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Candle with care: A beginner’s guide to wax play‬

“I love hot wax. My wife loves to drip it and pour it all over my body. I have dipped my [penis] in the wax and the feeling during the dipping and the sex after was great. We did remove the wax from any part that was going to penetrate. I have a very high threshold for pain. I normally don’t use any painkillers for such things as root canal’s, extractions, stitches or road rash from motorcycle accidents. I don’t get turned on in the slightest from any of this I just don’t feel pain like everyone else. I think it is very normal to have this fetish. It is a major turn on to me. You might want to experiment with different types of wax. Some have a higher melting point than others. Oh we have and have realized she likes to use the waxes with the higher melting points. She loves to see me squirm but in a good way” (Wiki Answers)

According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices ‘wax play’ is a form of sexually sensual play that involves warm or hot wax typically dripped from candles or ladled onto the individual’s naked skin (the individual typically being sexually masochistic). He also claimed that wax play was often combined with other BDSM and/or sexual activities. Dr. Aggrawal also makes reference to ‘wax play’ in a short section on ‘navel torture’. More specifically her reports that navel torture involves “infliction of intense sensory stimulation and pain to a person’s navel. Examples are sucking or pulling the navel out (often with a syringe), dripping hot oil or wax into the navel, and poking pins into the navel”. The Wikipedia entry on wax play provides a list for those that want to attempt such practices. The article informed readers that:

“Pure paraffin wax melts at around 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit (54 to 57 Celsius). Adding stearine makes the wax harder and melt at a higher temperature. Adding mineral oil makes the wax softer and melt at a lower temperature. Soft candles in glass jars usually have mineral oil in their blend and burn cooler at around 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49C), Pillar candles are mostly paraffin and burn warmer at around 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60C). Taper candles have lots of stearine and burn hotter still at around 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71C). Beeswax candles burn about 10 degrees Fahrenheit (6 C) hotter than equivalent paraffin candles. Although there are many web sites that repeat the same advice that color additives make candles burn hotter, actual experiments performed by two different researchers show that this is usually not the case. Increasing the distance the wax falls by 1 meter will drop the temperature about 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3C) at the risk of splatter. If ordinary candles are too hot, a special wax blend with a high concentration of mineral oil can be heated to lower temperatures in a crock pot or double boiler”.

In the ‘safety notes’ section, the article reminds readers that wax temperature can range from simply ‘warm’ to ‘dangerously hot’ and can cause serious burns (and that wax play practitioners should be careful that wax doesn’t “splatter into the eyes”. Obviously, different masochists can withstand different temperatures depending upon their individual tolerance levels. It then goes on to say that:

“Wax may be difficult to remove, particularly from areas with hair. A flea comb or a sharp knife may be necessary for wax removal; use of a knife for this purpose requires special skills, though a plastic card can work as well. Applying mineral oil or lotion before play can make wax removal easier…Wax heated in any sort of pot must be stirred vigorously or there can be dangerous temperature variations. Some people may be allergic to perfumes and dyes. Whatever is above a burning candle can get very hot, even at distances that may be surprising. Candles may break and set fire to objects underneath or nearby. Wax is difficult to wash out of clothes and bed linens. People with certain diseases, skin conditions, or taking certain medications may require additional precautions”.

A few academic studies into sadomasochism have examined various niche practices including wax play. For instance, in a previous blog on psychrocism (individuals who derive sexual pleasure and sexual arousal from either by being cold) I quoted from Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices that said:

“Exposure to intense cold creates a sharp sensation that is similar to other physical stimuli that produce tension. The mind changes its focus from intellectual pursuits to physical awareness. Many [sadomasochistic] players use cold contact to heighten awareness of skin sensations. They often alternate cold with heat, such as ice cubes and candle wax”.

