There’s a lingering belief in some groups that a practice known as “ear candling” is an effective way to minimize your earwax. Is ear candling effective and what is it?
Earwax Candles, do They Work?
Spoiler alert: No. They absolutely don’t work.
Why then, does this piece of pseudo-science keep burrowing its way into the minds of otherwise rational human beings? It’s hard to say with much precision. But although the rational decision is fairly clear, knowing more about the risks of earwax candling will help us make an educated choice.
What is Earwax Candling?
So here’s the basic setup: Perhaps you have an excessive amount of earwax and you’re not really certain how to eradicate it. You know you aren’t supposed to use cotton swabs (which is good, cotton swabs are not an ideal way to clear out your ears, in general). So, after doing some study, you discover a technique known as earwax candling.
Earwax candling is supposed to work as follows: You create a pressure differential by putting the candle into your ear, wick side out. The wax in your ear, then, is pulled outward, towards the freedom of the open world. Any wax that might be clogged up in your ear can, theoretically, be pulled out by this amount of pressure. But this harmful technique is not a smart way to clean your ears.
The Reason Why Ear Candling Doesn’t Work
There are several problems with this process, including the fact that the physics just don’t work. It would require a significant amount of pressure to move earwax around and a candle is not capable of producing that kind of pressure. Second, producing that kind of pressure difference would require some kind of seal, which doesn’t occur during candling.
Now, the candles used in these “procedures” are supposedly special. All of the wax that was in your ear can be located within the hollow part 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 detritus shows up in both used and unused candles. So the whole procedure amounts to fraud.
Earwax candling hasn’t been proven scientifically to have any benefit whatsoever.
So Earwax Candling Doesn’t Work, But is it Safe?
So, you may 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 walk away completely unharmed. Plenty of people do. But that doesn’t imply there aren’t risks involved, and it certainly doesn’t imply that ear candling is safe.
Here are some negative impacts of ear candling:
- Candle wax can also block your ear canal after it cools. You could end up temporarily losing your hearing or even needing surgery in extreme cases.
- Significant burns inside ear. When melted candle wax gets into your ear, it can cause serious hearing problems and burns. This could permanently compromise your hearing in the most extreme cases.
- You could cause severe injury when you play around with an open flame and potentially even put your life in danger. Seriously, you may burn your house down. It’s not worth the risk to attempt this ineffective technique of wax elimination.
You Don’t Need a Candle to Keep Your Ears Clean
In the majority of circumstances you will never even have to be concerned about cleaning earwax out. That’s because your ears are really pretty good at cleaning themselves! Nevertheless, there are a few people who will have uncommonly heavy earwax production or accumulation to deal with.
If you do need to clean out your ears due to too much wax, there are scientifically-proven (and effective) means to do that safely. For example, you could get a fluid wash. Or you could see a specialist who will be capable of using specialized tools to get excess wax or wax blockages out of the way.
Cotton swabs are definitely a no-no. And open flames are not ok either. Earwax candling doesn’t work, and it can create dangers that will put your comfort and your hearing in considerable jeopardy. So perhaps it’s time to put away those special candles