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Does Ear Candling Really Work?

Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Pharmacology

Updated Mar 15, 2023

Does Ear Candling Really Work?

Do ear candles really work? There are different types of treatments and procedures you can get when you are in a spa. One of them is ear candling, which is quite a famous treatment and promises relaxation and other health benefits. But do ear candles work? 

There are many questions surrounding this procedure. Is it safe? Can it harm your hearing? 

Why Do We Have Ear Wax? 

Firstly, we need ear wax to protect our ears. It traps any dirt or bacteria that may find their way deep into the ear canal. Normally, ear wax when it is soft will slide out. If it is a little firmer, it will simply fall out. However, some people may experience build-up and this may affect their hearing.

Ear wax may block the ear canal if it is hard. However, it can easily be softened with a little bit of olive oil or baby oil. Doctors discourage using cotton buds or your fingers to take out the ear wax as these can push the wax further into the canal or may accidentally tear the eardrum.

For hard build-up, consult your Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist as they are trained to remove ear wax safely.

What Is Ear Candling?

Ear handling is a technique wherein a long, hollow, cone-shaped candle is placed in the ear canal. The candle is then lit, letting the candle wax melt and drip down. Ear candling is believed to be an effective way of removing ear wax, especially since using Q-tips or cotton swabs are considered harmful.

Benefits of Ear Candling

Ear candling is a pain-free remedy for the following conditions: tinnitus, ear infections, glue ear, and swimmer’s ear. Additionally, the technique is believed to help fight headaches, sore throats, postnasal drips, sinusitis, and catarrh.

Some people say that they experience immediate relief from any congestion with ear handling. Supposedly, it is thought to be great for people with upper respiratory congestion. There are also those who believe that ear candling is great for lymph drainage and circulation.

But, are these claims true?

Do Ear Candles Really Work?

Despite some reviews, ear candles are not recommended and do not work in removing ear wax. There is no scientific proof as well that shows that it can address various ear problems, including infection and tinnitus, among others.

In fact, the process itself may cause the earwax to be further pushed into the ear canal, making it harder to clean your ears with normal tools. Ear candling can be very harmful to your ear. 

When cleaning, you should only clean the outer part of the ear.

do ear candles really work

The Dangers of Ear Candling

Do ear candles really work? You may have to consider the precautions. Among the risks of this procedure include: 

  • The wax can burn the face, ears, scalp, ear canal, middle ear, and eardrums
  • You can puncture your eardrums
  • You may compound the deposits of ear wax in the ear canal

When it comes to the dangers of ear candling, a case study reported an incident wherein a 50-year-old woman visited her doctor and explained a failed ear candling procedure. Due to an accident during the procedure, candle wax spilled into the patient’s ear. Upon examination, there was a piece of candle wax stuck in her ear, nose, and throat cavity. To remove the candle wax, the woman had to undergo general anesthesia.

Besides the candle wax, the doctors found a small perforation in her tympanic membrane, which caused mild conductive hearing on one side. Even after a month, the perforation did not heal and her hearing did not improve.

Although ear wax candles have a filter that prevents wax from entering the ear during a session, accidents like these can happen. Doctors discourage people from trying ear candling at home.

Why Doesn’t Ear Candling Work?

There are a few myths surrounding ear handling, and science proves that it cannot work. For one, ear candling practitioners claim that it can remove ear wax by melting the ear wax in your ear. However, experts say that this is not possible because the heat from an ear candle creates falls below our body temperature, which is not enough to melt ear wax.

Additionally, people believe that it can remove ear wax by creating a suction, which is possible. But this will only work if the suction is strong enough. Unfortunately, tests found that the technique does not create suction.  Without any suction, not even the smallest ear wax can be removed.

What If I Still Want To Try Ear Candling?

For those who still want to get ear candling, think again. Remember, ear candling is not recommended by any doctors or experts, including the Food and Drug Administration. In fact, the agency prohibits ear candle manufacturers and practitioners from advertising the unconfirmed benefits of the procedure.

However, if you really want to try, be sure to have the procedure done in sanitary and reputable clinics. Always check reviews on the service provider. Although ear candling does not remove any ear wax, some people find ear candling relaxing. 

Key Takeaways

Do ear candles really work? Although ear candling is popular, it is not beneficial and can actually cause serious harm. It is best to avoid undergoing this procedure. If you would like to try it, consult your ear, nose, and throat specialist to better understand its risks. 

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Written by

Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD


Updated Mar 15, 2023

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