Take the “Wartenberg Pinwheel” for example, which sounds like something you’d find on a mini golf course or bowling alley—not something you’d find making folks moans, squeam, shiver, or shake in the bedroom or sex dungeon.
The Wartenberg Wheel was originally designed to be used in doctors offices and clinical settings. As Daniel Saynt, Founder & Chief Conspirator of NSFW, a private members club for sex and cannabis-positive millennials, explains “The Wartenberg Wheel, also known as the pinwheel, was invented by nuerologist Dr. Robert Wartenberg to be rolled across the skin to test nerve reaction and sensitivity.”
Today, it’s rarely used in medical practice, but “sensation play enthusiasts, professional doms, and sex-toy experimenters have helped the tool find a different use, and kinkier audience,” he says.
As a sex writer, “sex toy experimenter and enthusiastic” is practically in my job description, and this intimidating looking babe has revolutionized my solo and partnered sex foreplay game more than the thousands of vibrators, whips, or dildos I’ve tested in my life-time, so this checks out!
A Wheel of Fun
Typically made of body-safe stainless steel or metal and about the size of a toothbrush, the wheel is designed with 20-ish small, spiky pins that are spread evenly across the to uniformly distribute pressure when rolled against the skin. “Based on the amount of pressure applied as you roll the wheel, it can bring pleasurable or painful sensation” says Saynt.
Or, my fave: sensations that are pleasurably painful or painfully pleasurable.
While we’re on the topic of pain, let’s be very clear: the tool may look like a mini-torture device, but as Saynt says, “you and your partner are in complete control of the sensation the tool delivers. So, there’s little reason to fear it.”
Unless you’re using it on incredibly the delicate skin of the vulva, balls, or tongue, it’s incredibly unlikely that this tool will puncture the skin. Also, “there is practically little chance of causing nerve damage with the pinwheel tool.” In fact, because it gives users a lot of control, he says it’s a great first toy for folks who are just dipping their toe/finger/tongue into BDSM and sensation play.
Playing With Sensation
So, how do you use it exactly? When I posed this question to sex educator Sarah Sloane, who's been coaching sex toy classes at Good Vibrations and Pleasure Chest since 2001, she said, “that’s like asking how do you masturbate or what position do you have sex in: there are endless answers and endless ways.”
Hey, she's right! I've probably used this babe more times than I've cum, and every time has been slightlyyy different.
“The whole point of brining the tool into the bedroom is to boost exploration, excitement, play, and pleasure,” she says. “So using it in any way that enhances the sexual, intimate, or pleasurable experience is fair.” If it's your first time using it with someone, start lightly and slowly increasing pressure. "Use their verbal and non-verbal cues to guide you," says Sloane. Or, have them place their hand on the handle over yours to show you what kind of pressure they like/can handle.
Personally, during partnered play, I weep (tears of pleasure) when a partner lightly-lightly-lightly rolls it along my neck, back of ears, or scalp with one hand, while holding me in place with another. Sloane’s go-to move is different: “I like to run it up side of a partner's torso from the armpit to the hip bones where there are tons of typically unexplored nerve-endings.”
The inner arm, inner thigh, groin, underside of the knees, underside of the butt (especially after a spanking when the nerves are already enlivened), and feet also hold a lot of pleasure potential, she says, which is why Saynt recommends starting at your partners head and slowly working your way down their body.
Trust, the tool can eroticize even the least sensitive/erotic parts of your partners body. So don’t be surprised if they start quaking, shivering, or even screaming as you roll this diddy along their skin!
Don’t snooze on the wheel during your solo play, either! “Anything that adds to your pleasure and de-centers the vulva and penis is a great addition to your masturbatory repertoire,” says Sloane. (BTW, how great is that phrase ‘mastubratory repetoire'??).
Personally, I’m a big fan of lying on my back and dragging the tool up and down my stomach and in diagonal patterns across my nipples. Pairing those sensations with a low-intensity, hands-free vibrator (like the Moxie by We-Vibe or Stronic Surf by Fun Factory) is a sure-fire way to get me off.
Taking Care of Your Wheel
Post-play, you clean the wheel just as you would any other stainless steel or glass toy (like the Njoy Wand or a glass dildo): with warm water and a fragrance- and chemical- free soap, or boiling water. “The toy can act as a vector, transferring bodily fluids or infections from one partner to another,” says Sloane.
In fact, if you have multiple partners you’re going to use the pinwheel with, she suggests having one per partner. “They’re inexpensive enough that you can have multiple,” she says. “I recommend buying one per partner, and then storing each in a different colored tooth-brush travel case to differentiate between them.” In general, this is a great storage tip. Accidentally poking your finger while digging through your sex toy bucket/bin mid-romp for more lube can be a major mood killer.
Even if you’re using wheel on just yourself, Saynt is Team More-Than-One-Wartenberg-Wheel. Why? “Running two or three along one body at a time can really step up your touch play and drive yourself wild.”
The more you know!