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.