In some circles, the practice known as “ear candling” is routinely thought to be a good way to minimize earwax. What is ear candling, and does it work?
Earwax Candles, is it Effective?
Spoiler alert: No. They absolutely don’t work.
Why then do normally reasonable people persistently accept in this pseudo-science. It’s difficult to say with much accuracy. But the more you discover about earwax candling, especially the risks involved, the more likely you can make an informed decision (even if the sensible decision is pretty obvious).
Earwax Candling, What is it?
So the basic setup goes like this: Maybe you have too much earwax and you’re not really 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 approach known as earwax candling.
Earwax candling supposedly works as follows: You develop a pressure differential by inserting the candle into your ear, wick side out. This pressure difference then sucks the wax out. Theoretically, the pressure differential is enough to break up any wax that might be clogging up your ear. But cleaning your ears this way can be dangerous.
Why Ear Candling Doesn’t Work
There are a number of issues with this practice, including the fact that the physics simply don’t work. You would need a considerable amount of pressure to move earwax around and a candle is not capable of generating that amount of pressure. Second, producing that type of pressure differential would require some sort of seal, which doesn’t happen during candling.
Now, the candles used in these “treatments” are supposedly special. When you’re done with your fifteen minutes of ear candling, you can break apart the candle and, in the hollow, see all bacteria, debris, and wax that had previously been in your ear. The only problem is that the same detritus shows up in both burned and unburned candles. So the entire procedure amounts to fraud.
Earwax candling has never been proven by science to have any benefit whatsoever.
So we Know Ear Candling Doesn’t Work But Dangerous is it?
What’s the harm in giving it a shot, right? Well, you’re asking for trouble anytime you get a hot candle around your ears. Look, it’s quite possible that you could try ear candling and leave completely unharmed. Plenty of people do. But there are definitely hazards involved and it’s definitely not safe.
Here are a few negative effects of ear candling:
- Extreme burns to your inner ear. Significant hearing problems and burns can be the result of getting hot wax inside of your ear. This could permanently damage your hearing in the most extreme cases.
- Once the wax cools it can block up your ear canal. This can cause temporary hearing loss or, in the most severe cases, call for surgery.
- 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 your house down, would you? It’s not worth the risk to try this useless technique of wax elimination.
You Can Keep Your Ears Clean Without Needing a Candle
Most people will never actually have to be concerned about cleaning earwax from their ears. That’s because your ears are actually pretty good about cleaning themselves! However, there are a few people who will have unusually heavy earwax production or buildup to contend with.
If you do need to clean your ears out because of too much wax, there are scientifically-proven (and reliable) methods to do that safely. You could try a fluid wash, for example. Another solution would be to consult a hearing care specialist 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 significant jeopardy. So perhaps it’s time to put those special candles away.