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Dept of Daft: Ear candling

April 4, 2009 Reviewed by Marta 5 Comments
When I first heard about ear candling, it struck me as so silly as to be preposterous and then I never gave it another thought. Until the other day, that is, when I heard that it was one of the most popular and fastest-growing spa treatments. Get away!

For those of you who don't much about it, I am going to risk the ire of its proponents by giving you my take on it. The basic proposition, let alone the actual method, is daft. The idea is that a wax candle placed over the ear will magically draw wax and toxins. Now, I get that there's a kind of appealing symmetry of wax to wax - like ashes to ashes and dust to dust - but surely no one really believes that candles pull out ear wax by "creating a low-level vacuum". The kind of negative pressure required to make that work would probably blow your eardrum.

Even if you buy into the concept, the method is a bit dodgy. It requires one candle (not any old candle but one that has been soaked in cleansing herbs and bought for the occassion for as much as ten bucks) per ear and a plate to prevent dripping candle wax from setting up home with your ear wax. Despite the precautionary plate, wax attacks do happen and there any numerous instances of people turning up at emergency wards, their ears literally burning.

Ear candlers like to show the results of the process in the form of debris that has been sucked out and collected in the candle. Debunkers, such as Health Canada, have gone to some lengths to demostrate that this gunk is regular candle gunk.

Meanwhile, the Hopi tribe (clearly sensible and brand-aware folks) are trying to get their name cleared since one ear candle manufacturer named its candles after them. Sellers of Hopi Candles' claim that ear candling is an ancient art that was practiced by Hopi shamen in the days of yore. I think the Hopi should relax, after all everyone knows that ear candling was handed down over the centuries from the lost city of Atlantis.
  • December 7, 2012

    by Michelle

    I bet you don't post that!

  • December 7, 2012

    by Michelle

    I had a really bad ear condition last year which meant I couldn't hear much at all, as a teacher this was disastrous for me so when someone told me about ear candling I thought hey why not. Now you aren't going to get a horror story out of me because it totally worked for me. The guy knew exactly what he was doing, got a good seal (like so many don't) and the candle was FULL of ear wax. Now I don't mean bits of candle wax... I mean TOTALLY full. After the candle it cleared for a while then glued up again and we did this every other day for 4 candles, after the 4th candle there was not as much ear wax and the problem completely dissapeared. No one can tell me that incompetent practitioners who are inadequately trained prove anything. You can say that about any treatment. I have now trained as a therapist with the same person who treated me and we covered all the safety rules and how to do it properly. Training via a DVD or just having a go to prove something is just giving yourself a treatment that you are not trained to do. Would you perform a deep tissue massage if you hadn't been trained? Well maybe YOU would!!

  • October 21, 2011

    by spo

    Victoria is right, consult a medical professional for ear wax removal. As an ER nurse, I can absolutely say that this is dangerous and totally without any benefit. We treated a woman who came in with 3rd degree burns to her outer ear and face after trying this!!!

  • October 20, 2011

    by hillary

    For a long time i thought that ear candling worked by pulling out wax and toxins from the ear. I later found that when you burn the candle without placing it in the ear, you still get debris. The debris is from the ear candle itself not from the ear. Supposedly they're used, not to pull stuff out of the ear but to assist in the drainage of ear wax...

  • April 4, 2009

    by Victoria

    Ladies please do not even consider this. I recently visited my ENT to have my ears professional cleaned - its a very simple process. The Dr simply uses sterilized super long tweezer like tools with magnifying glasses and gently removes any and all wax. Took about 5 minutes. Please consider calling your ENT (Ears/Nose/Throat) specialist before putting ANYTHING in your ears.

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