Ear Candling Myths and Truths

I recently returned from a trip up to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I should mention that I also took an Amtrak train that whole way and engaged in some questionable body mechanics while trying to sleep on a train. The result? My ears were quite uncomfortable after returning to an altitude much closer to sea level. So what did I reach for when I got home?


I employed my husband in helping me with some ear candles and wouldn’t you believe it, the pressure was gone and I feel way better.

Ear Candles have gotten a bad rap and some of that is understandable when you look at the information out there. Even some of the things I was taught by well meaning instructors in massage school was complete quackery and unsafe. Now I am not one to throw the baby out with the bathwater and I do believe there is a benefit from having your ears candled either by or under the instruction of a trained practitioner. To dispel the confusion here are a few notes on ear candles:

What are ear candles? Ear candles or ear cones are made out of cotton soaked in either beeswax or paraffin that are wrapped into a cylinder. The narrow end of candle is inserted into a person’s ear and the opposite end is lit on fire. The candle is burnt 2/3 of the way and then removed and extinguished. When receiving an ear candling treatment at my clinic, a client also receives a facial/sinus massage.

Myth 1: Ear candles suck wax out of your ear, that’s what you see when you cut open the candle.
Reality: Ear Candles do not suck up the wax, the wax at the bottom of the candles is from the candle itself. Want to test it out? Light a candle and do not put it in your ear, extinguish it and there will be wax there, not from your ear. Ear candling does help with wax removal, just not in the sucking up way. The smoke and gentle heat of the candle help to loosen wax and debris and allow the body to rid itself of excess debris in your ear. You can help this process along after your treatment by using a scoop designed for the purpose of ear cleaning (not a cotton swab) and removing the excess wax.

Myth 2: A paper plate should be used as a barrier between the lit end of the candle and the client/patient
Reality: This is how I learned to candle ears in school and it never made sense to me to use a larger flammable object to protect you. In my treatments I use a special metal dish, you know, something that won’t light on fire, to catch any potential falling pieces of burnt candle. An attentive practitioner will also trim the excess candle as it burns to increase safety.

Myth 3: Ear candles don’t actually work
Reality: This argument comes from the other side of the fence. The reality is that ear candles do offer a benefit. As stated before the heat and smoke help warm and loosen wax and debris, allowing for their removal. Heat and smoke are also beneficial in relieving pain. My mother shared the anecdote that when she was a kid if you had an ear ache you were supposed to find a relative who smoked (and who didn’t back then…) to exhale smoke into your ear to relieve the pain. Ear candling gives you the benefit of this practice without the dangers of secondhand smoke! Candles help relieve pressure and can gently help your body readjust to changes in pressure from altitude. Finally I think they are a great remedy for swimmers ear as they help dry the ear canal.

So there you have it, a very long winded explanation of ear candling. I hope you have a greater understanding of some of the realities of ear candling and that if you find yourself in a situation where it will be beneficial that you give it a shot. A final word, I wouldn’t candle an ear with a perforated ear drum, the risk of doing more damage is just too high.

If you are interested in having your ears candled, feel free to schedule a session today. It is $20 and includes the cost of the candles as well as a relaxing face and sinus massage.