In the BDSM realm, wax play is one of the more common types of sensation-temperature play. It involves wax candles being melted and dripped on to a receiver's body, often being incorporated in to scenes that feature other types of play. Wax play can be highly pleasurable or relaxing, or even painful.
Let's look at what we need to know when engaging in wax play.
The first thing to consider when doing wax play is what sort of candle(s) you are going to use. Different types of candles have different melting temperatures and thus range from moderately warm to dangerously hot. Alongside this, the difference between individuals' heat tolerances can be quite significant and can further vary depending on where and how the wax is applied. If melting wax in a pot to be poured, ensure that you stir the wax well as there can be dangerous variations in temperature throughout the pour.
Of course, wax play inherently involves the use of a live flame and so being aware of any fire hazards is also extremely important. Having appropriate surfaces to rest your candle on when not in use is highly recommended, as well as even extinguishing the flame each time the candle is not in use to further prevent any hazard from occurring. If you are going to be having more than one candle lit at a time during a wax play session, you should have some sort of extra flame retardant on hand, such as a fire blanket or extinguisher, or even simply a wet towel. Keeping some burn cream close also does not go astray.
Apply standard pre-negotiation and consent practices to your wax play and find out if there are any skin conditions or allergies to perfume or dyes that you may need to be aware of during the play. Use the S.S.C or R.A.C.K guidelines to make sure all involved are aware of what the play will entail.
WHAT TYPE OF WAX TO USE?
When purchasing your candles, they should have melting temperature point on their labels and provide you with an ingredients list. Here is a general guide to choosing what candles to use for wax play.
SOY: Good to use. Soy wax's melting temperature is between 46-57 °C.
PARAFFIN: Good to use. Paraffin's melting temperature is between 47-65 °C. This is a larger variant of temperature compared to soy and so testing the temperature on yourself is always recommended before engaging in play.
BEESWAX: Not recommended. Beeswax melts at the higher end of 62-65 °C and so is not recommended for wax play.
OTHER TYPES OF WAX: Not recommended. Microcrystalline wax melts at a very high 63-93 °C and so is deemed unsafe for wax play. Stearin wax is also commonly found in candles and soaps, helping to harden them. This means the melting point for stearin is much higher than the safe melting point for wax play and therefore should not make contact with skin at all.
As a general rule, only use soy or paraffin wax for wax play. Using the pure form of these waxes are typically your safest bet.
ADDITIVES IN WAX CANDLES: Some dyes and fragrances added to candles can increase their melting temperatures. Additionally, such additives that make candles metallic may be poisonous and increase the burn temperature of the candle to extremely dangerous levels.
PILLAR CANDLES: Pillar shaped (normal cylindric) candles allow the wax to melt and pool so that you can collect a good amount of wax before you start dripping.
CUPS/POURERS: It is possible to melt a large amount of wax in a wax-melter or crock pot, to then be poured from a (safe) vessel on to the receiver of the wax play. Some people prefer this method because it allows them to have more wax readily available during play.
TAPERED CANDLES: Tapered shaped candles melt faster as the wick burns (due to their shape) and are often used in wax play in conjunction with rope bondage (again due to their shape).
GLASS CONTAINERS: Avoid using candles in glass containers during wax play. When tipping the container to drip the wax, the flame can heat up the glass and burn the the holder. The changing temperatures of glass can also increase it's likelihood of shattering.
SETTING UP THE SPACE
Consider the space the play will be occurring on and in, as well as all of the different points of safety that we discussed above.
Wax is difficult to wash out of certain types of materials and so having a drop sheet or using a surface that the wax can be easily removed from is highly recommended. Some people like using puppy pads for wax play as they are disposable, though a drop sheet can be reused over and over for different sorts of play.
Some kink events do not allow wax play at all, simply because of the mess involved, so you should always seek permission from the host of the space to engage in wax play.
Of course, you will also need some sort of lighter on hand. A first aid kit is also handy to have near in any form of play.
