More than once, I have talked about definitions. I have learned over the years that compatible definitions prevent miscommunication.
It wasn’t until recently that I came to understand my definition of temperature play was not the same as the broader community. To me, temperature play is any type of play that brings intentional hot or cold sensation to the skin. In my experiences with temperature play, I have had wax, ice, anbesol, capsaicin cream, and icy hot used.
For perspective, I need to express how sensitive my skin is. I have three conditions that affect me the most.
Cold Urticaria is an allergy to cold. It causes intense itchiness, hives, and swelling of the skin that was exposed. A cold glass (such as a drink with ice in it) can cause my hands to swell if held for more than 2 or 3 minutes.
Cholinergic Urticaria is an allergy to heat. It causes intense itchiness and hives. I rarely swell from the heat, but it happens occasionally. I wear driving gloves in the summer to allow me to touch my steering wheel to drive to work. A hot cup of cocoa or a hot plate of dinner are often too much to touch my bare skin.
Dermatographia (Skin writing disease) is a sensitivity of the skin that causes any kind of surface scratch (meaning no skin is broken) to turn into welts or hives. Something as simple as nails across my skin can welt for a couple of hours and look like I was in a fight.
All three of these are treated with antihistamines like Benadryl. I am allergic to those.
As I am sure you can imagine, my kink looks different than yours. I know which sensations affect me more than others and Master will decide how we play depending on the condition of my body at the time. Ice is the hardest for me to play with. So, we do not often use it. Cold is the second hardest since it takes me hours to warm back up. We play with that more often (such as having the playroom cooled with a fan or AC). It tends to intensify the sensations of impact without cold implements touching my skin.
Now that I have expressed how sensitive my skin is, let me explain that I am allergic to most chemicals. I have a specific body soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent I can use. I often break into hives just by touching everyday objects that have minimal residue from other people.
If you can hear the frustrations of testing the waters of temperature play over the years, then I am sure you are snickering at my misfortune. Now, we simply shrug off the physical representations (like hives) and Master pays more attention to my body language and verbal communication.
That was a lot of physical limitations to cover, wasn’t it? Are you wondering how I function? Don’t worry, some days I do too.
Master and I enjoy pushing ourselves. Which, in turn, means people believe we play risky. If you watch us scene, I often finish with excessive welting. I refuse to allow my skin to prevent my ability to explore different types of play.
So, back to where this conversation started.
Since my skin has such unique reactions to everyday items, I have always counted temperature play as anything that affects my skin. Things like icy hot, which burn me, fall under “hot” sensations. Things like anbesol, which can turn your nerve endings to ice when combines with a fan, fall under “cold” sensations.
I got into a debate with someone about my definitions. “Because,” they said, “you are advocating for chemical play, not temperature play.”
Well, I had honestly never thought about it.
But I had to ask myself one major question, “does definition matter?”
Between Master and I, this new categorization did not matter. Why? Because He and I are aware of my medical issues, and we adjust accordingly. I am physically affected by both chemical and natural compounds. So, what we call it isn’t that important as long as we play safely.
However, my definition does matter in regard to the education I provide to the local community. Temperature play and chemical play has different safety measures that should be considered.
So, I am going to share with you some of the differences I have learned.
Firstly, both types of play fall under an umbrella term: Sensation Play.
Sensation play is basically any type of play that is intentionally meant to push the sensory limits of an individual. This can include soft touches (like feathers), hot and cold sensations (such as the use of fire, ice, or wax), sharp touches (like pinwheels or needles), varying textures (like sandpaper), or the removal of one sensation to enhance other sensations (such as blindfolds or noise cancelling headphones).
If we are being honest, I would say 75% of play can fall under this umbrella. So, the key is that Sensation Play is about intent.
Then we have Temperature and Chemical play.
Temperature play is the use of naturally occurring items (like ice) that cause the body temperature to rise or fall. This can be an entire body experience (such as playing outside in inclement weather) or localized to singular spots on the body.
It has been specified to me, by a couple of people, that I am no longer allowed to consider urine/water sports as temperature play. It, apparently, requires its own negotiation and classification.
