"Sensation play involves the enhancement of senses through deprivation of others, controlled applications of pain, and anticipation—which can all be a really exciting part of engaging in wax play," says Violet C, a sex educator, pleasure coach and resident wax expert with the sex-positivity virtual community Hacienda. "It’s temperature play because of the playing with extreme temperatures—in this case heat. It’s also considered edge play. Because we are literally playing with fire, it has the potential to cause legitimate bodily harm to a person, so it is on the 'edge' of what is considered within the typical guides of safety."
"Sensation play involves the enhancement of senses through deprivation of others, controlled applications of pain, and anticipation—which can all be a really exciting part of engaging in wax play." —sex educator Violet C
As always—but especially if using wax play candles will be new to your relationship—make sure to communicate with a partner before you light the wick and commit to shared continued consent throughout the experience. Otherwise, check out safety precautions to note below and then find several recommended options for wax play candles to shop.
Safety precautions to know before using wax play candles
Because, to emphasize C's point, wax play candles literally involve playing with fire. "It’s important to have a cool cloth, and a first aid kid nearby in case of any accidents," says C. "It is also important to have a fire extinguisher and access to water. Once we have taken all the burn and fire preventative precautions, we can think about comfortability."
For emotional safety, practicing tenderness with your partner(s) is important as well. "Be sure to give aftercare to your submissive or bottom," says Taylor Sparks, erotic educator and founder of sexual wellness emporium Organic Loven. "Have some water to drink, along with hugs and cuddles. Assist in removing the wax after it has cooled, taking care not to pull too hard or too quick...unless that is also part of the pain requested."
Finally, it could help to get a little more formal training before using any wax. "I would highly recommend taking a course or a workshop on wax play to learn more," says sex educator Kenneth Play, who points out that C has a great beginner wax workshop bundle for those interested in introducing wax play into their sex life.
What else you need in your wax play kit
For easier cleanup purposes, C suggests having towels or a plastic covering ready to protect the floor or bed where the receiver will be laying down. And since wax can get pretty stubborn once it's hardened—which is important to note for folks with body hair—be ready with tools to help you remove it, like a loofah or a butter knife. "Try and remove a majority of the wax before you get into the shower, for the sake of your drain," C says.
As far as the actual wax play candles to select, make sure to read ingredients. Avoid candles made of beeswax, which burn hot and burn the skin. Instead, focus on candles that are specifically made for the body, like those made of shea butter, soy, or, depending on your pain tolerance, paraffin. "Soy candles do not generate as much heat as a paraffin candle, so there is less risk of burning the skin," says Sparks. "They come from soybeans and are less likely to irritate the skin."
Also worth noting is the difference between massage oil candles and wax play candles, the former being a great option as a first foray into wax play. Texturally speaking, the two types melt differently, with wax play candles giving a more hardened texture and massage candles melting into a fluid consistency.
"[Massage candles] are soft and turn into massage-like oils after hitting the skin," says C. "The use of this type of candle can allow the scene to easily flow into a more sensual, massage scene, while still exploring the excitement and sensations of wax." Meanwhile, specific wax play candles will give those who play with it a grainier, harder feel, and are better for those into so-good-it-hurts forms of pleasure.
Below, check out a few select options to buy, no matter what you're looking for.
1. An intro-level massage candle
"Beginning with massage candles is a great way to ease into this type of play," says C. "Beginning with oil candles, whether you are trying to have a sensual or more sadomasochistic experience, is a great way to warm up the body for whatever the evening has in store."
C recommends LELO’s massage candles, and I happily retweet that—I own the $35 Flickering Touch Massage Candle in Black Pepper and Pomegranate, and this smoky-yet-sweet blend holds a place of honor on my nightstand. For something a little less underworld, try Maude’s Burn No 0 Candle ($15), a simple combo of jojoba and soybean oils.
Shop Now: LELO Flickering Touch Massage Candle, $35
2. A lotion or massage oil
Both Sparks and C say it's a good idea to prepare and protect the skin with a light layer of lotion or oil before you get started, even if you do have a massage oil on hand. "We want the body to be receptive to new sensations, so any type of massaging, or warming up with oils or hands, is a great way to start out," says C.
Pick up something like Province Apothecary's two-pack of oils, including its moisturizing coconut and vitamin E Sex Oil and its cedar wood and rose Lover's Oil.
Shop Now: Lover's Kit Massage Oil, $34
3. Wax play Candles
Whether you want to start small with these tiny, tubular Soy Candles for Wax Play ($6) or get an elegant mold with this Venusian Nude Woman Candle ($12), or the Grecian austere of Premium Paraffin Low-temperature Wax Candle Trio ($60), options abound. Play vouches for these easy-pour pitcher candles by Agreeable Agony, which incorporate a visual element.
"One of the more underrated parts of wax play is the visual stimulation that comes with it," says Play. "Something as small as the anticipation of each drop of wax can stimulate us in a primal and almost ritualistic way that creates a really mesmerizing experience."
Shop Now: Wax Play Pitcher Candle, $18
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