Dear Sasquatch: Does Ear Candling Work?
My aunt and cousin swear by regular ear candling to remove toxins. I have a sinus infection, and my cousin tells me the ear candling clears the sinuses as well. Is this true? Is there any benefit to this?
Ear candling has no effect whatsoever–if you are lucky. The practice can cause burns, candle wax going into the ears (sometimes requiring surgery to remove), obstruction of the ear canal, perforated ear drums, and, of course, fire.
The practice of ear candling (also called coning) involves basically sticking a candle in your ear through a plate and lighting the candle. Supposedly, the candle sucks out ear wax and “toxins” and deposits them on the plate. Researchers have found, though, that the candle creates no negative pressure, which would be required to suck anything out, and that the substance on the plate is simply candle wax mixed with ash.
Even if candling worked, you don’t want to do it. Your ear wax is protective, naturally trapping dirt and bacteria and working its way out of your ear. The potential for injury aside, removing the wax leaves the inner ear vulnerable to damage and infection. People do sometimes have too much wax buildup that gets compacted, but this should be removed by a health care professional, not by the person sticking something in their ear, a candle or anything else.
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Images from Wikimedia Commons and adapted from iBjorn.