Ear Candling: Helpful or Harmful?
Ear candling is touted as a way to clean out your ear to help prevent future problems. But, do ear candles really work as advertised? Time to put common sense and simple observation into play to determine the truth.
How Do Ear Candles Work?
Use of ear candles, called ear candling or ear coning, is usually performed by using an ear candle about 10′ long which is made of cloth rolled in beeswax or paraffin. The ear candle is pushed through the center of a small hole cut in a pie tin or sturdy paper plate. The person to be candled then ideally lays comfortably on his/her side with the tapered end of the ear candle gently placed in the ear canal and the paper plate or tin just above the ear.
Hair should be tied back and a damp cloth placed around the shoulders should any ashes get loose and not be caught by the paper plate. The wide end of the ear candle is then lit and the candle allowed to burn for a few minutes until it is no closer than 4″ from the person being candled.
The ear candle is trimmed every couple of inches as it burns down to keep the flame and ashes low. Extinguishing the candle’s flame should be in a bowl of water rather than blown out to minimize smoke. The entire session for a single ear candle lasts about 15 minutes.
What Are the Benefits of Ear Candling?
Proponents of ear candling claim that it removes earwax and toxins. This residue is supposedly drawn out of the ear painlessly via a gentle vacuum caused by the flame burning on the end of the hollow tube of the ear candle. Residue is indeed visible after the ear candling session is complete upon examination of the inside of the remaining part of the ear candle.
Ear Candles Remove Nothing from the Ear
While all of these claims sound very intriguing, the fact is that none of it is true. If you believe any of these claims to be accurate and want to do a quick test at home, simply take an ear candle and put it in a glass vase and burn it down just like you would if it were used to candle someone’s ear.
When the flame is extinguished, you will find the exact same “residue” inside the candle as you would if it were being use therapeutically on an actual subject. The residue thought be be earwax and toxins by candling proponents is actually nothing more than bits of paraffin or beeswax from the candle itself!
Another test you can do is light an ear candle over a sink and put the palm of your hand underneath the end that would go inside the ear canal. Notice there is no suction whatsoever! In fact, you can see a very light stream of smoke blowing OUT that end instead! Mmmm. How is the nonexistent suction from an ear candle supposed to remove anything from the ear canal particularly if it is sticky or gunky?
Does Ear Candling Have Any Benefits At All?
Before you come to the conclusion that ear candling is just a health scam and doesn’t provide any therapeutic value, consider this: Burning an ear candle with the tapered end inside someone’s ear as described above blows warm smoke into the ear which is indeed very relaxing and soothing for many. No wonder day spas have it on offer.
This warm smoke also has the effect of drying out the ear, so it could potentially be of benefit to those suffering from an ear infection. I actually used ear candling to dry out the fluid in my first child’s ears when he had a double ear infection as a toddler many years ago. It worked like a charm although it was very much a challenge to accomplish on one so young. No meds required and the fluid in the ear dried up quickly and never returned.
Real Ear Infection Prevention (sans Ear Candles)
I switched over to raw dairy not long after that and eliminated pasteurized organic milk from our home. Turns out this was the cause of the ear problems in the first place. My son never needed another ear candling session as he never had another ear infection ever again! That was a long time ago as he is 18 years old today! My second and third children never needed any ear candling sessions at all. Why? They never have consumed any pasteurized dairy and consequently never had ear infection issues.
In sum, ear candling may be a relaxing and somewhat helpful therapy for those with ear pain and other challenges. However, fixing the diet and eliminating the underlying cause is the best way to go. Don’t fall for the notion that ear candling somehow cleans out your ears and rids them of excess earwax and toxins. If you performed the simple tests described above, you likely realized very quickly that it does nothing of the sort!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.