Fire cupping, based on ancient Chinese Cupping techniques, is becoming more popular in the medical role playing, fire play and fetish community. The air inside a cup, which is almost always made of glass, is heated then placed on the skin - the cooling air creates a vacuum and the skin is partially pulled into the cup. Experienced fire cuppers can create varying strengths of suction by controlling the heat of the cup.

Fire cupping for sensual pleasure was adopted from traditional and holistic medicine cupping communities. Cupping was used in Western medicine to encourage blood movement in the Nineteenth Century. It is still used by masseurs and in Chinese medicine, where it is said to have predated traditional needle acupuncture. For this reason, traditional glass Chinese Cupping sets can be found in some Asian storesas well as online from sites such as this one.

Chinese Fire Cupping Methods include:

Wiping alcohol directly on the skin and then quickly placing the cup over the area, which is frequently criticized as having a higher risk of burning the skin;
Holding the cup over an open flame until it is warm and then applying it to cool skin. Some people feel this is the safest - though others feel that heating the glass rather than the air creates room for additional danger. This is also the hardest method to beginners wishing to create a strong suction;
Placing small disks with cotton balls soaked in alcohol on them onto the skin. The cotton is then ignited and a cup is placed over the disk.
Applying fuel directly inside the cup - the cup is then usually put on the skin with the fuel still burning. The flame will quickly extinguish from want of oxygen.

Fire cupping typically leaves small, round marks on the body that may last for hours or even for days. If a single area is cupped again and again, a deep bruise may form and not disappear for some time.

Fire cupping is often combined with blood play, and is then usually termed blood cupping. This variant also comes from traditional medicine. The skin is pierced (commonly with needles or scalpels) before the cups are applied; the suction then draws blood out of the wound.

The Origins Of  Fire Cupping

The beginning of fire cupping dates back thousands of years to Ancient China.  It is a part of traditional Chinese medicine often used with acupuncture, gua sha, and moxibustion, a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing. Back then, cattle horns were used with fire to create the suction and sometimes even the practitioners would suck the air out themselves though a hole in the horn.  This treatment was applied to suck out blood and pus for the treatment of boils and has since then evolved to use with various Chinese therapies.

Today, fire cupping is most commonly used with bamboo and glass cups.  Bamboo is more commonly used in China and glass by western practitioners.  Bamboo cups are very light, safe, and durable.  Practitioners like them because they can be easily carried without worry of breaking the cups and they last for many years.  However, the disadvantage of bamboo cups are that they are not transparent so you can not see the amount of suction being applied to the skin.  Glass cups are preferred by many Fire Cupping practitioners because they are generally easier to sterilize, use, and come in many sizes.  You can easily see the amount of suction inside the cups.  The main disadvantage of glass cups are they can break if dropped and cost more to replace.

The Fire Cupping Procedure

The fire cupping procedure is fairly simple.  A cotton ball is soaked with 95% alcohol and held with a pair of forceps.  The cotton ball is then lit with a flame.  With the glass cup in the other hand, it is placed next to the patient close to the treatment area.  The fire from the cotton ball is then placed in the cup while rotating the cup at the same time to evenly heat the air and cup.  Then the cup is placed on the skin.  As the heated air cools, it will automatically create the negative pressure and create suction. For greater suction, a larger flame should be used.  To adjust the suction pressure, the skin can be pressed down next to the opening to let air into the cup to lessen the amount of suction.

Where to Buy Fire Cupping Jars

Since the introduction of plastic and rubber cupping sets, glass or bamboo cupping suppliers are harder to find though medical distributors.  However, online specialty stores such as this onee still carry them.  For glass fire cupping sets, there are generally two kinds.  The first are flat top cupping sets.  They are also known as southern cupping sets.  They feature a flat surface at the top of the cup so you can place the cup on a surface upside down after cleaning or sterilizing them.  The second kind are round top, or northern, cupping sets.  These glass cups are usually more popular with practitioners.
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