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

In some circles, the practice known as “ear candling” is persistently thought to be a good way to minimize earwax. What is ear candling, and does it work?

Earwax Candles, is it Effective?

Spoiler alert: No. They definitely don’t work.

Why then, does this piece of pseudo-science keep burrowing its way into the minds of otherwise reasonable human beings? That’s a hard question to answer. But even though the sensible choice is quite clear, knowing more about the risks of earwax candling will help us make an informed choice.

Earwax Candling, What is it?

So the basic setup goes like this: Perhaps you have an excessive amount of earwax and you aren’t quite sure how to get rid of it. 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, in general). So you start searching for an alternate and come across this approach known as earwax candling.

Earwax candling supposedly works as follows: By inserting a candle into your ear (wick side out), you cause a pressure differential. This pressure differential then pulls the wax out. Theoretically, the pressure differential is enough to break up that may be log-jamming in your ear. But this hazardous technique is not a good way to clean your ears.

The Reason Why Ear Candling Doesn’t Work

This practice has a few issues, 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 producing that amount of pressure. Second, creating that type of pressure difference would require some sort of seal, which doesn’t happen during candling.

Now, the candles that they use in these “procedures” are supposed to be special. When you’re finished with your fifteen minutes of ear candling, you can break apart the candle and, in the hollow, see all bacteria, debris, and wax that was in your ear. The only problem is that the same debris shows up in both used and unused candles. So this “validation” is really nonsense.

Earwax candling has never been proven by science to have any benefit whatsoever.

So we Know Ear Candling Doesn’t Work But Dangerous is it?

So, you might as well give it a try, right? Well, any time you get hot candle wax around your ears, you’re asking for trouble. Look, it’s very possible that you might try ear candling and walk away completely unscathed. People do it regularly. But that doesn’t imply there aren’t hazards involved, and it definitely doesn’t imply that ear candling is safe.

Here are some negative impacts of ear candling:

  • Candle wax can also block your ear canal once it cools down. You could wind up temporarily losing your hearing or even needing surgery in serious cases.
  • Significant burns inside ear. When melted candle wax goes inside your ear, it can result in serious hearing issues and burns. This could permanently jeopardize your hearing in the most extreme cases.
  • You might cause serious injury when you mess around with an open flame and possibly even put your life in danger. Seriously, you could burn down your house. 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 most circumstances you will never even have to worry about cleaning earwax out. That’s because the human ear is basically a self cleaning system. But you might be one of those people who have an unusually heavy earwax production.

If it happens that you have too much earwax there are techniques that have been proven to work safely. You could use a fluid wash, for example. Or you might see a professional who will be able to use specialized tools to get extra wax or wax blockages out of the way.

You should continue to avoid cotton swabs. And open flames are not ok either. Earwax candling isn’t effective, and it can create risks that will put your comfort and your hearing in considerable peril. Try burning candles for their sent or for enjoyment but never 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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