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Interesting facts about ear candling

About the effectiveness, benefits, risks & more of ear candles

In this article you will learn what ear candles are exactly, where they come from, when they can be used and when it is best not to use them. If you want to get the advice of an expert on the best way to clean ears you can visit the next Amplifon clinic for a free consultation. 

What is ear candling?

The ear candle, also known as ear candles, is a hollow candle that can be used to clean the ears. They are 20 to 30 cm long and are made of beeswax, essential oils, gauze and powdered plant parts, and cotton. Ear candles are used for relaxation, against earwax and for ear problems such as ringing in the ears

Ear cleaning cones arise from the rediscovery of a traditional method of ancient origin for ear hygiene which allows you to remove impurities and excess wax present in the ear canal using the so-called chimney effect. Today, however, its use appears to be of dubious effectiveness. Let's analyze why.

Digression: About Ear Wax

Earwax is a yellowish substance with a protective function present in the external auditory canal. Under normal physiological conditions, it is pushed outwards both by the epithelial cells of the ear canal and by the shape of the canal which, tilted downwards towards the outside, favours the spontaneous elimination of ear wax.

In certain cases, where an invidual may have a small external auditory canal, the excess production as well as altered composition or "forced" attempts at mechanical cleaning (use of cotton buds) can cause earwax to build up forming the classic "plug" which causes an obstruction, can consequently lead to hearing loss and the sensation of a blocked ear.

Do ear candles work?

Ear candling, when used properly, can help with relaxation or in preparation for earwax removal. However, you should make sure that you make proper use the candles, according to the instructions provided, and that the treatment is ideally carried out by a second person. In addition, a safety filter should be built into the lower part of the candle, which prevents hot wax from dripping into the ear canal and catching the ash.

The Ear Candling Benefits

The ear candle is intended to relieve pressure in the ear. Lighting the ear candle creates a draft in the ear, which creates a slight overpressure. As soon as half the candle has burned down, the air current rises, relieving the pressure. This can cause various side effects, including:

The changing pressure conditions are intended to promote blood circulation in the ear and stimulate the lymph flow. In addition to this, the negative pressure should pull the earwax out of the ear canal. The pressure equalization is said to have a relaxing effect on your entrie body, slowing your breathing rate and your pulse.

Where to buy ear candles

You can get ear candles in pharmacies and now in some organic shops, such as natural product shops, drugstores or health food stores. There you can buy the ear candles in different versions. These differ in the different tastes or scents, such as citrus and mint or lavender and orange. The ear candles can be bought in different size packaging.
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How to use ear candles correctly

When using ear candles, you should not be alone and you should always get a second person who can help and prevent injuries or accidents. Here are the instructions for the correct use of the ear candle: 

  1. Lie on your side and rest your head on the ear that is not to be treated.
  2. Insert the ear candle vertically into the ear with a twisting motion so that the ear canal is sealed airtight.
  3. A damp towel around the ear can catch falling ash.
  4. The ear candle is now lit. Warm air now enters the ear.
  5. The ear candle should burn down completely. The candle should go out by itself. 

Ear Candle Therapy

In ear candling therapy, special candles are placed in the patient's outer ear canal and then lit to remove earwax and dust particles from the ear canal.

During the so-called chimney phase, excess pressure builds up in the ear, opening clogged pores, improving skin respiration and transporting waste and secretions inside the candle. The pressure conditions in the head are also regulated, which should lead to better coordination of the two halves of the brain.

Ear wax removal with candles?

Removing earwax with a candle is particularly useful in the wellness area. Through the tubular opening, the descending heat leads to negative pressure in the ear. This is done to pull the earwax up through the filter, thereby cleaning the ears .

In fact, the resulting negative pressure in the ear is so low that it is not strong enough for earwax to be sucked up into the funnel. An ear candle alone will not cleanse the ear, but it can help to relax and prepare the ear for further cleaning.

Can ear candling help tinnitus?

The ear candling effect has a far-reaching health effect and does not result in any side effects. It is also often used to treat tinnitus, as the slight negative pressure (chimney effect) and vibration waves caused by the flames act like a gentle eardrum massage. 

The stimuli are transmitted to the middle ear all the way to the inner ear, with a direct effect on the organs of hearing and balance. The therapy leads to relaxation in the ear thus reducing the symptoms of tinnitus .

Use with a cold, earache, clogged ears & Co.

An ear candle can also help with a cold or ear pressure as well as with a mild earache. The ear candle acts on the zones of the lymphatic pharyngeal ring via the auditory canal. This promotes blood circulation, lymphatic drainage and the immune system and thus helps against colds and ear pressure.

During treatment, the patient may feels a pleasant warmth and a liberating equalization of pressure in the ear, forehead and sinus area. The resulting negative pressure can also loosen water in the ear. Caution is required in the case of an acute ear infection, since in this case no ear candling therapy should be used. 

Is ear wax removal with candles effective?

Various methods can be carried out to eliminate earwax, including the use of special oilcloth cones which, placed directly at the entrance of the external auditory canal, remove the earwax through a sort of suction, after they have been lit. The wax cones, about 20 cm long, have two open ends:

The narrower end, equipped with a disc that serves to protect the skin from dripping hot wax, should be placed directly at the entrance to the ear canal, taking care to tilt the head from the side opposite the ear where the cone is inserted. The wider end is to be lit like a candle. The heat released by the combustion of the waxed cone softens the earwax, at the same time creating a depression inside the ear: in doing so, the earwax is sucked outwards.

However, the use of wax cones for ear cleaning is not very reliable: the "cleaning" mechanism of candles is not clear. The most important risk deriving from this treatment is that the wax residues are deposited directly in the external auditory canal or even on the tympanic membrane. The risk of burning the skin around the ear or burning the hair should also not be underestimated.

According to experts, ear cleaning can be done in a simple and effective manner using lukewarm water or spray products that facilitate the elimination of wax particles and scales produced by the ear canal. The removal of earwax plugs, however, is a procedure of medical competence for which it is necessary to consult a hearing specialist.

Can ear candling be bad for your ears?

ENT doctors warn that ear candling, despite proper use, can be dangerous for the user. Potential risks include burns to the face, pinna, ear canal, or middle ear. In addition to this, the hot candle wax can clog your ears or even injure your eardrums. Not to mention, the use of the ear candle can increase the risk of a potential fire. 

In these cases ear candles might be dangerous

Ear candles should be avoided if you have the following health conditions:

  • purulent inflammation in the ear
  • fungal infections in the ear
  • eardrum injuries 
  • acute ear pain

In these cases, we suggest you to go straight to an ear, nose and throat doctor and seek treatment.

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