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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:

Needle work: A beginner’s guide to belonophilia

A year ago, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported the case of a 58-year old Australian facial surgeon (Arthur Bosanquet) who was disqualified from practicing as a dentist after admitting to the Dental Tribunal of New South Wales that he had a “needle fetish” with an underlying homosexual/bisexual interest that led to the sexual abuse of three teenage patients. He was initially jailed for nine months for both indecent and common assaults but on appeal these were downgraded to suspended sentences. As the article in the SMH noted:

“[Bosanquet] devised a bogus university study which tricked the young men into masturbating in front of him…The surgeon blamed his behaviour on his needle fetish, sexual interests, and too much work…The tribunal heard evidence that, in several cases, Bosanquet offered the young men money to complete the study, which focused on taking blood pressure readings and blood samples before and after masturbation. The incidents, which spanned an eight-year period, included two occasions where he conducted the ‘study’ at the patients’ homes”

In another case last year reported by Asia One News, a 40-year old man from Kuala Lumpur had pricked “scores of needles into his lover’s body” claiming that he had been performing acupuncture on her. His lover was forced to endure his fetishistic use of needles and was threatened with stabbing if she did not let her become his human pin cushion. He threatened to knife her if she did not submit to his fetish. The report noted:

“The woman was startled from her slumber by a sharp piercing feeling on her body. The man pointed a knife at her and threatened to kill her, saying he was going to perform acupuncture on her. Afraid, she gave in to the agonizing ‘treatment’. The man told her that he, too, needed the treatment and wanted her to prick needles into his body. The victim, worried that the matter could get out of hand, told her boyfriend she needed to wash up and prepare for work. She pleaded with him to remove the needles and pins from her face, hands and body. During the brief respite, the frightened woman stealthily left the house and fled to the Sungai Besi police station to lodge a report”.

In his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, Dr Anil Aggrawal defines belonophilia as the deriving of sexual pleasure and arousal from pins or needles and both of the above cases appear to belonophiles (although I only have media stories as ‘evidence’).

In a previous blog on piquerism (sexual arousal from penetrating another person’s body with sharp objects such as pins, razors, knives, etc.) I briefly looked at the case of 25-year-old American (Frank Ranieri) who was accused of paying large amounts of money to at least five young females in exchange for poking their buttocks with sharp objects (e.g., pens, pins, nails, etc.) while masturbating. Although Ranieri was a piquerist, it could also be argued that he was (in part at least a belonophile). As one article on the case noted:

“Ranieri was charged with two counts of second-degree assault as a sexual felony for paying a 17-year-old Richmond Valley teen about $6,000 to be his erotic pincushion for about a year and a half…Ranieri liked to see pins go through muscle and flesh…He didn’t see much wrong with it”.

Although media stories relating to ‘needle fetishes’ appear to be relatively rare, clinical and medical case studies in the academic literature are almost non-existent. One of the very few academic case studies of pin fetishism was published back in a 1954 issue of the medical journal The Lancet. Dr. W. Mitchell and two other colleagues reported the case of an epileptic male with a safety pin fetish (in fact, there is a known association between epilepsy and sexual fetishism). For as long as he could remember, the patient had had a safety pin fetish and often entered a trance-like state when gazing at a safety pin. The man claimed that during his early childhood, contemplation of an actual or imagined safety pin evoked a feeling described by the man as “thought satisfaction”. During his teenage years, the `thought satisfaction’ developed into absence seizures, and then motor automatisms. At the age of 38-years, the patient was given a temporal lobectomy. This completely eliminated both the epilepsy and his fetishistic desire for safety pins.

The sexualization of pin and needles has long been part of sexual sado-masochistic practices and is known as ‘needle play’. The Informed Consent website has an article on the practices and notes that:

Needle play is the practice of inserting needles under the skin of the submissive. Needle play is considered [a form of] Edge Play and care should be taken to follow all appropriate safety precautions when engaging in play in order to avoid injury or infection. Only use sterile needles approved for medical use, and not reuse them after they have been used. The basic idea is that the needle should travel just underneath the surface of ordinary skin, to emerge through the skin a short distance from where it was inserted. The needle tips have a bevel. With regard to the skin being pierced, the bevel may be up or down (it’s personal preference). Shallower [equals] More Pain, Larger Diameter Needle [equals] More Pain. Do not stick needles into internal organs, bones, eyes, etc. Again, the idea is that the needle should travel just underneath ordinary skin, passing only through skin and the subcutaneous layers just underneath the surface”.

The Informed Consent website also makes reference to very specific types of needle play including genital play piercing and nipple piercing. The article claims that those individuals that like “intense nipple play” also like temporary nipple piercing. The article also notes that:

“The needle can be thrust through back of the nipple, taking care to include areolar tissue. An entire rosette of needles can be inserted. This of course can be dangerous, with potential exchange of bodily fluids and other infection. Don’t pierce wrists, hands, or spines, or near them. In general, piercing near a nerve tract (e.g., near joints); avoid piercing where bones are close to the skin surface. Waist to shoulders is usually fine, though one should avoid the armpit and sternum. The primary danger in play piercing is infection. Be sure that the person you are playing with would recognize the signs of infection should they occur”.

The Wikipedia entry on play piercing briefly examines both needle play and recreational acupuncture and defines such practices as temporary where the main reason for engaging in the behaviour is to enjoy the experience rather than permanent body decoration. Other motivations for engaging in needle play include (i) a mode of self-expression, (ii) spiritual self-discovery, (iii) sexual pleasure, (iv) simple entertainment, (v) raising awareness, (vi) relieving boredom, and/or (vii) as “part of a ritual imitating mock tribal cultures”. The article also claims:

“Play piercing can produce an intense natural endorphin high which can last for hours and can induce orgasm in many of the people who experience it. The experience of multiple piercings in an erotically or spiritually charged context is qualitatively very different from the experience most people have had with phlebotomists in medical settings, in part because the needle is placed ‘through’ the skin at a secant so that both ends are accessible, rather than ‘into’ the skin”.

Whether ‘needle play’ can really be classed as a ‘needle fetish’ as part of belonophilia is debatable. The (online non-academic) needle play literature appears to be more rooted in erotic piercing that needle fetishes per se. There are certainly a growing number of academic papers on sexual piercing since Dr. Neil Buhrich’s research in a 1983 issue of the Archives of Sexual Behavior (so I’ll leave that for another blog). Genuine ‘needle fetishism’ appears to be very rare.

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.

Asia One News (2012). Man has ‘acupuncture’ fetish, January 4. Located at:

Buhrich, N. (1983). The association of erotic piercing with homosexuality, sadomasochism, bondage, fetishism, and tattoos. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 12, 167-171.

Fuller, B. (2012). Dentist disqualified over ‘needle fetish’. Sydney Morning Herald, August 21. Located at:

Informed Consent (2012). Needle play. Located at:

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

Mitchell, W. & Falconer, M.A. & Hill, D. (1954). Epilepsy with fetishism relieved by temporal lobe lobectomy. Lancet, 2, 626-630.

PervScan (2007). Piquerism in New York. June 12. Located at:

Spencer, P.N. (2007). Bizarre allegations at pin-fetish arraignment. Staten Island Advance, June 6. Located at:

Wikipedia (2012). Play piercing. Located at: