Monday, December 6, 2010

Part 25: Fire + Ice: Temperature play

Sol enjoying wax play

Ah .... temperature play ... so much fun, in both it's hot and cold manifestations!

"Temperature play", says Wiki:
"is a form of BDSM sensual play where objects and substances are used to stimulate the body's neuroreceptors for heat and cold for sensual effect..."

"See also:
  • Ice play
  • Fire play
  • Wax play"
That kind of sums up the subject, albeit it briefly. But it does give you a bit of an idea. You can also enlarge the topic to cover some kinds of food play and also chemical play (heating / cooling preparations etc) . You might like to read more about that side of things here.

In this BDSM For Beginners series post we are going to look at all three categories listed by Wiki, with most of the post exploring wax play. Interestingly wax play is often one of the first techniques tried by kinksters, which makes it a good post for the BDSM For Beginners series. Quite a few readers write and ask about it, so now it's time to answer your questions:
  • What exactly is temperature play?
  • Making an ice what??? (ice play)
  • What's fire play?
  • What's involved with wax play?
  • Why do people do it?
  • I'm confused about candles and waxes.
  • Can you explain about burn temperatures and melt points?
  • What about colors and perfumes in candles?
  • Why is testing important?
  • Scene preparation
  • Preparing your sub
  • Where can I put the wax?
  • How do I apply the wax?
  • Techniques - dripping
  • Techniques - pouring
  • Techniques - painting
  • More advanced techniques - using wax warmers /crock pots
  • More advanced techniques - using crock pots and wax crayons
  • More advanced techniques - mixing temperature play with other BDSM techniques
  • Clean up / How do you remove wax from hair and skin?
  • Sample scene: Ms160 and sol give wax play a go / playing with a male sub
  • Sample scene: Wax play with a female submissive
  • References and Online Resources

Some quick housekeeping re my BDSM For Beginners series:

  • These posts are usually very long (they are often based on my notes for two hour seminars). They require a pee break in the middle, unless you are a severe masochist, and at least one coffee break. You think I'm joking, don't you ... ha! Okay, cross your legs then ...
  • Read them through entirely if you like - for example, if this is a topic you really enjoy - but otherwise bookmark the post and come back when you need specific info, then check against that list of questions about temperature play and wax play above. If your query is something I've not covered, drop me a line via my profile at Fetlife.
  • BDSM For Beginners' posts are not so much about my own experience as collating the experiences of other kinksters and checking out some good links for you, to further explore subjects that interest you. If you've experienced temperature play and would like your experiences and any advice you'd like to share added to this post, again drop me a line and I'll add it in.


Let's revisit that quote above from Wiki:
"is a type of sensation play based around temperatures which are either significantly hotter than the ambient, or significantly colder than the ambient..."
Hang in ... let's backtrack a sec. Did you follow that term "sensation play"? Peter Masters has a very good page on this, which begins:
"Sensation play is a form of BDSM play where the focus is on the manipulation of the sensory experience of the bottom or submissive by the top or dominant. We can divide sensation play into two types:
  1. Activities which add or modify sensations
  2. Activities which diminish or remove sensations (sometimes known as sensory deprivation)

For convenience we will explore these in order of smell, taste, hearing, touch, and sight. It's useful to note that four out of the five senses are focused around the head (smell, taste, hearing and sight). This means that a lot of effective sensation play can be done without going below the neck.

Symbolically sensation play can be very powerful because it compels the submissive or bottom to surrender to exactly and only the experiences which their partner either allows or denies them. Sensation play is often combined with some form of bondage or restraint to prevent the submissive from doing anything (such as removing a blindfold) which might allow them to control their experience themselves...

Does the term make more sense now? Do read the rest of Peter Masters' page if you'd like to learn more.

Temperature play involves manipulation / stimulation of the senses via applications of heat and cold. Dr Beth explains why is this an effective form of play:

"Hot and cold objects can provoke some of the same kinds of feelings as painful stimuli. This is because the nervous system processes extremes of temperature in the same way as certain types of pain. Sensations such as touch and vibration are perceived by way of large, myelinated (insulated) nerve fibers that have structured nerve endings in the skin. Pain, cold, and heat are perceived via uncovered loose nerve fibers in the skin, and are all transmitted along the same type of small, unmyelinated nerves that go to the brain through the same part of the spinal cord -- the spinothalamic pathway. While these three types of sensation -- pain, cold, and heat -- all have separate nerve endings, the nerve impulses end up in the same area of the brain, the thalamus. Extremes of any of the three can elicit similar responses from a bottom"
As Dr Beth points out, there are many ways to make the body feel hot, however:
"the easiest way to use heat in SM play is dripping hot wax ... Fire play with burning alcohol is also an advanced technique, and should be avoided until you have learned the skill from someone more experienced.".
Let's take a moment to check out fire play and ice play before moving on to wax play in depth.


Peter Masters writes:
"Ice play can be considered a form of temperature play or sensation play. Frequently used in combination with fire or heat to create contrasting sensations, it can also be used for torture"
You can have a lot of fun with this - I think the first kinky thing I ever did to sol involved an ice block *grin* - but do take into consideration safety issues. There is also a good article to be found on the dangers of ice play here, which begins:
"Ice can be an interesting sensation toy. Combined with hot wax, it can be incredible. But it can also be a dangerous toy. And Dry ice, and other super cooled liquids have no place in D/s play at all. Water ice is a reasonably safe toy, if a few precautions are observed."
One way people like to explore ice play, says Masters is with ice dildos:
"Some BDSM practitioners will freeze water inside a condom (often with the aid of a cardboard tube to retain the shape) and insert it in either of the lower orifices of a submissive or bottom. The use of a condom during insertion is strongly advised because if the temperature of the ice is below freezing, sensitive membranes may stick to it and tear"
Franklin Veaux has an excellent post about how to make one of these. As he points out in his introduction:
"One fun aspect of sensation play that can spice up your sex life is temperature play. Many people have experimented with using ice cubes on their lovers in bed, and I've met many women who really, really enjoy the sensation of cold. But there's more you can do than just take an ice cube out of the freezer and stroke a bare nipple with it! Presented here is something to take that basic idea to the next level: instructions for making a customized dildo out of ice..."
Lots of great photos on that page, too :) ... oh and for those who really like visuals, another man has put up a YouTube video on how to make one. g-girl highly recommends them:
"In my opinion, the DIY Ice Dildo is a great idea. It’s perfect if you are too embarrassed to go into a sex shop, are running low of funds, are stuck at home suffering from boredom, just want a unique way to cool down on a hot day, or live in a country where sex toys are illegal (they can’t arrest you for this type of ice; “it just happened to freeze in that shape Officer!”) Bring on the Ice Age!"
She also provides "how to" details. With this wonderfully practical tip:
"Please note: If you live with other people (especially parents or the elderly) warn them that you are getting your ‘creative’ juices running and are turning the freezer into a sex shop BEFORE they open the door. (Especially if it is a hot day and they are wanting a icy pole.)"
For those of you wanting "ice play [to] be so much more than sticking an ice cube on your slave's goodies" read this article by Mistress Naia which begins:
"let's freeze your slave's anus until it hurts so much he screams in agony. Let's hold ice on his nipples until those hard nuggets could cut glass, and stand out farther than you've ever seen them before. Cock torture? Clit torture? Tingly, icy, painful arousal?

"Playing with ice is one of those slightly risqué activities that even vanillas sometimes delve into. Because of this, you may think it beneath your own perv-stature to include ice play in your repertoire. It may seem too easy of a punishment, too simple of a pleasure. But ice play is an activity that we BDSM Gods and Goddesses have perfected over the years. Like many simple sex acts, ice play can be turned into a veritable kink art form, if you know how to... play it cool."
You should also find some good play ideas in Fet's ice play group.


