Ear candles are a topic for hot debate. But they’ve been used medicinally for centuries; so what’s the lowdown?
What are ear candles?
Ear candles are stick- or cone-shaped ‘candles’ made from beeswax and unbleached cotton cloths that have been impregnated with essential oils (our Flora Force Ear candles are infused with sage and tea tree oils). The candles typically burn for approximately 10 minutes.
What are ear candles used for?
Ear candling is a holistic way to treat earaches and other common ailments related to the ear. An ear candle is inserted into the affected ear and the tip is lit. The heat from the flame creates a stimulating, soothing and warming effect. A light suction action, or ‘chimney effect’, and the movement of the flame create a vibration of air in the ear candle, creating a feeling of warmth and relaxation.
The ear candle does not actually remove earwax, but may soften it to allow the body to get rid of it naturally. Ears usually feel less blocked after a candling session. If you are suffering with a mild ear infection, the effect of warm smoke in the ear canal may soothe the discomfort. The process has been described as ‘a therapeutic relaxation technique similar to acupressure, acupuncture and aromatherapy’.
How do I use ear candles?
Before you start, get your equipment ready. You’ll need the ear candles (one for each ear) and a paper disc or plate (Flora Force Ear Candles include these items), a lighter, a small bowl of water and a damp cotton-wool swab.
If using a fresh paper plate, cut a small cross shape in the centre. Ask your ‘patient’ to lie on one side in a comfortable position. Insert a candle through the cross in the paper disc or plate (the disc prevents any candle waste from dripping onto the patient). Carefully insert the narrow end of the candle into the ear canal. Do not force it but make sure it is securely placed in the canal. Ask your patient to hold the candle steady while you light the upper wide end. If any smoke leaks out around the base, adjust the candle carefully until it is properly inserted.
Allow the candle to burn down until 3–5 centimetres from the ear, then remove it and douse the flame in the bowl of water (do not blow the flame out). Use the moistened cotton-wool swab to wipe around the outer ear to remove any residue. Ear candles are generally used every few months.
NOTE: Do not use ear candles if you have recently had ear or nose surgery, have grommets, have a perforated or damaged eardrum, suffer bleeding or discharge from the ears, have a severe ear infection or have impacted wax. Never leave a patient unattended with a burning candle. Always consult your healthcare practitioner before embarking on a course of natural remedies.
When were ear candles first used?
No one knows exactly, but archaeological evidence indicates that ear candling was practised by many cultures around the world. One example was discovered in the tomb of the 7th-century Mayan king Pacal the Great. When King Pacal’s sarcophagus was uncovered in 1952 by Mexican archaeologist Alberto Ruz, it was found to contain the monarch’s skeletal remains covered with a death mask that clearly indicated that he had experienced ear candling.
Pros and cons of ear candling
The topic of ear candles and candling generates hot debate between devotees of the practice and people who place their faith in hard scientific evidence.
However, this ancient remedy clearly benefits its users. For example, the warmth generated by the candle can soften the wax, thereby enabling the body to get rid of it more easily in a natural way. The main benefit claimed by people who are regular users of ear candles is the release of stress, negative energy and anxiety that they experience. It all comes down to personal choice – the reasons people use ear candles are as varied as people themselves. Certainly, by far the majority of users enjoy the experience and happily recommend it to others.
Ear candles may also alleviate earache, sinus infections, sinusitis, vertigo caused by blocked ears and tinnitus (ringing or noises in the ears).