Cigarette Torture

My wife and I have been involved in S&M for over 6 years now. She’s dominant and one of the things I enjoy most is cigarette torture. We havn’t gone so far as to do actual burning of the skin. My question is what experience have you had with this, and can you offer any advice on the subject? Other than the obvious burn and scar, are there any other dangers that we’re not aware of? Can’t find any advice and/or literature on this area of play. Thanks! —Glen

Dear Glen:
Many people share your cigarette/smoking fetish and your excitement at the prospect of being burned. I applaud your good sense at researching the topic before rushing into it headlong. I get lots of requests to smoke cigars or cigarettes during a scene and occasionally am asked to do a burning. Even though I’m a non-smoker, I usually accommodate the requests to smoke. Besides the obvious phallic connotation of a cigar or cigarette, I like the paradox that something so small carries so much power.

Probably much like you and your wife, I only threaten to actually burn a submissive. The proximity of the glowing tip of a cigarette, combined with the tone of my voice and the look in my eyes, is enough to convince my victim that I’d really like to burn them. Because this kind of burn tends to leave a scar and requires aftercare for several days, I believe it’s unethical to do it in a professional setting. This limitation does not apply to you and your wife, so if you both want to do actual burning and you’re careful, there’s really no reason not to proceed.

You’re correct in expecting scars. This is due to the high temperature and ash content of both cigarettes and cigars. A cigar burns at a much lower temperature than a cigarette and will probably cause a first-degree burn, which should take only a few days to heal. A cigarette, on the other hand, may produce a second-degree burn and should be applied to the skin for only a fraction of a second. Barring complications, healing time for this type of burn is one to two weeks. If ash from either gets in the burn, the healing process will be impeded and the likelihood of permanent marking increased. Avoid touching the glowing tip to the skin immediately after the cigar or cigarette has been puffed as this greatly increases its temperature.

Since the biggest danger with any kind of burn is infection, you’ll have to be scrupulous in caring for the wound after your play session. The treatment and care of first- and second-degree burns is much the same. First cool the effected area with an ice-water compress, but do not apply ice directly to the burn. Continue this until the coldness itself begins to hurt. Repeat this procedure three or four times until the burn no longer causes significant pain, then dry the region by patting it with a clean, lint-free cloth or bandage. Use a dry, sterile bandage to cover the wound for a couple of days.

Avoid using salves or lotions. These can trap heat in the wound, attract dirt, and cause the bandage to stick to the burn. After the cooling treatment, an anesthetic spray, aloe vera, or vitamin E oil may help if the burn is only first-degree. Regularly inspect the burn site when changing the bandage. Don’t break any blisters that may form. A clear fluid from the wound indicates normal healing, but if the liquid is not clear, an infection has developed. If this occurs, or if the size, redness, and pain of the injury have not lessened in a day or two, you should visit your doctor.

There is some treatment of this topic in the S&M literature. I used On The Safe Edge by Trevor Jacques in writing the answer to your question.

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