As Dr Beth told us, fireplay is a very advanced technique and one of the most dangerous types of BDSM play. It should not be attempted without an expert showing you how to do it. Simply reading about it is not enough. The info provided in this post is just to whet your appetite. Here's Peter Masters again:

"Fire play may refer to any of the following:

"In addition, fire (or flame) can be used to disinfect needles and blades used in piercing or cutting, respectively. Finally, the flame of a propane torch is commonly used to provide the heat for hot branding"

If you are interested in any of those topics, follow the links. Wiki's fire play page enlarges on this:
"Fire play is usually considered a form of edge play - frequently exciting, but with significant dangers. Unlike other forms of edge play (extreme rough body play, blood play, interrogations, abductions, etc), fire play scenes tend to look kinder and gentler; although it can be dramatic, the sensations inflicted in most fire play scenes aren't actually painful (much like hot wax play or sensation play). Fire play also rarely leaves marks on the skin - though some people deliberately burn the skin slightly to leave it red and irritated. For this reason, some people consider fire play's edge play classification something of a technicality; it's classified as edge play simply because out-of-control flame could result in terrible consequences"
Wiki outlines several fire play techniques, including bouncing ("lit fire wands (sometimes called batons; essentially a small torch) are bounced along the skin. This may or may not involve transfer of burning fuel") and streaking ("fuel is applied directly to the skin (commonly in straight lines, though sometimes in more elaborate patterns), lit, and then extinguished before the skin begins to burn") and fire cupping:
"Fire cupping is a current fad in the fire play community. The air inside a cup (almost always glass) is heated then placed on the skin - the cooling air creates a vacuum and the skin is partially pulled into the cup. Experienced cuppers can create varying strengths of suction by controlling the heat of the cup"
You can read where sol and I tried fire play / cupping here. SehAnru outlines a few more techniques in Up in Flames: The Basics of Fireplay:
"Fire flogging: This is the most common which includes a flogger made out of Kevlar rope/wicks and some have knots at the end of them not only for the stingy factor but also prevents the ropes from coming unraveled...

"Fire Fleshing: This is where designs are made upon your body with the fuel and then set on fire then quickly blown out, wiped out, or smothered with a fire blanket. The tools used for this vary.."
If these techniques press your buttons in good ways there are quite a few good sources online for info on where to find workshops where you can learn these skills, plus further reading matter. Check out the References and Online Resources list at the bottom of this post.

All of this a bit overwhelming? Want something simpler? Let's move on to ....


"Wax play", says Wiki:
"is a form of sensual play involving warm or hot wax usually dripped from candles or ladled onto a person's naked skin. Wax play may be combined with other BDSM or sexual activity"
Indeed it can *evil grin*. And I agree with Dennis Nagee, who writes:
"Wax play is something that many talk about, and few seem to do, this is always a mystery to me as to why, as when it is done correctly it is a wonderful addition to foreplay and indeed it has many deeper meanings as well, I mean who in their right mind will lay still and let another person drip hot wax all over them if they do not 100% trust them, it can be seen as another step into total submission..."
As I wrote before it's interesting that wax play is a technique that's quite common for new kinksters to try. Norische notes in Candlelight Moments: Basics of Wax Play:
"For many wax play is one of the first experiences within the BDSM realm, this is also the reason that so many people end up getting accidentally hurt. All too often someone is watching a pornographic movie and sees someone drip wax on his or her partner and suddenly they are rummaging through their kitchen cabinets looking for a candle that they can experiment with. “It looked so easy in the movie…” or “The women in the movie seemed to really like it so...” are phrases the emergency room staff have undoubtedly heard time and time again.

"Although most individuals probably make up some story about accidentally dropping a candle on their naked genitals or knocking a candle over and splashing wax all over their bare back as they turned; having worked in an ER I myself heard a few excuses such as these, although you honestly are suspicious about the method of the injury the means is always quite clear. Wax play done improperly can lead to first and second-degree burns, pain and permanent scarring."
She's absolutely right ... it is dangerous. Which is why you have to take wax play seriously and do some homework on it before you play. Because as Matt Nicholson warns in Waxon, Waxoff and Other Japanese Sayings:
"Playing with hot wax can be tons of fun, but you need to remember that hot wax is nothing more than molten chemicals, and molten anything can play havoc with the mood if you don't do it right"


LOL that last quote got your attention though, didn't it?! People do wax play because it feels amazing ... intense ... erotic. As Shakti confirms in Safe Wax Play:
"It is a very distinctive and unique sensation ... I find the pain from wax to be a unique feeling. Very intense, but concentrated in a very small area. It happens to be one of my favorite kinds of pain play"
It's a lot of fun for both people. I disagree with Dennis Nagee when he writes "The benefits of wax play are mainly for the sub/slave admittedly" but I agree with him when he continues:
"but at the same time it is something that is just one more added attraction to the BDSM lifestyle, the infliction of controlled pain"
That infliction of control pain becomes extremely erotic when you are doing something evil with melted wax. Shevah writes in Wax Play:
"Do not be in a rush to perform wax play … what you put on must be taken off. The sensitivity that wax produces on the skin is unlike anything else and can send your bottom flying. Once the wax is removed, the skin is ultra stimulated and the slightest touch will have him/her squirming..."
But you need to keep in mind that some people consider wax play edgeplay. Here's Shevah again:
"Wax Play can be one of the most tantalizing types of play on the skin that can produce marvelous, stimulating pleasures. But it can also be the cause for an extreme burn if applied improperly. Because of the dangers that are inherent to burning temperatures, some may categorize wax play as “edge play”. By learning basic knowledge and techniques will enable you to safely play with wax. Remember, safety must always be the primary focus when dealing with unpredictable mediums, such as hot wax"
So let's learn some more about this "unpredictable medium".


So many people are confused about this, don't worry you are not alone. And with respect even the best articles on how to do wax play seem at first glance to offer very different advice. Some will tell you only to use only one type of wax / candle, others might argue "you can use any candle for wax play as long as you compensate and use the proper precautions" ... and they are correct but you need to actually remember those "proper precautions".

Because you are just starting out here, let's try and simplify things for you... here Peter Masters discusses how to make your candle choice:

"Candles are made from paraffin, stearin, beeswax, soy, gel, or tallow. This is what allows them to burn. Candles commonly have additives which are used to give them different colors, or different scents. Some candles will have designs painted on them.

"All of this means that while you might be able to say, for example, that a pure paraffin candle produces wax at such-and-such a temperature, it's very hard to find a pure paraffin candle. Instead you will find candles labeled as paraffin with various amounts of other chemicals, dyes, and perfumes, which each contribute to change the wax temperature.

"Thus, if you get used to using a certain type of candle with your partner, never assume that a similar looking candle, or even one out of the same box is going to produce the same temperature wax"

So what this means is you have to:
  • avoid certain types of candles
  • test everything
We'll talk about both of these things in more detail. First, let's look at types of candle to avoid (this list is in part drawn from here):
  • Beeswax is the hottest. When you are just starting out avoid beeswax candles. Beeswax burns at a much higher temperature than plain paraffin candles and can cause burns. The melting point is much higher than human skin can comfortably deal with. Some experienced players do use this type of candle (sol loves them) but they can cause second or third degree burns.
  • Avoid beef tallow candles - wax made from animal fat can be extremely hot and cause burning.
  • Avoid candles with metallic colors - metal flakes and paint hold very high temperatures and are not recommended for use with wax play unless precautions are taken and you have experience.
  • Avoid candles with metal wicks - you can end up dripping hot molten metal on the submissive
  • Avoid gel candles - they are made of a mixture of paraffin and plastic
  • Perfumes, hardeners, colorants and other additives can, and have, caused serious allergic reactions. You can use some candles with these but you need to put in the extra homework as to which. We'll talk more about these in a sec.
  • Avoid birthday cake candles - their size and the amount of decoration on them and colorants used makes them burn extremely hot
So what DO you want to use? Peter Masters:
"The safest sort of candle to use for wax play is one which is the same color all the way through and which is completely undecorated."
Dr Beth agrees :
"Paraffin candles burn somewhat cooler than beeswax candles, and so are safer to use. Unscented, undyed candles are also best since there are no additives to alter the melting characteristics"
I'd go with plain 100% paraffin candles, these burn at a safer temperature for hot wax play. Often the best place to find these is on your emergency shelf at home. Many wax play enthusiasts will agree these cheap, white paraffin candles are exactly what you need. Do beware some cheap products, however - avoid the Fetish Fantasy Series Sensual Hot Wax Candles. Mystress Evyl did a review:

"This kit includes 4 white, unscented hot wax candles and a cheap blindfold which is fine if you really do not have one already. Now wax play can be a lot of fun but it really is not a beginner activity. Different waxes give off different heat temperatures so you need to be educated a bit. Here is a little basic info:

Pure paraffin wax melts at around 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Adding stearine makes the wax harder and melt at a higher temperature. Adding mineral oil makes the wax softer and melt at a lower temperature. Soft candles in glass jars usually have mineral oil in their blend and burn cooler at around 120 degrees Fahrenheit, Pillar candles are mostly paraffin and burn warmer at around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Taper candles have lots of stearine and burn hotter still at around 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

These are taper candles and they are hot. I tested them on myself in comparison to the soft candles I normally use. What a difference, this kit is not for beginners at all as they were considerably hotter when hitting the skin. Even by dropping the wax at a higher level it barely helped the cooling down. Also I found this wax to solidify on the body in a very thin layer which could not be lifted of but I had to scratch it off.

