Dripping candle wax — Playful or painful?

Hello Alice,

My girlfriend and I like to drip hot candle wax on each other. Is that safe? Can there be any damage or anything? I wouldn't exactly want anything bad to happen to either of us down there... Thanks!

Dear Reader,

Plenty of people find wax play erotic, whether you're dripping the wax from a candle or spreading it on the body with a brush. As long as you're conscientious about safety and consent, wax play may help add some excitement to your sex life. When planning for your waxy sex play, it’s good to keep in mind what you’re hoping to get out of the experience because that can inform the type of wax you use and how you can keep you and your partners safer.

For starters, there are various types of wax, each having different melting points. Generally, the softer the wax, the lower the melting point. The lower the melting point, the less chance you have of ending up with a nasty burn in a potentially sensitive area. When considering household candles, votive candles melt around 135° Fahrenheit (F), taper candles at 140°F or higher, and beeswax at 145°F or higher. To avoid burns, it’s advised to use candles with a melting point below 125°F. Luckily, paraffin wax (the kind sold in bulk for canning) melts at around 120°F, which makes it a good candidate for wax play. All that said, additives such as color, perfume, and stearic acid (used to reduce shrinking and add hardness) can increase the wax's melting point and cause skin irritation. 

While common household candles are an option for wax play, there are also candles specifically made for erotic play as it's often considered a form of BDSM, which stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. These candles are recommended as they’re designed with pleasure and safety in mind. For example, massage candles are made from soy wax and burn at lower temperatures than typical household candles, moving sensual play away from the risk of burns. It’s good to keep in mind that these types of candles can flake as they cool down so it might be helpful to have a plan for clean-up. Other candles made for erotic play are made from spa grade paraffin and melt between 80 to 91°F (well below the threshold of 125°F). These options may be sold as erotic low temperature candles, sadistic low temperature candles, and black light low temperature candles. Of these types of candles, the sadistic low temperature options create a stinging sensation for those wanting to enjoy that type of pleasure. As you plan for wax play, consider what type of experience you want as that can help guide you in choosing a type of candle to use. 

Now that you’ve got more information about the types of candles, you may consider the following strategies for enjoying wax play in a lower risk manner:

  • Hold the source of wax 8 to 18 inches above the skin to give the drips some time to cool (starting with a higher height for the first few times).
  • Before spilling too much wax, you could focus on a less sensitive area to gauge comfort and safety in terms of temperature and propensity to skin irritation before moving on to more sensitive areas.
  • It’s a good idea to avoid the face and to be especially careful with delicate areas such as the genitals, nipples, and the navel.
  • Rubbing baby oil or placing a clear sheet of plastic on the skin before applying the wax can help mitigate the heat of the wax.
  • Have a cold washcloth available to soothe any potential burns.

Everyone's skin is unique and reacts differently to hot wax. Even with erotic play candles, irritation or burns may still occur. Communication is crucial for a mutually pleasurable experience, and it's especially critical when playing with hot wax. Talking with your partners beforehand about what each of you feels comfortable with, paying attention to non-verbal communication, and letting each other know what is or isn't pleasurable are good ways to get the most out of wax play.


Last updated Oct 30, 2020
Originally published Oct 26, 2007

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