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

In some groups, the practice called “ear candling” is persistently believed to be a good way to reduce earwax. What is ear candling, and is it effective?

Earwax Candles, is it Effective?

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

Why then do normally logical people routinely accept in this pseudo-science. That’s a tough 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 logical decision is pretty clear).

Earwax Candling, What is it?

So the basic setup goes like this: Maybe you have an excessive amount of earwax and you’re not really certain how to eliminate it. You know you’re not supposed to use cotton swabs (which is good, cotton swabs are not a great way to clear out your ears, generally speaking). So, after doing some research, you find a method called earwax candling.

Earwax candling supposedly works as follows: By inserting a candle in your ear (wick side out), you cause a pressure differential. 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.

The Reason Why Ear Candling Doesn’t Work

This practice has several problems, including the fact that the physics simply don’t work. There’s simply no way for a candle to produce that type of pressure differential (and in order to move earwax around, that pressure difference would have to be quite substantial indeed). Second, creating that kind of pressure difference would require some type of seal, which doesn’t happen during candling.

Now, there are supposed to be special candles used in this “procedure”. All of the wax that was in your ear can be located within the hollow portion of the candle which can be broken apart when you’re finished with your 15 minutes of ear candling. The only issue is that the same debris shows up in both used and unused candles. So this “proof” is actually nonsense.

Earwax candling hasn’t been proven by science to have any benefit at all.

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

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. You may be ok if you try earwax candling. People do it regularly. But that doesn’t imply there aren’t risks involved, and it definitely doesn’t imply that ear candling is safe.

Here are some negative effects of ear candling:

  • Your ear can be badly burned. When melted candle wax goes inside your ear, it can result in extreme hearing problems and burns. This could permanently jeopardize your hearing in the most serious cases.
  • You could cause significant harm 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? Clearing away a bit of earwax isn’t worth that amount of risk and danger.
  • Candle wax can also clog your ear canal after it cools down. You could end up temporarily losing your hearing or even needing surgery in severe cases.

You Don’t Need a Candle to Keep Your Ears Clean

The majority of people will never actually need to be concerned about cleaning earwax from their ears. That’s because your ears are actually pretty good at cleaning themselves! But you might be one of those individuals who have an unusually heavy earwax production.

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

You should continue to stay away from cotton swabs. And you should also avoid using an open flame to clear out earwax. Earwax candling doesn’t work, and it can create dangers that will put your comfort and your hearing in considerable jeopardy. So maybe it’s time to put those special candles away.

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