Ear candle in use

Source: Flickr.

Ear candles are a form of alternative medicine that are supposed to improve your general health by helping you control high levels of ear wax and internal toxins. Sometimes referred to as “ear coning” or TA (thermal auricular) therapy, it is performed by placing a hollow candle in the ear canal and then lighting it. Numerous research studies on this practice have proven that is does not remove earwax or any toxin build-ups.

Claims that it purifies the blood or can cure cancer are also false. Most of the time the only thing that comes out of the ear from an ear candle is the wax from the candle instead of wax from the ear. This makes it a dangerous and mostly useless practice.

So how do you safely and effectively control an earwax problem? We’ve put together some alternatives to ear candles that actually work. Consider giving these options a try: 

  1. Use an ear irrigation device. The problem with many ear cleansing products is that they require you to at least partially insert the device into the ear canal and this increases the risk of an injury occurring. With an ear irrigation device that stays outside of the ear canal, you can place warm water or cleaning fluid into the ear, have it flush out the wax with a natural drain, and do so without changing the pressure inside of your head. 
  1. Use a heating pad. Earwax is described as wax because it replicates what real wax can do. When it gets cold, it will begin to harden. When it gets warm, it begins to soften. It may even turn into a liquid state if it gets warm enough. If you’re struggling to get the earwax out of your ear, then consider lying with your affected ear on a heating pad for 15-30 minutes. Then just remove the offending wax with your preferred method. 
  1. Take a hot, steamy shower. The heat from the hot water will replicate the effects of a heating pad on your affected ear. The mist from the shower has the added benefit of helping to cleanse the ear canal from the excess wax that may be bothering you. Be careful not to use a wet finger to clear out the wax unless it has come outside of your ear. Let the wax drain naturally. Even large blockages will soften with a long enough shower, so have a seat, enjoy the warm spray, and relax for awhile. If you have a sauna, you’ll receive a similar experience.
  1. Use a hydrogen peroxide wash. You’ll want to use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to clean out your earwax. Some over-the-counter products are at this concentration level already. Use an ear dropper to place the hydrogen peroxide into the ear canal. Lie down and let the hydrogen peroxide soften the earwax – this may take 15-20 minutes. Then rinse out the ear with warm water by gently using a bulb sprayer. Repeat as necessary. Any cuts or inflammation inside the ear canal will become irritated by this procedure, however, so use caution. 
  1. Warm mineral oil also works. If you don’t like the idea of putting hydrogen peroxide into your ear canals, then consider using mineral oil. Follow the same steps, including a 15 minute resting period so that the mineral oil can soften up the earwax. The benefit of this method is that you don’t need to rinse out your ears afterward. When you flip over to add mineral oil to your other ear for another waiting period, the ear you’ve treated will have the wax just drain out of it. 
  1. What should I do if I have a stubborn wax blockage? Sometimes the only option you have available to you for removing stubborn earwax is a visit to the doctor. They can use a method, which involves an ear syringe to cut away stubborn chunks of earwax and then remove those cut-off chunks with a pair of medical tweezers. This method should not be tried at home due to the risks of damage occurring to the ear drum or ear canal. For those experiencing hearing changes or equilibrium issues due to their earwax, however, this method is highly efficient and will get the job done. 

Ear candles are simply not safe. They encourage more debris to enter into the ear canal. Stuffing a candle into your ear actually compacts your earwax and can create more problems instead of solving them. Don’t waste your money on ear candles even if you see a convincing argument to use this method. It just doesn’t work. 

Invest in these alternatives instead. Then protect your hearing adequately and you’ll have healthy ears for years to come.