There’s a persistent belief in some circles that a practice known as “ear candling” is an effective way to reduce your earwax. Does ear candling work and what is it?
Do Earwax Candles Work?
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 logical people? That’s a tough question to answer. But even though the sensible decision is pretty obvious, learning more about the dangers of earwax candling will help us make an informed choice.
What is Earwax Candling?
So here’s the basic setup: Maybe you’re not certain how to eliminate all your accumulated earwax. You know you’re not supposed to use cotton swabs (which is good, cotton swabs are not a great way to clean out your ears, generally speaking). So, after doing some investigate, you discover a method called earwax candling.
Earwax candling supposedly works as follows: By jamming a candle into your ear (wick side out), you cause a pressure differential. This pressure differential then pulls the wax out. Theoretically, the pressure difference is enough to break up that may be clogging up your ear. But this hazardous practice is not a smart method of cleaning your ears.
Why Doesn’t Ear Candling Work?
There are a few issues with this practice, including the fact that the physics simply don’t work. It would require a considerable amount of pressure to move earwax around and a candle just isn’t capable of creating that kind of pressure. Also, a candle doesn’t have the kind of seal required to sustain pressure.
Now, the candles used in these “treatments” are supposedly special. All of the wax that was in your ear can be located within the hollow portion of the candle which can be broken up 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 as well. So this “validation” is actually nonsense.
Earwax candling has never been proven scientifically to have any benefit at all.
So Earwax Candling Doesn’t Work, But How Safe is it?
So, you might as well give it a try, right? Well, you’re asking for trouble whenever you get a hot candle around your ears. You may be fine if you decide to try earwax candling. Lots of people do. But there are definitely hazards involved and it’s definitely not safe.
Here are a few negative effects of ear candling:
- Whenever you’re mucking about with an open flame, there’s a possibility that you could cause serious damage and put your life in danger. Seriously, you could burn down your house. Getting rid of a bit of earwax isn’t worth that kind of risk and danger.
- Candle wax can also clog your ear canal once it cools down. This can cause temporary hearing loss or, in the most serious cases, require surgery.
- Your ear can be seriously burned. Significant hearing problems and burns can be the result of getting hot wax in your ear. This could permanently jeopardize your hearing in the most severe cases.
You Don’t Need a Candle to Keep Your Ears Clean
In the majority of situations you will never even have to be concerned about cleaning earwax out. That’s because your ears are actually pretty good at cleaning themselves! However, there are some people who will have unusually heavy earwax production or accumulation to deal with.
If it turns out that you have too much earwax there are techniques that have been proven to work safely. You could try a fluid wash, for example. Another solution would be to see 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 doesn’t work, and it can create risks that will put your comfort and your hearing in considerable jeopardy. So perhaps it’s time to put away those special candles