Q. What is your opinion on using “ear candles” to remove wax?
A. I do not recommend using them. For the uninitiated, ear candles are hollow candles that are placed into the external ear canal and lit at the outside end. The lighted candle is thought to create a vacuum that draws earwax (cerumen) and other impurities into the hollow candle. A dark brown waxy substance purported to be cerumen can be found in the stub of the candle after it is burned. However, a small trial showed that candling did not remove any cerumen from the external ear canal-the brown waxy substance turned out to be candle wax! So, ear candling is not effective.
In regards to its safety, a survey of 122 otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat specialists) identified 21 ear injuries resulting from ear candle use (13 cases of burns of the auricle and external ear canal, seven partial or complete occlusions of the ear canal with candle wax, and one tympanic membrane (ear drum) perforation. Therefore, although candling is becoming quite popular, it is not effective and is potentially dangerous.Michael Murray, ND, is one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine and a contributor to the Healthnotes, Inc. team of experts. Dr. Murray is the author of A Textbook of Natural Medicine, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, and The Healing Power of Herbs. He also authors Dr. Murray’s Electronic Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, an exclusive Healthnotes product.