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

There’s a persistent idea in some groups that a practice called “ear candling” is an effective way to decrease 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 logical people persistently believe in this pseudo-science. It’s hard to say with much precision. 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 choice is pretty obvious).

Earwax Candling, What is it?

So here’s the basic setup: Perhaps you have an excessive amount of earwax and you’re not quite certain how to get rid of it. You’ve read that it’s dangerous to use cotton swabs to clear your earwax out. So you begin looking for an alternative and stumble on this method called earwax candling.

Here’s how earwax candling theoretically works: By inserting a candle into your ear (wick side out), you create a pressure differential. The wax in your ear, then, is pulled outward, towards the freedom of the open world. In theory, the pressure difference is enough to break up any wax that may be log-jamming in your ear. But cleaning your ears this way can be dangerous.

Why Ear Candling Doesn’t Work

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

Now, the candles that they use in these “procedures” are supposedly special. When you’re done with your fifteen minutes of ear candling, you can break apart the candle and, in the middle, see all bacteria, debris, and wax that was in your ear. The only problem is that the same detritus shows up in both burned and unburned candles. So the entire practice amounts to fraud.

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

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

So, you might as well give it a try, right? Well, any time you get hot candle wax around your ears, you’re looking for trouble. Look, it’s very possible that you could try ear candling and leave completely unscathed. Plenty of people do. But there are definitely hazards involved and it’s definitely not safe.

Here are some negative impacts of ear candling:

  • Candle wax can also clog your ear canal after it cools down. This can cause you to temporarily lose your hearing or, in the most serious cases, require surgery.
  • Whenever you’re mucking about with an open flame, there’s a chance that you may cause serious harm and put your life in danger. You wouldn’t want to burn down your house, would you? Getting rid of a bit of earwax isn’t worth that kind of danger and risk.
  • Severe burns inside ear. When melted candle wax goes into your ear, it can result in extreme hearing problems and burns. This could permanently damage your hearing in the most extreme cases.

You Can Clean Your Ears Without Needing a Candle

Most people will never actually need to worry about cleaning earwax out of their ears. That’s because your ears are actually pretty good at cleaning themselves! Nevertheless, there are some people who will have abnormally heavy earwax production or accumulation to deal with.

If you do need to clean out your ears because of excessive wax, there are scientifically-proven (and reliable) means to do that safely. For example, you could get a fluid wash. Or you could see a specialist who will be able to use specialized tools to get excess wax or wax blockages out of the way.

Cotton swabs are definitely a no-no. And you should also stay away from using an open flame to clean out earwax. Earwax candling isn’t effective, and it can create dangers that will put your comfort and your hearing in considerable danger. Try burning candles for their sent or for enjoyment but not as a means to clean your ears.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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