DIY Lubrikasi Workshop

Title: Engendering Access: Home-Made Sexual Lubrikasi by Cindy Lin Kaiying

Motivated by my belief that access to sexual lubricants and contraceptives are important to all gender and sexual identities, I was previously disappointed at the range of contraceptives and monopolised supply of sexual lubricants by a particular multinational corporate in convenience stores across Southern (and to some degree, Northern) Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The need to purchase contraceptives and lubricants across the counter is an intimidating experience in Indonesia where particular forms of pre-marital sex are still frowned upon. Together with a farmer enthusiast and engineer from Lifepatch, a citizen lab invested in trans-boundary production and innovation of hybrid lo-hi tech environmental technologies, Agus Tri Budiarto (IND) and myself (SG) decided to prototype our own home-made sexual lubricants. We sourced out various recipes from the internet as well as other informal protocols Indonesians abide by when substituting industrial-made lubricants. While we initially discovered that other recipes in the global North included flax seeds as a good source of making lubricants, we assumed that replacing the viscosity produced from flax seeds with locally available resources such as cassava flour and maize flour will be appropriate. Several trails involving the use of our DIY lubricant (at least twice) performed by sexually active, cisgender couples have proved that it did work effectively in improving lubrication and there were no ill-effects on either partner after use. However, my later discoveries and explorations in to safe and low-cost starch-based lubricants will prove that using organic materials with heavy starch content to make water-based lubricants is not entirely healthy for female-identified vaginal environment.

Figure 1 A workshop on home-made lubricants at Hackterialab 2014: Yogyakarta as part of theFULL-DAY SEXOLOGY WORKSHOP with Pechblenda, Kuang-Yi Ku and Agus Tri Budiarto from Lifepatch

This exploration resulted in an online tutorial called “DIY lubrikasi" on Lifepatch’s wiki page and a workshop on home-made lubricants at Hackterialab 2014: Yogyakarta where we tested the PH level of these lubricants.2 It is important to note here that genitalia PH level is important to maintain and introducing new organic and inorganic materials to your genitalia means that these materials do not off-balance genitalia natural PH level. As our research scope is small, I need to qualify that I did not investigate if our lubricants are made suitable for intersex and transgender individuals as our sample group consists of largely cisgender, male and female-identified collaborators. Nonetheless, keeping an optimal and healthy vaginal PH level is extremely important in this self-made sexual lubricant. An optimal vaginal PH level is between PH “3.8 to 5.4” and will differ during various life stages and activities participated by self-identified females with the vagina sex organ.3 There is also an optimal PH level for self-identified males with the penis sex organ.

My travel back to Singapore better informs the safety of my first trails in lubricant making. Using starch-based lubricants will increase the risk of yeast infection for self-identified females. As yeast feeds on sugar, the sugar-rich environment of the female genitalia may result in the commonly-occurring yeast vaginitis, Candidal vaginitis, or Candidal vulvovaginitis.4 A workshop conducted by myself during Squat and Grow 20155 in Singapore experimented with other lower starch-based and/or non-starch based ingredients to lower the risk of yeast infection in home-made sexual lubricants. This include using Chia seeds and Flax seeds in different proportions, and sometimes, together with corn starch to lower the sugar content and achieve a comfortable lubricant viscosity for participants. The next step is to prototype and source for other recipes which can employ organic materials that are not high in starch yet produces viscosity similar to commercially produced sexual lubricants.

Below are the various instructions (contributors include Squat and Grow participants) to create your own sexual lubricant:

Recipe 1: Flax Seeds
Bought from Mustafa, Singapore at SGD4.50 for 680 grams
1 spoonful of brown flax seed and 125 ml (1/2 cup) of water for around five to ten minutes. Let the boiled mixture cool down and press through a sieve. This steps are replicable for the following recipes below and can be done for the rest of the recipes according to the viscosity and starch content of the organic materials.

Participant 1 says Boil seeds in sieve instead of boiling them in a cup of seeds with water
Participant 2 says it is safer to use distilled water because tap water in Singapore (or other countries, for the matter) may increase yeast infection depending on the chemicals in tap water.

Comments: Additional Ingredient: Pandan Leaves, PH Level not taken

Recipe 2: Chia seeds recipe
Bought from Mustafa, Singapore at SGD7.00 for 227 grams

Figure 2 Instructions for DIY sexual lubricants displayed on at Hackerspace Singapore for Squat and Grow 2015

Figure 3 Boiled mixture of Chia seeds being sieved for lubricant

1 spoonful of Chia seeds with 125 ml of boiling water
Participant 2 suggests soaking Chia seeds before boiling them
Observation: Lowest viscosity compared to all of the recipes. PH level is at 6.6 ~ and is close to the PH level of a woman with menopause

Recipe 3: Corn Recipe
Bought from Mustafa, Singapore at SGD1.00 for 400 grams
1 cup water
3-5 teaspoons cornstarch

Boil the cornstarch together with ½ cup of water in a pot of boiling water. Let it cool for five minutes.
Yogyakarta version: Refer to
Observation: Close to viscosity of New Recipe 5. Its PH level is at 6.0 and is closer to healthy female genitalia and optimal for woman with menopause.

New Recipe 4: Hybrid of Chia and Flaxseeds
Adding two teaspoon of Chia and two teaspoon of flaxseeds with ½ cup of boiling water.
PH: 6.0
Observation: Remain thick but has lesser viscosity to New Recipe 5.

New Recipe 5: Hybrid of Chia, Flaxseeds, and Corn starch
Imprecise amounts of ingredient components.
Observation: Highest viscosity compared to all of the recipes. PH level is at 6 and is close to the vagina PH level of a healthy woman and a woman with menopause.

Figure 4 PH level taken for recipes designed by participants and myself during DIY
Lubrikasi Workshop at Squat and Grow 2015. Image credits to Alexander Yang

Sources Cited

  1. “Women’s Guide to Vaginal Infections”; National Vaginitis Association cited in “Understanding the PH Position.” Intimore. Accessed March 4, 2015.
  2. “Squat and Grow.” Facebook. Accessed March 3, 2015.
  3. Hackteria. “Personal Lubricant.” Accessed March 3, 2015.
  4. Lifepatch. “Tutorials: Personal Lubricant,” Accessed March 3, 2015.
  5. Stöppler, Melissa Conrad, “Yeast Infection.” Accessed March 3, 2015.
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