Close up of ear candles that don't work to clean ear wax.

There’s a persistent idea in some groups that a practice called “ear candling” is a good way to reduce your earwax. What is ear candling, and does it work?

Is Ear Candling Effective?

Spoiler alert: No. No, they don’t.

Why then do normally reasonable people routinely accept in this pseudo-science. It’s difficult to say with much accuracy. But although the rational decision is quite obvious, learning more about the dangers of earwax candling will help us make an educated choice.

What is Earwax Candling?

So the basic setup goes like this: Maybe you aren’t certain how to get rid of all your built up earwax. You know you’re not supposed to use cotton swabs (which is good, cotton swabs are not an ideal way to clear out your ears, generally speaking). So, after doing some research, you find a technique known as earwax candling.

Earwax candling is supposed to work as follows: By inserting a candle in your ear (wick side out), you cause a pressure differential. The wax in your ear, then, is pulled outward, towards the freedom of the open world. In theory, the pressure differential is enough to break up that may be clogging up your ear. But cleaning your ears like this can be dangerous.

The Reason Why Ear Candling Doesn’t Work

This practice has several problems, including the fact that the physics just don’t work. It would require a significant amount of pressure to move earwax around and a candle just isn’t capable of generating that kind of pressure. Also, a candle doesn’t possess the type of seal necessary to hold pressure.

Now, there are supposedly special candles used in this “procedure”. All of the wax that was in your ear can be located inside the hollow part of the candle which can be broken up when you’re done with your 15 minutes of ear candling. But the issue is you can find this same material in new unburned candles also. So the whole process amounts to fraud.

Scientific research has never been able to prove any benefit involving earwax candling.

So Earwax Candling Doesn’t Work, But How Safe is it?

What’s the harm in giving it a shot, right? Well, any time you get hot candle wax near your ears, you’re asking for trouble. You may be fine if you decide to try earwax candling. Plenty of people do. But there are certainly risks involved and it’s certainly not safe.

Here are a few negative effects of ear candling:

  • Any time you’re mucking about with an open flame, there’s a chance that you could cause significant injury and put your life in danger. You wouldn’t want to burn down your house, would you? Getting rid of a bit of earwax isn’t worth that kind of risk and danger.
  • Once the wax cools down it can block your ear canal. You could wind up temporarily losing your hearing or even needing surgery in serious cases.
  • Extreme burns inside ear. Significant hearing issues and burns can be the result of getting hot wax in your ear. In the most extreme cases, this could permanently damage your hearing.

You Can Keep Your Ears Clean Without Needing a Candle

In most situations you will never even need to worry about cleaning earwax out. That’s because your ears are really pretty good about cleaning themselves! But you may be one of those people who have an abnormally heavy earwax production.

If it turns out that you have too much earwax there are methods that have been proven to work safely. For example, you could get a fluid wash. Another option would be to consult a hearing care specialist for an earwax cleaning.

You should continue to stay away from cotton swabs. And open flames are not ok either. Earwax candling isn’t effective, and it can create dangers that will put your comfort and your hearing in considerable peril. Try burning candles for their sent or for enjoyment but not as a means to clean your ears.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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