Do not leave any lit candles unattended and, again, ensure you have some form of safety measure close by in case anything goes awry.
TESTING THE SKIN
It is generally advised that the giver or top of the wax play tests the wax on themselves before commencing the dripping on to the receiver/bottom. The forearm, palm of hand and thigh are good places to test the temperature of the wax on yourself.
It is also important to keep in mind that everyone's pain threshold is different - and that different types of play can elicit different responses. For instance, you might know that someone can endure a hard impact play session but you must not assume they are able to withstand the sensation of wax play as easily. Thus, keeping communication open during play is always essential.
When commencing the wax play on the receiver, start with holding the candle relatively high up and away from their skin. Gauge how they react and go on from there.
PREPARING THE SKIN
Some people like to apply a mineral oil or lotion to the skin before having wax applied. This is because it makes the wax easier to be removed after play, but you should keep in mind that some oils may increase the temperature of the wax when applied to the skin.
Likewise, some people like to shave their bodies before wax play in lieu of the wax becoming stuck in particularly hairy areas. This is not always necessary but is sometimes desired.
Communication with the bottom as part of the pre-negotiation of the play should dictate how the skin should be prepared for play and where exactly the wax will be applied.
DISTANCE OF CANDLE FROM THE SKIN
The distance between the candle and the skin is quite important during a wax play session. The closer the candle and it's dripping wax is to the skin, the hotter the sensation will be when it lands on the receiver. For different sensations, you can experiment with different height levels of the candle, but a good rough guide is to drip the wax from about a foot above the skin.
Keep in mind that, depending on the amount of melted wax pooled in your candle or wax pourer, the wax can actually splash when hitting the skin if dripped from too high up. So, for safety, do not attempt to drip from too high up if being applied near the face, for not want of the wax splashing in the bottom's eyes.
WHERE TO DRIP WAX
Start your wax play on less sensitive areas of the bottom's body. The lower leg and thighs, arms, back and even chest are good spots to start dripping your wax.
Dripping wax on to areas that have already had wax applied can often reheat the wax under it and thus create an extended sensation for the bottom. Dripping the wax around different areas of the body and not staying in one area for too long is recommended. Running your hands over the spots that have just had wax applied can also offer some reprieve for the bottom.
Be extra cautious if applying wax to the face and genitalia. It can cause serious damage, even blindness, and nerve damage if caution is not taken.
Aside from these points, wax can be applied anywhere on the exterior skin! Though, as stated above, you might want to consider communication about body hair and even have a hair tie on hand if the bottom's hair is particularly long. It is also wise to cover any body piercings with something like a band-aid to avoid it getting stuck.
Do not touch the candle's flame to the skin at any point during the play. Likewise, do not attempt to put wax inside any orifice.
To remove wax, some people use plastic cards, their fingers to scratch it off and even knives (safely and consensually). Removing the wax may or may not be done in a manner that includes it as part of the play itself and so can be gentle or rough, depending on the intensity of the scene.
Removing wax from the body should be done in the same space that the wax play occurred, to minimize mess.
Once the majority of wax has been removed from the body, it is a good idea to have some sort of cloth (damp preferred) to wipe off any excess particles. Often after wax play, and depending on the circumstance, bottoms may also like to shower.
Depending on what you have used to protect the space around you from being covered in the excess wax, it should be relatively easy to tidy up after yourself. Whatever covering for the space you chose to use will dictate how you dispose of the wax. If using something reusable like a thick dropsheet, you should just be able to gather the majority of the wax together and bin it. If using something disposable like a thin table cloth or puppy pad, simply roll it up and throw the whole thing away.
If you happen to get wax in materials like carpet or clothing, there are some ways to remove it, but it is best to avoid it all together in your setting up preparations.
Just as with any type of play, wax play should be accompanied with some version of aftercare. Whatever that version is should be communicated in the pre-negotiation period before play and gauged if it needs to be more or less as the time comes.