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

There’s a lingering idea in some groups that a practice known as “ear candling” is an effective way to decrease your earwax. What is ear candling, and is it effective?

Earwax Candles, is it Effective?

Spoiler alert: No. No, they don’t.

Why then do otherwise logical people routinely accept in this pseudo-science. That’s a tough question to answer. But although the sensible choice is fairly obvious, knowing more about the risks of earwax candling will help us make an educated choice.

What is Earwax Candling?

So here’s the basic setup: Maybe you have an excessive amount of earwax and you aren’t quite sure how to eradicate it. You’ve read that it’s dangerous to use cotton swabs to clean your earwax out. So you start looking for an alternate and discover this method called earwax candling.

Earwax candling supposedly works as follows: You produce a pressure differential by cramming the candle into your ear, wick side out. This pressure difference then pulls the wax out. In theory, the pressure differential is enough to break up that may be log-jamming in your ear. But this harmful technique is not a good method of cleaning your ears.

Why Doesn’t Ear Candling Work?

This practice has a few issues, like the fact that the physics just don’t work. You would need a significant amount of pressure to move earwax around and a candle is not capable of producing that amount of pressure. Also, a candle doesn’t possess the sort of seal required to maintain pressure.

Now, there are supposed to be special candles used in this “treatment”. All of the wax that was in your ear can be located within the hollow part of the candle which can be broken apart when you’re done with your 15 minutes of ear candling. But the issue is you can find this same detritus in new unburned candles too. So this “validation” is actually nonsense.

Scientific analysis has been unable to prove any benefit associated with earwax candling.

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

What’s the danger in giving it a shot, right? Well, you’re asking for trouble anytime you get a hot candle around your ears. Look, it’s very possible that you may try ear candling and leave completely unharmed. People do it regularly. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks involved, and it certainly doesn’t imply that ear candling is safe.

The negative effects of ear candling can include:

  • Once the wax cools down it can block up your ear canal. This can cause temporary hearing loss or, in the most extreme cases, require surgery.
  • Significant burns inside ear. When melted candle wax gets inside your ear, it can lead to severe hearing issues and burns. This could permanently compromise your hearing in the most serious cases.
  • You could cause severe damage when you play around with an open flame and possibly even put your life in danger. You wouldn’t want to burn your house down, would you? Clearing away a bit of earwax isn’t worth that amount of danger and risk.

You Can Clean Your Ears Without Needing a Candle

In the majority of circumstances you won’t even have to be concerned about cleaning earwax out. That’s because the human ear is basically a self cleaning system. However, there are a few people who will have abnormally heavy earwax production or accumulation to deal with.

If you do need to clean your ears out due to too much wax, there are scientifically-proven (and reliable) ways to do that properly. For example, you could use a fluid wash. Another solution would be to consult a hearing care specialist for an earwax cleaning.

You should continue to avoid cotton swabs. And you should also avoid using an open flame to clear out earwax. Earwax candling is a procedure that has no advantage and will put your ears, and your entire person, at significant risk of damage and injury. Try burning candles for their sent or for enjoyment but not as a method 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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