"I do not recommend getting this kit. Go to the dollar store and get the cheapest paraffin candles they have and you’ll be set. Or get those religious candles too. If you are going to get these I hope you are not a new wax player and make sure to cut the wick down to 1/4 in as they are too long as well"


What other candles do people suggest for new players? Shakti says:
"My favorites for someone just starting out are the novena candles available in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores (at least those in larger areas). They come in tall glass containers, and you can buy them without the religious pictures. The wax is very cool compared to most others, so a good choice for a first time. Another possibility are the emergency candles sold for times your electricity goes out. They too are usually very low temperature"
Phew ... she agrees with me! Okay, what about all the people making candles for the scene? Their products must be safe? Here's Peter Masters again:
"Some BDSM suppliers will have candles which are designed for wax play. They will be mixed to have a low wax temperature and may be shaped so that they tend not to drip wax on your hand when you're using them (Wax running down the candle onto your hand can lead to unpleasant surprises, minor burns, or dropping the candle and setting something else (like clothing) alight)."
So yes these candles are good ... but the operative word in that paragraph was "low wax temperature". Do you know what that means, and how it may effect your play?


Let's backtrack again for a sec. Have you ever thought about how a candle works? Or how hot a candle flame is? It's worth knowing these things when you engage in this kind of play. Wiki has an excellent page about candles ... have a read. It begins:
"A candle is a solid block of fuel (commonly wax) and an embedded wick, which is lit to provide light, and sometimes heat."
This comes from The Candle Cauldron:
"The exact temperature of a candle flames depends on the material being consumed (burned). First, it is important to understand that a candle does NOT burn the wick (the string). It is the wax that acts as the fuel for the candle flame. The heat of the flame melts the wax, transforming the solid wax into a liquid, which then travels up the wick. (This process is known as capillary action.) Eventually the liquid wax is turned into a gas (like steam from a boiling kettle on the stove) and is consumed by the flame. Different waxes will have different flame temperatures. On average, the maximum flame temperature will be about 2550 deg F. (Remember that water boils at 212 deg F.) "
Basically, the degree of heat from dripping wax varies depends on the materials from which the candle is constructed.

The melting point is the temperature that the wax must be to go from solid to liquid and remain so. Each type of wax has a different melting point. The following table describes different types of waxes, based on their additive content, in what form they might likely be found and their initial melting points:

Wax type

Where Found

Melt Points

Raw paraffin (soft)

canning wax, bulk wax

115° - 126°F

Votive candles (harder)

Barrels, cylinders up to 6 in.

131° - 141°F

Taper-type candles (hard)

Candlesticks, table candles

141°F or higher

Hurricane lamp candles (hard)

See left

154°F or higher

Beeswax (waxy to hard)

Numerous candle styles, bulk

146°F or higher

Let's let the authors who constructed that table continue, in regard to temperature limits:

"Remember our melting point table above? If you spill hot water at temperatures above 140°F on yourself, you will likely get a burn. However, scalding water doesn't stick to the skin, hot wax does. Wax also retains heat, so 140°F and hotter wax is very likely going to create an even nastier burn than water at the same temperature.

"So what temperatures should we consider when we are applying hot wax to a sub's body? As a general rule, the wax temperature at skin contact should never be above about 135°F. At that temperature, fair skin, genital areas and nipples could suffer a first-degree burn. The ideal working temperature at skin contact is generally around 120° - 125°F. It is best, even at this temperature, to test a small spot on the arm on fair-skinned people. Remember, we want the hot wax experience to be an intensely erotic experience vs. an intensely painful one.

Given the above, look at the table again. Although you could use any of the wax types, great care must be exercised not to get wax temperatures when contacting skin above our recommended 120° - 125°F."

Are you clear on that? It's important, but if it's not going into your brain, don't panic, there are ways to play without using these temperatures, primarily through testing everything first. I'll explain later.


You'll find a lot of sites claim that color and perfume add heat to candles. This has become an area of confusion. In particular some wax players insist that certain colors are hotter ... and it's hard to dispute this when they are the person at the hot end of the scene or are regarded as an expert in the technique. For example:

"color does affect the temperature at which candles melt. Red candles tend to drip hotter than black or white. The way I tell people to think about is, its like wearing a shirt on beach, the darker color the hotter the wax"

And certainly when sol and I have played we have believed we've observed differences, but perhaps that has more to do with other additives other than color or scent. Wiki notes:

"Although there are many web sites that repeat the same advice that color additives make candles burn hotter, actual experiments performed by two different researchers show that this is usually not the case"
Shakti agrees:
"You may see information that says the color of the candle makes a difference, and that is not actually true. Additives do make a difference, but the ones to watch out for are hardeners such as those used in dripless candles. Often the most expensive candles are the ones that burn with the highest degree of heat, for a beginner you will want to start with cheap, paraffin based ones. In my experience whether the candle is white or red or yellow actually makes little difference."

There may also be another reason not to use perfumed candles, as kinkygirl from the BDSM Hall Forum explains:

"The myth is that because most scents are alcohol based that the candles burn hotter, but it doesn't hold in the test run on the candles research done recently on this. But i do not recommend the use of scented candles, unless you really are someone that gets an extra kick from scents. The problems that can be associated with them are headaches, nausea and other interesting reactions. Some really enjoy them. But i would definitely recommend that if you are going to use scented candles for that extra kick - stick to one scent - mixing them can really cause a good thing to be very bad sometimes."
Best thing to do is stick with plain white 100% paraffin candles when you are starting out. But all this links in with why testing every candle before play is important.

Also, anyone that has asthma should only play with unscented candles. They should also have their inhaler with them during the play.


There are three reasons for testing a candle prior to play.

The first reason is to try the candle out on yourself first. Mistress Renee and gunga din say that but to be honest when you are starting out, I'd try EVERY type of candle, including paraffin. Shakti agrees:

"The best way to see how a candle feels is to test it out on yourself. All people do not have the same degree of pain tolerance but it will give you an idea...

"Light the candle and set it aside to burn for a few moments. This will allow a small pool of wax to build up around the burning wick. Once you see a pool there hold your forearm out and holding the candle about a foot from your arm, tip it until one or two drops fall onto your arm. Use the sensitive skin on your wrist or elbow to get a feel for how hot this candle is"
BDSM Education suggests doing this:
"The intensity of the heat depends on the height the candle is held or the height from which the wax is dripped/poured and the type of wax/candle used. Some Dom/me's like to use a crock pot and a ladle for pouring the melted wax over the sub.

"Dom/me's- It is advisable that you test the intensity of the wax on the inside of your wrist, similar to how one checks the temperature of milk from a baby bottle. Hold the candle 10 inches above your wrist and let 1 drop fall, now did you feel-nothing? warmth? hot? burn? Also take note of how long the heat stayed before dissipating. Now repeat from the same height on top of the wax drop already on your wrist, it should be less intense. Now lower the height to 7 inches and drop another drop, does it feel the same as the first drop? nothing? warmth? hot? burn? Now that you have an idea of how the height affects the temperature move to another spot on your wrist that has no wax and try dripping 7 or 8 drops in row rather fast and judge how this feels. A responsible Dom/me should always know what it feels like and what sensations the wax can create for the sub."

Frugal Domme's warning below is another reason to stick with straight white paraffin for a while:

"Any candle may be full of hardeners or covered with acrylic wax to give it a shine. This is dangerous. So, I want you to be very clear on one thing: NEVER USE HOT WAX ON A SUBMISSIVE THAT YOU HAVEN'T TESTED THE TEMPERATURE ON YOUR OWN BODY FIRST. You owe your submissive protection and as much protection from bonehead errors as possible. So you try not to hurt them accidentally.

"I usually test a few drops on the inside of my left arm (I'm right handed) and then raise the candle another foot before I pour. Just to be safe. You may want to use another body part, but make sure it is a body part where temperature is going to feel similar to your target area"

Once you feel comfortable with using plain white paraffin candles on yourself, try different types of candles, and colors. Read the articles in the Reference and Online Resource list on wax play to get an idea what experienced players recommend.

The second reason for pre scene testing is to establish your play partner's pain threshold. Rebel from the BDSM Hall Forum explains:

"As with any BDSM activity if you are doing this for the first time with someone, it is always a good idea to keep checking where they are - some people use a one to ten scale - one being, next to nothing in heat - 10 being it is time to stop. Most experts at candle waxing do not recommend going above a seven - as the scale goes to 10 fast from there. They also do not recommend STAYING at a seven because wax on wax or wax on a previously waxed and removed area is hotter to the "victim" than the original drop was. (i.e., a drip in one area followed by an identical drip in the exact same area - the first could be a four, while the second could be a seven)."

