Ear candles are hollow cones made of fabric covered in paraffin wax, beeswax, or soy wax. Most ear candles are about a foot in length. The pointed end of the candle is placed in your ear. The slightly wider end is lit.
Proponents of this treatment, called ear candling, claim that the warmth created by the flame causes suction. The suction pulls earwax and other impurities out of the ear canal and into the hollow candle.
The treatment, which costs is less and takes about 45 minutes. You lie on your side and a practitioner places the candle in your ear and lights it.
After the whole thing burns for 15 minutes or so (and usually falls out), you’re supposed to see goop atop the candle that resembles dark honey, coffee grounds, or earwax. The goop is supposed to have come out of your ear, the theory goes, proving that the treatment works.
Ear candles do not work, say ear, nose, and throat doctors who have studied the practice. They disavow their use as an alternative treatment for a variety of conditions that affect the ears, from allergies to earaches.
What is ear candling supposed to do?
It is said to remove excess wax from the ear canal, relieve sinus pressure and reduce pain. In addition, some people believe that holes in the top of the candle allow toxins from your body to flow into the candle. Proponents also say there’s a filter made from pieces of cotton cloth at the end of the candles that catch impurities.
How does it supposedly work?
Proponents say ear candles have a suction effect that draws wax and other impurities out of your ears. That’s why you need to lie down for the treatment, they say — otherwise, the gunk may fall back in your ear. But doctors say ear candling does not work any better than merely lying on your side with a towel over your ear.
The fact is that ear candles can be dangerous and they should not be considered a viable treatment. The FDA advises: “Never use a lit candle in or near your ears.” Some people who have tried ear candling say it made their symptoms worse.
While the aluminum-foil-covered wick is not supposed to burn you, sometimes it does. That causes the ear candle to be too hot, which can cause a burn. People with certain skin conditions, like dermatitis or psoriasis, may find their skin is more sensitive than usual and even small burns can cause pain for several days.