The people behind XLube – a powder-based lubricant that you mix in your own home – contacted me recently and asked if I would like to try out their new product. The idea of the product really piqued my curiosity and so I agreed.
Lube is one of those things in life that I have a love-hate relationship with. It’s pretty much a necessity for use with most sex toys, but I really resent having to pay money for it. The top name brands always seem grossly overpriced, and frankly I’d rather put that cash towards a new toy than something that’ll just evaporate or be washed away. When I heard about about XLube I was immediately drawn to this rather novel concept. While I may have been able to make a single 250ml bottle of Super Slik last for 15 months, there are limits to even my own frugality. The idea of having a product that I could mix up myself seemed like a brilliant solution to the lube dilemma; just imagine how many years it would take to get through 18 litres worth of the stuff.
XLube is simply a refined Polyethylene Oxide powder, and all you need to do to make it is add some hot water – approximately one capful to 500ml, unless you would prefer it to be thicker – sounds easy, right? It comes with a simple instruction sheet, along with a link to a video online showing you what to do.
The first time I tried mixing up the lube things didn’t go exactly to plan. As soon as I added the water to the powder lumps began forming, or shall I say a lump. The whole mass of powder seemed to suddenly congeal, with the outer layer forming into a firm clear jelly, while towards the centre the product remained as a powder, being visibly white and trapped inside. Immediately I thought I had done something wrong, and I suspected that the water had been too hot, despite having only come from the tap. The sight reminded me of an occasion when I had accidentally added hot water to gravy powder, and the result similarly had been one large lump.
I decided to abandon this first attempt and try again with a more luke-warm water, but regrettably the results were much the same. Vigorous mixing whilst adding the water had resulted in a collection of medium-sized lumps floating on the surface of my jug. Again they had the powder trapped in the centre, and as they amassed together they took on the appearance of frog-spawn. I tried to break up the lumps, but this was not an easy task as they were prone to slip away as I attempted to crush them against the sides of the measuring jug. The outer jelly surface was also tough and resistant, and I soon lost patience. This time I decided to leave the mixture and see if the lumps would dissolve of their own accord. Over the next two hours I periodically returned to stir the mixture as per the instructions, and noticed that the powder inside the lumps had gradually turned clear, but the lumps themselves had remained throughout, so I decided to leave the mixture overnight and covered it. The next morning I discovered that something transformative had happened to the lumps, sadly it wasn’t that they had dissolved, but instead they had melded into a single sheet of jelly sitting atop the rest of the liquid. I broke the sheet up with another vigorous mixing, then re-covered the solution and left it alone for the day. Returning at the end of the day I discovered that the lumps were still present, and had again risen to the top like the cream in an old-fashioned milk bottle, forming a thick gelatinous membrane. I squeezed the lump between my thumb and forefinger and it felt like a dried-out liquid glue which failed to reassure me. After 20 hours I concluded that leaving it any longer would probably not make any difference, but just to be safe I decided to give it another mix leave it over night once again. By the next morning, to my admitted surprise, when I checked it the final lumps had actually gone completely, only 36 hours after I began making it.
Aside from any lumps, the resulting lubricant that is made up has some very unusual properties. It’s not at all a viscous fluid like you might expect; if you tilt the container that it’s within it simply moves from side to side like pure water. It doesn’t flow slowly like a gel, or exhibit any of those attributes. Playing around with a small quantity reveals that it’s unexpectedly gloopy, and it feels a lot more slimy than it does slippery. The whole fluid clings together in globules, like mucus or egg-white. When I tried to pump some out of my bottle it just hung there from the nozzle looking like a runny nose, or a strand of egg-white hanging from kitchen apparatus designed to separate a yolk. Rubbing the lube between two fingers and then pulling them apart leaves long strands of the lube hanging between them which don’t break of their own accord. On one occasion I managed to get a particularly long strand running from my fingers to the nozzle halfway across the room. There’s definitely a gluey quality about the lube; it has a tackiness to it by default which only becomes stickier as it dries out and thickens, which happens within a reasonable period of time. Leaving it to dry completely on the skin creates a gummy residue that can be scraped off. Cleaning the hydrated lube up is a bit of a nuisance; simply running your hands under a hot tap won’t wash it away like with a typical water-based lube. It forms a slimy film all over the surface of the skin which you need to rub off with a cloth. For this reason I really wouldn’t like to get it stuck on the inside of a Fleshjack, though it should be fine on the outer surface of a more durable toy.
Overall I have to say that I’m disappointed by this product, in part because I had high hopes for it, but also because it’s from a British company, and the man who I’ve had contact with seemed genuinely nice. The problem is that the lube is just a hassle to make up, what with the time involved waiting for lumps that never dissolve, and then once it is finally ready the result doesn’t justify that hassle. It just didn’t feel like a lube to me, and it wouldn’t be my preferred choice.
As it stands I tend to think of XLube as being like the emergency ration of lubricants; if you inadvertently run out of your favourite lube and can’t readily replace it, then it’s handy to have some powder around to whip up something to use in a few hours, but you’re not going to be making it by the batch to use every day.
I still love the concept, but for me the formula needs some tweaking before I can recommend it. My thanks to the XLube guys for sending it to me to test out.