Articles, Blog

Ear Candling

August 14, 2019


It’s not always easy to tell when a home remedy
is really effective. Sometimes conditions resolve on their own, and we wrongly assume
the remedy worked. Sometimes our minds provide us with relief because we are expecting relief
to come. Sometimes the ritual around a home remedy has unintended effects that provide
some actual relief that have nothing to do with the home remedy. A good example of this challenge is in the
practice of ear candling. In ear candling, a hollow tube made of wax covered paper or
cloth is inserted into the ear, then lit on fire. The claim is that the gentle heat and
vacuum draws out ear wax, toxins and pathogens. That’s a specific claim that scientists can
test, and I’ll talk about the evidence in a minute. The claims about ear candling are based on
anecdotes, stories where someone feels better after ear candling; sinus headaches go away,
or ringing in the ears diminishes. If someone you know tells you about such an experience,
it can be very persuasive. Scientists, on the other hand, don’t put much emphasis on
these stories. Science is conducted with facts that can be objectively tested and verified. With that in mind, I want to review just what
we can objectively test and verify. 1. Ear candling does not produce a measurable
amount of vaccuum or pressure when inserted into a simulated ear. Scientists in Washington
state hooked a tympanometer, which measures very small pressure changes, to an artificial
type of ear used specifically to test ear safety. It has all the properties of a human
ear. No measurable pressure change occurred… and that’s not surprising. An open cone like
that used in ear candling can’t maintain a vacuum precisely because it is an open vessel. 2. The waxy substance inside an ear candle
contains no chemical traces of ear wax when used in patients’ ears. The composition of
this substance is 100% candle wax. People using these candles peel them apart and marvel
at the dark wax inside, but chemical analysis proves that this is 100% candle wax, darkened
by smoke products. People have made multiple videos here on YouTube showing that the dark
wax is present even when not inserted into an ear, but laboratory testing of candles
used according to directions in the ears of patients also contain no ear wax. 3. When people with ear wax impactions, big
balls of the stuff lodged in the middle ear, used ear candles, examinations of before and
after conditions show no change in the amount of ear wax present in the ear. All that was
shown was that candle wax was present inside the ear after candling. 4. The temperature of smoke and vapor produced
by ear candling in an ear analog is lower than that of body temperature, so there’s
no thermal effect from added heat. Scientists measured the air temperature from just below
the lit ear candle, 10 mm below to be precise, and found that it was 22 degrees Celsius,
or 71 degrees Farenheit, well below the temperature of the middle ear. This eliminates the possibility
that the candle is providing heat to the middle ear to liquefy wax. 5. There are no records of any Native American
tribe, including the Hopi, ever using ear candling as a therapy. Representatives of
the Hopi tribal group have stated clearly that this practice is not part of their traditional
practices. It’s simple to trace this claim to the Biosun website, where they claim that
a German writer in 1993 contacted a person he claimed to be the Hopi Elder and that he
confirmed ear candling to be traditional medicine. They freely admit that there are no other
written records of this practice. 6. Ear candling is not without risk. Let’s
explore this a little further. What are the potential harms: A. It’s clear that at least in some cases,
ear candles deposit candle wax into the middle ear and possibly inner ear. No matter how
herbal or all-natural these substances are, burning wax, and plant matter produces toxic
combustion products. B. In some cases, the inserting of the candle
or introduction of combustion products has produced permanent damage to hearing, including
ruptured ear drums. C. Depending on how the candle is used, it
can cause skin burns and injury to the face or ear. D. In multiple instances, ear candling resulted
in a dangerous fire that put human lives at jeopardy and destroyed property. With all the objective facts in hand, it’s
hard to explain why people keep putting burning wax next to their heads and hair. There’s
nothing we can verify with objective testing about the claims being made and in fact the
primary claims are clearly false when compared to lab results. Why do otherwise intelligent and reasonable
people still do this? It’s because there are still plenty of people who make claims that
they got better. I think it’s because our brains are not perfect reasoning engines.
We can’t entirely dismiss the stories we hear from friends, our own prior experiences. People
want to take control of their health. People want to feel they are making smart choices
and treating their bodies with respect. If you, like me, want to make smart health choices
that are based on the best evidence, I hope you’ll consider the facts discussed before
putting a lit candle in your ear… and if you want to help other people to make informed
decisions about their health, feel free to forward them this video, and share it on social
media. Good health to you, and thanks for watching.