More empirically, a 1987 study published in the Journal of Sex Research by Dr. Charles Moser and Dr. E.E. Levitt surveyed 225 sadomasochists (178 men and 47 women). The most commonly reported SM behaviours (in 50% to 80% of participants) were flagellation (whipping, spanking) and bondage (chains, rope, gags, chains, handcuffs). Painful activities (for instance, the use of hot wax, ice, face slapping, biting) were reported by 37–41% of participants, though more dangerous painful activities (burning, branding, tattooing, piercing, insertion of pins) were much less frequently reported (7% to 18% of participants).

A more recent Finnish study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior by Dr. Laurence Alison and his colleagues reported fairly similar findings to that of Moser and Levitt. Again, the most popular activities were flagellation and bondage. Less reported SM activities were the most harmful harm (piercing, asphyxiation, electric shocks, use of blades/knives, fisting, etc.). These researchers also explored the variations in sadomasochistic activities, and wax play fell into the ‘typical’ pain administration group. These were:

  • Typical pain administration: This involved practices such as spanking, caning, whipping, skin branding, use of hot wax, electric shocks, etc.
  • Humiliation: This involved verbal humiliation, gagging, face slapping, flagellation, etc. Heterosexuals were more likely than gay men to engage in these types of activity.
  • Physical restriction: This included bondage, use of handcuffs, use of chains, wrestling, use of ice, wearing straight jackets, hypoxyphilia, and mummifying.
  • Hyper-masculine pain administration: This involved rimming, dildo use, cock binding, being urinated upon, being given an enema, fisting, being defecated upon, and catheter insertion. Gay men were more likely than heterosexuals to engage in these types of activity.

A 2002 follow-up study by the same team on the same sample of sadomasochists (also in the Archives of Sexual Behavior led by Dr. Pekka Santtila) reported that 35% of their participants had engaged in hot wax play. From these few studies it would appear that wax play among SM practitioners is relatively prevalent although there appear to be few data about how regularly wax play is engaged in.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Alison, L., Santtila, P., Sandnabba, N.K., & Nordling, N. (2001). Sadomasochistically oriented behavior: Diversity in practice and meaning. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 30, 1-12.

Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.

Moser, C. & Levitt, E.E. (1987). An exploratory descriptive study of a sadomasochistically oriented sample. Journal of Sex Research, 23, 322–337.

Norische (2008). Candlelight moments: Basics of wax play. Idaho BDSM. Located at:

Safer+Saner (2006). Wax play. Located at:

Sandnabba, N.K., Santtila, P., Alison, L., & Nordling, N. (2002). Demographics, sexual behaviour, family background and abuse experiences of practitioners of sadomasochistic sex: A review of recent research. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 17, 39-55.

Spectrum (2004). The Toybag Guide to Hot Wax and Temperature Play. Emeryville, California: Greenery Press.

Wikipedia (2014). Wax play. Located at:

The stranglers’ greatest hit: A brief overview of autoerotic asphyxiation

Hypoxyphilia (more commonly known as ‘autoerotic asphyxiation’ and less commonly known as ‘asphyxophilia’) is a rare and potentially life threatening paraphilia where a person seeks to reduce supply of oxygen to the brain during a heightened state of sexual arousal. Restricting the oxygen flow causes a build of carbon dioxide. This increase in carbon dioxide brings about feelings of giddiness and pleasure which when accompanied by masturbation can heighten the sexual sensations. Typically, this is achieved by chain, leather belt, rope noose or plastic bag either alone or with a partner and often results in death. Deaths occur due to the loss of consciousness caused by partial asphyxia. High profile deaths (by hanging) have included the Australian INXS singer Michael Hutchence, the US actor David Carradine, and the English MP and television reporter Stephen Milligan.

Although asphyxia from hanging has been described most frequently, a review of autoerotic asphyxiate deaths by Dr Roger Byard (Adelaide Women and Children’s Hospital, Australia) concluded that a wide variety of other lethal situations have been reported. Other hypoxyphilia variants that have been reported include: the use of plastic bags, chemical substance, food, electrocution, water submersion, and power hydraulics, etc.

