Hot & Heavy: Here’s What You Need to Know About Fire Play

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Fire is fascinating, there is really no denying that. 

Whether you’re used to campfires on a brisk autumn night or stoking the fireplace in your home on a chilly winter morning - we’ve all caught ourselves staring aimlessly into the dancing flames at some point. Then there are the ever-so-captivating fire eaters and fire dancers you can see at carnivals (or those incredible Cirque du Soleil shows), which I think we all find extremely fascinating to watch.

 When it comes down to it, fire is interesting to us - it always has been. 

And obviously, as with anything we human beings find interesting, fire has even been fetishized into something that is used for sexual gratification. 

But how can you use fire in sex? 

Well, lots of ways, actually. 

But First, Let’s Get Some Things Straight...

Before we talk about fire play fetishes, we need to clear some things up. 

Fire play is a fetish that is not commonly talked about and because of this, there are many myths and misconceptions around what fire play is (and what it isn’t). Contrary to popular belief, people who are turned on by fire don’t go around burning their lovers with matches. 

It’s a lot more complex than that, and people who do participate in this fetish have often done a lot of research (and even attended training classes) before introducing fire play into the bedroom. 

Pyrophilia vs Pyromania

What is is called when you like to play with fire? What is the difference between finding fire fascinating and having a real compulsion to play with fire? 

Pyrophilia is a paraphilia (or desire) where starting a fire, watching flames or talking about fire gives sexual arousal and pleasure. 

Pyromania, on the other hand, is an impulse control disorder (more like an obsessive compulsion)  in which people deliberately start fires in order to relieve tension or stress. 

For people who struggle with this disorder, the act of setting fires is an obsession or compulsion, not something they have fetishized for sexual purposes. 

Many people confuse the two, because, in their essence, both groups of people like to start fires, think about fires or play with fire to find some kind of release. For pyrophiliacs, most of the time that release is sexual in nature - whereas for pyromaniacs, it’s really like an itch they can’t help but scratch. 

The most important difference between pyrophilia and pyromania is that the latter is an impulse control disorder that is really a mental health concern. Whereas pyrophilia is more of a fascination with using fire in a sexual capacity. 

How is Fire Play Different? 

Fire play is a type of edge play that involves fire near or directly on a person’s skin for sexual arousal or pleasure. Many people who enjoy fire play are also very much interested in fire as a way to experiment with different temperatures (often referred to as temperature play). 

While the fetish itself may be about fire, it may very well also be about how fire makes them feel (the sensation or the thrill), and less about the actual flames. 

For example, many people who are interested in fire play are interested in the danger, pain and/or the thrill that comes from playing with fire. This is similar to those who like to be choked in bed - they may not really have a fascination with feeling breathless or suffocating, but the thrill of breath play is what gives them a better orgasm. 

Although people who like fire play may also be pyrophiliacs, the fire play itself doesn’t have to link back to pyrophilia. 

Essentially, just because you like to experiment in the bedroom with fire or heat doesn’t mean you have an obsession with fire. And if you do find your fiery curiosity to be taking on more of a compulsive/obsessive nature, you may have an actual mental health condition (pyromania) that can explain why your need to start or feel fires is so overwhelming. 

What Are the Different Kinds of Fire Play? 

There are lots of different ways to incorporate your love of fire into your sex life. Each technique requires knowledge, skill and safety plans in case something goes wrong - so play safe and be smart!  

Big disclaimer here: these are the tips and tricks of fire play that I’ve gathered from various resources (linked to throughout the next few paragraphs). By no means is this a guide on how to safely participate in fire play. 

If you are interested in fire play, you can actually take training sessions to learn how to incorporate fire into your sex life in a safe and convenient way. 

Along with these training sessions, you can also buy the Flames of Passion: Handbook of Erotic Fire Play book (by author David Walker), which is raved about in online fire play forums for being super educational and helpful for beginners. 

Here are the different ways fire can be used during sex...

Fire Flogging 

Fire Flogging is a really common way to really heat things up when you’re already interested in impact play. This typically includes a flogger (which is typically made of Kevlar rope), and this flogger will likely have knots at the end to prevent the rope from coming unraveled. 

How does it feel? 

Well, according to people who have experienced it, the sting is a bit more intense than when a typical flogger (made of leather and you know, not on fire) is used. The heat feels great because it isn’t constant, it’s like little stinging flashes of heat. 

Safety tips... 

For this, it’s very highly recommended that you start on your back, avoiding other areas until you have more experience. 

Fire Fleshing 

This is the most common way to incorporate fire into your sex life and you can find many different fire fleshing videos if you know where to search for it. 

Fire fleshing is where you make designs on your flesh with a flammable substance, set it on fire and then immediately put it out (typically by wiping it away). 

Tools of This Trade

Some people use drumsticks wrapped in Kevlar, some create pens with a Kevlar wick, some use professional fleshing torches. You use one to wipe the fuel and a separate stick to ignite, and then you typically wipe away the flame with your hand. If all goes well, it shouldn’t feel really painful, it should feel warm and tingly.

