Ear candling, also called ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, is a folk medicine practice intended to assist the natural clearing of earwax (cerumen) and “toxins” from a person’s ear by means of a hollow candle placed in the ear. It involves lighting one end of the hollow candle, and placing the other end in the ear canal. Some proponents claim that the supposedly resulting vacuum can clean out the ear, but mainstream opinion rejects this idea as there is no evidence to support it. Many clients still feel this practice is beneficial to their auricular and overall health.
One end of a cylinder or cone of waxed cloth is lit, and the other placed into the subject’s ear. Usually the subject is lying on one side with the treated ear uppermost and the candle vertical, perhaps stuck through a paper plate or aluminium pie tin to protect against any hot wax or ash falling down the side. The flame is extinguished approximately two inches from the body, sometimes using a dish of water.
An ear candling session can last up to 45 minutes, during which time a series of 1 or 2 ear candles may be burned for each ear. The experience is generally described as being unusual, but pleasant and relaxing. However, there is also the rare danger of burns or damage to the ear from hot wax or ash when candles without filters are used.
The Colon Therapists Network website says “You may hear some crackling and popping” and “you may feel some heat during the ear candling session.” It cautions that ear candling should not be practiced on people who have ear tubes (grommets), perforated ear drums, or artificial ear drums, and says ear candlers should use an otoscope to examine their client’s ears before and after the session.