How to play with hot wax

Q. The idea of dripping candle wax on a sexual partner has always a turn on for me, but I've never felt comfortable introducing it (mainly cause I haven't actually learned the way to do it), nor has it ever been brought up to me. Tips?

A. For those of you who like to explore the relationship between pain and pleasure in a sexual context, wax play is a great place to start. Because popular media has given the general public more exposure to this particular activity, candle wax has become easier than ever to suggest to sexual partners.

Playing with heat can be intensely arousing as it stimulates the nerves and escalates the receiver's adrenaline. When warm wax hits the skin it feels relaxing, or even soothing, while contact with wax that's hot (yet at the same time tolerable for the receiver) feels exhilarating.

However, candle play can easily injure participants if proper precautions aren't followed. The most important thing to have in mind is safety; here's a quick primer:

  • Different parts of the body will be more sensitive to heat. So too is skin that's been recently shaved, waxed, spanked or pinched. The back and the legs are great locations to start; once you get a good sense of your partner's heat tolerance, work your way up to other areas like the nipples and buttocks. Genitals are tricky because they're usually too sensitive for hot wax.
  • Choose the right type of candle. Don't go and use the first candle you find in your living room; the wrong choice can lead to some pretty nasty burns and second degree scalding can happen before you know it. Depending on its ingredients, candle wax melts at different temperatures, so stick with the varieties having lower heat points such as paraffin or those basic white candles sold in home ware stores. Avoid birthday candles as well as those made with perfumes, beeswax or soybean. Candles sold in sex toy stores are designed for this type of use.
  • Playing with wax can get messy. Only use sheets or towels that you're willing to throw away, because most household laundry machines cannot adequately handle washing waxy residue. To aid wax removal from skin, rub some baby oil onto your partner's body; it will come off much easier that way.
  • First aid may be needed if one of you does get burned. Remember to run cold water over the affected area immediately for at least five minutes; don't use anything ice cold because it can actually cause more harm than good. Cover the wound with sterile gauze and consult a physician if necessary.

Check out our editorial, Foreplay Using Hot Wax. It specifically explains low, medium and high stages of wax play intensity and is a great help on introducing wax to sexual play. For a resource on this and other unconventional activities, check out "Consensual sadomasochism: how to talk about it and how to do it safely" by Bill Henkin and Sybil Holiday. Other items that complement warm or hot wax are mint candies and ice cubes. You can also try warming and cooling lubricants and balms.