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

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

Do Earwax Candles Work?

Spoiler alert: No. No, they don’t.

Why then do normally rational people persistently believe in this pseudo-science. That’s a difficult question to answer. But the more you know about earwax candling, including the risks involved, the more likely you can draw an informed decision (even if the sensible decision is pretty obvious).

Earwax Candling, What is it?

So here’s the basic setup: Perhaps you aren’t sure how to eradicate all your built up earwax. You’ve read that it’s dangerous to use cotton swabs to clear your earwax out. So, after doing some research, you find a technique called earwax candling.

Here’s how earwax candling theoretically works: You create a pressure differential by shoving the candle into your ear, wick side out. This pressure difference then pulls the wax out. Any wax that may be backed up in your ear can, theoretically, be pulled out by this amount of pressure. But this hazardous practice is not a smart way to clean your ears.

Why Doesn’t Ear Candling Work?

This practice has several issues, like the fact that the physics just don’t work. There’s simply no way for a candle to produce that kind of pressure differential (and in order to move earwax around, that pressure difference would need to be pretty substantial indeed). Also, a candle doesn’t possess the type of seal needed to hold pressure.

Now, the candles that they use in these “procedures” are supposedly special. All of the wax that was in your ear can be found within the hollow portion of the candle which can be broken apart when you’re finished with your 15 minutes of ear candling. But the issue is you can find this same material in new unburned candles as well. So the entire practice amounts to fraud.

Scientific analysis has never been able to prove any benefit regarding earwax candling.

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

So, you might as well give it a try, right? Well, whenever you get hot candle wax near your ears, you’re looking for trouble. Look, it’s very possible that you might try ear candling and leave completely unscathed. Plenty of people do. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t hazards involved, and it certainly doesn’t imply that ear candling is safe.

The negative impacts of ear candling can include:

  • You might cause significant injury when you play around with an open flame and potentially even put your life in danger. You wouldn’t want to burn down your house, would you? It’s not worth the danger to try this ineffective technique of wax removal.
  • Candle wax can also clog your ear canal once it cools down. You could end up temporarily losing your hearing or even needing surgery in extreme cases.
  • Extreme burns to your inner ear. When melted candle wax goes inside your ear, it can result in extreme hearing issues and burns. In the most extreme cases, this could permanently jeopardize your hearing.

You Can Keep Your Ears Clean Without Needing a Candle

The majority of people will never actually need to be concerned about cleaning earwax out of their ears. That’s because the human ear is essentially a self cleaning system. But you might be one of those people who have an abnormally heavy earwax production.

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

Cotton swabs are definitely not the way to go. And you should also avoid using an open flame to clean out earwax. Earwax candling is a technique that has no benefit and will put your ears, and your entire person, at significant risk of injury and damage. Try burning candles for their sent or for enjoyment but never as a means to clean your ears.

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