Castor Oil As Lube Or For Anal Sex: Is It Safe?

Whether or not using castor oil is a safe choice to use as a personal lubricant depends on your personal circumstances and what you’re using it for.
Photograph Of Castor Oil Bottle On White Tabletop With Blurred Bedding In The Distant Background
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Updated:July 2023

Castor oil can be safe in some circumstances, but it isn’t going to be an ideal choice for everyone.

Here’s why:

  • Like all oils, castor oil (including black castor oil, which is less processed and more “natural”) will break down pregnancy and STI barriers made from latex or polyisoprene, including condoms, dental dams, and diaphragms, rendering them ineffective.
  • Castor oil can make it easier for your body to absorb adjacent chemicals including spermicides or chemicals leached from low-quality sex toys. This can lead to irritation or infection, or increase your risk of developing health conditions associated with such chemicals.
  • For those prone to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, oil sex lubes (of any type) can increase the risk of recurrence.
  • Castor oil is comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores, trapping bacteria beneath the surface of the skin that may lead to skin irritation, breakouts, or infection.
  • Castor oil has laxative properties that make it a poor choice for oral sex — and it also tastes terrible.
  • Oils are more difficult to remove from the skin, particularly when used during vaginal or anal sex, and they will stain fabrics.

Unlike body-safe lubes formulated for sexual use, castor oil has many qualities that can make it unsuitable as a sex lube in many circumstances.

That said, it may be considered a safe option for some folks — but certainly not everyone.

In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about using castor oil as a personal lubricant, including: 

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Lube Alternatives and Everything Lube hubs, in-depth and evolving resources that comprehensively explore all aspects of personal lubricants from the different types and how to use them, to ingredients and safety — created to help you achieve the sexual pleasure you deserve.

Can You Use Castor Oil As Lube?

You can, depending on your personal circumstances.

Whether castor oil is safe for you will ultimately depend on several things.

Here’s what you need to know about using castor oil as lube:

  • Castor oil will degrade condoms made from latex or polyisoprene, along with latex diaphragms or dental dams, putting you at risk for STIs or unintended pregnancy.
  • Castor oil can enhance transdermal penetration of other chemicals.” That means any other chemicals lurking nearby, such as those found in spermicides or leached from low-quality sex toys, can be more readily absorbed by the skin, increasing your risk of irritation or of developing any associated health effects.
  • Oils in general are not good lubricants for vaginal intercourse because they can leave users vulnerable to developing yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis if they’re prone to either.
  • Castor oil is comedogenic which means it can clog pores, trapping bacteria beneath the skin’s surface and potentially leading to breakouts, irritation, or infection.
  • Castor oil has long been used as a laxative, a quality that makes it a poor choice for oral sex. Additionally, it will leave a terrible taste in your mouth.
  • As an oil, it can be more difficult to remove from the skin, particularly if it’s used during vaginal or anal sex, and it will stain fabrics.

For these reasons, we don’t necessarily recommend castor oil for use during any type of intercourse or masturbation — unless your circumstances allow it.

The most important thing to consider is any other type of chemical that will come into contact with your skin when using castor oil as lube.

This includes spermicides or sex toys made from sub-par materials that may leach chemicals.

According to the NCBI, castor oil can boost the transdermal penetration of chemicals.

That sounds scary — because it is.

If you’re using a spermicide, for instance, your body will absorb more of it when castor oil is used as a lubricant.

The same concern applies to low-quality sex toys made from questionable materials that might leach chemicals during use.

Castor oil has properties that enhance skin absorption, potentially putting you at risk for any health ailments associated with chemicals leached from subpar toys after they come into contact with your skin.

Castor oil won’t degrade condoms made from polyurethane, nitrile, or lambskin, although the latter will not protect you from STIs.

Similarly, it’s safe to use with silicone diaphragms.

Whether you’re using castor oil with condoms or not, it can still clog pores, trapping bacteria that may cause breakouts, skin irritation, or infection.

Using castor oil as lube for external masturbation may be safe if you don’t have sensitive skin and find that it doesn’t cause irritation or breakouts.