98 Comments

  • Reply EdD5 February 28, 2015 at 2:11 am

    I use two at a time… as reading lights. I'm not an idiot.

  • Reply Atticus Blake February 28, 2015 at 2:15 am

    Jeez, my ear hurts! But, Rather than go to a real physician, I guess I'll just stick something in it and light it on fire. That's a great idea!

  • Reply gskibum February 28, 2015 at 2:26 am

    This serves as a great metaphor for the anti-vaccine movement.

  • Reply tim donald February 28, 2015 at 2:48 am

    That image of the dog and kid with the ear candle pisses me off to no end. Especially the dog since you see its being held in order to undergo this bullshit remedy.

  • Reply screaminmeani February 28, 2015 at 2:55 am

    thankyou for the great and informative video. I really appreciate proper debunking videos.

  • Reply Frankenstein077 February 28, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Wait, people actually do this?! This is an actual thing?! Just when I thought I had seen all the crazy in the world…

  • Reply NicosMind February 28, 2015 at 3:02 am

    I must admit that I love chicken soup when im sick, and it makes me feel better, but I know its all shit. And its really weird but even as a kid pain killers never worked on me. Ive always been objective no matter what ive done and taken, however when it comes to chicken soup, because of the warmth, taste and even ritual of it, I feel better just having it. So weird for me. Being an objective person instinctively, knowing the process, and able to learn, I still like chicken soup, especially chicken noodle soup when im sick.

  • Reply Jemase February 28, 2015 at 3:12 am

    When I was very young, I had warts all over my hands for several years. My parents were going to have the doctor take them off before school started because of the teasing the caused. My grandmother had me stay over night with her and did the potato thing, with a great deal of impressive serious ritual. I know now that the warts were caused by a virus and that the potato ritual had no affect other than on my mind. But the warts still left. They never came back. The mind is a powerful thing.

  • Reply EdwardHowton February 28, 2015 at 3:12 am

    Whenever I hear about some ridiculous "treatment" or diet intended to "remove toxins", I immediately call bullshit. It's just a word charlatans use to sound more sophisticated than "It like totes de-ups your badness, yo".

    The darkening wax is just stupid. Like those wooden bracelets meant to, you guessed it, "draw out toxins", because they turn black. Guess what? If you wear wooden jewelry on your bare skin, your sweat and dead skin is going to rub off into the grain. Grab a knife and scrape it off, you'll get a disgusting black putty-like residue and clean-scraped wood. Let me get this straight… you light a candle on fire, and then part of it goes black. Gee, I've never seen fire blacken anything before! I've never even heard of lamp black, which is a residue that appears over torches and candles and can even be visible in Bag End, because the decoration crew did a great job with detailing the set because that's an actual thing that happens with smoke and naked flames.

    Yes, toxins exist, sure, fine, but the claim that magic candles or wooden bracelets or holy water or eye of newt can "remove them" makes me want to smack the idiot saying it upside the head with a clue-by-four. Next they'll say it realigns your vibrations…

  • Reply HerkRants February 28, 2015 at 3:13 am

    What? I can't hear you: I've got a candle in my ear.

    Oh, wait – it's just a banana.

  • Reply Vaidas Šukaukas February 28, 2015 at 3:15 am

    This is just the kind of thing that makes me loose faith in humanity. 
    Luckily it's the first time i heard of such thing 🙂

  • Reply Pebkio Nomare February 28, 2015 at 3:33 am

    I was, and still am, skeptical about ear candling.  I don't think it cures shit… but I have done it before.  When I was younger and my mother was into the new-age homeopathy thing.  So I tried a bit of the wick, so to speak.  And to start this: I didn't get burned and there was no pain.

