What is Ear Candling?

Also called ear coning, ear candling uses heat from a candle to pull ear wax out of the ear. Adherents use this method to cure ear infections but say it also cures headaches, colds and flu, sore throats, and swimmer’s ear. Other claims are made that it can relieve tinnitus, vertigo, and improve blood pressure.

Is any of that true?

There have been studies to ascertain if the procedure really pulls out wax and the results have not been encouraging. The studies are dated but still have validity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2231549/

Besides not necessarily accomplishing the intended results (to remove ear wax and whatever), the chances for injury are fairly high.  It isn’t a do-it-yourself routine and if you are determined to try it, it is recommended that you use someone experienced.

The procedure is to place a lit, hollow candle made from a fabric tube soaked in beeswax in the external auditory canal for about 15 minutes. After the procedure, the brown, waxy substance inside the hollow is thought by laymen to be ear wax, debris and bacteria, brought up by negative pressure (like a vacuum). No candle wax is supposed to end up in the ear, but one small study found that after candling, no wax was removed from ears with impacted wax and that candle wax was deposited in ears that had no wax build-up before the procedure. The wax in the tubes had no components of ear wax.

Another Canadian study measured temperatures at the base of the candles well below core body temperature, which are deemed to be too low to melt wax.  Studies have also found that no negative pressure is created, which would belie a vacuum effect.

Furthermore, there are a number of reports per year of complications from the use of ear candling. You can be burned, have an eardrum punctured, experience bleeding, et. al.

If you have impacted wax in your ears, see a doctor, who can remove it with irrigation in a short visit.  Some people use ear-softening drops from the drugstore, but you can try using olive oil to soften the wax.  It may or may not work, but probably will not do any damage.  If you do that, it may take a couple weeks of daily use to do the trick.

There are other home remedies for wax removal including using a rubber bulb for doing your own irrigation, using hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda with water.  And yet, you should still not do any of these things if you have any damage inside your ear.

Alternative therapies can be helpful, but they also can cause more harm than good, if any good at all.  This one seems to be the latter.