The third reason for testing a candle prior to play is get some practice using it. Every candle is different in how it melts and how it drips, as well as it's burn temperature. The more familiar you are with your candles, the easier your scene will flow. Peter Masters agrees:

"Get some idea of how hot each candle burns and how high you need to hold them in advance. This will make play go much more smoothly and removes the need to test candles while your partner waits"


You are learning new skills so it may happen, although keeping to the right candles (low temperature) will greatly reduce the possibility as their wax won't cause burns.

What you do need to keep an eye on when you start out, is wax puddles or pooling:

"Pooling Hot Wax and Your Intimate Crevices: A drop or two of hot wax on a submissive’s back is totally different than a molten pool of wax gushing down the cleft of their bottom and gathering into a painful, blistered pool on their anus.!"
You need to keep in mind what can cause a burn. BDSM Education:
"What can cause a burn? Things in the wax, scents, perfumes, metal flakes (for sparkling), hardeners, dyes, etc. and the melting point of the wax. The more oil content in the wax, the lower the melting temperature. It makes me giggle every time I hear someone say the best working temperature for wax play is 120°F-125°F test a small spot on your wrist. Since when did we become capable of telling degrees of temperature?

"I think the only real effective way to determine temperature would be a candy thermometer. I would highly suggest if you are going to do pouring or painting on the wax to use a crock pot with adjustable temperature gauge or a candy thermometer to monitor and keep the temperature under your control, exceeding 145°F for pouring/ladle play is probably not wise"
And if a burn does happen you need to be prepared. The BDSM Education site warns:
"If the sub complains that they feel like they are burned, use a damp cloth to cool the area. Do a visual inspection. If you see blisters and they are large seek medical help, you will probably need Silvadine. If small blisters, keep clean and don't pop the blisters. If you see extreme red, apply aloe vera or some other burn relief cream/ointment. Pinkness is usually just a reaction to the wax and is expected."
Read up on how to treat emergency burns, prior to play. You'll find some links in the References and Online Resources list at the bottom of the post, including this one.


You need to set up a few things to make a wax play scene proceed smoothly. Sure, you can just include a bit of candle play in a longer scene with another focus, but if you really want to have fun with wax, keep these things in mind:

  • Your playroom should be well ventilated.
  • Wax play is messy by nature so a ground / plastic sheet underneath your sub is essential to protect furniture and carpet.
  • Shakti writes "Proper area lighting is important to be able to see the amount of wax you are distributing". If your lighting is poor, use a caving / climbing head torch like we do.
  • Sheveh writes: "Have all your equipment out and prepared for use. These may include: candles, wax/fondue pot, matches or long lighter, mineral/baby oil, paint brushes, ladle, thermometer, knife, plastic scraper, flea comb, drip plate, paper towels, rags, ice, and wet towel, trash can"
  • Make sure you include your first aid kit with your equipment. Remember to discuss possible injuries. You should both be going into the scene with the expectation that there may be some 2nd degree burns.

Because you are playing with fire there are some other good scene preparations and precautions:

  • Make sure you are playing on a flat surface. Trying to keep candles upright on bedclothes (for one example) is a really bad idea... you could use a metal tray on the bed like I do, but make sure the items placed on it are not too tall to overbalance
  • A small fire extinguisher will reassure your sub. Here's shakti: " I always have something nearby just in case a fire does get started, after all, if you have a bound and helpless person under your care, you will want to do your best honor their trust. A small fire extinguisher is not that expensive. At the very least a container of water and something to use smothering the fire should be nearby"
  • Note that last line of Shakti's: "at the very least a container of water and something to use smothering the fire should be nearby". Some wet towels, perhaps? A bowl of ice provides both help from burns / flames plus has kinky potential
  • Don't wear acrylic or polyester clothing. Norische: "Whenever you are using a lit candle make sure that you do not have on acrylic or polyester clothing, if wax gets on these fabrics it can cause the fabric to melt to your skin. Also make sure that you do not have long sleeves that may catch fire or be dipped in the vat by accident"
  • Make sure you have something to light the candles with. Peter Masters points out "a cigarette lighter might seem like a good idea, but sometimes they can be finicky, particularly if it's dark or your hand or fingers are wet or covered in lube. Maybe have another lit candle in a holder which you use to light the wax-dripping candles"
Nawa Shibari has lots of excellent advice in The art of japanese rope bondage - Part 9 Complementary techniques wax play:

"For safety purposes always have a fire-extinguisher or some water available, because the use of open fire - even a small candle flame - can cause unexpected mishaps.

"Before using candles please remove all lingerie. Most lingerie (and other clothing) has at least a small amount of nylon or other artificial substances in it. These will either melt or burn very easily. This also happens extremely easy to cheap pvc and patent leather kinky clothing.

"Another thing that is often overlooked are the risks of ........ HAIRSPRAY! Numerous women use hairspray, often without really taking notice and they are quite likely not to inform the dominant about it, since it is so natural. However, it is also extremely inflammable. That is ONE good reason to stay clear of the head (accidentally dripping wax in the eyes is another).

"And while we are on the subject, if your bedroom is also your play area and you are planning to use open fire, check what is close to the bed. Perfume bottles are potential risks and so are all aerosols. Make sure all that is out of the way when you are planning to use candles in active power exchange play"


Let's look at preparing your submissive physically first.

Their body needs to be clean. The old "should you shave your sub??" debate rages on... Here's Mistress Renee and gunga din:

"Should your sub be shaved? If you intend to get that wax into those fun extra sensitive areas, it is a good idea. Pulling those pubes out by the roots while taking off the dried wax can be less than consensual pain. Course maybe you are into Epiladys. But we will not go there in this article. Again, this is a matter of choice. However, please make note that cold wax is difficult to remove from hair."

Personally I prefer a shaved skin working surface, but really it's up to you if you own your sub, or your play partner if they are unowned. You should check prior to play whether your play partner even wants their genitals included in play, it's off limits for some people. Master Shadow suggests for those who are not shaved:

"a slight amount of Vaseline will keep the wax from sticking to hairs [in the pubic area], unless you want the thrill of pulling pubic hairs trying to get the wax loose. I made this mistake, once....."

Quite a few enthusiasts suggest oiling your sub's body prior to play. Norische writes:

"Using an oil on the skin prior to wax play will help prevent the wax from sticking to the skin, and body hair (if any is present) it also makes clean up much easier. When you use oil however make sure you allow for a longer cooling time and that you monitor the skin closely. If the skin is warm to the touch then but there is no visible discoloration, it is safe to continue. If the skin is pink and warm to the touch, I suggest use caution and slow down a little. If the skin is bright pink or red and hot to the touch then stop immediately and apply a cool compress to the skin, do not put ice directly to the burn, as it may cause additional tissue damage."

While Shakti notes:

"some people advocate oiling the skin before you drop the wax, this makes cleanup especially areas with hair, as in pubic areas or the chests of some males. This will make the clean up much easier, as the wax does not adhere, but you must remember the oil will make the wax seem a bit hotter, and you cannot do the trick with the pulling away of the wax."
What about preparing your sub psychologically? Certainly watching you set up the play space and then being shaved and oiled will start your sub's journey into the zone! I also think Peter Masters raises some interesting points in this post about the sensations the dominant should be aiming to make their sub feel during the scene:
"There are a number of interesting sensations and feelings involved in this:
  • When you're blindfolded or when the wax is being dripped on your back, there can be a lot of tension or apprehension as you wait for the next drop of hot wax. How hot will it be? Will it be a single drop or will your partner pour a stream of wax on you? Where will they let it fall?
  • The sudden feeling of heat or burning can be a shock and quite intense.
  • Feeling the individual drops set, or a pool of wax cool and solidify on your skin.
  • Feeling your partner scrape the wax off your skin
Discuss your fiendish plans with your sub ... or not .... watch their breathing alter as their anticipation levels rise.... you might also like to blindfold your sub before play. Apart from building anticipation, as Shakti points out:
"Many people find that being tied and blindfolded during wax play heightens the sensations, not knowing where the next drop will fall, and being unable to move away from it can add a great deal to the erotic sensations."
For opposite views of blindfolds see here or my scene with sol below.