    I could've swore I felt it pull up air on occasion.  When it was done, my inner-ear felt different.  Some people probably would've said "I could hear sounds clearer" or some nonsense, but those people weren't paying much attention to what they could hear before.  I certainly couldn't hear better, it was just different.

    I think it had some physical effect, just nothing beneficial.

  • Reply prodigyat9 February 28, 2015 at 4:03 am

    I love how they lie down and stick the tube in nice a vertical so as much of the fire by-product can drop in their ear as possible.  It is too bad this procedure does not irreparably damage a persons germ cells.

  • Reply CNVideos February 28, 2015 at 4:08 am

    This is a long-standing scam, and I'm shocked the people these days still fall for it.

  • Reply Scott Stout II February 28, 2015 at 4:08 am

    I have heard fire calls because of ear candling sessions gone wrong.  You never know what you will hear on a scanner.

  • Reply Smaakjeks K February 28, 2015 at 4:10 am

    So, I paused the video and searched for compacted wax on youtube. Now all I see is nightmares.

  • Reply Fridge Fridge February 28, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Are there any medical benefits to ripping off my toenails? I need to know RIGHT NOW

  • Reply 8DX February 28, 2015 at 5:52 am

    I think it should be noted actual ear doctors will flush out/ remove actual wax plugs without a problem resulting in immediate improvements in hearing. And it takes 5 minutes and can be very pleasant (especially if you have a lot in of wax).

  • Reply Stringprodigy February 28, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Yeah, my ENT really recommended against it and suggested a nasal flush/rinse instead.

  • Reply James Ryan February 28, 2015 at 6:16 am

    I have never, ever, ever heard of this.

  • Reply neddy laddy February 28, 2015 at 6:41 am

    People put buring paper in their ear ?   No accouinting for taste. I suppose.

  • Reply Neville February 28, 2015 at 7:33 am

    People are dumb.

  • Reply Sockbat Replica February 28, 2015 at 7:42 am

    5:15 somebody did that to their poor dog?

  • Reply Sunhawk7ajj February 28, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Hehehehe I have never spent this long on the topic ear candle, half way though and I still cannot get myself to care at all. 

  • Reply uriituw February 28, 2015 at 8:43 am

    I don't understand the appeal of these alternative… things.

  • Reply GreatPirateSolomon February 28, 2015 at 8:48 am

    As someone who sometimes suffers from impacted ear wax, I had looked into this before.  It is indeed bunkum, and luckily I never did it, but always good to see someone getting the word out.

  • Reply John Garrison February 28, 2015 at 9:01 am

    great video.  I'd heard of ear candling as a way to remove wax, turns out it doesn't even do that.

  • Reply Toridan February 28, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Wait, people really do this? Anytime someone says the word "toxins" I just assume they're talking out of their ass.

  • Reply MasterGhostKnight February 28, 2015 at 11:12 am

    WTF? Is this a think. The first reaction anyone should have to this is.. lol a dumb-ass putting a candle in it's hear.

  • Reply ImpendingDeathProd February 28, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    People sticking burning stuff in their ears are idiots? Shocker!
    No, but seriously, sometimes I wonder whether people will do anything if they are promised it works…

  • Reply CoolHardLogic February 28, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    The Path to Woo:
    1) Take some blatantly stupid practice with no demonstrable effects
    2) Link it to a culture that few have heard of and play the "ancient wisdom" card
    3) Profit!
    [4) let the real health services pick up the tab when things go wrong]

  • Reply stiimuli February 28, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    More videos like this please!
    Not about ears but I mean sciency examinations of things people believe (even ones that turn out to be true!)

  • Reply otakujhp February 28, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    This has to be the craziest thing I've ever heard. I can't believe this is a thing.

  • Reply SIC66SIC66 February 28, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Is this an American thing? I never heard of this before.

  • Reply Brad Bourgeois February 28, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Wow! Is this really a thing? The things people do…

  • Reply GiacomodellaSvezia February 28, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    A not too strong jet of completely harmless lukewarm water in your ear can fix any problems with earwax, as any family doctor will tell you. What's this nonsense with candles or any other hazardous remedy??

  • Reply TomatoBreadOrgasm February 28, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I had never heard of this. People believe strange things.

  • Reply Paranor001 February 28, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Wonder if these idiots have tried candling their ass

  • Reply LifeInspector February 28, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Excellent video as always, Concordance.

  • Reply Niels B February 28, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    Oh man alternative "medicine" is stupid

  • Reply A. Random March 1, 2015 at 12:50 am

    The real problem here is that the ear candle is supposed to be inserted into the anus instead. Strange name for an anus candle, I'll admit.

  • Reply Red Kraken March 1, 2015 at 2:21 am

    I had never heard of this until now, and I'm traumatized by the countless videos of these people who claim to have 'patients'… (Poor them) who have benefited from this. It's insane.

  • Reply SiriusMined March 1, 2015 at 3:18 am

    Any time I hear them say "toxins", I assume they're a new age idiot

  • Reply Th'kaal March 1, 2015 at 3:19 am

    Transbiosalubriosis – The #1 cause of death on the planet.  It hurts everything.  It is fatal to plants, animals, protists, fungi, everything. 

  • Reply SiriusMined March 1, 2015 at 3:21 am

    I don't understand why they want to use candles.  Irrigation works pretty well; my doctor has done this to me twice when I've had a heavy buildup that was affecting my hearing.

  • Reply Nagual32 March 1, 2015 at 4:37 am

    thank you!

  • Reply The Roundy Family March 1, 2015 at 5:44 am

    A frightening thing, I actually had a doctor recommend using this technique (as opposed to having my ears flushed out by a professional using a tool specifically designed for the purpose.

  • Reply Maygayming March 1, 2015 at 6:04 am

    Wut? This is actually a thing? I mean you're not trolling I can see claims it works in the video suggestions ti the side. But wow people can be dumb. How? Why would someone try this in the first place? What logical reason could you have for putting a piece of burning paper covered in wax in your ear? Try this, get a heater that will fit in your ear that is carefully calibrated to something safe, maybe 38.5 Celsius to start, and rig it to stay in there somehow, maybe like a modified earbud or something with an open top, then stick your head beside a fan. But don't try that because it's stupid and pointless because while that may actually add a gentle vacuum and heat, it's doubtful that will actually do anything. But I knew this was bogus the second someone claimed it removes harmful toxins, what toxins? In your ear? Like pollution from bad air? Or the woo toxins that wooists use to make you think you need to do this even though there are no toxins to begin with. I can't believe anyone would actually or get anything out of it other than a burning gob of paper and wax in their ear and a burning head of hair.

  • Reply The Cake is not a Vlog March 1, 2015 at 6:48 am

    Why do people do it?

    Because people are morons

  • Reply LokyNoKey March 1, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    If someone says it's tradition then it means it's outdated.

  • Reply bjam89 March 1, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    ok so my guess from the title was candles made from ear wax

  • Reply kevinth66 March 1, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    … some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to feel their ears burn.

    Sorry, first thing that came to mind.

  • Reply andreashuber69 March 1, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    $0.5 @ChangeTip 

  • Reply Kevin Lyon March 2, 2015 at 5:16 am

    This is a thing?…..There is no hope for our species. 

  • Reply elbryan9 March 2, 2015 at 5:31 am

    I remember falling for this. I was a little kid at the time our local chiropractor introduced us to this. I remember being so surprised when he opened it up and seeing all that "ear wax" it had cleaned out. Amazing how much I used to believe was true only to find out it was complete BS…

  • Reply Kilgore Trout March 2, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Not one day passes without me learning about some new stupid bullshit people do I had never heard of.

