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

In some circles, the practice called “ear candling” is persistently thought to be a good way to decrease earwax. What is ear candling, and is it effective?

Is Ear Candling Effective?

Spoiler alert: No. They definitely don’t work.

Why then do otherwise logical people routinely think in this pseudo-science. That’s a hard question to answer. But although the rational choice is pretty clear, knowing more about the dangers of earwax candling will help us make an educated choice.

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 eradicate it. You’ve read that it’s dangerous to use cotton swabs to clean your earwax out. So, after doing some investigate, you discover a technique known as earwax candling.

Earwax candling supposedly works as follows: By inserting a candle into your ear (wick side out), you create a pressure differential. This pressure difference then sucks the wax out. Any wax that may be backed up in your ear can, in theory, be pulled out by this amount of pressure. But cleaning your ears like this can be dangerous.

Why Isn’t Ear Candling Effective

This practice has a few issues, like the fact that the physics simply don’t work. It would require a considerable amount of pressure to move earwax around and a candle is not capable of producing that amount of pressure. Also, a candle doesn’t possess the sort of seal required to sustain pressure.

Now, the candles that they use 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 was in your ear. But the issue is you can find this same material in new unburned candles also. So the whole practice amounts to fraud.

Earwax candling has never been proven scientifically to have any benefit at all.

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

What’s the danger in trying, right? Well, whenever you get hot candle wax near your ears, you’re looking for trouble. You may be ok if you decide to try earwax candling. Plenty of people do. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t hazards involved, and it certainly doesn’t imply that ear candling is safe.

Here are a few negative effects of ear candling:

  • Severe burns to your inner ear. Serious hearing problems and burns can be the outcome of getting hot wax inside of your ear. This could permanently damage your hearing in the most serious cases.
  • Any time you’re mucking about with an open flame, there’s a chance that you could cause serious injury and put your life in danger. Seriously, you could burn your house down. Getting rid of a bit of earwax isn’t worth that amount of danger and risk.
  • Candle wax can also clog your ear canal once it cools down. You could end up temporarily losing your hearing or even needing surgery in severe cases.

You Can Clean Your Ears Without Needing a Candle

Most people will never actually have to worry about cleaning earwax from their ears. That’s because the human ear is basically a self cleaning system. Nevertheless, there are a few people who will have uncommonly heavy earwax production or buildup to contend with.

If it happens that you have too much earwax there are practices that have been proven to work safely. You could use a fluid wash, for example. Or you might see a professional who will be able to use specialized tools to get extra wax or wax blockages out.

You should continue to stay away from cotton swabs. And open flames are not good either. Earwax candling is a procedure that has no advantage and will put your ears, and your whole person, at substantial risk of injury and damage. So maybe it’s time to put away those special candles