Wax play 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.
Pure paraffin wax melts at around 54 to 57 degrees Celsius. Adding stearine makes the wax harder and melt at a higher temperature. Adding mineral oil (baby oil) makes the wax softer and melt at a lower temperature.
Soft candles in glass jars (called votive candles) usually have mineral oil in their blend and burn cooler at around 49 degrees Celsius, Pillar candles are mostly paraffin and burn warmer at around 60 degrees Celsius. A good source for votive candles is internet church supplies companies.
Taper candles have lots of stearine and burn hotter still at around 71 degrees Celsius. Beeswax candles burn about 5 Celsius degrees hotter than equivalent paraffin candles. Although there are many web sites that repeat the same advice that colour additives make candles burn hotter, actual experiments performed by two different researchers show that this is usually not the case. Increasing the distance the wax falls by 1 metre will drop the temperature about 5 degrees at the risk of splatter.
If ordinary candles are too hot, a special wax blended with a high concentration of mineral oil (baby oil) can be heated to lower temperatures in a crock pot or double boiler. Votive candles mixed with baby oil melt a much lower temperature and can be poured directly onto the skin without risk of causing burns.
Different types of candles and different crock pot temperatures produce different temperatures of wax that can range from warm and soothing to dangerously hot. There is significant difference between individuals' tolerance for heat, which can vary depending on exactly where the wax is applied.
Wax can splatter into the eyes. Avoid starting a fire. Wax which is too hot can cause serious burns. Crock pots and wax therapy spas almost always have heat controls not temperature controls; temperature will vary over time. Wax may be difficult to remove, particularly from areas with hair. A flea comb or a sharp knife may be necessary for wax removal; use of a knife for this purpose requires special skills, though an expired credit card can work as well. Applying mineral oil or lotion before play can make wax removal easier.
Wax may pool and concentrate heat. Temperatures listed above only apply when wax is in equilibrium. Wax heated in any sort of pot must be stirred vigorously or there can be dangerous temperature variations. Some people may be allergic to perfumes and dyes. Whatever is above a burning candle can get very hot, even at distances that may be surprising. Candles may break and set fire to objects underneath or nearby. Do not leave candles burning unattended, particularly when you go to sleep. Wax is difficult to wash out of clothes and bed linens. People with certain diseases, skin conditions, or taking certain medications may require additional precautions.
- Spectrum, The Toybag Guide to Hot Wax and Temperature Play. Greenery Press, 2004. ISBN 1890159573.