Safety tips…

As you can probably guess, this can be really dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. You want to extinguish the flame almost immediately after lighting it to avoid serious burns. The goal here is for a hot blaze trail that lingers for a second and then is gone.

If you’re interested in some safety tips from someone who is a professional fire dancer, check out this video

Flash Paper or Flash Cotton 

The use of flash paper or cotton is a bit controversial even among seasoned fire fetishists because it is a lot more likely to cause burns and you can’t trust it nearly as much as say fuel that you can easily wipe off or extinguish quickly. 

Safety tips…

The main reason for this is because once it’s lit, it’s lit until it burns out. And while using teeny tiny amounts of flash cotton is going to let the flame come and go super quickly, if you aren’t experienced and use this incorrectly, it will cause burns. 

Incorrect uses of flash paper or cotton often involve using too much or placing your pieces too close together. 

Fire Drumming 

Fire drumming is a practice where fire wands (or drumsticks) are set on fire and drummed against parts of your body, most of the time to music. 

How does it feel? 

People who have experienced this form of fire play describe it as intense and yet somehow relaxing, like a massage but with the thrill of little flicks of heat from the fire. 

Fire Cupping 

Fire cupping is considered a bit more “therapeutic” and calm than drumming or fleshing - this can be because cupping is a very common massage practice that is used in many different of them is fire cupping. You can see an example of message fire cupping here

In Chinese culture, fire cupping is thought to bring “bad blood and toxins” to the surface of the skin, which is considered to be detoxifying.

When it comes to cupping, there are three different “methods”: dry cupping, fire cupping (hello!), and wet cupping. 

Dry cupping created a partial vacuum-like seal in the cup through some kind of mechanism.

Wet cupping is the idea that you make a small cut, start the cupping practice and this brings small amounts of blood to the surface. 

Fire cupping (what we’re all here to talk about), is often considered one of the more sensual and stimulating forms of cupping. 

How does it feel? 

Because the glass cups are used with an open flame, they conduct a decent amount of heat which can leave the person with a nice, sensual warmth when the cups are applied. 

Why Is It Erotic to Play With Fire?

Now that we’ve talked about some of the psychological reasons that cause mental health conditions where fire is an obsession, we can talk about why people like to experiment with fire in the bedroom. 

It’s a Type of Sensation Play 

Playing around with different sensations in the bedroom can be incredibly erotic and satisfying.

Whether it’s playing with some ice cubes, that tingly lube you can buy or the red hot sensation of being spanked - there are many different ways we play with different temperatures or sensations while we have sex.

Fire play is just the ultimate sensation play because it’s super hot (literally). 

It’s Dangerous

Maybe you like getting frisky with your lover under the table while you’re out to dinner, or perhaps you like to be tied up, even more so when you’re by yourself with no one to help you. 

Sometimes we’re drawn to things that are a bit dangerous and risky simply BECAUSE they are dangerous and risky. 

Maybe It’s a Subconscious Thing?

“Your sex is on fire.” - that super popular Kings of Leon song. 

Song lyrics are just one example of how we have long associated sexy with “hot”, even when we’re just talking about slang words. 

But even more so, we’ve associated sex with heat in a variety of other ways, too. When we talk about adding something new to the bedroom, we talk about “spicing things up”. When we talk about sex toys, we talk about how they are “heating things up in the bedroom”. 

Our language is drenched in fire-focused slangs and erotic sayings - so maybe there has been a bit of a subconscious connection made, who knows?

It’s Mesmerizing 

Watching someone play with fire can be incredibly interesting.

You find yourself unable to look away and you’re hooked, watching their every movement and wondering how on earth they are doing it. 

With things like fire eating and fire dancing, fire has almost always been something of an entertainment source. 

It Can Be a Bonding Experience

When you think of fire play, you’re likely not picturing a romantic, intimate love scene - it’s more intense, thrilling, edgy and exciting. 

But some people who are into fire play are specifically interested in the bond and connection they feel with their partner while engaging in a fetish where trust in the other person to keep you safe is absolutely paramount. 

Videos like this show just how beautiful and intimate fire play with a partner can be. Almost therapeutic, with music like that going. 

Here’s What You Need to Know About Fire Play Before Getting Started

While the idea of playing with fire sounds exciting, it’s definitely not an easy thing to get into and there are definitely loads of ways this can end badly. 

So, before you dive into this - let’s talk about some basic ground rules for erotic fire play. 

Keeping it Legal 

Nothing puts a damper on your lover’s mood like you being arrested on arson charges. 

Let’s not set fire to random abandoned houses or cause actual damage to property, right? Keeping your fire play legal and safe should be your first and most important rules if you’re interested in any kind of sexual acts that involve fire.

Consent and Safety

While we’re on the subject of safety, let’s talk about how we can’t just go around burning people without their consent. 

