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Crono
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Has anyone heard of this? Basically, it involves putting a small candle in your ear and burning it. It's supposed to create a vacuum that removes earwax and other "impurities" from the ear. Some people use it just to clean their ears, claiming that it's safer than using a Q-tip. Other people claim that it can do things like clear sinuses and improve hearing.

A friend of mine was thinking of having it done, but she found an article on a site called Quackwatch that criticizes it. Another friend of mine has done it, and he swears by it. I'm not sure how reliable Quackwatch is, but at first glace, it seems like a reputable site.

I have heard of ear candling before, but not many people seem to take it seriously. I'm pretty skeptical of it. The basic premise doesn't make sense. Burning a candle doesn't create a vacuum as far as I can tell. Even if it did, the only thing it could remove is earwax from the outer ear (there's no way it could do anything to sinuses since the ear isn't connected to the sinus cavity). On top of that, I've heard that in spite of the disgusting associations we have with it, earwax is actually a good thing to have because it keeps the ears clean.

What have any of you heard about this procedure? Is there any evidence at all that supports ear candling?

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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Ear candling doesn't work. The glop that it "draws out of the ear" is actually just wax from the candle itself. Here's Uncle Cecil's take on it at The Straight Dope site.

Anecdotally, a friend of mine was into this for a while, claiming it cleared his sinuses (by drawing mucus straight through his eardrum?), but he wound up with a nasty burn on his eardrum--and his otic specialist told him he was an idiot for trying it in the first place. I think selling or promoting ear candles is actually a violation of the law in Canada. Quackery, plain and simple.

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Gale
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Yep, I've heard of it. Creeps me out.

I tend to agree with Health Canada.
[URL=Canadian site]http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/iyh/medical/candling.html[/URL]

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Rhiandmoi
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I am always worried that someone is going to catch their hair on fire trying to do it.

My ENT told me to put a couple of drops of mineral oil in my ear and then lay on that side on a towel so the wax would come out. I have a huge problem with allergies. When I was little my mom would practially do surgery on my ears to get the wax out. But I can't do that to myself since I can't see inside my own ear, and I don't have the time or the money to go to the ENT all the time to get them flushed out.
As for sinuses, as I mentioned earlier, I have a huge problem with allergies, so I also have a sinus wash. I only started doing that this year, but it seems to work.

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guruwan2b
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My daughter has a excessive ear wax problem. I just buy the OTC ear wax cleaners and use them. I try to use them after she has taken a bath. The steam and water softens the wax. Then I put the drops in one ear and have her lay with that ear up. After about 5 minutes she can roll over and let that one drain on a towel and I put the drops in the other ear. Then drain that one.

Some ear wax cleaners also have a syringe that you can use to gently wash the ear wax out.

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LibrarianJen
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I agree with what everyone has said; ear candling is definitley not a good idea.

Plus, in addition to being medically unsafe, you could discover that you've been implanted by aliens!! [lol]

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Bored and Dangerous
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Actually, Crono, the sinuses are connected to the ears...indirectly. That's why if you hold your nose shut and swallow, your ears can pop. And heaven knows I've had enough fluid from my sinuses drain into my ears over the years.

That being said, ear candling is really stupid.

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TB Tabby
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I read about ear candling in a Bathroom Reader article called "Modern Quackery." They also mentioned fresh-cell therapy, colonic irrigation, faith surgery, and trepanation.

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Crono
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Bored and Dangerous:
Actually, Crono, the sinuses are connected to the ears...indirectly. That's why if you hold your nose shut and swallow, your ears can pop. And heaven knows I've had enough fluid from my sinuses drain into my ears over the years.

Are you sure about that? I thought that the Eustachian tubes connected to the throat, not the sinuses. I know that fluid can build up in the ear, but I've never heard of that fluid as being drainage from the sinuses.

Although, in a sense, every part of the body is indirectly connected to every other part, so I wouldn't be that surprised to hear that sinus fluid could make its way into the ear.

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Unusual Elfin Lights
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quote:
Originally posted by TB Tabby:
I read about ear candling in a Bathroom Reader article called "Modern Quackery." They also mentioned fresh-cell therapy, colonic irrigation, faith surgery, and trepanation.

Ahh, man! There goes my weekend... [Roll Eyes]
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Bored and Dangerous
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quote:
Originally posted by Crono:
quote:
Originally posted by Bored and Dangerous:
Actually, Crono, the sinuses are connected to the ears...indirectly. That's why if you hold your nose shut and swallow, your ears can pop. And heaven knows I've had enough fluid from my sinuses drain into my ears over the years.

