Don’t get burned by ear candle claims

Recently we were at a local health food store and spotted some strange-looking cones sitting next to the cash register. What are those?, we asked. “Ear candles,” the clerk said with a shrug. “People put one end in their ear and light the other end on fire.”

Heat from the flame supposedly pulls air up from the bottom of the narrow end, which is inside your ear. The heat and suction removes wax. You can find YouTube videos that show the accumulation of wax at the bottom of the candle.

There’s one problem, however. They don’t work. The accumulation at the bottom of the candle is candle wax, not ear wax. This video shows what is accumulated by burning the candle over an empty glass. That is definitely not ear wax.

And according to the FDA, ear candles are indeed dangerous.

“FDA has received reports of burns, perforated eardrums and blockage of the ear canal which required outpatient surgery from the use of ear candles,” according to the FDA website.