Many assume electric sex play is only for people who enjoy pain. Nothing could be further from the truth. With most electrosex devices you can either crank up the power to deliver quite a punch or adjust their settings for gentle, erotic pleasure. Plenty of folks who consider themselves "vanilla" in the bedroom use erotic electrostimulation toys to painlessly titillate their partners or achieve hands-free orgasms. Wanna give it a try? Here's what you need to know.

Eeek! Why would I want to be electrocuted?

If you aren't familiar with electro-sex play, you might be thinking, "Wait a minute. When I see electric sex devices in kinky porn, the characters always scream like they are being painfully shocked. That doesn't seem very pleasant."

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The thing is, the electrosex toys we see in porn are almost always used during hardcore BDSM scenes. A typical clip features someone strapped down and hooked up to a devious electric device that makes them squeal and writhe in agony. In pornography, we tend to only see the extreme end of the spectrum. After all, that’s what’s most exciting to watch! While you can absolutely elicit that same reaction with electrosex toys at home, they also have a much softer side many of us never get to see.

There are two types of electrosex devices, and they're both versatile enough to use for intense fetish play or tender love making. These are wands and TENS units. Each are used for different types of electrosex play and create very different sensations. Wands are typically used on the surface of the skin while TENS units penetrate deep tissue, making them better suited for genital orgasmic stimulation. I’ll focus on wands in this article and we’ll dive into the tantalizing world of TENS units later. (Read a review of the Mystim Pure Vibes Nerve Stimulator.)

What is this thing? An electrified dildo?

Typically known as violet or Neon Wands, these toys are not meant to be inserted inside the body or to bring someone to orgasm. They are strictly for sensation play, which means that you glide them over a partner’s body much like you would an ice cube or a feather.

Neon and violet wands look nearly identical. They consist of a hand-held base powered by a wall outlet. A number of attachments plug into the base, the most common of which consists of glass electrodes. Powered on, the electrodes glow like the tubing in a neon sign. When you hover the glass about a quarter of an inch above the surface of someone’s skin, an arc of electricity jumps out. It’s very similar to the "lightning" that bounces around inside a plasma ball. The person on the receiving end feels sensation wherever the small, lightning-like electric arc touches them.

What do electrosex wands feel like?

On lower settings wands can feel like a slight tingle, a tickle, or pleasantly warm. Turning the power up escalates the response to a static shock feeling, a sharp prickling, or intense scratching sensation. Some say that on very high settings, a wand feels like a tattoo gun. But ... you kind of have to try it yourself to really know the answer. Everyone feels the effects of wands a little differently due to body density, moisture levels in the skin, and a number of other factors.

What’s better for electrosex, a Neon Wand or violet wand?

I always recommend Kinklab’s Neon Wand for beginners and most experienced players. It’s a smart choice for a number of reasons. An average violet wand kit typically runs in the $400 to $500 range, while the Neon Wand sells for $100 to $150. Plus, violet wands are based on old, Victorian-era technology. They're harder to control, can only be used for 10 to 15 minutes at a time before overheating, and can "leak" electricity from the handle, unexpectedly zapping whoever is holding it. The improved technology in the solid-state Neon Wand eliminates these undesirable effects.

Some BDSM players who enjoy extremely painful sensations may not find the Neon Wand powerful enough. Luckily, adding an inexpensive Power Tripper attachment to a Neon Wand can amplify its intensity enough to satisfy those who crave serious pain. One end of this attachment plugs into the hand-held base of the Neon Wand. The other end sports a small, flat metal piece that the bottom (the person receiving sensation) either holds or tucks into a piece of clothing like a waistband or bra. As long as that flat metal piece is in constant contact with the bottom’s skin, their entire body becomes one big electrode. In other words, their whole body is electrified!

When the top (the person giving sensation) hovers their fingers just above the bottom’s skin, a lightning-like spark passes between them that they both feel. This effect works with any surface on either partner’s body - tongues, genitals, feet, etc.

The top can also touch their partner with any conductive metal object. Things like silverware, Wartenberg pinwheels, metal chains, aluminum foil, holiday tinsel, stainless steel dildos, or wire brushes all double as erotic instruments. Each object is unique and conducts differently, giving you an infinite number of unique sensations to play with. The intensity of those sensations is still controlled by the power setting on the hand-held unit, allowing you to choose whether your instruments deliver pleasure or delicious torture. (Read: Review: nJoy Pure Wand.)

How can I use an electrosex wand with my partner?

Neon Wands are wonderful couples’ toys and are ideal for bringing creativity and playfulness into the bedroom. They help focus your attention on erogenous zones you may otherwise ignore. Bringing those sweet spots to life can enhance foreplay and intensify the whole sexual experience. Think about it: When was the last time you made your lover quiver by stimulating the back of their knees or paying careful attention to the entire length of their arm?

Electric wands can help you explore with a new lover or rediscover forgotten joys with a long-time partner. Of course, wands feel amazingly erotic on nipples and the surface of the genitals also. Electrified oral sex using the power tripper is a favorite among electrosex enthusiasts. Lastly, don’t forget role-playing. For those of us who are into that sort of thing, wands make awesome props for mad scientist or doctor/patient scenarios. (Consider it part of your "sex lab." Learn more in Getting Curious: The Surprising Skill for Hot, Fun and Consent-Happy Sex.)

OK. But are electrosex toys safe?

Although Neon and violet wands deliver very low levels of electricity and are considered very safe, they shouldn’t be used by anyone who has a pacemaker, insulin pump or any other electronic medical implant. Pregnant women and people with heart arrhythmias or abnormalities should also stay away from electrosex wands. Glass electrodes are not intended for insertion into any orifice like the vagina, anus or mouth. And you should never use wands on or near the eyes.

I’m bummed I can’t use electrosex wands for masturbation or internal genital stimulation. Do I have any other options?

Yes, you do! If you’d rather cut to the chase and go right for the intense orgasms, a TENS unit may be more up your alley.

Oh, and check out my demo (NSFW) of the Neon Wand on Inside Adult video, where I try it out on Skin Diamond and Aiden Starr.