In some groups, the practice known as “ear candling” is persistently thought to be a good way to reduce earwax. What is ear candling, and does it work?
Do Earwax Candles Work?
Spoiler alert: No. No, they don’t.
Why then, does this bit of pseudo-science keep finding its way into the minds of otherwise reasonable people? That’s a difficult question to answer. But the more you discover about earwax candling, including the risks involved, the more likely you can make an informed decision (even if the rational choice is pretty obvious).
Earwax Candling, What is it?
So the basic setup goes like this: Perhaps you aren’t certain how to remove all your accumulated earwax. You know you’re not supposed to use cotton swabs (which is good, cotton swabs are not a great way to clean out your ears, generally speaking). So, after doing some study, you find a technique called earwax candling.
Here’s how earwax candling purportedly works: You create a pressure differential by cramming the candle into your ear, wick side out. The wax inside of your ear, then, is pulled outward, towards the freedom of the open world. Any wax that may be backed up in your ear can, theoretically, be pulled out by this amount of pressure. But cleaning your ears like this can be dangerous.
Why Doesn’t Ear Candling Work?
This practice has several problems, including the fact that the physics simply don’t work. You would need a significant amount of pressure to move earwax around and a candle is not capable of creating that amount of pressure. Also, a candle doesn’t have the kind of seal required to sustain pressure.
Now, there are supposed to be special candles used in this “procedure”. All of the wax that was in your ear can be found in the hollow portion of the candle which can be broken apart when you’re finished with your 15 minutes of ear candling. But the problem is you can find this same detritus in new unburned candles too. So this “proof” is actually nonsense.
Earwax candling has never been proven scientifically to have any benefit whatsoever.
So Earwax Candling Doesn’t Work, But How Safe is it?
What’s the danger in trying, right? Well, whenever you get hot candle wax near your ears, you’re asking for trouble. You may be ok if you decide to try earwax candling. Plenty of people do. But there are certainly hazards involved and it’s certainly not safe.
Here are a few negative impacts of ear candling:
- Candle wax can also block up your ear canal after it cools down. You could wind up temporarily losing your hearing or even needing surgery in extreme cases.
- Your ear can be seriously burned. Severe hearing issues and burns can be the result of getting hot wax in your ear. This could permanently jeopardize your hearing in the most severe cases.
- You could cause significant harm when you play around with an open flame and possibly even put your life in danger. Seriously, you may burn down your house. It’s not worth the danger to try this ineffective technique of wax elimination.
You Can Clean Your Ears Without Needing a Candle
The majority of people will never actually need to be concerned about cleaning earwax from their ears. That’s because the human ear is essentially a self cleaning system. But you may be one of those individuals who have an abnormally heavy earwax production.
If you do need to clean out your ears due to too much wax, there are scientifically-proven (and effective) ways to do that safely. You could use a fluid wash, for example. Or you might see a specialist who will be able to use specialized tools to clean the extra wax or wax blockages out.
You should continue to avoid cotton swabs. And you should also avoid using an open flame to clear out earwax. Earwax candling is a technique that has no advantage and will put your ears, and your entire person, at substantial risk of damage and injury. Try burning candles for their sent or for enjoyment but not as a means to clean your ears.