The first time I ever attempted wax play was about six or seven years ago. I went about it all wrong, in a very teenage, expectedly naive sort of way. I had a random candle I’d found in the house — probably a Pumpkin Spice Yankee Candle — and I asked a partner in the middle of a different sex act if he’d ever wanted to try messing around with wax. He was an older guy, and I think I was trying to embody the same sexiness you’d see in random Tumblr gifs on your feed, but what I actually did was spring BDSM into the conversation when neither of us were expecting it. We didn’t end up doing it, which was probably for the best.
For those who don’t know, wax play is a type of kink activity in which hot wax, usually from a candle, is dripped or poured onto a partner. It falls under “temperature play” in the kink world, which is exactly what it sounds like: Using hot and/or cold objects or liquids to create fun sensations during sex. Back then, I thought I was a little weird to want to try wax play, but Derek Newton, founder of Simpatic.us, a site that helps couples find their mutual sex interests, says differently. He tells Mashable: “Wax play remains consistently popular among couples and has strong connections to intimate power and control dynamics. It’s by no means uncommon or unusual.” In fact, Simpactic.us shared that among the 10,000 couples using the site, 36 percent of couples want to give it a go.
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Wax play stimulates so many of our senses, elevating the pleasure we usually get from sex to new heights. The physical reaction to heat, liquid — and pain if you’re including it — grounds us and helps us stay present in sex. It also increases our sensitivity, giving us a lot more intensity as we touch one another. A hand brushing up against a thigh can feel like a thousand alarms going off in your brain (in a sexy way) when a bit of hot candle wax is involved. What’s more, putting all of that pleasure and control into someone else’s hands can be really, really sexy.
“Wax play stimulates so many of our senses, elevating the pleasure we usually get from sex to new heights.”
And, if you needed another reason to think about wax play, or a new sexual act (whether it’s of the candle variety or something else entirely), doing it brings partners — long term and casual — closer together. Learning and experiencing something new with a partner is an intimate act in its own right. Mixing the joy of sex with candle wax is bound to turn up the heat.
Wax play isn’t something you want to happen spontaneously, trust me. When it comes to trying new kinks (or BDSM, and some people consider wax play to fall under that umbrella), preparation, communication, and consent is everything. Those are key components of all good sex, of course. But if you’re planning on literally dripping hot wax onto someone’s skin, it’s especially important! So, here’s everything you need to know about wax play, from how to get started talking about it to sourcing the right candles, preparing equipment and safety plans, and how to bring some fire to the bedroom (not literally).
How to talk to your partner about wax play
The first step to wax play is to initiate a conversation about it with your sexual partner. Don’t do what I did, and start it mid-sex!
Emerson Karsh, who has a degree in human sexuality and is known professionally as the Kink Educator, says the best way to talk to a partner about a kink you’re interested in is by doing it away from the bedroom, a sexual setting, or anywhere where the kink activity might eventually happen. “This alleviates any pressure off the other partner,” she explains. “Other ways to bring up this conversation are by creating a more generalised, open dialogue to discuss interests and fantasies where you both can equally share.”
For example, try asking your partner, “Hey, have you had many sexual fantasies?” or “Is there anything you’ve really wanted to try out in the bedroom?” That way, your partner can also bring up sexual ideas they’ve had on their mind, making for a more balanced (and sexy) discussion.
“Consent and aftercare are super important when trying wax play.”
Karsh recommends bringing any relevant educational sources to your partner, so they don’t have to feel confused or intimidated about wax play, or like they’re relying on your information alone. You could give them a book on kink or send them an informative article that helps them explore and learn about wax play outside of your conversation.
So that everyone’s on the same page and feeling comfortable and confident, make sure you’re exchanging consent and keeping communication open at all times. “Consent and aftercare are super important when trying wax play,” says Karsh. “Consent conversations should include boundaries, picking a safeword or safe system, and discussing risks.” As for the risks, there’s more about that below.
