You might recall from reading some of our earlier blog posts that people have used condoms for centuries in some capacity. And that different materials have been used to create them over time. But have you ever considered the process used to create a contemporary latex condom? Probably not, you’re too busy doing the business instead of thinking about the mechanics.

Here’s your chance to check the latest information and determine how condoms are made and tested.

Table Of Contents:

How Are Condoms Made?

Manufacturers make latex condoms from natural rubber latex harvested from trees. The raw materials used in the manufacturing process include items such as talc, zinc oxide, cornstarch and silicone lubricants. While producing condoms, experts blend these ingredients to create a smooth, stretchable material that is then cut into sheets or rolls.

The condoms are then made from these sheets or rolls using various methods. One method includes:

  • Extrusion involves using a machine to cut and form the condom material into the appropriate shape.
  • Dipping, where the condom is submerged in liquid latex and then coated with cornstarch.
  • Moulding, where the condoms are filled with air to give them their shape.
  • Printing, which adds text onto the condom surface.

All good manufacturers, such as Durex, Gylde, EXS, Fair Squared and Adore, use similar methods. Check out the entire range.

What Materials Are Used To Make Condoms?

Latex condoms must meet stringent requirements set by regulatory bodies such as ISO (International Standards Organisation), FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and MHRA (The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency) and CE (European Conformity) or UKCA. The brands must test all raw materials for quality to meet these standards.

Materials used in condom production include latex, talc, zinc oxide, cornstarch and silicone lubricants. Latex is the most common material used to make condoms because it’s stretchy and provides an effective barrier against pregnancy and STIs. Talc and zinc oxide are other common ingredients that help give condoms their shape and make them easier to put on.

Cornstarch is added as a lubricant, while brands add silicone lubricants to reduce friction during intercourse.

Condom Manufacturing Process: Step-By-Step

  1. Making latex condoms is similar to how other products like balloons are made. First, an incision is made in the bark of a rubber tree to collect the milky sap, called latex. This raw material needs to be stored in tanks and transformed by adding other ingredients like talc, zinc oxide and cornstarch.
  2. Once that’s done, glass penis-shaped moulds are dipped inside a specifically made tank containing the latex mixture. Once the moulds are withdrawn from the tank, they undergo a curing process, forming them into condoms.
  3. The next step involves testing each condom for quality assurance purposes. Each condom must meet specific standards set out by regulatory bodies, as noted above, before they are approved for sale. This involves testing the condoms for strength, flexibility and resistance to breakage.
  4. Finally, after passing all the tests, condoms are packaged, marked with a batch number and expiry date, and shipped to stores worldwide.

How Are Condoms Tested?

Professional laboratories conduct extensive tests on condoms to ensure they meet particular safety and reliability standards. Depending on the manufacturer, different testing techniques might be used, including rolled film test, water-leak test, visual inspection and electronic testing for holes.

The rolled film test simulates real-life conditions such as friction and stretching to measure the durability of the condoms. The water-leak test is a simple way to check for any holes in the condom by submerging them in water and then rolling them on absorbent paper (source). The visual inspection looks for possible defects, such as knots and tears, while electronic testing measures the electrical conductivity of condoms to detect even the most minor holes.

Condom Testing And Quality Control

Once manufacturers have completed all tests, condoms must still pass further quality control tests before being certified for sale. Further testing involves inspecting samples from every batch of condoms produced against specific criteria such as size, thickness, strength and chemical composition.

These tests are necessary to ensure that only high-quality condoms reach consumers. Manufacturers conduct regular spot checks on their products during production to maintain the highest quality standards.

How Are Vegan Condoms Made?

Vegans object to latex condoms because the animal protein - casein - is often used in their manufacture plus the packaging is often not biodegradable. Vegan condoms are made from alternative materials such as polyurethane and AT-10 resin that don’t contain any animal derivatives or byproducts. In terms of comfort, vegan condoms may be slightly more slippery than latex ones and can provide extra sensation during intercourse. Vegan condoms should not be used with an oil-based lubricant as this can increase the chance of the condom breaking - use a vegan lubricant. 

The manufacturing process for vegan condoms is similar to that used for latex ones, with the critical difference being the materials used. Manufacturers use special machines to cut and form sheets of vegan material into different shapes before they are tested to ensure they meet the exact quality requirements of traditional condoms. Vegan condoms commonly on the market include Glyde, Sustain, Condomi and Pasante. 

How Are Polyurethane And Polyisoprene Made?

People who are allergic to latex usually opt for synthetic materials such as polyurethane or polyisoprene. These condoms are made from a combination of elastomers and plasticisers that provide strength and flexibility.

The manufacturing process for these condoms starts with creating a sheet of material in the desired shape before heat-treating it to give it its final form. The sheets are then cut into specific sizes, inspected for any irregularities and packaged into individual wrappers before they can be sold.

Like latex condoms, synthetic ones also undergo rigorous testing to meet quality and safety standards. Testing includes electrical tests that measure how much electricity can pass through them and tensile tests to evaluate their strength when stretched.

Finally, each batch of condoms is checked by a quality control team to make sure it meets all specifications.

A Note On Condom Sustainability

When buying condoms, it’s essential to look at the ingredients used and check how sustainable the materials are. Many manufacturers now use organic, non-GMO or eco-friendly materials to make condoms that are better for consumers and the environment.

It’s also important to consider where the condoms were made and who made them. By supporting companies that manufacture responsibly sourced products, you can rest assured that your condoms will be of the highest quality and ethically produced.

Safe Disposal Of Your Condoms

Now you know how your condoms are made, we should look at how to dispose of them safely. Condoms should never be flushed down the toilet as they can block drains and cause damage to the environment. Instead, used condoms should always be wrapped up in a tissue or paper towel before being thrown away.

By following these steps, you can rest assured that your condoms will be safely disposed of without causing any harm to the environment.

Condoms Tried And Tested For Safe Sex - Conclusion

As you can see, making latex and vegan condoms is quite complex and involves several steps. Manufacturers also conduct rigorous tests to ensure their products meet all safety requirements before being released for sale.

By choosing responsibly sourced condoms from reputable manufacturers, you can rest assured that your sexual health will always be protected. So remember to check where your condoms were made, what materials are used, and how they should be safely disposed of after use. This way, you’ll know that your condom was both tried and tested for safe sex!

Feb 12, 2024
Reviewed by:
Feb 3, 2023
Written by:
Victoria Walsh