Good question. Here's Shakti again:

"Where to begin dropping the wax is mostly a matter of preference. But I would recommend, especially in the beginning, starting on the belly or back ... I have found in my experience that some of the most sensitive areas on both sexes are the inner thighs, the area of the belly that joins the hip, the nipples, and the genitals. I begin in a less sensitive area, moving to an occasionally drop on a highly sensitive one"

What about other places? Frugal Domme:
"I would suggest that you NOT use it on the head and face. Both because of the chances of burning, and because getting it in the hair of your sub can be a pain in more than a pleasurable way to remove"
Norische agrees:
"Never do wax play above the shoulders, there is too great a risk of burning the eyes, or getting wax in the mouth or nose, this may lead to choking or asphyxiation. Some believe that if you put fabric or a hood over the face that you can proceed with the wax play, I personally find the risk still to great. The breast and genitals can be included in wax play as long as you remember that this skin is highly sensitive and the healing time for a burn in these areas are painful and may last for an inconveniently long time"
Norische also reminds us to:
"keep in mind that different parts of the body can stand different levels of heat"
Master Shadow:
"The usual targets are vagina, ass, including the crack, nipples, stomach, and anyplace that's sensitive".

Nawa Shibari has some interesting ideas to share, here:

"One specific play form requires a bit of extra attention. Quite a few Shibari Nawashi use candle wax to seal off the vagina and or the anus as a temporary chastity measure or to temporary block the possibility to use the bathroom (especially useful after an enema). In the event you are planning to this, please never do this with fully molten wax. What you do is drip some wax on a saucer and leave it there to half-cool and next apply it in that area by hand. It will still seal off the area you are planning in the form of a plug, but it will not burn the sensitive inner tissue. Also, no matter how many times you see this in porn movies, do not try to drip wax directly into the vagina or anus (what you see in the movies is a trick shot using yoghurt). Doing that is outright dangerous.

"Combining hot candle wax with ice cubes (or drips of ice water) will intensify the effects dramatically. The difference between hot and cold will dazzle the mind"


First, let's look at the safety issues involved with application, and then we can start discussing all the interesting ways wax can be applied. Remember, how you apply your wax in part will depend on the position of your sub. A horizontal position is definitely a good one to start.

Candles come in Tapers (which are usually dripless) and Pillars, Votives, Tealights, Containers and wax pots (all which drip). Shevah writes:
"Tapers are easy to apply, you just let them drip. But you need to keep in mind that because the wax is coming directly from the flame, no pooling is allowed to form (cooling), thus producing the highest temperature of all the candles; therefore extreme care should be taken when using them. To keep them high above your sub to start.

"Pillar candles can take any shape and size but always form in an equal diameter. Melted wax is allowed to pool in the surrounding area of the wick, allowing cooling of the wax. Nearest to the wick can be a temperature as high as 250°F as it is drawn up into the wick for fuel. As wax moves away from the flame (about 1¼”), it pools and the radiant temperature cools to about 140°F. From 1¼” to 1½” away from the flame, the wax can cool to 127°F.

"There are many ways to apply the wax onto the body that depends on the type of candles used. Safe temperatures to use when applying wax are 110°F - 139°F depending upon preparation within the scene"
To start, Rebel makes this great suggestion:
"When you drip wax on a person do so at a height of about 18 inches - and start by dripping it through your own fingers at first to judge the waxes temperature"
"Drop a few drops and carefully note your partner's reaction. You can vary the heat of the drops by holding the candle lower or higher. Again, make sure you have a good idea of just how hot this is. Burns, especially on sensitive tissue are not usually much fun."
Master Shadow:
"Hold the candles about three feet from the spot you intend to drip wax on, and drip, do not pour, at least until you get used to the sensation"
"If you are using a hotter wax, simply increase the distance from the candle to the skin when dripping it onto the body. I always test the wax on myself prior to dripping it onto my slave/sub, this way I will be aware of the level of pain and or pleasure that should be expected. Normally I start the candle out at around 36 inches above the skin, and slowly lower it every few drops until I get the desired affect"
Once you are feeling confident about how your first wax has been received by your sub, it's time to think of all the ways you can apply wax to their skin:
  • You can keep dripping it...

  • You can splash and swirl it ...
  • You can pour it...

  • You can paint it on with a brush ... apart from pretty designs the brush bristles will send your play partner wild

  • You can ladle it on with spoon or ladle....

  • You can use feathers to apply it to the skin....

  • You can lay on wax covered gauze or material ... Norische: "by using gauze or material, simply dip the gauze or fabric in the wax and gently lay it directly on the skin, when the wax cools you can add another layer of gauze or fabric or you can simply pour more wax directly onto the material."
  • You can use your own hands and fingertips ... Shevah:"For a full hands on play, use your own hands, cupped, to scoop up the wax and spread it onto the skin of your partner. Having your hands sensually exploring, pinching, and rubbing, may just allow for other types of enjoyment."
The possibilities are endless :)

We'll look at these and more advanced techniques, but here's Shevah with some lovely ideas:
  • "If you are going to use different types of candles, it is best to have a layer of pure paraffin on the skin first as a barrier layer. This will diffuse the heat over a larger area.
  • Give time between drops to allow that wax to cool and the bottom to react to the sensations. Placing a wax drop on top of another drop creates a penetrating deep heat and requires a longer cooling period, so take your time. Apply a steady series of drops and spread the drops out around the entire area. Rotate candles around while dripping so they burn evenly.
  • Be creative and have fun by applying various layers of color & designs. Let your bottom be your canvas, the candles the pallet, and you the artist. Pillar candles’ pool of wax is what is useful for wax play and should be allowed to regenerate as often as needed. To apply, hold the lit candle directly over the body and tilt it to drip the pooled wax while moving it over the body. Wait for the sweet exhaling sigh.
  • Taper candles require much more care while using because they burn at a much higher temperature. The old school thought is to adjust the height of the drop by raising your arm & varying the distance. This allows the drop of wax to cool as it falls downward hitting your target. Latest tests show that the degree of cooling is so negligible that this method is not needed. Besides, dripping wax from those distances causes splashing of wax everywhere; getting onto clothes, hair, face, shoes and surrounding areas. Skip all the mess, build your protective barrier layer of wax first and then have fun sending your bottom into ecstasy..."
You might ask : when do we apply the wax? Mistress Renee and gunga din have the perfect answer:
"Wax is a scene intensifier. That is, when you are in a scene and you want that sub of yours to go straight into, or deeper into, subspace, or even into a serious orgasmic phase, hot wax is a great way to do it."


Dripping is a great way to start:
"Drip little bits of wax at varying heights and areas of the body to help the submissive get into headspace and to help build up a tolerance. Go for a steady series of drops. Rotate the candles around while dripping so it burns evenly or a smooth pour from the larger candles. Gradually lower the candle to see the effect. Constantly, drip the wax at various heights and different areas. Different areas of the body may not be able to tolerate as much as other areas i.e. private sensitive areas. Make various designs. You can create beautiful artwork, using a naked body as the canvas. Use your imagination. But remember pooling is bad, so if you have a pool of wax, dump if off on the ground, or blow out the candle, let it cool off, and re-light it. Also remember that if you drop wax on top of wax, it will hold the heat in and possibly cause burns, so be careful when you layer"
Mistress Renee and gunga din:
"This is probably the most popular way of applying hot wax to a submissive. The wonderful moans, the delicious squirms of your submissive as s/he reacts to each delightful drop of hot wax makes dripping a favorite for many Tops/Dom/mes"
Rebel suggests the "Single/Double/Triple/Quad Dripping" technique:
"A single candle drips at a rate of about one drip per three seconds. IF you take two candles, one in each hand (double drip) and circle the flames over and under each other you increase the drips by 3 fold. If you hold two candles in one hand and done in the other (triple drip) you increase the drips 9 fold, and so on and so on. Multiple candle dripping takes practice, caution is recommended as you can be easily burned and you can misjudge where the flame of one hits the wrong spot of another..."


BDSM Digest:
"Jar candles are nice you can get a lot of wax in a little time. You can pour it on slowly or cover them with a large amount at one time. BDSM waxplay jar candles does not stick to hair, so this is good for hairy male submissive or female that does not shave down below. You can use all types of fun stuff to get the wax on the submissive from a coffee cup, turkey baster, spoon, paint brush (don’t use anything that you will want to use later ) also you can pour it into cup"
Mistress Renee and gunga din:
"Pouring is probably the riskiest of techniques as temperature is extremely critical when pouring wax. However, this is also probably equal in intensity to painting, which we will discuss soon. Pouring little streams of hot wax onto a prone sub so that little rivulets of hot wax run down the sides and between the legs is a joyful sight to see, and hear, indeed! And pouring is most certainly going to put that slutty plaything into the deepest of dives. Pouring, if you take the time, can result in a near body cast of your subject.."