When it comes to aftercare, it’s important to do what makes each partner feel comforted after the kink activity. “For wax play, this could look like showering and getting all the wax off, drinking lots of water, eating snacks, putting an ointment on any burned areas, or cuddling,” she adds.
Is wax play safe?
Wax play does come with a degree of risk management; after all, you’re literally playing with fire. Emerson explains that in her career helping educate people about kinks, she tries to reframe the idea of “safe” into “risk aware.”
“Nothing in life is 100 percent safe, so we do things where we are safety conscious and aware of any risks,” she explains. “When it comes to wax play, the main risk is burning yourself, your partner, or your space.”
One of the best ways to avoid this is by using kink specific candles that have a lower burning temperature, like this one from Maude or this one from Knude Society. “A large safety consideration is to not drip wax on the face, in the ears, in open cuts, anywhere inside the body, or in hair, as wax removal in hair can be difficult and sometimes painful.”
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Other safety precautions to consider while exploring wax play: Keep a cold wet washcloth nearby, as well as a bucket of room-temperature water (very cold water can make burns worse by damaging tissue), a first aid kit including burn cream, and a fire extinguisher. All of these are “just in case” items. You shouldn’t let them scare you away from trying this kink you’re excited for, but they are vital to have around. Better risk aware than sorry!
The type of candles you’re using on each other are also really important.
Soy-based candles are best, as they have a low burning temperature. Soy is natural and tends to cause less irritation, and the wax cools quickly on contact. It’s best to get your wax play candles from a reputable sex toy company, since they’re made with wax play in mind. A lot of them are also massage candles (packed with essential oils, adding aroma to your play) which can be fun to incorporate in sex. “For those interested in wax play, but who don’t want to have a scene involving wax drippings,” Karsh says, “I would recommend exploring massage candles, which are candles that create a hydrating, lotion-like wax to massage your partner with.”
Some people like a bit of pain with their sex, though, and for those interested in wax that burns a bit hotter and stings, Karsh recommends paraffin candles. “Paraffin has a slightly higher burning temperature than soy,” she says.
Whatever you do, stay away from beeswax, says Karsh: “The candle type you want to avoid is beeswax due to its high burning temperature.”
Trying wax play out
Before you go running off, lighter, bucket and candle in arms, Karsh suggests trying wax play out on yourself first, which can make a big difference to your comfort and confidence when doing it with a partner. “If you don’t know how it feels, how will you know how to play with it?”
Take it easy. Don’t rush. “The best way to start with any new kink activity is to go slow and to not do too much too quickly. If you’re interested in wax play, I suggest exploring it in smaller, shorter amounts of time before creating a whole scene surrounding it,” she says. Allow yourself to get comfortable with the activity and sensation before dedicating a significant amount of time in playing with it.
The great thing about wax play is that it’s really easy to adjust to the pain level, temperature level, and amount of related anticipation. Dripping the candle on your thigh is a great way to get used to the sensation and handling of it. Then, experiment with height. As Karsh points out, the further away you drip the wax from, the colder it is when it hits the skin. The closer it is, the hotter it will be. Experiment on your own skin, dripping from different heights, to see what feels the best on you.
Try teasing yourself, too. Drip tiny amounts or wave the candle over yourself before actually dripping. It might actually be the anticipation of knowing the wax is about to hit your skin that brings you pleasure.
Karsh notes that some areas of the body are more sensitive (such as breasts and genitalia), which means close wax drippings there would be more painful. It’s important to work out on your own whether wax play in those areas are right for you.
If your partner fancies having wax dripped on them, too, ask them to work out their own fantasies in private. The more informed you both are about your bodies and preferences when it comes to candle wax, the better the experience will be.
Once you’re ready to engage in wax play together, bring what you’ve learned in your private sessions to the bedroom, telling your partner how high you want them to pour the wax from, how fast, and how much wax you want. Ask them to massage it in, if that’s what you’re into. Check in with each other occasionally to make sure everyone’s having a great time, and have fun.