Ear candles

Research shows ear candling has no medical benefits. In fact, ear candles are harmful and can cause serious injury.

What are ear candles?

An ear candle is a narrow, hollow cone that has been soaked in beeswax or paraffin and allowed to harden. During ear candling, you lie on your side while someone inserts the end of the cone inside your ear. The top of the cone is then set on fire and left to burn for a few minutes.

Ear candles are sold for removing earwax. There are claims that they can cure a wide range of medical problems including earaches, sinus infections, sinus pain and pressure, vertigo (dizziness) and cancer. BUT research shows ear candling has no medical benefits. In fact, ear candles are harmful and can cause serious injury.

Ear candles are harmful

Ear candles are harmful. They should not be used in adults or children.

Using ear candles can cause:

  • burns to your face, ear canal, eardrum and middle ear
  • injury to your ear from dripping wax
  • your ears getting plugged by candle wax
  • bleeding in your ear canal
  • puncture of your ear drum 
  • delay in seeking needed medical care for underlying conditions such as sinus and ear infections, hearing loss, cancer and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders (which often cause headache and painful sensations in your ear, jaw and face).

Ear candling is NOT a safe option for earwax removal. There are much safer ways to remove earwax. Read more about earwax build-up and removal.

Ear candling: Ineffective and risky

(FDA, US, 2010)

Ear candles don't work 

There are claims that the burning candle creates a vacuum that draws wax out of your ear (called the chimney effect). Some people think that the candle heats up the earwax, causing it to melt, and that it then comes out of your ear over the following few days. However, studies have shown that ear candles produce no vacuum in your ear and they don't remove ear wax. Ear candles do not draw out the wax or melt the wax.

References

  1. Ear candling action overdue New Zealand Medical Journal, 2017
  2. Don't get burned – stay away from ear candles FDA Consumer Health Information, US, 2010 
  3. Ear candling Health Canada, 2013
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team . Last reviewed: 28 Nov 2019