Ear candling, also called ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, is an alternative medicine practice claimed to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal. Candling sessions can be found in spas and wellness centers.
One end of a cylinder or cone of waxed cloth is lit, and the other placed into the subject's ear. The flame is cut back occasionally with scissors and extinguished between two and four inches from the subject.
The subject is lying on one side with the treated ear uppermost and the candle vertical. The candle can be stuck through a paper plate or aluminum pie tin to protect against any hot wax or ash falling onto the subject. Another way to perform ear candling involves the subject lying face up with the ear candle extending out to the side with a 45 degree upward slant. A dish of water is placed next to the subject under the ear candle.
Proponents claim that the flame creates negative pressure, drawing wax and debris out of the ear canal, which appears as a dark residue.
An ear candling session can last from 15 minutes to 45 minutes, during which time a series of one or two ear candles may be burned for each ear.
Is Ear Candling Necessary?
Ear wax has a protective role. It cleans and lubricates the ear, and can protect the ear canal from bacteria and fungus. The ear has a self-cleaning system that naturally removes ear wax. Most people do not require additional cleaning. However, a breakdown in this self-cleaning system can cause a condition known as cerumen impaction.
Cerumen impaction affects about 6% of the population and can cause reversible hearing loss, dizziness, and ringing in the ears.
Ear candling should not be done to people who have ear tubes, perforated ear drums, or artificial ear drums. Ear candlers will use an otoscope to examine their client's ears before and after the session.