What is ear candling and does it work?

08 November 2017

What Is Ear Candling

Ear candling is an ‘alternative medicine” also known as ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy. The process involves lighting a hollow wax candle and placing one end inside the ear canal. The suction created is then meant to remove any debris or loose ear wax caught in the ear canal, as well as relieving a large number of other ailments related to the ears and sinuses.

“Benefits” of Ear Candles

Believers in ear cone candles claim multiple benefits for the ears as well as the rest of the body, including:

  • Removing buildups of ear wax
  • Relief for ear aches
  • Cure for swimmer’s ear and ear infections
  • Ease of tinnitus symptoms
  • hearing problems
  • Helps with cold and flu symptoms
  • Relieves sore throat
  • Helps with vertigo or dizziness
  • Relieves stress and tension
How Does Ear Candling Supposedly Work?

The ear candles themselves are hollow linen cones, generally about 30cm long and coated in wax.

The ear candling procedure can be performed autonomously (not recommended) or by a friend or professional.

Patients are usually asked to lie down on their sides, from here the ear candle is inserted into the ear at a 90-degree angle, then lit.

While lying down the burning ear candle is meant to create a vacuum with the ear canal which sucks out ear wax, debris and anything else stuck with the ear. It takes about 15 minutes per ear.

Why Ear Candling Doesn’t Work

Although there is anecdotal evidence which suggests ear candling for ear wax removal is a good idea, the science behind it doesn’t check out.

An editorial by the American Academy of Audiologycategorically refutes the use and advertisement of ear candles as a cure for blocked ears amongst other things stating:

"Ear candling is dangerous (even when used as directed by the manufacturer) and serves no legitimate purpose and there is no scientific evidence showing effectiveness for use. It is of significant concern that some ear candles are advertised for use with children (including babies), potentially placing them at great risk—with no known or documented benefit."

Furthermore, measurements taken from the ears before and after ear candling showed no reduction in earwax.

Risks of Ear Candling

Along with the many proposed benefits of ear candling for wax removal, there is also a laundry list of recorded injuries from people attempting to clear their ears via ear candle. These include:

  • Burns to the face 
  • Outer ear, inner ear and eardrum burns
  • Burns from fires started because of ear candling
  • Hot wax in the ear
  • Damage and perforation to the eardrum
Alternative To Ear Candling

Now that we’ve established that ear candling does not work, we’ve put together a list of safer alternatives for ear wax removal:

  • Microsuction ear wax removal'
  • Ear drops
  • Warm olive

We believe that the safest, gentlest option of all is to have any kind of ear blockage looked at by an aural professional. We are inside people's ear canals all day and can very quickly diagnose most problems to do with the ears. 

If you are experiencing difficulties with your ears, book a time to come in and see one of our friendly nurses today by filling out the online form or giving us a call.
Back to Articles