Ear candling is a process in which a hollowed out candle is inserted into the ear canal; the wick, which faces away from the ear, is then lit. It may also be referred to as ear coning and thermal-auricular therapy. Theoretically, the heat generated by the candle helps to soften ear wax, which is then drawn from the ear into the cavity in the center of the candle. Proponents believe that the benefits of ear candling are numerous; they state that it may be able to relieve clogged ears and sinus pressure, clean the ears, and improve the ability to hear. Numerous doctors state that this is not the case, however, and that the potential benefits of ear candling are fabricated.
The theory behind the benefits of ear candling is relatively simple. Practitioners believe that the heat from the candle helps to soften and loosen the ear wax that may be clogging the ears, and that it helps to create a vacuum effect that then pulls the wax into the hollow center of the candle. For people who suffer from clogged ears, and find that they experience tinnitus or difficulty hearing because of this, it seems to be a simple solution to relieve this annoying pressure.
Other people cite that simple cleansing of the ears as one of the benefits of ear candling. Many people suffering from persistent sinus pain or pressure will attempt ear candling as a way to resolve this issue and prevent future problems. Some practitioners also state that ear candling improves overall health by balancing the lymphatic system, or even helping to align the chakras. Doctors often question these cited benefits of ear candling, however, and frequently state that theory behind the practice is contradictory to the laws of physics; some even claim that ear candling could potentially be dangerous.
It is possible to cause burns to the face or ear due to the hot wax, and if the wax melts, it could potentially become stuck in the ear canal, having an effect opposite to that intended. In some cases, it may even be possible to cause damage to the ear drum. Even if these dangers rarely occur, medical practitioners will often assert that the benefits of ear candling are not real, and that the candles are not capable of creating a vacuum with enough pressure to actually extract wax from the ear canal, claiming that much pressure would actually damage the ear drum. The visible "debris" found in the hollow candle after removing it from the ear may have just come from the candle itself. For those seeking the benefits of ear candling, it is important to do sufficient research, and to be careful if attempting this practice.