Ah, hot wax. Some of us are all too familiar with it. Some of us like its intensity, but it quickly cools. It has a great capacity to sooth as well as be sensual and exciting. Hot wax can be cooled even more quickly with ice cubes, creating intense sensation play opportunities. The big question is, how do you get started in a way that's safe? Here are a few tips.

Do NOT Use Just Any Candle

This falls under the “be aware of risk and safety” rules of kink. Specifically, look for candles meant for play that are safe for your skin. Looking for “massage candles” will get you generally what you want: many sex toy retailers carry them in different scents; one of my favorites is the Kama Sutra brand. Effectively, you want a candle that has a low melting point, melts into oil, and not wax (don't use beeswax candles, either!). In other words, you want to avoid a trip to ER. That nice metallic candle you have on your shelf might be lovely when entertaining, but keep it well away from exposed skin!

You must also keep in mind any existing allergies or sensitivities. If you are allergic to soy, search for hemp-based candles. Rashes - or Epi-pens - are far from sexy.

When you do have the right candle, make sure there are no flammable materials in the immediate vicinity that could inadvertently catch fire and burn you or your partner. Grab a damp cloth or towel for your partner to lie on for playtime. For testing the wax and for play, keep the candle around 18 inches from skin. Test this yourself to get used to moving the candle through space and dripping it, or you could use a brush accessory (again, go through shops and brands that expressly design for this sort of play!) to move the candle-melt onto skin.

Talk to Each Other

I know you want to just go ahead and drizzle wax over your partner’s nipples and genitals, but hear me out as to why that might not be the best idea starting out. People react to candle play differently, as well as temperatures. They have different ideas as to what might be too intense for them. If either you or your partner are new to candle play, take the time to drizzle the melting of the candle onto your partner’s body and see how they respond before going to places that are already highly sensitive. The intensity of the hot wax may be too much directly on or next to a nipple, for example. Spend time on other areas of the body – the back and shoulders are good starting places. Listen to and check in frequently with your partner for these areas before you even consider more sensitive parts of the body.

Because of the risk of using open flame, avoid gagging your partner and agree on safe words as well as safe gestures when things get too intense. NEVER direct wax onto a face, even with a brush - you don't want candle-melt to get into the eyes, nose, or on the lips.

Be Prepared - Just in Case

As hot as candle wax play is, the receiving partner needs their body and mind taken care of afterwards as well. Take time to work moisturizer into their skin after playtime. Make aftercare a pleasant experience for both of you after such an intense scene. Always keep a first-aid kit within easy reach should you or your partner need it (especially when using other tools alongside candle play, such as ice cubes, whips and more).

Massage candles and hot wax can be amazing, but it's important that anyone who wants to use them know their limits, communicate regularly before, during, and after a play session, and proceed with risk-aware safety in mind.