Mistress Renee and gunga din:
"hot wax painting can be an expression in both intense erotic sensation and art. Hot wax painting combines the intensity of hot wax with the sensation of brush bristles at the target site simultaneously. You can create beautiful artwork, using a naked body as the canvas. Hot wax painting has been observed to drive many subs into deep subspace and just as many into intense orgasms. Beautiful casts of tender parts can be created, for instance, boy-toys genitals can be brush cast, the wax form carefully removed, and the now mold can be filled with water and frozen to make a nice ice dildo for later use"

See, I told you that "how to make an ice dildo" link would prove useful :) Caged Heart Publishing writes:

"Painting delicious wax graffiti on your lover is amazingly erotic! From paintbrushes to feathers, Q-tips to eye droppers, try painting your name or simple scrolls and designs. I’ve had a Celtic dragon and the word “MINE” on my back, a Wheel of life and a stained glass look ‘window’ among other fun things"

Rebel suggests that:

"Painting [be] done with a simple paintbrush used for house painting. If you are painting to make a mold - use at least four layers to start - and add on from there."


  • natural fibre paint brushes only!
  • to test the temp of the wax and
  • adjust the proper height before application on any body
Here's an excellent cautionary tale from Norische's submssive betsy:
“My first experience with wax play was not a good one. My 1st Dominant was unfortunately for me a wanna be Dom. He had decided that wax play sounded good, but he had no experience with wax at all. He went down to Wal-Mart and bought a box of the Gulf Wax brand paraffin, and an acrylic paintbrush, this should have immediately told me he was inexperienced. He brought over a cheap aluminum pot and melted the wax and stirred it with the acrylic paintbrush, leaving the acrylic paintbrush sitting in the melted wax.

"My first taste wax play was the brush being taken directly from the pan and whapped on my breast; he allowed the brush to lay against my skin for about a minute. I ended up with a first degree burn over one third of my left breast, the area was red for over a week and remained tender to the touch for about the next three weeks!

" After the initial damage was done, he proceeded to paint my breast with the brush, adding layer upon layer of wax; not realizing that by layering the wax it was actually holding in the heat and not allowing the skin to cool down between layers. This Dom made three big mistakes.

"First acrylic is plastic and melts, so when he left the paintbrush in the pan it was actually melting it and mixing it with the wax. Second, he did not test the temperature on himself first; he laid the brush on my breast without draining the excess wax from the brush or even checking to see how hot it was. Third, he layered the wax without thinking about how hot it would get. What could have and should have been a wonderful sensual scene turned into a disaster. Needless to say – i lost trust for this Dominant rather quickly.”
Funny, that!


Techniques like painting on your sub are obviously going to require a lot of wax, and for your wax to be prepared in a different manner than via a candle. This is where people start using things like beauty parlor wax warmers,crock pots, fondue pots or any kind of cooker where you can control the exact temperature. One useful comment from the Kinky Ever After blog:
"Not all crock pots are created equal. Tread with caution. We've found that it's best to turn it on and melt the wax and then unplug it once the wax is the right temperature. The wax should be well stirred, as there will be hot and cool spots if you don't mix it well..."
Interestingly some of these containers keep the wax cooler than usual, which might make them a useful option if your play partner can't tolerate much heat. Here's Peron:
"The coolest to start with are actually the wax warmers used in beauty parlors for waxing (hair removal), that wax melts somewhere between 90 and 110 degrees. Next on the list are the parafin baths used for arthritis suffers, that also melts at a lower degree of temperature around what the beauty was melts at. Most taper type candles burn at 120 degrees and beeswax burns at 180 degrees"
With this amount of wax available you can dip a paint brush into the melted wax and then applying it to the skin. Crock pots / fondue pots are also useful for this next technique:


When I mentioned to friends that I was writing this post, a lot referred me to Grendelkhan's famous - and stunning - 2004 wax play photo of Lady Byron, which features a wax play scene created using Crayola wax crayons.

In a scene like this the wax crayons are being used to add color. We've gone through above why sometimes using colored candles is not a good idea ... which begs the question: how does one actually color wax? Shivah writes:
"Two different processes are used to color Wax. One is a dye, which dissolves and mixes with the oil in the wax. The other is a pigment, a fine powder that does not dissolve. Regardless of the color of wax, the wick will “pump” the same amount of fuel into the flame of the candle. Therefore, neither Dye nor Pigment affects the amount of time the candle will burn.

"Unless you buy your candles direct from a manufacturer or make your own, you do not know if pigment was used. Therefore, it makes good practice to use pure paraffin as the first coating on the skin. One problem with pigments and heavy oils in candles is that the fine powder can get stuck in the fibers of the cotton wick and clog it up. Once this happens, the wick cannot carry as much liquid wax up to fuel the flame. With less fuel delivered, less flame (smaller and dimmer) will be produced. In some cases the oil clogs the wick so much that after a while the candle ceases to burn at all"
It all sounds very complicated, but as Shivah notes there are easier solutions:
"An easy way to add color to plain wax is to add a crayola crayon to the wax pot"
I'd not heard this before, but once I knew to look out for it, this advice appears quite often in "how to" articles about wax play. Here's Norische:
"If you are wanting more color and don't want to risk using a colored candle, try melting a crayon in the wax, it will add color but will not raise the melting point of the wax"
Elvenkind wrote on an IC thread:
"If your in a playful, artistic mood, you can always melt down some crayola crayons, oil up your sub and drip the wax to make mould of whatever you want to ... the wax slides off making a perfect shape ... awesome on tits"
And this, from another article:

"Crayolas, like your average crayon, are not made from 100% wax, and will leave a residue on the skin that is sticker than you’ll be used to. Ways to work around this: melt Crayolas into your regular wax to keep the colour with less stickiness, or rub the area with oils before you start for easier removal.

"Because crayons are designed for children, they are nontoxic, so you needen't worry about toxicity. However not all crayons are created equal, and the additives in one brand of crayons may cause an unintended reaction with your skin"

That last line is VERY important. There are a few references online about crayon brands that work well for wax play. danae from within Reality wrote, after taking part in wax play demos, that:
"Crayola crayons - they are the best to use as cheaper brands tend to have plastic in them and certain dyes both of which can dramatically increase the temperature to levels higher then desired"
Crayola are the most commonly named brand by people online ... and look at these amazing colors:

8 pack (1908) +8 = 16 pack (1924) +8 = 24 pack (1973)
Carnation Pink
Red Orange
Violet Red
Yellow Orange
Yellow Green
Green Yellow
Violet (purple)
Blue Green
Blue Violet
Red Violet
White Crayola-Apricot.jpg

Over in the UK pplatinumpussy writes of her crayon based wax play:
"We achieve the colours with Tesco crayons, in ordinary light some are glittery and the colours are good, but under black light they are awesome as they glow in the dark!!"
Okay, we have some ideas re what works in the UK and North America, so go to it, you lot! Of course this is no confirmation that brands with similar names in Australia are made from the same materials. So looks like I'll need to do more research :)

The idea is to melt the crayons in your crockpot or fondue pot to reproduce their marvelous colors. Re technique, you can splash and drip like Grendelkhan's famous photo of Lady Byron, paint like Picasso or Jackson Pollock ... or, what about this technique suggested by Sindra van Yssel:
"The really big fat Crayola crayons can be dipped in flame, so that just the end melts, and then used to write on a body with melted-but-not-super-hot-wax, if you like the art but don't like the paintbrushes. It's slow, and requires a lot of patience. And I wouldn't let it get in the flame enough to drip, because I think the drip would be a hotter than paraffin and unsafe. Done with just a dash through the flame, tho, it's non burning.."
Lots of ideas ... and as danae outlines, crayon / wax play can be done cheaply:
"When I want to Wal-mart I bought: Crayola crayons - they are the best to use as cheaper brands tend to have plastic in them and certain dyes both of which can dramatically increase the temperature to levels higher then desired. The crock pot (which was $9.95) and paraffin. You might want to check your local craft store to see if you can get a large block of paraffin which works out to be cheaper as we got a 10-pound block for $8"


Wax play is a great technique to use in conjunction with other types of BDSM play.

Bondage, for example. Lots of rope bondage enthusiasts enjoy it. Here's Nawa Shibari:
"Probably the most popular complementary Shibari technique is wax play: dripping candle wax on the body in some way. The occasional drop of hot candle wax can be extremely erotic or work as a short, sharp pain impulse. But, like everything else - if given half a chance the Shibari Nawashi will take the technique a few steps further."