  • Reply SmallFries01 March 2, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    I've never heard of this. WTF is this lol? people are fucked, maybe they should give themselves candles enemas. I hear it cures colon cancer. 😛

  • Reply managarm1349 March 2, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    yea or maybe, i don´t know, just fucking maybe, one could go ahead and….and….aaah i´m not sure…
    WASH YOUR FUCKING EARS

  • Reply managarm1349 March 2, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    "it´s hard to explain why people do this…"
    lol yea it´s really a fucking mystery isn´t it. people are fucking retarded. there, mystery solved

  • Reply ColegaBill March 2, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    I wonder just how many cases possibly ended with an involvement of a local fire department.

  • Reply Redmoonblade March 2, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    To be fair. Mental engineering can reduce the pain of a burn. While I think ear candling is horrendously stupid and makes me want to hit people. If you have the mental strength you can create your own placebo effect. But you should probably go to a real fucking doctor either way. You cant heal things like appendicitis or high energy organ rupture with your mind. 

  • Reply Ryan Morton March 2, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    I thought this was a joke at first but people actually buy into this. I thought it should go without saying that you shouldn't stick lit candles in your fucking ears. 

  • Reply Donnie March 3, 2015 at 1:34 am

    What the actual f**k? When I first read the title I thought it was some sort of a joke. What kind of retards would recommend such practices?

    Inserting any foreign object into a healthy ear will only do damage. If it's not healthy, only the doctor, who can see what he's doing, is able to cause any remedy by interfering with the ear canal.

  • Reply Paul T Sjordal March 3, 2015 at 1:39 am

    Alternative medicine is just modern snake oil.

  • Reply ValugaTheLord March 3, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Wait, you put the candle up right? This shit aint make no sense yo, ear wax cannot escape upwards even if this did work.

  • Reply Dan D March 4, 2015 at 4:05 am

    I think we should program an HTML alternative medicine fad generator. Body part + new-age-friendly or alt-med object turned into a verb.

    Nose crystalling
    Toe oiling
    Eye waxing
    etc

    It all rotates your chakras.

  • Reply arch angel March 5, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    thanks for the video I was curious on how effective these were.

  • Reply strelokblyat March 8, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Its an amazing myth that has fooled so many people

    Water ear syringing all the way > this pathetic method

  • Reply Mister Bearpunch March 8, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Who does this? I've never heard of this until today.

  • Reply IDisnotscience March 16, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Nothing bigger than your elbow people.  Come on now.

  • Reply Jeff Rey March 19, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Just when you think newagers can't get any loonier…

  • Reply Paul TheSkeptic March 22, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Besides, it's just gross.

  • Reply Dr Shaym April 3, 2015 at 6:13 am

    This is the first time I've ever heard of this, but I didn't need a six-minute video to know that sticking a burning paper tube in your ear is a stupid idea.

  • Reply Ett Gammalt Bergtroll April 7, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Whenever an "alternative" treatment talks about "cleansing" and "toxins" you know it is woo-woo.

  • Reply luke lee April 28, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    I got to 0:40 and thought to myself "Oh that seems kind of stupid."

  • Reply Andrei Sopon May 3, 2015 at 4:02 am

    Brain has no…chance must..subscribe,,,,

  • Reply Germfree Cat May 3, 2015 at 11:03 am

    I use fireworks to unblock my ears and I cut my hair with a chainsaw

  • Reply gimmethedetails May 4, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    How bout a video comparing "ruptured eardrums from forcing solution into someones ear" by physicians to "ruptured eardrums" from ear candling.

    Best way to clean your ears is to put a cloth into one ear and pull it out the other and then pull back and forth. ffs

    This guy is a genius he uses terms like "combustible products" LOL.

