16 Things You Should Know Before Trying Wax Play

It doesn’t matter whether you have more kinks than a garden hose or whether your idea of kinky is having sex with the lights on—everyone could use a lil more excitement in their sex life. And if you’re looking to add something spicy (hot, even) to the bedroom, then allow us to introduce you to wax play. According to data collected from nearly 5,000 couples on Simpatic.us (a site that helps couples find their mutual sex interests), wax play is growing in popularity. “At least one partner in nearly 34 percent of couples has an interest in wax play,” says Derek Newton, owner of Simpatic.us.

As to what it even is? Well, wax play involves dripping candle wax onto your partner (or yourself) in a sexy way. And while most wax play is considered a part of BDSM, it doesn’t always have to be. “Hot wax can be a frightening and high-sensation element in play, and BDSM often eroticizes that kind of experience,” explains Carol Queen, PhD, the resident sexologist at Good Vibrations.

Isabelle Uren, a sexpert at BedBible, agrees, adding, “The thrill of engaging in something a little dangerous and the anticipation of waiting for the wax to hit your skin can give you a rush of sexual excitement. It also stimulates more of your senses than just touch, enhancing pleasure and helping you to be present in the moment. You have the physical reaction to heat, which increases your sensitivity, making all of the other touches from your partner feel more intense. What’s more, sexual exploration with a partner, in general, can enhance intimacy through shared experiences and the trust and respect involved in trying new things.” Sounds pretty hot to us!!

But before you just run and grab one of your many $10 three-wick candles from Bath and Body Works, know that there is a right and wrong way to engage in wax play. If you have ever wanted to literally play with fire and drip hot wax on your partner during sex (in a safe way, ofc), here are some tips and tricks to help you get started, according to sexperts.

1. Make sure you’re using special body-safe wax candles.

Please don’t use just any old candle you have laying around (because, ow, hot!). You want to go with an unscented, colorless soy or paraffin candle—but candles that are specifically designed for this type of wax play in mind are best.

“Body-safe massage candles are the safest if you are new to wax play, as they melt at a much lower temperature,” Uren tells us. “Not to mention, they often have skin-nourishing oils in them that will leave your skin feeling deliciously soft! I would always recommend buying candles made specifically for wax play. They are usually made from soy wax, which has a lower melting point, or paraffin wax, which has a slightly higher melting point and will give a more intense sensation.”

Here, some general guidelines:

Body-Safe Candle Ingredients:

Soy: These are the safest candles to use since they cool the most quickly on contact, says Candice Smith, co-founder of The KinkKit and sex expert for Mindful (formerly My First Blush). Plus, they’re less likely to cause skin irritation.

Paraffin: These burn at a hotter point than soy candles, so try one if you’re into more intense (read: painful) wax play.

Candle Ingredients to Avoid:

Beeswax: Stay away from these (beeswax will burn the skin!) or any candle that does not have its ingredients listed, says Smith.

Any colorings or dyes: These can change the melting point of a candle and possibly result in a burn you weren’t anticipating, explains Mistress Couple, a professional dominatrix and author of The Ultimate Guide to Bondage: Creating Intimacy through the Art of Restraint.

Best Body-Safe Wax Candles

2. Establish a safe word.

Before you start lighting candles, remember that wax is hot, can burn, and can cause serious damage and scarring if not used correctly. You are playing with actual fire, people. “Establish clear boundaries before starting,” Uren suggests. “This could sound something like, ‘I would like you to drip wax on my (insert body part), but not on my (insert body part).'”

According to Tatyana Dyachenko, a sexual and relationship therapist with Peaches and Screams, a safe word is a good idea, even if wax play is not used in a traditional BDSM scene. After all, this is supposed to be enjoyable, not torture (unless that’s something you’re into). So pick a word that you and your partner will remember—like pineapple or red—and strike that match.

3. Have a bucket of warm water next to you in case of burns.

Before you light up, remember that you are playing with fire, and it’s dangerous. You will want to have a bucket of warm water next to you, just in case. If someone gets burned (unintentionally), you never want to throw cold water onto them because it acts as a shock to the system and can make burns worse. “In the case of burns, cool the area with lukewarm water or a cool (not cold) compress and seek appropriate treatment,” Uren says.

4. Set up a safe area to play in—far away from anything flammable.

“Fire is wily,” says sexologist Megan Stubbs. “Whenever we’re talking about anything with an open flame, it’s important to have the right kind of environment. Don’t have lots of easily flammable things like tissues, drapes, or hair products nearby.” Also, deadass buy a fire extinguisher and have one on hand.

You should also keep an eye out for lingerie thrown around in the heat of the moment, bed sheets, and curtains, adds Couple.

5. If you’re using a candle with a glass container, use an electric candle warmer, or make sure to blow out the flame first.