It’s important to remember that oils of any type can increase your risk of developing vaginal infections if you’re prone to them, including bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections.

It is safe to use castor oil with glass, metal, and high-grade silicone sex toys, however, it is not recommended for use with jelly or rubber sex toys, as it will degrade their materials.

Finally, not only does castor oil degrade latex dental dams, it also has a laxative effect that makes it a poor choice for oral sex with or without an STI barrier, not to mention it tastes awful.

You’re much better off finding a safe edible or flavored lube, instead.

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Can You Use Castor Oil As Vaginal Lube?

We don’t necessarily recommend it for the reasons already discussed unless you deem it safe for your personal circumstances.

If you’re using a spermicide, it’s not wise to use castor oil as vaginal lube because the oil itself can increase your body’s absorption of the spermicide, which may make irritation much more likely.

The same holds true if you plan to use low-quality sex toys, as any chemicals leached during use may be more easily absorbed by your body.

Castor oil will degrade condoms made of latex or polyisoprene, putting you or your partner at risk for STIs or unintended pregnancy.

Diaphragms can also be damaged by castor oil if they’re made from latex. Imagine thinking you’re double protected with a diaphragm and a condom — only to have both disintegrate during use.

Because it’s comedogenic, castor oil can clog pores, leading to irritation or full-on infections.

Additionally, women who are prone to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis will want to avoid using any type of oil as a lubricant, as it can increase the risk of recurrence.

If any of the above is cause for concern, reach for a safe, water-based lube instead of castor oil.

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Can You Use Castor Oil As Anal Lube?

You can, but there are better anal lube alternatives out there.

If you’re desperate for a lube substitute, oil-based lubes are praised for anal sex due to their long-lasting friction reduction and thick texture.

Many of the same caveats apply to anal sex as they do to vaginal intercourse, however.

If using castor oil for lube during anal sex, be extra sure that the condoms you’re using are compatible.

Only lambskin, nitrile, or polyurethane condoms are safe to use with castor oil, but the former doesn’t offer any sort of STI protection.

It’s also important to avoid using anal or pegging toys made of jelly, rubber, or latex, as those materials will degrade when coming into contact with castor oil.

Keep in mind that cleanup is going to be a hassle whether you’re using black castor oil as lube, or the clear cosmetic stuff. Both will stain fabrics — easily.

That includes your body and your sheets, maybe even your favorite sex-related furniture and cloth accessories.

So tread carefully if you go the castor oil route for anal lubricant.

If castor oil won’t work as an anal lube in your situation, there are lots of ​​other body-safe anal lubricants to choose from!

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What Is Castor Oil Made From And Is It Safe?

Castor oil is extracted from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant, commonly called castor beans.

Although most castor oil is harvested in India and has a clear to pale yellow color, black castor oil is derived from Jamaica; because the beans are roasted before the oil is extracted, the resulting oil has a dark, ashen hue.

Both types of castor oil have the same basic composition.

In addition to ricinoleic acid, which makes up as much as 90% of its content, castor oil also includes linoleic, oleic, and stearic acids, along with a trace of linolenic fatty acids.

The high concentration of ricinoleic acid is what makes it so favorable for cosmetic applications.

Chemically speaking, food-grade castor oil is safe for most people.

It has been used as a laxative for decades, despite an utterly ghastly taste.

Castor oil is typically cold-pressed and then clarified with heat, or through solvent extraction.

Commercially packaged castor oil might also include added stabilizers or fragrances.

In small amounts, castor oil is used in soapmaking, lotions and balms, lipsticks, other stick-type cosmetics, and greasepaint.

As any greasepaint user can tell you, thoroughly cleansing these oils from your face is vital if you want to avoid breakouts.

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What Are Better Lube Alternatives To Castor Oil?

If you’re reconsidering using castor oil as lube, you’re probably wondering about better alternatives.

Happily, we have a ton of information on that topic and there are plenty of other options available.