  • Reply alexthebassist23 May 5, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    I used to get my ears candled at the barbers, they did it a bit differently though, light an ethanol soaked cotton bud on a stick and shake it around, splattering the ear, it burns all of the ear hairs out a treat!

  • Reply Dave Pothier May 21, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Bravo! This is a really great summary of the science. As an ear surgeon I can personally attest to the nasty injuries that can be caused by ear candling. These 'devices' are illegal in many countries when sold as a health product (complimentary or otherwise) an must, according to law, be sold as 'recreational' a product.

    I have nothing against 'complimentary medicine' as long as it is not going to cause further problems (as well as not being likely to help with the original one); ear candles certainly don't help and often hurt.

    Just a small aside, candling can only deposit wax into the middle ear if there is already a hole in the ear drum or if the candling itself causes a hole. Otherwise it will only deposit in the ear canal, technically still part of the 'outer' ear. It is not possible for wax to get to the inner ear which lies behind a bony wall beyond the limits of the middle ear.

    Another great video – many thanks.

  • Reply Joseph Hall May 25, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I remember having this done when I was fairly young. Myself, my brother and a friend had it done.

  • Reply IThinkWithMy Dick May 30, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Is ear candling anything like ear sex?

  • Reply IThinkWithMy Dick May 30, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Why has nobody suggested a stick of dynamite in place of a candle to these people?

  • Reply phoenixshade3 June 7, 2015 at 5:45 am

    I've seen this video popping up in my subscriptions for months now, and finally gave it a watch. Like many commentators here, I didn't think this was an actual practice. It looked like typical troll-bait born in the bowels of 4chan, like toothpasting or fingerboxes.

    I guess one should never underestimate the shepherding abilities of woo-peddlers. The garbage people can be convinced to spend their money on never ceases to amaze me.

  • Reply Jeff Sherman June 8, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Well, I've had fluid in my ear for three weeks, and doctor-prescribed antibiotics are not working.

  • Reply Edward256 June 17, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Some people are easy to convince. The power of suggestion can make people believe, and in the end it is called placebo. However, those times when there is a messurable change, some doctors tend to dismiss it. Like linseed oil curing cancer. Can't have been cancer in the first place, despite them getting cancer results 3 times over, and then gone in a matter of months.

  • Reply Edmund Geswein June 18, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    I think I'll stick to peroxide.

  • Reply Pac0 Master June 27, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Basically, many of these pseudo science miracle cure rely on a Placebo right?

  • Reply snakeguy76 July 5, 2015 at 11:49 am

    When I saw the title of this video and heard the opening remarks I honestly thought you were jokingly making up some home remedy to then discuss something else.  But no.  You went 6 minutes on this.  Bravo my friend, Bra-vo.

    I have enjoyed many of your videos over the ears- I mean years.  I am curious why my YT account do not alert me to these recent posts.

  • Reply James Scheibel July 7, 2015 at 12:24 am

    people also have a tough time admitting they were wrong.

  • Reply TheCoolb0y October 8, 2015 at 3:43 am

    But it made me feel nice

  • Reply Visual_Vexing April 8, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Another thing people make up to purposefully look silly.

  • Reply awesomegreenlantern June 6, 2016 at 7:09 am

    I licked a car and got the flu. Therefore licking cars can make you sick.

  • Reply Middle Hammer September 19, 2016 at 6:28 am

    In before synthetic ear testing apparatus aren't good science because they have no life force.

  • Reply soverysleepy September 27, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    cool, now debunk bum candling 🙂

  • Reply Ryan March 20, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    complete lies….100%%%%%%%%%%%%%…..I removed like a BONE FROM A DINOSAUR IN MY EAR…this is funded by money from studies…duh people….try it…if youll try a big mac…try an ear candle…

  • Reply zxcvbnm103 November 28, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    Now make a video about "sounding".

  • Reply Big Mood October 6, 2018 at 7:32 am

    I assumed this would be a video about candles made out of ear wax. I would have preferred that.

  • Leave a Reply