactive but not dangerous,” Trent told me over Twitter DMs.

According to Trent, the cock rings are “thoriated,” a process in which the rubber is mixed with a small amount of chemically purified thorium. This process was commonly used to create now discontinued mantles for commercial camping lanterns. More often, Trent explained, manufacturers just mix the rubber with some soil containing naturally occurring amounts of uranium or thorium. “Sealed in rubber there isn’t really a hazard of contamination or ingestion,” he said.

“The rubber appears to contain a small concentration of chemically purified thorium. These things are only ever a few hundred counts per minute above background radiation, this is detectable but represents a negligible dose to any wearer,” he added. “Of course it’s pointless exposure but common things like spending time around granite/concrete buildings represent significantly more measurable doses.”

These aren’t the world’s first radioactive male enhancement product. For a few years after the end of World War II, the atomic bomb was a figure of pop culture worship. Pop songs celebrated the power of the atom, tourists traveled west to watch nuclear testing from afar, and countless products contained radioactive material, typically radiuim. “The spiciest stuff any layperson will stumble across is radium, easily found in every antiques shop,” Trent said. “Unfortunately radium is also uniquely dangerous, nasty stuff, the decay chain physically migrates about making its own mess.”

The most famous radium product were glowing wrist watches created by women who literally painted radium onto the dials. The precision work of painting small watch faces required sharp pointed paint brushes, and management trained the women to keep the tips sharp with their mouths. Radium poisoning killed more than 50 of the women.

It wasn’t just watches. Until 1940, when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shut them down, the Nutex Company sold radium-laced condoms. “Get Next to Nutex,” the blue tin of the radioactive condom invites. “Ask for them by name.”

Today, the Nutex condoms are hard to come by and the FTC shut the product down for making false and misleading claims. “A fellow I met selling uranium ore on the roadside near White Sands is the only source I have claiming to have verified radium in a tin of those condoms he found somewhere,” Trent said.

Trent is always on the hunt for the next piece of radioactive history. “I basically just set out about town with sensitive detectors and wait to stumble across something radioactive,” he said. “Occasionally I have opportunity to drive about the country to known sites of topical and often historic relevance. I’ve collected debris from the MK 17 hydrogen bomb lost in 1957 over Albuquerque, for example.”

There is no evidence that a cock ring imbued with "negative ions" will help with your erection, but an ionized cock ring is still a cock ring, meaning it might be more lead to a more enjoyable orgasm (if you're into that kind of thing). Other companies that provide non-ionized, cock ring-like devices also claim they can improve erection by applying the pressure that occurs in a natural erection.