December 29, 2012

Do Ear Candles Actually Remove Earwax? [video]

About once a week, I have a patient who presents to my clinic with a history of ear candling for earwax removal due to clogged ear sensation.

About once a month, I have a patient with ear canal and/or eardrum damage due to using an ear candle in an attempt to remove earwax.

I even have on occasion patients who I thoroughly remove earwax under the microscope, who than go home, perform an ear candle, and inform me of all the "earwax" that I missed.

Well... I've decided to make a video (see below) illustrating how ineffective ear candling is in removing earwax as well as how it could be even harmful. The other aspect of this educational video is to show how misleading ear candling is when it comes to earwax.

Please note that we are aware that the  "official" way to use an ear candling is small end down into the ear, but for this video, we have elected to use it the way most "lay" public would (small end up).

[SPOILER ALERT!!! A burning ear candle actually creates debris that looks like earwax. As such, an ear candle "works" whether it is in the ear or not.]

Ear candles: Efficacy and safety. Laryngoscope 106 (10): 1226–9.

Ear candling: Should general practitioners recommend it? Can Fam Physician 53 (12): 2121–2. PMC 2231549. PMID 18077749. 

Ear candles can be purchased on for you to "experiment" with.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.


Anonymous said...

It's extremely misleading to a study on something... But not use the product as intended. Who are these mentally disabled "laypeople" you speak of that are so stupid they would put the candle in upside down? This study completely invalidates any other medical opinion you might have silly "doctor"

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. My young son avoided going under anaesthetic to have ear wax removed. Instead I used ear candles (never upside down) and the wax that came out of his ears was definitely ear wax and large amounts. His ears cleaned up so well no surgery was needed.

Unknown said...

way to prove they don't work is to do it wrong on purpose?! the candling works by the venturi principle, the candles do melt and pull wax from the inside ear.... my first time I thought it must be the candle, but used 4 candles before it 'burnt clean' They may not work for everyone, but a candle pulled a small rock from my daughters ear, and has helped my hearing

Unknown said...

I have used ear candles for over 20 yrs. It has become an annual family holiday tradition! The pain & pressure I have had since I can remember as a little child was from chronic severe allergies (to everything) & build up. If I go years without candling I get dizzy & or suffer vertigo even. The 1st time my mom did 1 on me I was 14 & I had almost instant relief of symptoms & pain!! But, of course we didnt us them upside down!!

Duh! Dr you need the 'V' for a funnel shape to suck up like a vacuum. Its also key to use natural beeswax candles for best results & I no scents! Idk what I would do without ear candles to go to!! Fyi, "ear wax" is dark brown chunks not the white flakes seen from drying moisture or bacteria.

Anonymous said...

Exactly! Lol @ 'burnt smell' Ik right not gna lie burning ear wax doesnt smell good. Noone ever bought enough candles to do our grmas ears clean nor thought it was possible!! Hmmm, wonder if we can get an older person with a hearing aid to test. ;)

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