First used by the ancient Greeks and revived by the American South West’s Hopi Indian tribe, ear candling can be used to draw out wax from the inner ear. Typically about 10 inches long, ear candles are hollow and are usually made from a mix of different natural substance, like beeswax or paraffin.
When used correctly, ear candling can be a secure and effective treatment for the build-up of earwax. However, for safety reasons, we recommend getting a friend to carry out the treatment for you. That way, you get to kick back and relax.
To effectively use an ear candle, lie down on your side and get a friend to place the ear candle just inside the ear canal. When they light the candle, this will create a gentle suction, caused by the combination of warm and cold air moving through the hollow centre, which draws out the wax and any other impurities from the inner ear.
Earwax, or cerumen if you want to get technical about it, is a waxy oil that’s naturally produced by our bodies.
Sometimes our bodies make more earwax than necessary, causing it to go hard and block the ear. This is called earwax build up can be mildly annoying at best, and can cause harm to the ear at worst. If you have a build-up of earwax, it’s important to never clean your ears with a cotton bud. Doing this can cause you to accidentally push the wax deeper, which can cause a blockage and harm the delicate inner ear.
Luckily, you can normally treat a build-up of earwax effectively at home. There are a range of home remedies – new and ancient – that are tipped to work, but we recommend using either ear drops or ear candles.
Ear drops are a safe and effective way to treat the build-up of earwax. Before using ear drops, wash your hands before shaking the bottle gently. Then lie on your side with the affected ear facing upward and put the correct amount of drops in your ear (this will be specified on the bottle). Wipe away any excess drops with a clean tissue and remain lying down in the same position for five minutes.
To pump the drops deeper, use slight pressure on the front of the ear.
Here at Holland & Barrett, we have a range of earwax cleaning solutions, including ear candles and ear drops. So have a browse and try one for yourself.
If you have any doubts about whether ear candling is suitable for you, you can check with the practitioner or alternatively with your GP.
Some people use Hopi ear candles to promote general ear health and to help with the removal of wax build-up in the ear. Labelled as an alternative to medicine, it is believed that the method originates from the Hopi Tribe from North America. This claim has been denied by the Hopi Tribal council and have asked for the association to cease.
Hopi ear candles should not be used if you have a perforated eardrum, a foreign object inside the ear canal or have had an ear infection in the last 6 weeks. Please consult a doctor before use.
You can perform the procedure yourself following instructions and directions provided with the product, or alternatively, you can go to a beautician or complementary therapist.
The procedure usually begins by the person laying on their side so that the Hopi ear candle can be inserted into the ear.
The Hopi ear candle is hollow, made of cotton or muslin cloth, and has been soaked in beeswax or paraffin. They can be scented too.
To prevent beeswax from falling into the ear or burning the skin, the candle can be pierced through something like a paper plate to protect your ear and face. It is important the instructions provided with the product are followed fully and carefully.