There is some disagreement as to how common such deaths are. The American Psychiatric Association estimates that one in a million deaths are caused this way. The American FBI estimates there to be a mortality rate of 1000 deaths per year in the States. In a review of the literature, Dr Jane Uva (Wright State University, USA) estimated the mortality rate as being anywhere between 250 and 1000 deaths per year in the United States. Most hypoxyphiliacs are male with one Canadian study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry reporting only one of 117 accidental hypoxyphilic deaths as involving a female. In general, hypoxyphiliacs are white middle-aged males, although there are cases in literature of women or men up to 87 years of age.

There is limited data available but the goal seems to be to increase orgasm intensity. This bears some relationship with those who use amyl nitrate (which reduces brain oxygenation). It has been said that this type of behaviour may be a dangerous variant or manifestation of sexual masochism with its ritualised bondage themes. The person often keeps diaries and may watch themselves in mirrors or video record themselves. A German study of 40 accidental autoerotic deaths published in the journal Forensic Science International, reported that the bodies of hypoxyphiliacs are typically discovered naked and/or with genitalia in hand. Pornographic and/or other paraphilic material and/or sex toys are often present. Furthermore, the individuals will have ejaculated shortly before their death. The literature also shows that hypoxyphilia has also been associated with other paraphilias including masochism, transvestitism, bondage, and fetishism.

In one of the few studies of hypoxyphiliacs that are still alive, Dr Stephen Hucker (University of Toronto, Canada) surveyed over 100 participants via the Internet. He reported that 71% engaged in various masochistic activities, and 31% also took sadistic roles. Furthermore, 66% reported using bondage, 44% used clamps on themselves, 14% used electrical stimulation, and 37% self-flagellated. With regards to the act itself, the highest level of arousal was reported to be to obstruction of breathing. However, loss of control and loss of consciousness were also important in increasing sexual arousal. The lowest sexual arousal ratings were for pain and humiliation.

Finally, a recent review – again written by Hucker – in relation to the new DSM-V paraphilia classification, he surveyed over 100 practitioners who have expertise in treating paraphilic activity. Hucker recommended that the term ‘hypoxyphilia’ should be abandoned in favour of the term ‘asphyiophilia’ as there is little empirical evidence to indicate that the effects of oxygen deprivation per se are the primary motive for the paraphiliiac’s behavior. He argued that the behaviour is sexual arousal to restriction of breathing.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Behrendt, N., Buhl, N. & Seidl, S. (2002). The lethal paraphilic syndrome: Accidental autoerotic deaths in four women and a review of the literature. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 116, 148-152

Blanchard, R. & Hucker, S.J. (1991). Age, transvestism, bondage, and concurrent paraphilic activities in 117 fatal cases of autoerotic asphyxia. British Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 371-377.

Bogliolo, L.R., Taff, M.L., Stephens, P.J., & Money, J. (1991). A case of autoerotic asphyxia associated with multiplex paraphilia. American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 12, 64-73

Burgess, A.W. & Hazelwood, R.R. (1983). Autoerotic deaths and social network response. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 53, 166-170

Byard, R. (1994). Autoerotic death — characteristic features and diagnostic difficulties. Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine, 1, 71-78.

Cooper, A. J. (1996). Auto-erotic asphyxiation: Three case reports. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 22, 47–53.

Hucker, S.J. (2008). Sexual masochism: Psychopathology and theory. In Laws, D.R. & O’Donohue, W.T. (Eds.), Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment and Treatment. pp.25-263. New York: Guildford Press.

Hucker, S.J. (2011). Hypoxyphilia. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 1323-1326.

Janssen, W., Koops, E., Anders, S., Kuhn, S. & Püschel, K. (2005). Forensic aspects of 40 accidental autoerotic death in Northern Germany. Forensic Science International, 147S, S61–S64.

Martz, D. (2003). “Behavioral treatment for a female engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation”. Clinical Case Studies, 2, 236–242.

Tough, S., Butt, J. & Sanders, G. (1994). Autoerotic sexual asphyxial deaths: Analysis of nineteen fatalities. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 39, 157-160.

Uva, J.L. (1995). Review: Autoerotic asphyxiation in the United States. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 40, 574–581.



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