A Violet wand (or sometimes Violet ray, or ultraviolet wand) is a device used for the application of low current, high frequency, high voltage electricity to the body using an arrangement similar to a Tesla coil. The purpose of the original violet ray devices were originally for electrotherapy, though there were few or no identified therapeutic benefits. Violet Ray devices of this era (broadly, prior to WWII) are popular among collectors of "quack" medical devices. More recently, since the 1990s, newer devices known as violet wands, which are manufactured specifically for fetish use to be safer than their older violet ray cousins, have become popular in the BDSM community for use in sexual stimulation (electrical play). The colour in the common used name is due to the colour of visible light generally produced when using glass electrodes, though electrodes can come in all colors of the visible spectrum.tickling to excruciating pain, and interchangeable glass or metal electrodes can be used to distribute the charge to the body in a variety of different ways.
Most violet wand kits include a variety of different glass tubes of different shapes, sizes and colours (the colour depending on the type of gas within the tube). Different tubes produce different intensities of shock and the various shapes allow the spark/s to be applied with greater or lesser precision and spread. For example, a rake-shaped tube may be used to apply four or five sparks, more or less simultaneously, from the tip of each tine.
Some kits also include an electrode, in the form of a metal plate, which may be used in place of the glass tube. The electrode is not applied directly to the bottom – which would be very intense – but, rather, somehow permanently connected to top's skin, such as by tucking it into the waistband. When the top caresses the bottom, there is an electrical discharge between the players which both feel. Alternatively, the top may hold something metal, such as a small chain or Wartenberg Wheel, to apply the effect.
Violet Wands cause sensations such as tickling or pain when the (small) electrical current impinges on the nerves, and by the (temporary) very high temperatures present in the electrical discharge to the skin. These temperatures and the damage (and reaction to the damage to the skin) can produce skin reddening, similar to nettle rash, or to mild sunburn, or even result in temporary or permanent branding if sufficient intensity is prolonged.
Like any electrical toy, a Violet Wand has an obvious psychological effect, especially on players new to it. Besides the spark that the Violet Wand produces, the psychological effect is heightened by the eerie glow of the tubes, the buzz of the Tesla coil, the crackle of the sparks, and the distinctive smell given off by the production of ozone gas.
Violet wands are an incredibly versatile tool, and can be used to perform, or enhance, any fetish situation. There are three basic sets of techniques; Direct, Indirect and Reverse. Then there are Enhanced and Extended techniques which build on the basics. Advanced techniques such as Violet wand fireplay, using the violet wand as the igniter, are commonly enjoyed. Violet Wand branding (both temporary and permanent) is another popular advanced technique, and requires no special tools. Violet wand flogging, paddling, cupping, singletail and shibari (rope bondage) are also possible with specialized violet wand accessories.
Circuit Breaking -- safety
Safe use of Violet Wands (VWs) will benefit from the use of a residual-current device (RCD) circuit breaker (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) in North America), especially if there is any danger of the cable from the wall socket to the wand generator being damaged, or of the generator or cable getting wet (NB: sweat, drool, soft drinks and urine all conduct electricity well). If this happens, the RCD will most likely prevent the generator or exposed cables from remaining live. However, it is essential that the bottom is further isolated from the generator and mains by means of electrical insulator between the bottom and the electrode in use. (High frequency violet wand signals are readily transmitted through thinnish insulators by capacitive coupling, but mains frequency current is not; this will help block any mains electricity attempting to pass from a fault within the generator through anyone, especially the bottom). For glass electrodes, the air gap present between the central electrode and the glass bulb or rod provides an insulator, but when using metal electrodes (for example, when passing the VW signal through the top to the bottom) the electrode plugged into the VW generator must include a plastic or ceramic insulating section.
All violet wand equipment, especially older ones, may overheat if used for extended periods of time, especially on high settings, because their capacitors will get warmer from whatever equivalent series resistance is present. Some older units were built using wax as a dielectric, and wax will melt at sufficiently high temperatures, causing perhaps dangerous conditions immediately or later. This is less of a problem for many modern violet wands; some can be used for as much as an hour at a time, or 4 hours, depending upon the components used in their construction by the manufacturer. When acquiring a wand, it is well to seek advice from knowledgeable practitioners about durability and deterioration issues, and inquire with the manufacturer about run times and warranties.
Arcs and sparks
The electrical discharge, being high frequency and so generally preferring to travel near the surface of materials, will preferentially follow routes involving metal conductors, and will arc to metal objects which may result in the top or the bottom receiving unexpected VW shocks from odd directions. Like all spark producers, a violet wand will ignite flammable liquids and gases. Never use one in the presence of flammable gases or liquids unless used specifically for violet wand fireplay.
