Is It Really an Ear Candle?

Many people swear that ear waxing works, and if you’re trying to behave yourself and don’t use cotton swabs , this spa service might seem like a smart way to get rid of earwax from your ears. Unfortunately, these claims are too good to be true.

It works?

The main idea behind translucent ears is that a candle shaped like a tube creates a vacuum and sucks the wax out of the ears. (Some practitioners claim other benefits that are, shall we say, contrived. Here we will focus on more believable things.)

But a 1996 study found that if you stick an ear candle into a model ear that can measure pressure, there is no vacuum. HM.

The study also tested the waxy dirt that accumulates at the bottom of the candle. If the technique is working properly, it should mostly be earwax. But chemical analysis showed it was … candle wax. Meanwhile, people whose ears were pinched did not lose earwax after that.

In short, it does not work. A 2006 review concluded that “there is no evidence to suggest that it is effective in any disease.”

What are the risks?

Okay, so it doesn’t work. But is it harmful? Unfortunately, this is possible.

Candle burns are not unusual, as you might expect. You have a flame very close to your hair, and if the practitioner does not hold it (or if he sticks it in place and then falls), you could burn yourself.

But even when everything works as intended, candles can add earwax to your ears. Remember that there is no suction here, so the wax is more likely to sink down than up. There are many examples of how people got into their ears with candle wax after the ear was translucent; here is one .

The FDA has also warned against this practice. They say, “Over the past decade, the FDA has received reports of burns, eardrum punctures and blockages in the ear canal that required outpatient surgery due to the use of ear suppositories.”

Bottom line

Translucent ears do not remove earwax and can actually add wax to the ears (not to mention the possibility of burns). The American Academy of Audiology calls this practice “ineffective and dangerous,” so it is probably best avoided.


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