Ear Candling

You’re probably familiar with various methods of self-care, but have you ever heard of ear candling? This ancient technique traces its roots back to ancient cultures, and it involves placing a hollow candle into the ear canal and lighting it on the opposite end. As the candle burns, it supposedly creates a gentle suction that removes built-up earwax and impurities. While some swear by its therapeutic benefits, others remain skeptical about its effectiveness. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the practice of ear candling, exploring its history, potential benefits, and possible risks. So, if you’ve ever been curious about this unique alternative therapy, keep reading to learn more.

What is Ear Candling?

Ear candling, also known as ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, is an alternative practice that involves placing a cone-shaped candle into the ear canal and lighting it. The process of ear candling is believed to create a vacuum effect that helps draw out impurities, wax, and debris from the ear. It is often claimed to have various health benefits, such as improving hearing, relieving sinus congestion, and reducing tinnitus symptoms.

History of Ear Candling

Ancient Origins

The practice of using ear candles has ancient origins and can be traced back to several cultures around the world. It is said to have been used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Native American tribes for various purposes, including spiritual cleansing, healing rituals, and relaxation. The exact origins and techniques may vary among cultures, but the basic concept remains the same.

Popularity in the 20th Century

Ear candling gained popularity in the Western world during the early 20th century as part of a growing interest in natural healing methods. It was introduced as a folk remedy by Martha Eddy, a German medical student, who claimed that it could treat a wide range of health conditions. Since then, the practice has continued to be passed down through generations and has gained both supporters and critics.

Ear Candling

How does Ear Candling work?

The mechanism behind ear candling is often described as a chimney effect. When the candle is lit, the heat creates gentle suction or negative pressure, which is believed to draw out toxins, excessive wax, and other impurities from the ear. The warm smoke and warm air from the burning candle supposedly soften the wax and create a vacuum that helps to remove blockages and promote ear health.

Materials Required for Ear Candling

To perform ear candling, you will need a few essential materials:

Candle Cones

Ear candles, also known as candling cones, are typically made from a combination of beeswax or paraffin wax and cotton or linen fabric. They are designed to be long and hollow, with one end for insertion into the ear and the other end to be lit. The size and shape of the candle cones may vary, but it is important to choose a reputable brand and ensure they are made from natural, non-toxic materials.

Protective Disc

A protective disc, usually made of aluminum or paper, is used to prevent any hot ash or debris from falling onto the ear during the candling process. It is placed around the base of the candle cone, where it rests against the ear. The disc acts as a protective barrier and helps to catch any residue that may fall from the burning candle.

Lighter or Matches

A lighter or matches are needed to ignite the tip of the candle cone. It is important to have a steady hand and ensure that the flame is applied carefully to avoid any accidental burns or injuries.

Ear Candling

The Procedure of Ear Candling

Before attempting ear candling, it is important to familiarize yourself with the proper procedure to ensure a safe and effective experience.


To begin, gather all the necessary materials and find a comfortable and quiet space where you can perform the procedure without interruptions. It is recommended to have someone assist you during the process, especially when it comes to lighting and holding the candle cone.


Position yourself either lying down on your side or sitting upright with your head tilted to the side. This allows for easy access to the ear canal and ensures that any residue or ash from the burning candle can be caught by the protective disc.

Lighting the Candle

Hold the candle cone by the unlit end, keeping it at a slight angle. Have your assistant carefully light the exposed end using a lighter or matches. Once the flame catches, quickly move it away from the face and gently insert the tapered end of the candle into the ear canal. Make sure the cone is held securely but not forcefully to avoid any discomfort or injury.

Burn Time

Allow the candle to burn for approximately 10-15 minutes. As the candle burns, you may hear a crackling or hissing sound, which is normal and indicates that the vacuum effect is taking place. It is important to remain still and relaxed during this time to ensure a safe and effective procedure.

Extinguishing the Candle

When the candle has burned down to the recommended length, your assistant should carefully remove it from your ear and extinguish it in a bowl of water. It is important to never extinguish the candle directly by blowing on it, as this can potentially cause hot ash to scatter.