The sharper the electrode, the more intense the discharge and usually more intense the sensation; this should be borne in mind when planning a scene. (For example, if the bottom is restrained with metal cuffs, sharp corners on the cuffs may suddenly produce a much more intense discharge if the VW arcs to the metal.)
Though some people may use the quack medical devices known as violet rays as a bdsm or fetish toy in place of an actual violet wand, it is not generally recommended. Antique or vintage violet rays are often not properly wired to today's safety standards. A violet ray that has been re-wired and grounded to earth properly, can be used safely; however, a user is unlikely to be able to accomplish all violet wand techniques with the older, non-fetish, device.
Doctors advise against electro play if you are on Cocaine or using any form of solvent (which includes poppers / amyl nitrate / hexane (ie, many glues)). Cocaine alone increases the risk of arrhythmias in the heart (North Americans will probably remember the basketball player Lenny Bias), and solvents generally render the heart muscle much more sensitive to the effects of physiologically released adrenaline, again putting recipients at risk of sudden stress induced arrhythmias.
Just as the static electricity from a rubbed balloon will not kill you, a Violet Wand stroked down a back (above the chest) is unlikely to cause a problem. Note the use of "unlikely" here. Little is certain when mixing biology and electricity; you must weigh the risks and benefits, just as when smoking or driving a car.
A violet wand should never be used on someone who has a pacemaker, insulin pump, or other electrically operated medical implant. And VW should not be used near other electronic devices, as the high voltage can damage electronic components.
Due to the very low current, most experts in the use of the Violet Wand agree that it can be used above the waist on a normal, healthy person - for example on the back, breasts and nipples, and head. (but keep away from eyes.) The International Violet Wand Guild, in conjunction with Violetwanda (a violet wand manufacturer) has produced clinical research that shows how violet wand current enters and travels within the body and advises violet wands are safe to use anywhere except near the eyes. Some medical practitioners and some Safe, sane and consensual (SSC) proponents still advice against use of any electrical toys on the torso or head, including the arms (especially against both arms at once).
All agree that Violet Wands should not be used on or near the eyes.
Like all electrical devices, the Violet Wand should be kept away from all conductive fluids (e.g., water or drinks, ...); thus VWs should not be used in connection with watersports.
The sparks from a violet wand can ignite flammable liquids and gases, including those from some fragrance burners, hand cleaners, alcohol, etc. VWs are often enjoyed with fireplay as the ignition tool.
Like an electrical storm, a Violet Wand breaks down Oxygen molecules in the air to form Ozone. This process gives off a distinctive smell. As Ozone can be a poisonous gas in high concentrations, care should be taken not to use a Violet Wand in a confined, closed space of less than 10' by 10' for more than 30 minutes.
While sometimes inaccurately called an ultraviolet wand, a violet wand produces ultraviolet light only at the point of spark where it collides with another surface to create a white spark. This usually occurs only on metal surfaces and not commonly on skin unless using a branding electrode. However, the UV produced at the point of spark is minute, occuring only as part of the full spectrum of light of the white spark, and is not measurable by any but the most sensitive of instruments.
Many violet wand attachments are similar in appearance to butt plugs and dildos; it can be tempting to use them as such. But there are several reasons not to do so. The glass used in most electrodes can be fragile, unlike glass dildos and butt plugs, and great care must be taken with it in any case. Special break-resistant medical-grade non-uv quartz glass violet wand internal electrodes, which are made specifically for safe insertion into body orifices, are the only violet wand electrodes that should be used internally.
If sufficient intensity is used repeatedly, a permanent branding can occur, representing an electrical burn in miniature. This can be avoided entirely by keeping intense electrodes moving over the skin. In Violet wand branding, this effect is used to achieve highly detailed brands with finer lines than heat strike branding.
Violet wands are modern fetish electrical toys, and were only manufactured specifically for kink use beginning in the 1990s. Thus information about violet wands updates frequently as manufacturers improve safety and durability, and more techniques for their use are developed. Check with current violet wand resources, such as The International Violet Wand Guild, for the most accurate and timely information on use, techniques and safety.
- Violet Wand Directory of Information
- Huse and Son's Violet Wand site
- violetray_play (adult/BDSM) and violetray (technical) Yahoo groups
- The International Violet Wand Guild
- The Violet Wand Resource Network
- Violetwanda, violet wand manufacturer
- Violet Wands Information and Violet Wand Myths
- Uncle Abdul's electrical safety page
- The Violet Wand Store™
- MJOLNIR Advanced Violet Wand Systems