An earwax candle is a tool that is said to clear the ear of wax using heat conducted from the candle. There are safety issues involved with these candles, but many people swear that they work, and help with a variety of issues related to the ears and health.
What Is an Earwax Candle?
Ear candling is the process of burning a special candle made of cotton, linen, or other natural cloth while the unlit end is placed in the ear. While the candle burns, it is claimed that earwax and other toxins are removed.
This process is also called ear coning. The earwax candle is made by winding the fabric into a tight, narrow cone with a hollow center, and then soaking the cone in beeswax so that it will harden and burn like a real candle.
How Ear Candling Is Conducted
The subject of the ear candling starts off by laying on one side. The ear candle is then placed into the ear, and the opposite end is lit. Sometimes the candle is first fed through a paper plate or other tray that rests on the side of the head, to catch the dripping wax and prevent burns.
The theory behind this practice is that the heat from the flame in conjunction with the suction from the opposite ear on a flat surface creates a vacuum. This in turn draws out toxins and dissolves earwax, collecting these undesired elements inside the cone. Each ear receives one or two candles, depending on how much wax and debris is thought to be present. The candles themselves are burned for several minutes at a time, then extinguished and relit.
After the procedure is finished and the candle has burned down to about four inches in length, the remains of the ear candle are cut open. Inside there is always some black and yellowish debris, which is claimed to be the toxins and earwax. Critics of the practice say that this mess is actually just the result of the burning of the candle.
Risks of Ear Candling
Any type of procedure that involves burning fabric and wax while it is inserted into your ear is likely to present some risks. Indeed, there are several risks involved and some of them could be quite serious. They include:
- Burns from melted wax
- Deposits of melted wax into the eardrum
- Perforation of the eardrum from inserting the candle
- Hair catching on fire
There have been reports of all of these things occurring during a standard ear coning. If you decide to try this method of removing excess earwax, proceed with caution.
Warnings and Regulations
Each country decides whether certain products are safe to sell to its citizens, and ear candles have created some controversy. In the United States they may be sold, but manufacturers may not make any medical claims on the packaging or promotional materials.
Canadian officials have banned the sale and use of ear candles in that country. In Europe, these candles may be sold and even labeled as safe to use.
Ear Candles: Helpful or Harmful
Proponents of earwax candles insist that they not only help to remove wax, but also cleanse the inner ear passages and even help with sinuses and other bodily systems.
Critics, however, claim that these candles can be extremely dangerous and don't actually help to remove earwax at all. Some people who have tried this practice have ended up with melted wax adhering to their ear drums, risking their hearing and requiring surgery to have the wax removed.
Use at Your Own Risk
Before you decide to try an ear candle or have the procedure done by someone else, consider all of the risks. Look into traditional methods of removing excess earwax by asking your doctor about your options.