This is absolutely non-negotiable. 

The importance of consent is never more prevalent than when it comes to physical sex acts that could lead to potentially dangerous and permanent injury or accidents. 

Talk about your fiery fantasies with your partner and come up with a safety plan (and a backup safety plan, because things can always go wrong). This will ensure everyone is not only sexually satisfied but actually safe and alive by the time you’ve reached climax.

Safety tips for beginner fire play: 

Having a fire extinguisher on hand (and within reach). Make sure your fire extinguisher is working and full. 

  1. - Do loads of research BEFORE you attempt any kind of fire play, or seek advice from people who are experienced in fire play. 
  2. - You will also want to have some kind of topical burn lotion on hand to immediately apply to burned areas. All it takes is a second or two too long and you’re dealing with a potentially dangerous burn. If you have any concerns about burns you may think are serious - visit a hospital, just to be safe.
  3. - Did you know it only takes 3 seconds for a 3rd degree burn to happen?
    For fleshing, you create a trail of fuel, light it, and IMMEDIATELY extinguish it.
    This isn’t an edgeplay where you “see how long they can hold out” - fire play is about flashes of heat or flickering flames, nothing more. 
  4. - Your container of fuel should be clearly labeled and not able to tip over and spill - because that could be disastrous. 
  5. - Speaking of fuel, when it comes to fire play, you can’t just use any flammable liquid. There are very specific fuels that were made for this type of use. A list of the most commonly used fuels for fire play can be found here. 
  6. - Use a barbeque lighter. No matches or candles. Bad idea. Barbeque-style lighters are much easier to control. 
  7. - Get rid of any kind of mouse, hairspray, lotion, perfume, etc. This is an activity best done completely naked, free of anything that could be even remotely flammable.

Some Resources from People Who Have Done This Before…

For any kind of edgeplay fetish, I suggest you do some research and find people who are experienced with this kind of play. 

No one will be able to guide you better than people who have done this before! 

In my research, I found this couple, who are quite experienced and have some great tips. If you’re really interested, reaching out to people like this through social media and asking for some advice is never a bad idea! 

Another really helpful article I’ve found is over on Free Thought Blogs, where there are tons of safety tips and walk-through instructions on your first fire play experience. 

AltFet also has a great post on where someone details what it was really like to experience fire play for the first time. And if you’re into fire cupping, Kinkly has a super informational post on that part of fire play.

Extinguishing Methods: Putting Out the Fire 

For putting a fire out immediately on your partner, you can simply wipe the flame away or dampen it with a fire blanket. Some people may think wiping the flame away would hurt them, but it doesn’t (if you have used the right kind of fuel). 

If you find the flame isn’t being doused quick enough, grab the fire extinguisher on hand and spray the fire out immediately. Better too soon than not soon enough and ending up with a (very literal) scorned lover. 

If your fire catches on something flammable in the room (like bed sheets or clothing), the fire extinguisher should be used right away. People sometimes make the mistake of waving the fabric around or dousing with water, but nothing will kill a flame faster than a fire extinguisher. 

Before you start anything - every single time, you need to make sure your fire extinguisher is FULL and not broken in some way. 

Alternative Ways to Satisfy Your Fiery Fantasies 

Are you finding your interest piqued but aren’t quite sure you’re ready to dive into the flames just yet? There are some other ways you can bring your fiery fantasies to life. 

Whatever You Like, There’s Porn for That 

Believe me when I say that whatever you’re interested in sexually, there most definitely is a porn genre for it. Even the smaller, more obscure fetishes still have tons of videos out there. You just have to know where to look. 

Playing Around with Heat 

If the heat is what you like, there are many ways to incorporate heat into your sex life without actually using fire. Heated gels and lubes are a great place to start and see if this is what satisfies your curiosities..  

Taking a Class 

Did you know there are fire play training classes? While most of these classes are geared towards people who are interested in becoming professional fire dancers...who says there aren’t some fellow kinksters in the group? 

Fire play workshops or trainings that are offered through various programs (like The Fire School) are a great way to pique your interest in fire and get to know more about this fetish. 

In The Heat of the Moment...

When it comes to any form of BDSM play, it can be really tempting to just jump in and start doing it, especially if it really excites you. Fire play is exhilerating, fun, exciting, scary, erotic and sensual - but it doesn’t always start out that way. 

In fact, most forms of edgeplay start out very un-erotic, because you’re learning as you go. Think of it like learning to play guitar: you can’t just pick up a guitar and immediately expect to sound like Jimmy Hendrix. 

You have to practice (a lot!) before you can really blow someone’s mind. Once you start to become familiar and experienced with the tools and the techniques you’re using, then it starts to feel more erotic and fun.

If you’re interested in any type of fire play, do your homework! 

Read articles like this, find other people ho have experienced fire play and talk to them - get tips, ask for advice and start creating your own vision for the kind of fire play you’d like to do.