It is generally expected that the temperature changes need to happen on bare skin, but I am not opposed to the idea that playing naked in 20-degree weather or playing fully dressed in a sweat suit in the summer, falls under this category.
**Please beware of the hazards of heat stroke and/or hypothermia if attempting the aforementioned ideas**
For the following discussion, please understand that I do not advocate the attempt of this type of play, nor do I advocate the use of any of the chemicals listed, on anyone beyond myself. I use the acronym P.R.I.C.K (Personal Risk, Informed Consensual Kink). You are all adults. What you do with your partner and/or with your body is your responsibility.
Chemical Play is the use of chemicals to produce a specific reaction or sensation on the body. The most common items are tabasco, icy hot, rubbing alcohol, peppermint/spearmint, and ginger.
The most fascinating aspect, to me, is that many of these items fall under more than one type of play.
- Rubbing alcohol, for example, can be lit (by either a source of fire or electricity) and now you may be taking part in fire and/or electrical play.
- Ginger oil would fall under chemical play due to its reactions with the excretions of the body. But ginger root, which causes similar reactions, falls under food play.
- Tabasco creates a similar burning that icy hot does. However, because it is edible, it also falls under food play.
- Peppermint/Spearmint can cause cooling, burning, or numbing sensations. They can increase sensitivity in the mouth and genitals. The sensation can come from chemical sources (such as mouthwash), natural food items (such as mints, gum, candy), or artificial chemical means (such as anbesol—which does not taste like peppermint but creates the same sensations).
- By definition, wax is also a type of chemical play. However, it is generally considered its own entity.
*Regardless of the type of chemical play you may decide to play in, I recommend testing your reaction on a small, generally non-sensitive patch of skin first. The forearm or leg are a great place to start…before deciding to use it as lube.
Whether you want to delve into temperature play, chemical play, or any other type of play that crosses over, the most important advice I can give is to know your partner. Beyond their limits, know their reactions.
Master and I are aware that many of the items we use will cause a reaction on my skin. Hives are something that we most often just brush aside. He knows to look for a reaction like dizziness or excessive lethargy to signify a more substantial reaction that may need medical intervention.
However, if anyone else is on his table, and he sees hives or welts (beyond the expected results of the type of play), he will call the scene and move into aftercare/medical mode.
It is always important to include allergies when you negotiate. As I mentioned above, hives are often treated with medications like Benadryl. Benadryl, if given to me, causes seizures. I would rather deal with the hives and the itchiness than the seizures.
My restrictions make me extremely cautious regarding pick-up play. My style of negotiation (blanket consent) does not give me the personal freedom of experimenting with anyone outside of Master (or anyone Master chooses). These are my choices.
But, that does not mean you cannot experiment. If you have medical issues, you need to remember a couple important points.
- Advocate for yourself. Do not compromise your health. Know your allergies, your reactions, your cures.
- Medications taken and allergies (to medication or otherwise) should always be disclosed to your partner.
- Keep your emergency contact information within reach. On the off chance that you become non-responsive, your play partner should know who to contact, whether 911 is necessary or not.
- Respect the preferences of your potential partner. If they do not feel comfortable having a scene with someone with medical restrictions, respect that. Patience is difficult, but your safety is worth it.
- Allow yourself to work within your limits for pick-up play. I recommend pushing limits with a more permanent partner or one intimately familiar with your restrictions.
And, above all, know your partner’s definitions.
My name is Joji. I am 29 years old currently and I have been in and around the kink community about 15 years.I am a collared submissive to Magick42. I am also a Daddy to a wonderful babygirl, and have been for more than three years now and I find it very fulfilling. I am being mentored in and being taught electroplay. I am a masochist at heart and thoroughly love impact play, especially caning. I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on and am a die hard Harry Potter and Doctor Who fan. I am also the secretary for a group in Idaho called Moscow S.P.A.R.K.E (Simply Providing Another Route to Kink Education). It is our mission to teach safe practices to those new to the community and give them a safe haven to ask questions and learn without judgement. We accept all kinks and all we ask in return is respect between all our members.