How To Properly Use An Ear Wax Candle

Earwax protects the ear canal and eardrum by acting as a lubricant and an antibacterial agent. According to the Cleveland Clinic, ears usually clean themselves by pushing the old wax out as it makes new wax from dead hair and skin cells. As new wax forms, the old stuff flakes off outside of the ear canal. Sometimes, however, earwax can build up and cause problems. 

If earwax buildup is causing discomfort or muffled hearing, you may want to try ear candling. While this treatment has not been proven to remove earwax or cure any condition, fans of the practice tout its therapeutic properties (per The New York Times Magazine). If you want to try it, it's important to know how to properly use an ear wax candle. 

The origin of ear candles is unclear. Some modern practitioners claim the practice of ear candling came from ancient China, Tibet, Egypt, the Hopi tribe of Native Americans, and even the mythical city of Atlantis (via Hearing Health and Technology Matters). However, there is no evidence that ancient cultures used ear candles to address ear problems or remove wax. Many modern institutions, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, warn that ear candling is not safe or effective and that using them may cause serious injuries. Still, according to Orange County Physicians' Hearing Services, some naturopathic and homeopathic practitioners believe ear candling works to solve several ear and hearing-related issues linked to excess cerumen.

Using ear wax candles safely

If you try ear wax candling at home, you should be aware of the risks. Healthline states ear candles are made of fabric soaked in wax rolled into a long tube. The rim at the top of the candle is lit directly. Burns may occur if ash falls off the candle into the ear canal. Melted wax can drip into the ear canal, causing blockages and permanent hearing loss, as described in a 2007 study published in Canadian Family Physician.

Set a glass of water within easy reach to put the candle out. WebMD recommends cutting a hole in the center of a paper plate to fit around the candle's base. Use scissors to cut off excess ash as the candle burns down. For the safest experience, have another person light and tend to the ear candle throughout the session.

Laurence Layne of the Healing Waters Clinic & Herb Shop says the receiver should lay on their side in a comfortable position. Place a small towel or cloth across the side of the face and neck for protection, and then position the candle and plate above the ear. Gently insert the pointed end of the candle inside the ear, keeping it upright. Light the top of the candle and burn for 10 to 15 minutes, trimming ash as it builds up. Remove the candle when three to four inches remain and extinguish it with water. As always, consult your doctor before attempting any at-home treatments.