You can also add wax play to any other scene featuring non rope forms of restraint. We restrain sol for our wax play scenes with cuffs, carabinars and a home made leg spreader bar. Peter Masters suggests:

"With mummification, cut holes in the wrap to allow the wax to be dropped directly onto the bare skin".
You can also of course combine various forms of temperature play, so for example combine wax play with ice play. Dr Beth explains why this is so effective:
"When heat and cold are used together in a scene the feelings are much more intense, because alternating hot and cold sensations can confuse the nerves. Hot and cold nerve endings respond to differences from body temperature, but when rapidly repeated changes in temperature are administered to an area, these calculations can become wildly inaccurate. The bottom may feel as if they are being subjected to incredibly high degrees of heat and cold Ñ or both at once -- and pain nerves may be recruited as well, even though the skin is not burning."
Here are some practical ideas. MorTis writes:
"when I do wax play, I cant have the fire without the ice! so usually when I play, I will rub down the skin with ice, which cools the skin, and leave water pools, which help cool off the hot wax faster, but makes the hot wax feel a little hotter because of temperature contrast even though its cooler at the point! great for play. So usually I will ice, keep ice cube in one hand, and a dripping candle in the other hand, and follow up a second later with the ice cube! that way you know you victim will not get burned, and gets the effect! ... ice on, wax on, ice off!"
Frugal Domme writes:
"note that a sub who is naked, bound, blindfolded, etc is going to experience the temperature as being higher than you will. This is good. You get more mileage from lower temperature being perceived as being higher than it is. And if you combine wax play with ice play, you can give them the feeling that their skin is being burned off without getting them more than pink. Mind games are the best games."
Norische describes a magical "fire and ice" scene in her article on wax play:
"I used a ladle to pour wax directly onto his lower abdomen ... I let the wax run down his stomach onto his crotch and begin to pool between his legs. As he became more comfortable with the heat, I began to poor the wax directly onto his genitals, from his facial expressions I could tell there was some discomfort there but nothing he couldn’t handle.

"The next thing I did is where the sedition comes in, as soon as I poured a ladle of wax on him I dumped a handful of snow on his crotch right behind it. Back and forth between hot and cold, over and over again he had goose bumps and was sweating all in the same moment. I never allowed the snow to make direct contact with the skin for more than a few seconds but the effect was dramatic. I ended by scrapping the wax from his body by using a very dull knife (basically the equivalent of a butter knife). The entire experience was extremely exhilarating and enjoyable for both of us"
I adore that woman. What a mind. She should be made a National Treasure of BDSM. Tenderdom also enjoys fire and ice combinations:
"Ice is another good thing to add.. a little fire and ice. One idea is take the ice in your hand and let it melt and drip on to the submissive.. they feel something hit their skin and they are expecting heat and their mind goes noooo wait a minute … it's a very nice mind fuck . Another idea is to take a piece of ice and wax it on to the body or cut a little piece of the wax and slide it into the hole. Then when it melts they get a rush of cold water and its a lot like the votives, another fun thing to do is to put a piece of ice next to a votive, the submissive will never know what they are going to get fire or ice !!!!!"


Sadly, at some point the scene must end. But there's no reason why removing the wax should be part of post scene clean up. Make it part of the scene! Here's BDSM Digest:

"Removing the wax can be just as erotic and full of sensation as the actual waxing. This can also be a very fun part of the scene. As it pulls away from the skin, the sensation is again intense, and running a feather or fingernails or even a tongue over this sensitized skin is a very sexy way to prolong the waxing session. It is easiest to use a comb held sideways to scrape off the wax. Beat it off, if you going to do a flogging after a waxing, you will beat most of it off. After removing the majority of the wax, try using a knife to scrape the wax off or rubbing with baby oil. Do not use a sharp knife to do this. The skin is very sensitive once the wax is removed. There will be reddening of the skin but this should clear up in a few hours at the most"
Shakti suggests:
"Peeling bits of wax off, is almost as much fun as dropping it. As it pulls away from the skin, the sensation is again intense, and running a feather or fingernails or even a tongue over this sensitized skin is a very sexy way to prolong the 'waxing' session...

"I have seen people use vampire gloves or those pet brushes sometimes used for sensation play, as an easier way to take the wax off, they work well, and do add another twist to your session"

Shevah also has some great suggestions for wax removal that will extend your scene:

"Using a wet ice cube to chill the wax on the skin is an easy way to remove wax. It is also a nice double sensation of mediums.

"To peel the wax off, use a knife, scraper, or a fine edge to loosen the edges and then grab it with your fingers and gently pull the wax over itself. Knife play is a wonderful mix with wax play. Removing wax with a knife brings new meaning to the “hold still” whispered in the ear. It can be tricky running a very sharp knife blade over the curves and bumps of the body. Unlike regular knife play where usually the tip of the blade is used, you need to use a wider portion of the sharp edge against the skin. It is best to tilt the blade at an angle while scraping it over the skin. Also, hold more of the blade in your hand rather than just the handle to provide better control. Depending on your skills with knives, you can just as easily use a plastic knife or a butter knife that has a dull edge. Hint: You can chill the knife beforehand, but make sure you wet the knife in water first.

"A plastic scraper is useful to get the small areas of wax left over on the skin. The scrubbie will also get off the small bits of wax remaining by gently rubbing it over the skin. To get wax out of hair, use a flea comb. It is not a good idea to use a leather flogger or whip to remove wax – it gets everywhere and also on your expensive toy. Besides, you just gave a pleasurable, relaxing, sensual, erotic, and luxurious play scene. Leave the stingy ouchies for another time"

Afterwards Shevah suggests:

"Rubbing lotion or cream (that does not contain alcohol) on the now delightfully sensitive area that you just removed wax, is a wonderful way to end the scene – touching, caressing, and massaging"

More seriously, Shevah also notes:

"Do not disregard the aftercare that may be required to help your bottom recover and transition to a self-sustaining state"
And this is important ... do make sure you double check your play partner's aftercare requirements prior to play.


If you've not included things like ground sheets (or old shower curtains) in your scene preparation, then post scene clean up can be a major job. But if you've used one you can quickly get rid of quite a lot of the mess! pplatinumpussy has some excellent suggestions:
"Its a messy business, wear old clothes for the pourer and naked for the victim We bought some tarp from B&Q, its the taking off that's the messy bit as it flies everywhere, so make sure its a large sheet, it bungs up your hoover, so dustpan and brush and I'm told that ironing over it with brown paper removes it from most fabrics if scraping fails. We also use a horse grooming rubber brush from Tescos, to brush down the skin afterwards."

"Remember to clean your equipment while the wax is still warm, cos its a bugger when it gets too cold"
If you are using wax warmers or fondue pots, Shevah warns:
"Do not re-use any wax you have taken off of skin. It is contaminated with skin flakes, oils, and dirt. If wax got on your clothing, boil them in a large pot to release the wax from the fabric. Any wax left in your hair will easily come off by showering with a conditioner."


We negotiated a scene where I'd try different types of candles on sol's cock and balls. We'd use only paraffin candles, but of different types (tapers / tea lights) and different temperatures. We'd also try a colored candle specially made for wax play.

You'll remember some sources suggested getting all your stuff together before you start? Well I put everything on my metal tray ... yes I know, the damned tray gets used all the time in different scenes but it's useful!

This time the tray has on it:
  • Japanese red paraffin wax (low temperature) candle
  • white household paraffin candles
  • paraffin tea light candles (hot)
  • tweezers
  • matches and lighter
  • Soov Gel for instantly treating any small burns
  • empty glass to balance lit candles in
  • square piece of cardboard (from the tea light box) (not in photo)
  • toy made from sol's old leather belt (not in photo)
I lit the tea candles at the beginning of the scene and left them to melt:

I find tea lights / candles very useful. Some people don't advise using them, for example Shevah finds:
"Tealights – poured into thin metal cups using paraffin wax. Pooling does not occur and therefore the temperature can be 136°F or higher. Better used as ambiance to a room rather than for wax play. "
But I'm with Master Shadow :
"I use tea candles, usually paraffin, and small enough for single use, although I DO go through about 5 or 6 during a scene, but that's just me"
I'm the same :). Once the tea lights are melted I use the tweezers to extract the remains of the wick and lift the hot tin container up so I can pour the melted contents into the empty glass on my tray and make a sort of melted votive style candle.

We then prepared the bed with several layers of sex towels (towels that are fine for a few stains) :

Having said earlier "don't play on a bed" I should explain that our bed is a thin mattress on a wooden platform, so it's very stable.