Are you sure about that? I thought that the Eustachian tubes connected to the throat, not the sinuses. I know that fluid can build up in the ear, but I've never heard of that fluid as being drainage from the sinuses.

Although, in a sense, every part of the body is indirectly connected to every other part, so I wouldn't be that surprised to hear that sinus fluid could make its way into the ear.

If not, then why do you go to the same doctor for ear, nose and throat problems? The sinuses are connected to the nose, which is connected to the throat, which is connected to the ears and nose via Eustachian tubes and other various apparatuses. Also why when young children get a horrible cold, they often get ear infections as well. (People with really nasty allergies can do this as well). I don't know if it's sinus fluid in and of itself, but it's definitely mucous.

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Gale
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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I've had a doctor look in my ears and diagnose a sinus infection before.
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chillas
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quote:
Originally posted by Gayle:
I've had a doctor look in my ears and diagnose a sinus infection before.

I don't even want to know how the doctor would diagnose a sore throat then! [Eek!]

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Crono
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Bored and Dangerous:
If not, then why do you go to the same doctor for ear, nose and throat problems? The sinuses are connected to the nose, which is connected to the throat, which is connected to the ears and nose via Eustachian tubes and other various apparatuses. Also why when young children get a horrible cold, they often get ear infections as well. (People with really nasty allergies can do this as well). I don't know if it's sinus fluid in and of itself, but it's definitely mucous.

Actually, I wasn't disagreeing with you. I know the ear is connected to the throat, I just didn't know how sinus fluid (or mucous, or whatever it is) could get into the ear. I think it makes a little more sense to me now.

Of course, it still seems like the consensus is that candling is a sham.

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FullMetal
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Well, as someone who's actually had his ears candled, I must say I'm not sure if it is necessarily a scam. the wax that came out was definately not the beeswax used in the candle. it was a lot harder, and darker in color. I have heard lots of things about how unsafe it is, how the wax that comes out is from the candle. while I agree that it is not the safest method of getting excess wax out of your ears, it seems to have worked for me.

plus the warmth in the ear is kind of soothing. as is hearing the flame and hearing the wind. very relaxing. never heard of it being used for sinuses or anything else like that, i had it done to get excess wax out, which it did, i could feel a hardened wax buildup on the side of the canal with a q-tip, the candling got that out. afterwards the buildup wasn't there.

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Auntie Witch
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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The Amish around here sell "ear candles". They look like rolled up tubes of some kind of paper with a light coating of some sort that taper on one end. The Amish lady I asked about them said that you put the narrow end in your ear and light the other end of the tube. These tubes are almost a foot long. She said if you see smoke, you don't have the candle inserted properly, and that the tube will act as a wick and pull the wax up into it. It's supposedly painless and harmless, and she says they have done it for ages.

Using an actual candle, I think, is a whole other process, and probably is b.s. The Amish swear by their tubes, and say you can see the wax on the tube when you're done.

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blucanary
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I've never heard anyone use an actual candle. An ear candle is a peice of linen soaked in beeswax and then rolled into a cone. I've had it done once. It did nothing to help my ears and I saw no evidence that anything came out. The inside was filled with and ashy waxy subtance but from what I could tell it was just coming from the candle itself and not my ear.

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Menolly
We Three Blings


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Um, I honestly thought this was going to be a thread about Shrek...

Menolly

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Unusual Elfin Lights
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My wife's cousin in Manitoba does ear candling for people. I asked her to do my fist.

I stuck the candle into the top of my fist, burned her down and got the same result as the one that came out of my wife's ear, plus a warm hand.

I did not know my fist had that much earwax on it. [Roll Eyes]

My wife's cousin warned me against spreading the word against candling, because she thinks it does wonders. Plus she charges $50 per shot. [Razz]

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Jay Tea
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Maybe it does do 'something' (other than remove fist-wax)?

I recall an interview with 2002 world dart champ Tony David - he was explaining how various home remedies helped the symptoms of his heamophilia that hampered his darting. He said he swore by the candles as they dramatically improved his balance at the oche - and from rank outsider to world champion in a year is some improvement. Maybe they don't extrude your ear-wax but maybe the Hopi Indians practised it for a less tangible reason?

On a related subject, my Old Boy was in Vietnam I think, and he said fellas on the pavements would sit you down and for a few pence dig around in your ears and pull out the crap like they've been doing for countless centuries. He said the difference in his hearing was immediately noticable, and as he had been working with fast jets for 20 years at the time he knew a thing or two about dodgy ears! [Wink]

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StewPot
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quote:
It's supposed to create a vacuum that removes earwax and other "impurities" from the ear.
Why not just use the hose attachment from a vacuum cleaner? No?

