As expected, the equipment used to perform cupping has improved and advanced over the years.
A very popular early cupping device used was bored out animal horns. Fire was quickly entered and exited out of the inside of the horn to remove oxygen which created suction. Horn would quickly be placed on the skin and tissue would be suctioned into the horn. (Reminder: Cupping with Fire is outside of the standard of practice for the Massage License)
Earliest form was sucking with mouth, but then Cupping developed over time from the original use of hollowed out animal horns (the Horn Method) to treat boils and suck out the toxins out of snake bites and skin lesions. Horns slowly evolved into bamboo cups, which were eventually replaced by glass.
Another popular older cupping tool that is still used today is Bamboo with Fire. (Again, fire is outside the scope of practice for the Massage License)
Fire Cupping. A cotton ball on a hemostat is dipped in flammable fluid and quickly entered into and out of the cup with the cup near the skin. The flame removes the air and oxygen from the cup. If the cup is placed on the skin quickly after removing the flame, then the cups will stick to the skin and create a vacuum that suctions the tissue into the cup.
Many Practitioners still use this method, but many have abandoned it due to more convenient cupping devices that provide the same results. We will not be learning fire cupping here as it is outside the scope of practice for the Massage License and questionable to be able to obtain malpractice insurance.
Plastic Cupping Sets with a Pump Gun are the most popular replacement of fire cupping.
The Pump gun is attached to the top of the cup. The cup is placed on the skin and the Pump Gun is pumped with the fingers creating suction. You can control the amount of suction created by the number of pumps. This ability has also caused many practitioners to abandon fire cupping for Plastic Pump Gun Cupping. Also, Cups tend to fall off at times and there are now strong Polycarbonate forms of Cups that tend not to break or crack when fall to the floor.
Really Popular today are the Silicone or Rubber cups.
These can be applied stationary, but don’t typically have as strong as suction as the Fire Cups or the Plastic cups. These are used predominantly in Modern Cupping or Myofascial Decompression Cupping as they are easier to move and slide around.
Because they are flexible, they tend to mold to the tissue being worked on making it easier to grab and lift while working.
These silicone cups also are more gentle than the hard plastic and glass cups and are used by many clients at home for home work follow up work on themselves in between sessions to increase results.
This is not all the cupping products available, but this gives you a good idea that many versions are available.