Better personal lubricant options include:

Here’s a cheat sheet for selecting the best lube based on how you intend to use it:

Lube Type:
Oral Sex Yes Yes Not usually
Vaginal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Anal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Condom Types All All Polyurethane, nitrile and lambskin only
Sex Toy Types All All but silicone All but latex
Bath/Shower Use No Yes Yes
Does It Stain? No Yes Yes
Lube Type:
Oral Sex
Vaginal Sex
Anal Sex
Condom Types
Sex Toy Types
Bath/Shower Use
Does It Stain?

There is a personal lubricant designed for every situation, so if you’re not sure which to choose, you can read through our in-depth lube guide or take our lube quiz to find your perfect match.

Our Top Lube Recommendations

After researching hundreds of personal lubricants — and personally testing dozens of them ourselves — we have found the very best lubes of each type, vetted by our team and recommended for their safety and performance.

Editor's Note: When you purchase a product via an affiliate link (*) on our site, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. On behalf of our entire team, thank you in advance for your support!

We’ll take a quick look at the four main lubricant categories below.

  • Water-Based Personal Lubricants

Water-based lubes are incredibly versatile because they’re water-soluble and incredibly easy to clean, and they’re generally compatible with any type of condom, dental dam, diaphragm, or sex toy you might use.

That’s great, but they don’t last as long as oil or silicone-based lubes and will usually require reapplication.

Being water-soluble, they dissolve in water so they’re not a great choice for sex in the bathtub or shower.

Those caveats aside, they do feel most like your body’s natural lubricant so if that sounds like what you’re looking for, consider our list of the best water-based personal lubricants.

  • Silicone-Based Personal Lubricants

Silicone-based lubes are incredibly slippery and long-lasting, and they’re safe for all condom types and most sex toys.

Silicone personal lubricants will degrade toys made from silicone, so they should never be used together.

Silicone-based lubes have a silky texture with a lasting glide that doesn’t necessarily feel “natural” — but many folks prefer them for their unmatched slip.

They also tend to have a thicker consistency, making them a great choice for anal sex.

Silicone lubes are waterproof so they can be used during sex in the shower or bath, but they can be a little more difficult to clean and they will likely stain your sheets and bedding.

We compiled a helpful list of the best silicone-based personal lubes if this type of lubricant sounds like what you’re looking for.

  • Oil-Based Personal Lubricants

Oil-based lubes are typically made from natural oils that are body-safe. These may be harvested organically, but not always.

It’s important to note that oil-based lubricants often contain oils that are derived from nuts, which can be a serious issue for those with allergies or sensitivities.

Always read the label thoroughly if this applies to you or your partner

Oils can’t be used with condoms made from latex or polyisoprene because they’ll degrade their material; nor should they be used with latex diaphragms or dental dams for the same reason.

We reviewed the best oil-based personal lubricants if you’re curious about exploring them for yourself.

  • Natural And Organic Lubricants

Natural or organic personal lubricants may be water-based or oil-based, and they can sometimes include nut-based ingredients.

Again, if you have a sensitivity or allergy to tree nuts, always read through the ingredient list first.

We found the best and safest natural and organic lubricants to try, which include a mix of both water-based and oil-based products.

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Are There Any Safe At-Home Lube Alternatives?

If you don’t plan to use castor oil as lube and can’t spring for a store-bought lubricant, there are some safe lube alternatives to consider.

You might have a decent lube stand-in at home right now, including:

If you intend to use an oil-based lube alternative, don’t pair it with STI or pregnancy barriers made from latex or polyisoprene (including condoms, diaphragms, or dental dams) because it will degrade their materials.

It’s also a good idea to do a patch test on your skin (such as your inner elbow) just to make sure you don’t have any type of skin reaction before using it as a personal lubricant.

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Bottom Line:

We hope this has given you a lot to think about before using castor oil or black castor oil as lube.

Ultimately it can be safe, but it all depends on your personal circumstances.

If castor oil isn’t a good idea after all, never fear — there are plenty of safe, store-bought personal lubes to choose from and if you’re not sure what you need, our lube quiz can help you find the right one.

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