Seriously though, that's got to be one powerful "vacuum" to draw wax out of an ear. I doubt very much that the sides of the candling tube could hold up under that much pressure. So a vacuum cleaner would certainly create a much greater pressure difference, but I don't think even that much of a vacuum would draw out much wax.

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Casey, making hot chocolate
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I've tried using lit ear candles (the tube kind) to pick things up, as a way of testing the vacuum. Methinks something incapable of picking up a piece of paper doesn't have enough suction to clean an ear.

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Dark Canuck
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The best solutions I've found to earwax are:

A) very diluted hydrogen peroxide. Put it in your ear, let sit for 5 minutes, and all grime is gone. If you quickly tip your head over, the earwax falls out too.

B) Pet medicine syringe Vs. ear. Fill the syringe with water, tilt head sideways, squirt straight up, and the wax it out.

That being said, I hate doing either of those. While earwax is nasty, it's there for a reason. I do one or the other every 6 months or so, to get rid of buildup, but I tend to find it a better idea to leave the stuff alone.

BTW: that "making hearing better" stuff is bunk. It only seems like your hearing is better because there isn't earwax distorting the sound.

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Jay Tea
The "Was on Sale" Song


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that "making hearing better" stuff is bunk. It only seems like your hearing is better because there isn't earwax distorting the sound.


Thusly, it isn't 'bunk' - by removing built up wax your hearing improves - you stated it yourself amusingly in the same sentence you were denying it. Logic owns you [Wink]

...nobody was suggesting removing wax somehow improves your brain's ability to interpret sound waves, it just improves the quality of those signals, as you state yourself...

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Sara at home
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I have heard of a variation on this. A Native American friend told me of putting a lit match in a jar, placing the jar over the breast as a means of curing blocked nipples and mastitis in nursing mothers. The match burns up all the oxygen causing a vacumn which results in the blockage being sucked out. Quick, easy, and effective with no medication being added to the mother's -- and possibly baby's -- system. I never tried it but had no reason to doubt her. Said it worked for her sister....

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Wizard of Yendor
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
I have heard of a variation on this. A Native American friend told me of putting a lit match in a jar, placing the jar over the breast as a means of curing blocked nipples and mastitis in nursing mothers. The match burns up all the oxygen causing a vacumn which results in the blockage being sucked out. Quick, easy, and effective with no medication being added to the mother's -- and possibly baby's -- system. I never tried it but had no reason to doubt her. Said it worked for her sister....

That's a very common science experiment, except you normally used a bowl of water instead of a breast. [Smile] However, I believe that is the wrong explanation how it works (despite showing up in a number of kid's science books). The oxygen is replaced by carbon dioxide, so no vacuum there. The vacuum is created because when the fire goes out the air cools and shrinks. Of course that doesn't apply to an ear candle, which is open at both ends.
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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Wizard of Yendor:
That's a very common science experiment, except you normally used a bowl of water instead of a breast. [Smile] However, I believe that is the wrong explanation how it works (despite showing up in a number of kid's science books). The oxygen is replaced by carbon dioxide, so no vacuum there. The vacuum is created because when the fire goes out the air cools and shrinks. Of course that doesn't apply to an ear candle, which is open at both ends.

See what happens when you go to school, study, and get good grades? Never thought about it, just believed what they told me. And I guess I'm not getting a clear picture of what this ear candling thing looks like though I've heard about it all my life....

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DesertRat
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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At my wife's insistence, and against my better judgement, I shelled out the $$$ to do the "ear candling" thing. I was unimpressed... a waste of $60.

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Mistletoey Chloe
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*HOW* much????

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DesertRat
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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$25 for each of us (me and my wife) plus tip. It was at the local spa.

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High on the wind, the Highland drums begin to roll, and something from the past just comes and stares into my soul... --Mark Knopfler

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FullMetal
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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obviously ear candling is a case of "your milage may vary". yes there's a lot of that ashy stuff, that's most likely the burnt linen and beeswax. but that still doesn't explain the hard dark wax that I heard and felt come out of my ear. if it truly does absolutely nothing what was that wax? definately wasn't beeswax, nor parafin wax. I read the health canada thing on ear candling, they claimed it didn't give any significant warming of the ear in lab tests, well when I had it done it was quite warm in the ear.

so obviously it is a case of your milage may vary

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