What is Temperature Play?
To put it simply, it’s a technique often used (but not exclusively) in BDSM as well as ‘vanilla’ foreplay that uses heat or cold to stimulate the skin and provoke a sensual reaction. Temperature play is often combined with blindfolding and/or bondage to heighten the sensation.
Cosmopolitan states, “The main aim of temperature play is to provoke arousal by using the skin’s neuroreceptors. Stimulation through heat or cold gives the body a rush of sensations that, during foreplay, is translated into arousal. Temperature play is especially fun for the receiver when hot and cold are combined together in unpredictable patterns.”
There are a variety of ways to incorporate heat and fire into your sex life, but like anything, work your way up to the more intense side of things and don’t just dive straight in. A common source of heat use during foreplay is wax, but make sure you use candles designed specifically for sensual play as household candles have varying melting points, (meaning you could get badly burned).
Massage candles like this French Vanilla Candle by Olivia’s Boudoir are specifically formulated to burn at lower temperatures than regular wax candles. Plus, they melt into a delicious-smelling oil that you can rub into your partner’s skin for a sensual massage. However, whilst massage candles are cooler than a candle you’d find in a shop – that doesn’t mean they aren’t hot — they’re just much less likely to burn your skin. So grab your favorite scent and settle in a for a hot night, literally.
If you’re using a regular candle, and not a massage oil candle, wax play can be dangerous. If you’re not careful, you could burn your skin with too-hot wax. Be sure to test your boundaries and start slowly. Start with wax that burns at lower temperatures, like soy or paraffin candles, and drop the wax from higher distances (it’ll cool down as it falls through the air). Once you get more comfortable, you can try a wax with a higher melting point, like beeswax or palm. You can also drop the wax closer to the body, which will make the heat more intense.
Some fun, hot and less dangerous methods involve melted chocolate or edible oil which can be heated to your satisfaction and licked off you, making it that all more enjoyable.
There’s a lot more you can do with temperature than you think, ranging from simple beginner tips to hardcore and slightly/very dangerous (which we don’t recommend unless you’re an expert!). For example, there are some more extreme forms of temperature play using fire such as cupping, or streaking.
For those wondering, ‘streaking’ is where fuel is applied directly to the skin, lit on fire, then extinguished before the skin starts to burn. Fire cupping involves soaking a cotton ball in almost pure alcohol, the cotton is then lit and placed into the cup and quickly removed, while the cup is placed on the skin. Fire cupping often leaves marks that can remain from a few hours to a few days.
Some other hardcore fire fun consists of branding, fire flogging, fire fleshing (similar to streaking), and more. However, as previously stated – this should be left entirely for the professionals due to the high risk involved.
When talking of temperature play, the first thing that often springs to mind for most people is your partner using a ice cube in their mouth to melt on to your naked body, but as hot (and cool) as that may be, there’s a lot more you can do with temperature play.
A fun way of experimenting with the cold sensation down there is by chewing a menthol chewing gum (Airways: menthol & eucalyptus for a stronger feeling) and either removing it or keeping it in your mouth during oral sex. It gives your genitals that tingling sensation that you get with ice, but just not as intense.
By using toys that retain the cold such as glass and metal, don’t hesitate to take advantage of that, and leave them resting in an ice bucket for that extra tingling sensation when it comes around to either pleasuring yourself or having someone else use the toys on you. However, you must always test the temperature on another area of skin (like your inner elbow) before using – this goes for both hot and cold ventures. If you don’t have a glass or metal sex toy, fear not – silicone sex toys work too!
While you can definitely use ice cubes during sex, there are both safe and potentially dangerous ways to do so. Speaking to Elite Daily, sex educator, Crista Anne states that before using ice on sensitive areas, let it thaw out slightly. “Set it aside in a bowl or cup for five to 10 minutes. While the ice is melting a bit, get things heated up for maximum sensation shift. Beyond safety, this will also allow the ice to slip and slide over skin. Ice sticking to sensitive areas can be damaging and painful,” she adds. In general, you should proceed with excessive caution when using ice internally. Ice should never be inserted for more than five minutes, according to Crista.
Frostbite is a real concern when using ice during sex. “Some people will find the cold slightly uncomfortable at first, but pain is a sign of trouble when it comes to ice play,” says Crista. “This is why communicating about the sensations you’re both feeling is so important. A ‘pins and needles’ sensation, burning, and stinging are all warning signs of frostbite. Visual cues mean you should stop immediately and get warm. Look out for excessive redness or even a blueish tint to the skin, which is rare, but possible. The person using the ice should also be aware of these signs, because the skin on the fingertips is sensitive as well. Keeping a washcloth in a bowl of warm water nearby is a good safety measure” advises Crista.
However cold foods can also be tantilizing during sex, one source recommended fresh cold watermelon. Just be careful with foods and especially anything sweet down there as you don’t want a yeast infection! But how fun does that sound?! Hard, cold watermelon brushed on your skin and then bit into so the juice explodes all over your body, running everywhere to be licked up. Mmmmmm…
Lube is everyone’s best friend! It can be incorporated to anything sex and is a versatile sex accessory, and you can also change the temperature of your lube for heightened orgasms. Holly Richmond, PhD and sex therapist states to Refinery29, “If lube is at body temperature, we’re not feeling it. All we’re feeling is the penetration or the vibration,” Dr. Richmond says. “But if you add that extra layer, that extra element of warmth or cool, that takes things to another sensory level. Stick your lube in the fridge for a few minutes to cool it down, or, get a lube warmer, such as a Touch or a Pulse.” Dr. Richmond suggests.
But be careful: Just like with your sex toys, you don’t want to get your lube too warm or too cold. Test a few drops on your wrist before using the lube just to check. There are lubes for just about everything, and that includes temperature play. Sensation lubes are handy to keep by your bedside. You can buy them from Durex such as the Durex Play Warming Lube and the Durex Tingling Lube.