I also absolutely agree about putting down plastic or a shower curtain if you are planning to place wax on lots of body areas. However in our case we were concentrating only on the genitals.

As sol likes to be restrained we attached his cuffed wrists to restraint points above the bed:

And attached his cuffed ankles to a home made spreader bar:

As I wrote before, it can be fun to blindfold your sub, and I do recommend that if you are just starting out (it gives the dominant a lot more confidence as well as increasing intensity for the sub) but in this case I wanted sol to see what was coming. Chris agrees:
"I mentioned blindfolds as a way to increase the intensity earlier but my own experience is quite the opposite. I like the submissive to watch with her eyes wide as the liquid wax builds up at the top of the candle and my hand moves that candle all over her restrained body. Where will the next drop fall? The belly, the breast, the thighs, the mons, the nipple, the labia? Mmm, the possibilities."
Keeping in mind Dr Beth's comment that:
"Skin which has been flogged or spanked to increase the blood flow to the surface will be more sensitive to temperature sensations. This is the skin equivalent of turning up the volume"
we began the scene with a little cock and ball strapping, with a toy made from sol's old leather belt:

I then placed a square piece of cardboard (from the tea light box) under sol's cock to help with pooling and drips on the skin below. I had several other pieces ready to use in other spots.

I then lit the red Japanese candle. This had been a birthday present from MissDee to sol and

we keep it for special occasions. It's a low temperature paraffin candle so was a nice way to start.

I pulled sol's foreskin forward and began dripping the candle wax onto his cock:

He made happy sighing noises....

For a quick detour I moved up to his nipples. See how well the cardboard catches stray drips?

I really liked the way the Japanese wax peels off easily, leaving any attached hair behind:

I then returned to sol's genitals, dripping over the balls and pouring over the cock head:

I then lit a white paraffin candle:

I peeled back some of the red wax on sol's cock and dripped white wax onto the sensitive head:

The white paraffin candle was definitely hotter and sol gasped.

I spent some time dripping the white candle, and then observed my tea light candles were all melted. Yippee! I blew out the wicks, then picked up the tweezers, removed the wicks and poured each of the hot metal containers into the clear glass on my tray.

This left me with a nice glass full of melted wax:

Can you see how it's already solidifying in the photo above? I had to move quickly...

I poured wax over sol's cock head:

And worked my way down to his balls, holding a piece of cardboard in my other hand to catch as many stray drips as I could:

You can see how pools and puddles have still formed:

Here's the final application of wax:

Sol really enjoyed this. We admired my handiwork for a while and then I decided to give peeling the wax off as part of the scene a go. The white wax was harder to peel off than the softer red wax, but soon it was piled on the cardboard:

I had thought of doing some more flogging or corporal punishment with sol's leather belt at this point, as several writers recommended it.

However I decided whipping off the last of the wax would be really messy to clean up.

I then allowed sol to masturbate and (being in a very good mood after all this) even allowed him to come:

Clean up was very easy, well it probably took sol more time to wash than me to clean up!

Later in bed we agreed it had been a really interesting and informative afternoon. We'd learned lots about different types of candles, and enjoyed playing around with temperature levels. I also really enjoy this kind of sensation play - there are so many variables so endless things to keep me amused ... shall I pour from high or low ... shall I add color and make pretty patterns ... shall I focus on increasing pain ... endless fun :)


Iona from sapioslut is on Kinky Sex Link with me and I very much enjoy reading her posts there. Especially this recent one about her first experience with wax play...
"Once upon a time there was a girl who liked to have a little tuft of pubic hair. Suitably cropped, that bit of fluff did something for her: it was a good thing. Until her first experience of wax play…

"We put out towels, lots of towels, and a circular tin with little lavender candles around the edge. There was a good reason this tin was round, but I didn’t appreciate it until later. The candles were lit and began to melt.

"He sat beside me on the bed, stroked my body, picked up the first candle and held it high in the air as he tipped it gently. Ping went the heat as it hit my skin. James put that one down and picked up the next one: again high in the air, and tipped until the liquid spattered onto my thigh.

"He put the candle back, turned the tin lid and picked up the third one. This one went splashing down my labia. Oh my god! Ping, ping, ping – but oh so warm. It was interesting to feel how quickly the intense heat dissipated.

"He kept this up, each candle a new experience. I discovered that the first splashes on bare skin are edgy for me, but once there’s a layer of wax it is like tiny little hot towels – only better.

"The shape of the lid made sense! It was like a mini Lazy Susan for candles. It meant that he could just rotate the tin to get the next longest burning candle, and a continuous supply of melted wax.

"Then it was time to start cleaning up. Oh my god, the hair. How is this going to come out? Having previously waxed my pubes I had an idea of what I was in for. Eeek! But it was OK. Candle wax is much more brittle than the wax you use for hair removal. It chipped off nicely, especially with James’s big old hunting knife, and a bit of showering and soap did the rest.

I’d love to try this again!

Well worth visiting her blog to read the full post and enjoy the photo :)



Ice play workshops are less common than other forms of temperature play (or may be combined with these) so you may need to ask about, but you will find them now and again on the programs of kinky three day events / conventions etc.


g-girl - DIY Ice Dildo
IC - Ice play
Peter Masters
Naia - Fire and Ice
Submissive's journey - Dangers of Ice play
Franklin Veaux - How to Make an Ice Dildo
Wiki - temperature play

Fet groups:
You Tube - How to Make an Ice Dildo


Fireplay is quite popular in the scene at the moment so you should be able to track down some good presenters near you. Do check their credentials, fireplay is not something you want to get wrong!

If you are in the US, Edukink has a great page listing fire play presenters and resources.
Robert Ruben - fire play presentation guide

GENERAL: - fire play
BDSM Central - First fire play in public
Fetish Alliance - Manual for basic fire play
SehAnru -Up in Flames: The Basics of Fireplay
Souls haven - fire play
Viviane's Sex Carnival - Zen and the art of fire cupping
Wiki - Fire play

Fet groups:

Fireplay with Torches, by Domina Corwin
Flames of Passion: Handbook of Erotic Fire Play, by David Walker & Robert J Rubel


Lots of kinksters present wax play workshops, ask around in your local scene. Also check out the programs of weekend events / conventions etc as they often feature wax play.

Google search - wax play workshop

EduKink regularly holds Wet and WarmMmmm - Hot Wax play - a Paideia playshop

GENERAL: - wax-play

Alkallah - Waxing Eloquent
Ask the Doctor of Perversity Temperature Play
M.K. Blackwind - More on Wax Play
BDSM Education - Wax play
BDSM Digest - Wax play
BDSM Relationships - Candle wax play
Caged Heart Publishing - Hot Wax Safety for BDSM Scenes
danea of withinReality - Varieties of wax
Frugal Domme - Hot wax and it's dangers
Gil K. from GMSMA - Hot Scenes With Candles
Kinkopedia - Wax play
Kinky Ever After - Wax Play

Lady V and Master Richard Wax Play site
Master David - Hot Wax Safety
Master Shadow - Candle play
Mistress Renee & gunga din - Hot Wax, the Intense Sensation
Model Mayhem - thread on crayons
- Candles (kyandoru) and HotWax (rou)
Nan's mollie - The Basics of Hot Wax Play Wax Play
Dennis Nagee - Wax play II

Mystress Evyl - Review of Fetish Fantasy Series Sensual Hot Wax Candles
Matt Nicholson Waxon, Waxoff and Other Japanese Sayings
Norische - Candlelight Moments - Basics of Wax Play
pplatinumpussy - post on using crayons with wax play
Safer + Saner : Wax Play
Sapio Slut - Waxed Up
Shakti - Guide to Waxing Wax Play Safety and Hints
Shiva -Wax play
Nawa Shibari - The art of Japanese rope bondage - Part 9 Complementary techniques wax play
Tenderdom - BDSM Wax Play
Unfettered - First Aid and BDSM - Burns
John Warren - Erotic Wax Play
Wiki - temperature play
Wiki - Wax play

BDSM Hall Forum - Wax play help
ssbb has collected a number of questions/emails/threads etc
Tribes - hotwaxpoetic
Yahoo - BDSMwaxplay

Fet groups:
Spectrum, The Toybag Guide to Hot Wax and Temperature Play. Greenery Press, 2004. ISBN 1-890159-57-3.

Thank you:
to everyone I've quoted
you've made sorting out
temperature play a pleasure :)

Japanese low temp candles - source unknown
Photo of Japanese candle in use - source unknown
Kinky Sex Link - candle review photo

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