Before you get started, light your candle and leave it in a safe place while the wax melts. “Ideally, you want to get an even melt across the candle and avoid tunneling, much like when you burn a regular candle,” Uren says.

Then, when you are ready to start dripping the wax, blow out the flame to reduce the risk of burns or fire. If you don’t, the flame might make contact with the glass when you tip the candle to pour it, causing the glass to heat up quickly and burn you or even shatter, according to Smith. Definitely not what you want here. Using an electric candle warmer is a safer alternative (and can help you avoid that “tunneling” effect).

Best Electric Candle Warmers

6. Prep your surroundings for cleanup ahead of time.

TBQH, wax is a bitch to clean up, so doing some pre-play prepping might save you a headache later on. Put down a plastic sheet or use puppy pads, per Smith. It’s also not a bad idea to lay down an old sheet you don’t care about over your bedspread as an extra precaution, adds Queen.

7. …And prep your body for cleanup.

Once the wax cools and hardens, it can be super painful to remove from any areas with body hair. Sure, you can shave ahead of time, but another option recommended by all our experts is to prep your or your partner’s skin with oil. Baby oil will make wax removal much easier. Plus, it’s a nice opportunity for a sexy warm-up massage, says Couple. When it does come time to slather on some oil, stay away from the face, any open wounds, genitals, and hair, if possible, adds Smith. The back or torso is a good starting-off point.

Best Pre-Wax Play Baby Oils

8. Let the candle burn for around 20 to 30 minutes, and then test the wax on yourself first.

It’s important that you test the wax on yourself before trying it on a partner so you can physically empathize with the sensation your partner will be experiencing, says Couple. That said, your pain tolerance might be way higher than your partner’s, so communication is always a must as well.

9. Start by dripping wax on less sensitive areas.

Once your partner has determined that the temp is A-OK, Uren says to start by dripping the wax onto less sensitive areas of your partner’s body, such as the arms and back. “Avoid dripping wax on hairy areas or remove the hair first—it’s called waxing for a reason!” she adds. “Slowly move to more sensitive areas, such as the inner thighs, making sure to check in with your partner as you test new areas. And never pour wax on the head, face, genitals, or inside the body.”

10. Control any splash back by changing the height at which you pour.

Check in with your partner and see if they want less heat (move the candle further away, this way, the wax has more time to cool before contact) or more (move the candle closer). “Avoid getting closer than six inches away from the skin unless you’re okay with the risk of burns,” says Couple. “The real danger of pouring is when a piece of wax that’s on fire or very hot falls onto the skin and burns it. This can happen from any height, so it’s important to go slowly, be vigilant, and use the correct materials.”

11. Experiment with the timing of your pours.

“For some, the slow drip…drip…drip…of the candles provides a sense of anticipation. For others, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.” says Couple. “Some folks might want to let the candle sit and melt for a while so that the pour produces more of a splashing sensation. Just be careful about the temperature of the wax. A nice way to control wax temperature but increase the volume of melted wax is to put candles inside glass jars in a water bath in a crockpot.” This way, you have more wax to play with, but you aren’t torching them at high temps to get there.

12. Play with shapes and patterns.

You can also drizzle the wax over your partner’s back to create different sensations and patterns, says Smith. Don’t feel limited to just dumping wax on them, either—you can also bust out a paintbrush or use your fingers to get more creative.

13. Once the wax has cooled, play with the hardened wax, too.

Just because the wax is now on your partner’s body doesn’t mean that’s game over. Running ice cubes over the still-warm wax, or tapping on hardened wax, can open up even more pleasure, says Couple.

14. Feeling bold? Try adding other BDSM elements.

If you want to push your playtime even further, you can also use a whip to remove the hardened wax. “In BDSM scenes, it can be common to use a whip to remove the wax, not stopping until it is all gone, no matter where the wax is,” Dyachenko says. Just make sure you and your partner are both fine with breast, vaginal, or penis whipping before you begin.

Adding in a blindfold can intensify the experience as well. “Removing the sense of sight increases the sense of anticipation and allows your partner to focus more on the physical sensations,” says Uren. “You can also experiment with cold and hot by blowing on the wax as it cools to give your partner goosebumps or even use an ice cube to send shivers of pleasure through their body.”

15. Don’t skimp on the aftercare!

Whenever something like BDSM is involved, you have to make sure there’s also an element of aftercare (positive things like cuddling, words of affirmation, reassurance, water, hugs) that needs to be worked into things, explains Couple. “Wax play, in particular, should end with a massage of aloe vera or sunburn cream to help soothe sensitive skin, and who knows, maybe lead into the next part of your sexual encounter…” 😉

Best Post-Wax Play Aloes

16. Once you’re done-done, use a plastic card or comb to remove hardened wax.

Assuming you stayed away from any hair (or your pre-applied baby oil helped loosen the hardened wax off), you can also use a plastic card (like a credit card, but not actually your credit card, pls) or comb to remove any residual wax, says Smith.

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