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What Is Ear Candling?

Does Ear Candling Work? Is it Safe?


Updated July 25, 2009

Ear candling is believed by some people to be an effective means of removing ear wax. Others say it is not safe and/or ineffective.

What Is Ear Candling?

Ear candling, a technique that is said to go back as far as 2500 BC, is a method of removing ear wax. It is said to help some people who use hearing aids. While you lie on your side, a hollow candle covered by a special protective plate is put into your ear. The candle is then lit and allowed to burn while it is in the ear canal. In theory, this is supposed to pull out earwax or fungus.

Is Ear Candling Safe? Does It Work?

Proponents of ear candling claim it is safe and painless, and even some people you know may have used it to their satisfaction. However, some medical associations and literature stress its dangers, such as burns, ear canal blockage from the wax of the candle, or even damage to the eardrum and temporary hearing loss.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, for example, outright says that this technique should not be used for the removal of wax build up and that there's no solid evidence that support the safety and efficacy of ear candles. A 2004 article published in the Journal of Laryngology and Otology takes this sentiment further: "A critical assessment of the evidence shows that [ear candling's] mode of action is implausible and demonstrably wrong. There are no data to suggest that it is effective for any condition...The inescapable conclusion is that ear candles do more harm than good. Their use should be discouraged."

Read more about ear candling from the About.com Guide to Alternative Medicine: The Alternative Practice of Ear Candling


American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery: Earwax. Accessed: July 22, 2009.

Ear Candling. Accessed: July 22, 2009.

Ernst, E. “Ear Candles: A Triumph of Ignorance Over Science.” Journal of Laryngology and Otology 2004 Jan;118(1):1-2.

Shenk, Heather, AuD, and Dancer, Jess, EdD. Advance for Audiologists: The Dangers of Ear Candling. Accessed: July 22, 2009.

The Colon Therapists Network: Ear Candling. Accessed: July 22, 2009.

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