Considered slightly advanced, temperature play is when heated wax is introduced to skin as a way to entice excitement and arousal. However sensual and erotic wax play may seem, it still requires practice, education, communication and understanding. If done incorrectly, burning of the skin and extreme discomfort can harm the dominant or submissive — learning is key.
A study led by Dr. Pekka Santtila in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that 35 percent of sadomasochist participants engaged in hot wax play.
We spoke to Miss Kim Rub, a London-based professional dominatrix, who gave us some advice on how to properly handle wax in relation to the skin. The dom hosts workshops as well as an annual fetish event called Club Rub.
Why wax play?
Kinksters use wax play as a form of foreplay. It’s involves using hot wax to create a teasing sensation that causes a submissive to writhe and twist into shapes and positions that are alluring and downright sexy for the average S&M enthusiast.
Sunny Rodgers, a clinical sexologist for Jimmyjane told Glamour, “Massage candles engage so many senses all at once.” The atmospheric contribution of candles create a sensual environment, and the addition of the heat on the skin, creates a bearable edge of pain.
What type of candle or what type of wax should be used?
Soy candles are the safest, although there is an assortment of retail candles you can purchase. Ingredients are the key component in understanding what type of candle you should introduce to skin. Scented and paraffin candles burn between 120 degrees F and 135 degrees F. Beeswax candles are long-lasting and industrial. They typically burn from 145 degrees F to 170 degrees F. Soy candles, which we mentioned first, have a medium burning temperature — between 135 degrees F and 145 degrees F — but most important, the wax cools quickly on contact. Since soy is natural (derived from soy beans), it’s also less likely to cause irritation.
It’s important to remember that not all wax play is done with a lit candle. Miss Kim says, “Some wax is melted on a heat source.” She goes on to say it’s always important to know “the temperature of the wax before dripping it onto the body.”
Where should you test out your first drip?
Miss Kim suggests “on yourself rather than someone else first” because you shouldn’t do to others what you wouldn’t do to yourself. Furthermore, it helps create a pain threshold and helps the dominant understand the sensations their partner will feel.
Remember that the further away from the skin, the safer. Stand over your submissive and drip the wax from a high level rather than at a low level with only a few dribbles. When you first test out your wax and when you’re in a scene, never splash any wax near the face or eyes. Also, never pour wax on an open wound or near any genitalia.
Define boundaries & establish first aid backup
This isn’t meant to be frightening, but accidents happen, even with vanilla sex. So it’s important to stay educated about your partner’s pain tolerance and be prepared for any mishaps that may occur during a session.
First of all, remember never to play on your own. Miss Kim explains that if “anything goes wrong, don’t panic. Then stop what you are doing.” She goes on to say that the stress just “adds fuel to the fire.” Discussing the situation with your partner and keeping them calm is of utmost importance for the dominant. For the submissive, remaining equally calm and voicing any concerns or discomfort is vital. Health and safety are incredibly important for BDSM play.
What should you expect to feel during wax play?
Obviously, heat. Miss Kim explains, “Shock can be instant reaction,” because of high expectations and high physical response. She goes on to say, “Certain parts of the body can cause arousal. There are quite a few different methods of application and each has its own sensation — drips that roll down the body for instance.”
For the submissive, a burst of brief pain will occur and subside as it cools down. For the sub, they will feel an obvious hot sensation, but wax play can also be subtle and low-key.
Techniques & how to begin
Before beginning to drip, have the submissive lie down on a plastic sheet or damp cloth to avoid ruining bed sheets and creating a mess. Make sure all areas are free of flammable materials and there is nothing around you or your partner that can catch fire. Massage the submissive with oil or lotion to create an easy removal while also creating a sensual moment before any heat is introduced. Light the candle and drip a small amount of wax onto your own hand or wrist.
If you feel comfortable with the temperature, drip a small amount onto the selected area of your bottom and test their reaction. Communicate throughout the process and allow your bottom to address any concerns or discomfort. Begin to decrease the distance from the candle to the body to allow the wax to cool on contact. From here, you can begin to experiment with shapes, patterns, brushing, rubbing and layering.
The removal of wax can be difficult, especially from hair. Use a comb, or a plastic card, to remove areas of wax on skin. A way to avoid any sticky situations is to apply oil or lotion to the skin to make removal easier.
If you’re interested in participating in a workshop or learning more techniques with wax play, follow along on Miss Kim’s blog for additional information and tips. Crayons, design making and more advanced techniques can all be incorporated once you’ve practiced and feel comfortable enough with the beginners waxing.