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Zen and the Art of Fire Cupping

The art of fire cupping began in many ancient cultures as a traditional therapy to treat various ailments by creating a vacuum next to the skin.  “The earliest use of cupping that is recorded is from the famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong (281-341 A.D.).  The method was described in his book A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies, in which the cups were actually animal horns, used for draining pustules.  As a result of using horns, cupping has been known as jiaofa, or the horn technique.”-Cupping by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D.

In China, it was used as a type of acupressure to relieve respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Cupping is also said to be good for treatment of back, neck and shoulder pain.

It does, however, have another purpose.  It is used in bdsm as a type fire / sensation play, and can be used for other sexual purposes as well by applying the heated cups to the genitals or breasts.  It also falls under the heading of Medical Fetish.  Unless overheated or left on too long, fire cupping is usually not painful.  The sensation the cups make when applied is like a soft vacuum sucking the skin, much like someone giving you a hickey that builds in intensity the longer the cups are left on.  In traditional fire cupping for treatment, the cups are left on for about one minute, but during bdsm, they can be left on much longer, until the sensation becomes too intense (max 30 minutes).  Often, the cups will leave circular red bruises or hickey marks when removed which slowly fade away.

I have wanted to experiment with cupping sets for a long time and have always been fascinated by them.  This 3 Piece Cupping Set (3 pieces: small, medium and large glass cups) is compliments of Extreme Restraints who indulged my desire to learn and play.

Word of Caution:  Fire Cupping can be extremely dangerous because you are playing with fire (obviously).  I burned myself several times trying different methods, until I figured the safest way to do it.  The alcohol method is the most dangerous, but also the most effective. Being burned with fire fueled by alcohol is not fun and can cause serious injury.  So be careful!  Any type of fire play is also considered “edge” play as well.

If you fear to play with fire, you might want to try the safer type of cupping play like Vacuum Cupping Sets which I have also reviewed.  If you like to play with fire, you might enjoy my article on Candle Play.

Rubbing Alcohol Method

As mentioned, this method is the most dangerous, but does create an effective vacuum if you don’t burn yourself first or splash flaming alcohol on yourself or your play partner.  Seriously!

What You Will Need

  • Glass Fire Cupping Set
  • Bottle of Rubbing Alcohol
  • Cotton Balls
  • Forceps
  • Barbecue Lighter
  • Silicone Lubricant
  • A Pail of Water for Safety

Massage lubricant into the area of the skin you will be cupping to get a better seal against your partner’s flesh.  This will also make the cups easier to remove and move around on the surface of the skin.

Hold a cotton ball with the forceps and soak it with alcohol.  Try not to soak it too much as you don’t want excess or dripping.  Next, use a barbecue lighter to light the cotton ball and hold it inside the cup to warm the inside air (not the cup itself) and then quickly place on the skin, open face down.  You will immediately see the skin pulling inside the cup.  The more the cup cools, the more the skin will be sucked up inside and the more intense the sensation.  Be careful not to get the alcohol on the cup itself, especially the top rim or the outside as this may cause the whole cup to catch on fire and burn you or your partner.

Candle Method

What You Will Need

  • Everything Above except for the Rubbing Alcohol and Cotton Balls
  • A Tall Candle

With this method you just light the candle and hold it under the open cups until the air inside heats up (10 seconds).  I didn’t find that this method created as much suction, but it was much less dangerous.  It also tended to blacken the tops of the cups, or heat the glass too much, rather than just the air.

Leave cups on the skin for the desired amount of time (until sensation becomes too intense), but no more than 30 minutes.  Once on, you can leave the cups in place or slowly move them around the skin if you have put on sufficient lubricant.  Silicone lubricant works best for this purpose because it stays very slippery.  Remove cups by pressing the skin near the rim to allow air to enter the cup and break the seal.  Gently remove.

I did this to my mother actually, as she volunteered to be my guinea pig.  She has fibromyalgia and often experiences muscle pain.  She loved the warmth and the sensation of the cupping on her back.  We left the cups on for about 15 minutes and she had slightly red circles on her back which didn’t hurt.  She also said it made her back muscles feel much better afterwards.  I also tried one on my breast over the nipple and really enjoyed the suction that was created, very erotic.  There seems to be many possibilities of how you could use these cups for various types of sensation and arousal, as much as your perverted mind can think up.

Thank you to Extreme Restraints for allowing me to review their 3 Piece Cupping Set.  It was definitely a learning experience and something I will enjoy doing again and again.  Practice makes perfect!

Previously Published on Sex Carnival

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