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Ear Candles? One Flame You Should Put Out

We have all fallen for something at one point in time. Nothing to be ashamed of – it is human nature to believe in something that ultimately fails you. When it come to your health and hearing health there are many phony claims out there and some that can be dangerous. One being ear candles.

What is ear candling?

Well, those who extol the virtues of this ancient practice claim it solves just about any ear/hearing ailment that ails you.

It works like this. Ear candling involves placing a hollow, cone-shaped candle within the external portion of the ear canal – thin end of the cone first, of course. Then, the candle is lit at the broad end, creating a warm vacuum inside the cone-shaped candle.

In turn, this vacuum is supposed to suck out ear wax and the debris that collects inside the ear canal as we go about our lives. Ear candling claims Just search ear candling on the internet and you find thousands of website pushing and selling this practice and giving you false claims. You can buy these dangerous ear busters at health food stores, in part because of the folklore that’s evolved around the use of candling.

Here are some of the claims you may read that ear candling will do for you:

  • stimulates the body’s circulation
  • increases blood flow to the body’s lymphatic system (Huh?)
  • removes growth of fungi within the ear canal
  • relieves tension in the face and neck regions
  • removes ear wax
  • relieves tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • improves ability to breathe through the nose (as opposed to breathing through your hair, I suppose.)
  • improves sensory perception
  • releases blocked energy and opens spiritual centers within the body.

Hey, not bad for a simple candle stuck in your ear. Problem is it simple isn’t true. It doesn’t work. A flim-flam – and a very dangerous one at that. And unlike the individuals who believe in the benefits of ear candling, and strongly profess the benefits of this bizarre process, the dangers of ear candling have actual scientific data to back up the claims of hearing health professionals who have seen the results of this supposed “miracle cure.”

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is too good to be true. And ear candling sounds like it can easily destroy the sounds you now enjoy.

ear candles
Ear candling a risky and false procedure

The story of ear wax

First, let’s get one thing straight. Ear wax is icky and sticky. Nobody likes it but it’s produced naturally by the body, and for good reason.

Ear wax, also called cerumen, is produced by glands within the walls of the ear canal. Why? Well, it’s sticky as well is icky and it catches all of the debris, sticks, twigs, bugs and other stuff that can collect inside the ear canal.

Once this gunk is stuck in the ear wax, it’s slowly and gently moved out of the ear canal to the outer ear where it can be wiped away. In other words, ear wax is a natural protective mechanism, to prevent dirt and debris from hanging around in the ear canal – which could potentially lead to infection. It is supposed to be there.

Now, most of us have been taught to clean our ears using cotton swabs and as your mother always told you “don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear”. Problem is, we didn’t ever listen to our mothers and we started using a swab to clean out our ears which ultimately pushes the trash pile that’s collected in the ear canal deeper into the canal and closer to the delicate bits. It makes the problem worse by undoing what ear wax is supposed to do – keep debris away from the ear drum and the rest of that hearing apparatus.

So along comes ear candling…

…problem solved. According to the pushers of ear candling, its gentle vacuum sucking action removes ear wax and collected debris like a vacuum cleaner sucks up dust bunnies. Oh, and not only does ear candling remove ear wax, it apparently cures whatever ails you – kind like the shaman shaking a rattle over the “owie” part.

Here are the facts: ear candling doesn’t work AND it’s dangerous – even for New Agers who still practice Rolfing. Don’t do it. I know there are a few of you out there that have actually done ear candling reading this saying “but I saw all that wax on the candle that came out of my ear – it does work!” Sorry to break this to you but there is no way there could physically be that much wax in your ear canal – it is just not possible.

Check out some of these horror stories:

A Canadian woman who underwent ear candling ended up in the hospital with a glob of melted candle wax embedded in her ear canal. Doctors couldn’t remove the candle wax in the emergency room and surgery was required. The “patient” ended up with a hole in her ear drum and measurable hearing loss that will never return.

An Alaskan woman started a fire in her home using one of these things. She survived. The home was a total loss.

According to those in the know, ear candling leads to self-immolation (you set yourself on fire accidently), ear infections and, again, hot candle wax dripping into the ear canal itself.

Ear Candling = False Hope

People are seeking alternative solutions for issues that can’t be handled by modern medicine and they want solutions to their problems – preferably simple solutions. Ear candling is not a solution. It’s a dangerous false solution. If you do have an excessive build up of ear wax, learn more about safe ear wax removal and discuss the issue with your physician or audiologist.

In other words, ear candling is dangerous and it doesn’t work. Seeing your physician or a qualified hearing professional (Otolaryngologist or audiologist), when you have an excessive amount of ear wax does work.

Remember – never stick anything smaller than your elbow into your ear canal and that includes a large coned candle.

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