Benefits of Ear Candling

Proponents of ear candling claim that it offers several benefits for ear health and overall well-being. While scientific evidence is limited, many individuals swear by its effectiveness. Here are some of the potential benefits associated with ear candling:

Removal of Wax

Ear candling is often believed to help remove excessive earwax and debris from the ear canal. The vacuum effect created by the burning candle is said to loosen and draw out impurities, allowing for clearer and healthier ears. However, it is important to note that the claims of wax removal with ear candling are not supported by scientific evidence, and there may be safer and more effective methods available.

Relief from Sinus Congestion

Some people find that ear candling provides temporary relief from sinus congestion and related symptoms. The warmth and smoke from the burning candle are thought to help soothe the nasal passages and promote better airflow. However, more research is needed to determine the true efficacy of ear candling for sinus relief.

Improved Hearing

Advocates of ear candling believe that it can improve hearing by removing blockages and improving circulation in the ear. This claim may be more subjective and is not universally supported. If you are experiencing hearing issues, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Reduced Tinnitus Symptoms

Tinnitus, a condition characterized by constant or intermittent ringing in the ears, is often associated with earwax buildup or blockages. Some individuals report temporary relief from tinnitus symptoms following ear candling. However, it is crucial to note that tinnitus can have various underlying causes, and the use of ear candles should not be considered a substitute for medical evaluation and treatment.

Ear Candling

Potential Risks and Precautions

While many individuals practice ear candling without any adverse effects, it is important to be aware of potential risks and take necessary precautions to minimize harm.

Burns and Injuries

The most immediate and significant risk associated with ear candling is burns and injuries. The candle flame can cause burns to the skin and hair if not handled properly. There have been cases of perforated eardrums, canal obstructions, and injuries due to dislodged or melted candle wax. It is crucial to follow the recommended procedure and exercises extreme caution throughout the process.

Ear Canal Obstruction

In some cases, ear candling can lead to the further blockage of the ear canal. If excess wax or debris is pushed deeper into the ear or if the candle residue becomes lodged in the ear, it can cause discomfort and additional complications. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any pain, pressure, or hearing loss following ear candling.

False Claims and Misuse

Ear candling is surrounded by various false claims and misinformation. It is crucial to approach the practice with skepticism and to rely on evidence-based information. Misuse of ear candles, such as using non-approved or homemade candles, can increase the risk of harm. Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions, such as chronic ear infections or recent ear surgeries, should avoid ear candling altogether.

Scientific Evidence and Controversies

Lack of Scientific Evidence

Despite its long-standing history and widespread use, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support the claimed benefits of ear candling. Most studies conducted so far have shown no significant differences between ear candling and a placebo or sham procedure. Some studies have even reported an increase in earwax, suggesting that ear candling may be ineffective or potentially harmful.

Controversies Surrounding Ear Candling

Ear candling has become a topic of debate within the medical and scientific community. Many healthcare professionals view it as a pseudoscientific practice with no proven benefits and potential risks. Organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued warnings against the use of ear candles and have stated that they are not approved for medical use.

Ear Candling

Alternatives to Ear Candling

For individuals seeking alternative methods for ear wax removal or ear health, there are several safer and evidence-based alternatives available. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate course of action. Here are a few alternatives to ear candling:

Ear Irrigation

Ear irrigation, also known as ear syringing, is a common method used to remove excessive ear wax. It involves using a syringe or a specialized ear irrigation kit to gently flush out the ear canal with warm water or saline solution. This method should only be performed by a trained healthcare professional to minimize the risk of injury.

Suction Devices

Suction devices, such as ear wax removal kits or ear vacuum cleaners, are designed to gently draw out earwax. These devices use gentle suction or suction-like pressure to remove wax buildup without the need for open flames or excessive heat. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and avoid inserting anything deep into the ear canal.

Ear Drops

Ear drops, also known as cerumenolytic agents, are medicated solutions specifically designed to soften and loosen earwax. They typically contain ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil, or glycerin. Ear drops should be used as directed by a healthcare professional and can be helpful for individuals with excessive or impacted wax.


Ear candling is a controversial practice that has been passed down through generations for its perceived benefits in ear health and overall well-being. While many individuals claim positive experiences with ear candling, scientific evidence supporting its efficacy is lacking. It is crucial to exercise caution and seek proper medical evaluation and treatment for any ear-related concerns. If you are considering ear candling, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to discuss potential risks and explore evidence-based alternatives for ear health maintenance.

Ear Candling

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