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Fire cupping is a therapeutic practice common in Chinese medicine to improve circulation and respiratory problems. This practice has also become popular within the BDSM community as part of the sensational play known as temperature play.
Fire cupping is sometimes called traditional cupping, as this practice uses traditional techniques, unlike vacuum cupping.
To perform fire cupping, dominants take special cups that suit the size of the area they want to work on. Small cups suit the neck, for example, while larger cups suit the back. Smaller cups also tend to achieve greater suction. They then lubricate the part of their submissive’s body they want to work on and the edge of the cup with lube or massage oil. When the cups are lubricated, they’ll move more easily and create a better seal.
There are several ways to create the fire that makes vacuum in fire cupping. You could soak a cotton ball in alcohol, light it, place it in the cup for a few seconds, remove it, then place the cup’s mouth on the skin. Alternatively, hold the cup over a cigarette or oven lighter or a candle until it heats up, the place the cup’s mouth on the skin. The skin underneath the hot cup will rise up as the heat creates a vacuum.
Remove the cup by holding the cup with one hand, the pressing the skin near the cup’s rim with the other to let air in to the cup and release the vacuum. When the cup is removed, the skin will become bruised, like a hickey. Many submissives wear these bruises like badges of honor.
Skin that has been cupped will be sensitive, so play carefully after a fire cupping session.
The ritual of fire cupping is part of its appeal for BDSM practitioners. Dominants can assert their authority by cupping their submissives, who experience a kind of pleasure-pain as they’re exposed to extreme heat and pressure.
The suction created by fire is not as easy to control as the suction from modern vacuum cups. For this reason, only people experienced with cupping should try fire cupping. It can be difficult to leave the cup exposed to the heat for long enough to effectively cup, but not so long that it burns the skin.