This was originally written as a reply to a group posting on FetLife that asked what was needed to perform fire cupping. I hope to expand it, and add some photos or videos, so it can be a real how to article.
What you need:
The minimum is:
- Knowledge, including an understanding that when you play with fire, its not a question of if you get or your subject will get burned, it is when, and how you are going to handle it.
- a large wet towel or similar,
- a wand of some sort
- A container for the fuel,
- a source of ignition
I’m going to try to give you a rundown on what is needed and the basic procedure for fire cupping, but if at all possible, get some experience under the direction of someone that knows what they are doing.
The towel is your safety device, you use it to smother the fire if (when) there is an accident. you could substitute a fire blanket, or other designed to purpose item, and add in a kitchen sized fire extinguisher if you are the belt and suspenders type – I know that when dealing with fire I am!
While all sorts of items get used for fire cupping, I suggest starting out with real size 3 fire cups. They can be found online, I like dealing with the folk at K.S. Choi, their website is http://www.goacuzone.com/ and cups can be had for $1.50 each +shipping (which can get expensive pretty quickly – these are glass!) at http://www.goacuzone.com/index.php/cupping-therapy/…, the better deal is to get a flat of 24, http://www.goacuzone.com/index.php/cupping-therapy/…, the per cup price goes to $1.00, and the shipping is $1.00 per cup, I just checked the website, it turn out that 12 cups cost the same as 24 if you are shipping to Virginia.
The purpose of the lubricant is to allow the lip of the cup to glide smoothly over the skin. I use baby oil 95% of the time, but any oil suitable for massage will do. I avoid lotions, they get absorbed and no longer provide lubrication, and some are alcohol based, definitely not what we want!
The fuel you want to use while you are learning is plain old 70% isopropyl alcohol from Walmart or where ever, which is probably the stuff in the medicine cabinet, and if you have forceps you can even use alcohol prep pads, although I don’t recommend it. you do not want to use the higher concentrations when you are starting out, it burns hotter, has a less visible flame, and so is less forgiving of mistakes, and it is harder on your fire wands as well.
You can buy wands already made, make your own, or do what the massage therapists do, use hemostats and cotton. I like wands, they are convenient and look cool, make then from 100% cotton and cotton gauze. some say polyester fill is okay in the center, but cotton is cheap, and won’t ever drip molten, burning plastic, so why risk it? for the shaft, I like to visit the local Harbour Frieght, Northern Tools, or similar and get a cheap set of long shaft miniature screwdrivers. You can use steel or aluminium rods, all thread, cut up the wire frame from one of those annoying political bag signs, or whatever you want, as long as it won’t burn. One note, both fiberglass and carbon fiber burn, DO NOT USE GLASS OR CARBON FIBER FOR YOUR WANDS
Once you have your materials, wrap the cotton tightly around the pointy end of the screw driver, wrap it tightly in 3 or 4 thicknesses of the gauze, and secure it it the bottom of the bundle with a few wraps of thin wire. Important note, you don’t want the wire in a place it will touch the person.
If you go the hemostat route, twist up the cotton into a hard little ball, I like two or three cotton balls for a #3 jar, fold the wad in half, and clamp it in the hemostat so that is doesn’t unwrap.
Now you need something to hold the alcohol and dip the wands. I use a ceramic mug that the handle broke off of, you want something heavy enough to be stable, and large enough to put several wands or hemostats in. the big thing is that it will hold your wands and be stable, after that you can use anything, and as you gain proficiency try out different things until you find what is perfect for you!
The last thing is a way to light the wands. I use either a candle or an alcohol lamp. Either is okay, as are the little oil lamps, but you do not want to be fumbling around with a lighter with your hands covered in alcohol and baby oil.
Past the minimum, I like to have a case to carry everything in, and I find a massage table lets me work comfortably, but that’s about it.
How to do it
The techniques I use I use are flash cupping and alcohol cupping; most commonly I use a hybrid of the two. For both techniques you will use a wand and alcohol to heat the air in the cup.
Flash Cupping: Hold the cup in your non dominant hand, i.e. left hand if you are right handed. and the wand in the dominant hand (If you are a submissive, and the idea of any part of you being dominant distresses you, then think of it as your more and less submissive hands </attempt_at_humor>). the trick is to hold the cup close to where you want to place it so that you can get the cup on the skin as quickly as you can. I put the pinky of the hand holding the cup on the subject, put the lit wand into the cup and withdraw it quickly, and as the wand exits the cup rotate my hand to quickly get the cup onto the skin. This is a very awkward description of a simple movement, if you go to YouTube and watch the video Fire Cupping Demonstration you will see a good example, she does not start as close as I do, but the technique is the same, its the quickness of getting the cup to the skin that counts.
Alcohol cupping is done the dame way, except that before you light the wand you swab the inside of the cup with alcohol before you insert the wand. The hybrid technique I use is to swab the inside of the cup with the lit wand and place it.
Another technique is the Paper Flower Method. After you identify where you want to put the cup, a “paper flower” is made. Put a coin or two in the middle of a square of tissue paper about twice as wide as your cup is tall, and pull the paper upward to make a paper “flower” with the coins as the base providing weight.you put this where you want the cup, light it, and put the cup over it, holding it in place until the cup forms a vacuum and puts the flame out. This is best used as a stationary technique, which means don’t slide it around. You can use a tea light candle, or a halved birthday candle stuck to a coin, small piece of cardboard, or small piece of leather in pace of the paper.
If you can,t find instruction you can practice on a vinyl cushion, it should suck right up just like skin. You want to not do this to the new sofa because it can stretch the vinyl, but you can normally find a vinyl cushion at a thrift store for just a few dollars.
I hope this helps, it is one of the less physically intense things we do, but fire is a powerful element, and using it for cupping can create a very intimate experience.