You’re probably familiar with the idea of bringing ice or hot wax into the bedroom, even if you’ve never personally used them during sex. Temperature play may seem basic, straightforward, or even boring from a distance.
Hot N Cold: Using Temperature Play During Sex
However, when you take into account all the possibilities available to you, this sensation-focused corner of the kink realm can add color to your sessions in delightfully unexpected ways. It also pairs safely and easily with other types of fun, like play involving bondage or blindfolds.
Interested in expanding your temperature play repertoire? We’re here for you! This article is chock full of tips and ideas for experimenting with hot and cold sensations for added pleasure, excitement, and variety.
What is temperature play?
Temperature play can involve an unlimited slew of methods for using heat or coldness to enhance a kinky and/or sexual experience. You might decide to use objects or substances you already have at home, like hot sauce, lube, or chocolate syrup.
You can also heat or chill sex toys that safely and effectively conduct temperature, like glass dildos or metal clamps. You can even utilize settings featuring extreme temperatures, like a sauna or a snowy backyard. The sky’s the limit, so feel free to get creative.
General Safety Tips for Temperature Play
In accordance with the Safe/Sane/Consensual model of ethics commonly espoused by BDSM-ers, you’ll want to avoid any possibility of actual physical, mental, or emotional harm. This means taking precautions to avoid illness, burns, or other injuries before, during, and after sessions.
Here we’ll be focusing on basic safety involving activities that anyone can expect to come away from happy and (reasonably) unscathed, without specialized training.
1. Be Prepared for Emergencies
As with any type of BDSM, you should always plan for the worst-case scenario while striving for the best. Whatever it is you’re doing, have the necessary tools on hand if you or your partner happen to run into trouble or a particular sensation becomes too intense:
- If you’re playing with candles, be sure you’ve got a fire extinguisher nearby.
- If you’re feeding your submissive super spicy hot peppers, have milk on hand to neutralize the burn.
- If you or your partner is going to be cold, make sure you’ve got a quick way to heat back up. Nobody wants to catch the sniffles after a good time.
2. Get the Right Gear
The objects, tools, and substances you use need to be appropriate for temperature play. For example, some candles are made from wax that burns at high temperatures and will scar the skin, perhaps even permanently. If wax play is on your itinerary, shop for safety candles that burn at lower temperatures, that are designed for BDSM.
Also, you’ll need tools made from materials that can safely conduct high or low temperatures, like metal, glass, or stone. Dildos or sex toys made from plastic, for example, are not ideal choices. (More on this later!)
3. Always Test Your Gear on Yourself
If you’re acting as the top or leading the session during play, test your tools and substances on yourself before using them on your partner for the first time. You need to have a crystal clear understanding of the feelings and sensations you’re creating.
Does your sub want to try figging? Try it yourself first. Want to drizzle hot lube across their genitals? Do it to your own beforehand. If it’s too much for you, chances are it could be too much for them too.
4. Never Leave Your Partner Alone During Sessions
In theory, you might, say, get a kick out of banishing your sweet subby little partner to the backyard to freeze and think about what they’ve done while you kick back and binge Netflix. Not so fast, you crazy sadist!
No matter how naughty your partner has been, you should never leave them unsupervised during play for extended periods. If you do decide to step away to create the illusion of abandonment or a similar feeling, stay nearby and return frequently to check on them.
4. Be Aware of Urticaria
Urticaria is a skin condition, commonly called hives, that materializes in the form of red, itchy, raised welts or swelling in a localized area. In some people, this reaction can be triggered by contact with high or low temperatures, or a sudden change in temperature. Strange as it may seem, urticaria is simply a histamine response, often caused by allergies and inflammation overload in the immune system.
If you or your partner break out in hives while experimenting with temperature, stop what you’re doing and let the reaction subside. Know that hives can also accompany anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. Seek medical care in cases of dizziness, trouble breathing, or swelling of the lips, eyelids, or tongue.
Speaking of Allergies…
You never know what substances could end up irritating or overwhelming your partner’s system, so always check in about this during pre-play negotiation. It would be all bad, for example, to blindfold your loved one and surprise them by drizzling warm chocolate syrup into their mouth only to find out they’ve got an intolerance to it.
Not sexy or romantic at all! Avoid this by asking about allergies, intolerances, or anything else that might get in the way of the fun.
5. Never Skimp on Aftercare
The presence or absence of aftercare can make or break an intimate encounter. Although some forms of temperature play can seem pretty tame, everyone reacts to sensation play differently. What might be mildly painful or stimulating for you may be earth-shattering or particularly challenging for your partner, especially if it’s their first time to try the activity or experience it in the context of power exchange.
Unless you and your partner have specifically agreed it’s not necessary or desirable, set aside enough time to wrap up your sessions with aftercare. Do everything you can to ensure everyone walks away from play feeling safe, respected, valued, and cared for. Good memories make way for the possibility of more good times in the future. Always worth the effort.
Common Household Goodies You Can Use for Temperature Play
Check out these ideas and see what piques your interest.
Food and Beverages:
- Ice cubes
- Ice cream
- Melted chocolate
- Chilled fruit
- Whipped cream
- Hot sauce
- Chili peppers
- Hot tea
- Frozen vegetables
- Chilled champagne
- Raw ginger
- Hot wax
- Massage candles
- Heated massage oil
- Heated lube
- Medicated balms
- Capsaicin cream
Glass, Metal, or Stone Objects:
- Butt plugs
- Wartenberg pinwheels
- Ben Wa balls
- Blunt knives
- Chainmail or jewelry
- Stainless steel or metal sex toys
Using Your Sex Toys for Temperature Play
As mentioned above, toys made from glass, metal, or stone are your best bet for this type of fun. For play involving heat, simply fill a bowl with warm water and allow your toy to soak for five to 15 minutes. (It is NOT recommended to heat toys using a stove, oven, or microwave.)
To chill your toys, you can soak them in a bowl of cold water, or place them in the fridge or freezer for a bit.
For example, Satisfyer's High Fashion clitoral stimulator is made of brushed aluminum that is great for temperature play! You can place it in the freezer to cool it down or place it in warm water to heat it up (since it's 100% waterproof it's safe to warm it this way!).
High Fashion is also awesome for exploring ice play! You can place small pieces of ice in the head, which can pulse and vibrate, for chilled stimulation for the clitoris, vulva, nipples, shaft of the penis, or any other erogenous zones you want to explore!
You could give a specially designed warming vibrator a try as well!
When you’re ready, test the temperature of your toy on the inside of your wrist to make sure it won’t be too hot or cold for use on genitals or inside the body. Also, consider bringing your bowl of hot or cold water into the bedroom or play space with you, as your toy will return to room temperature over time.
Using Lube for Temperature Play
Regular lube can be heated or cooled before a session like any other liquid. Just fill a bowl or glass with water at the temperature you desire and set the bottle inside for 10 to 15 minutes. Again, always check the temperature by applying one or two drops to your wrist before diving in all the way.
There are also certain types of lube formulated specifically with temperature play in mind. They create hot, cold, buzzing, or tingling sensations without you having to do a thing! Be wary, however, of lubes that are designed to DEsensitize, as they can make it difficult to assess whether a painful or stimulating sensation is too much.
So, feeling inspired? I wish you an excellent time, whether you’re heating up, chilling out, or both! Have fun and be safe! And if you need more inspiration, check out The Temperature Play Quiz: How Hot Are You?
Molly Lazarus is a kink and sexuality writer based in the Bay Area. She dreams of a world where consent-loving hedonists can explore the depths of their depravity without fear of persecution or sexual abuse.