The idea of putting a candle in your ear may seem gross, but people claim that it helps their ear wax. They say it creates a suction effect that pulls the wax out of the ear canal and into the candle, where it can be removed and discarded. They also claim that it helps treat other conditions, such as sinus problems and the eardrum. But there is no valid scientific evidence for these claims, and ear candling can be dangerous.
The Food and Drug Administration warns that ear candling can cause serious injuries, including burns, because the flame from the candle is so close to your ears. It can also drip hot wax into your ear canal or eardrum, which can cause an ear infection or perforate your ear drum. These side effects can happen even if you use the candles according to directions.
Ear candles are hollow fabric cones soaked in beeswax or paraffin wax. They look similar to a birthday cake candle, and they are usually about 10 inches long. One end of the candle is lit, and you place it in your ear while it’s burning. Then you cover your head with a towel so that the flame and ash won’t touch your face.
The theory behind ear candling is that the heat from the flame and the dripping wax cause a suction effect that draws wax out of your ear. But a few simple tests show that ear candles don’t produce a vacuum or negative pressure, and the waxy material that is “removed” from an ear candling session is actually ash and residue from the candle itself.