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Are Ear Candles Legit?

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i61164

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Ear Candles are cones made of cloth and wax. You place the small end in the ear and light the other end. The flame supposedly forces smoke into your ear, which softens your earwax. Also, the flame creates a negative pressure, which sucks the wax out of your ear into the cone. I have used them a couple of times and they seemed to work. However, I was browsing the Internet and came across a web site that claims that they are a scam. According to the site, the "ear wax" that you find in the cone is wax from the ear candle itself, not from your ear.

What do you guys think?

Have any of you had your ears irrigated before by a doctor? I haven't, but I saw it being done. They squirt warm water in your ear and pull out chunks of wax. I have heard stories of very large amounts of wax being removed. Supposedly, people get a lot of wax build up by using Q-tips to clean their ears. Apparently you will inadvertently push some wax further into your ear when you use Q-tips. Many of you probably still use Q-tips on your ears even though you know better. Admit it! Anyway, when you get a lot of wax build up you can get an earache and apparently it feels pretty good to get that wax removed.

If ear candles are legit, you can save yourself an $85 visit to the doctor.

I just ordered 5 pair off the Internet and I am going to do an experiment. I will construct a fake ear out of play dough and then burn the ear candle using the fake ear. If the wax appears in the candle, I will know it's a scam. This will be my first research project. Do you guys think that I can get published?

Do any of you experienced researchers have some advice?
 

Gimlet

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Wow...it sounds like you have really thought about this a lot. I will assume you are being serious. The only comment that I have is that it would be virtually impossible to get published in a reputable peer-reviewed journal by doing a science experiment at home. Most researchers would probably view this endeavor as akin to trying to publish the results of a vinegar and baking soda volcano that you made for a science fair.

I use Q-tips after I shower, and I haven't felt a need to have my earwax removed. I often have to wear earplugs at work, so I figure the Q-tips couldn't be hurting me any more than the plugs already do. Anyway, let us know what the ear candles feel like, I would be interested to hear what happens with your little experiment whether it gets published or not.

[Edit: Does it really sound like a good idea to have a lit flame next to your hair? Be careful!]


Ear Candles are cones made of cloth and wax. You place the small end in the ear and light the other end. The flame supposedly forces smoke into your ear, which softens your earwax. Also, the flame creates a negative pressure, which sucks the wax out of your ear into the cone. I have used them a couple of times and they seemed to work. However, I was browsing the Internet and came across a web site that claims that they are a scam. According to the site, the "ear wax" that you find in the cone is wax from the ear candle itself, not from your ear.

What do you guys think?

Have any of you had your ears irrigated before by a doctor? I haven't, but I saw it being done. They squirt warm water in your ear and pull out chunks of wax. I have heard stories of very large amounts of wax being removed. Supposedly, people get a lot of wax build up by using Q-tips to clean their ears. Apparently you will inadvertently push some wax further into your ear when you use Q-tips. Many of you probably still use Q-tips on your ears even though you know better. Admit it! Anyway, when you get a lot of wax build up you can get an earache and apparently it feels pretty good to get that wax removed.

If ear candles are legit, you can save yourself an $85 visit to the doctor.

I just ordered 5 pair off the Internet and I am going to do an experiment. I will construct a fake ear out of play dough and then burn the ear candle using the fake ear. If the wax appears in the candle, I will know it's a scam. This will be my first research project. Do you guys think that I can get published?

Do any of you experienced researchers have some advice?
 

liverotcod

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I have had occasional problems with wax buildup and blockage since I quit smoking in 1999. I don't know if there's a relationship. The first time it reached a crisis, I had them cleaned by my PC doc. She suggested I use a bulb irrigator and warm water to keep them cleaned out. So now when I sense a big buildup, I hit the shower with the blue bulb. It usually takes maybe 50 blasts to get the chunk out. I've had pretty big'uns, almost the size of the last joint of my pinkie. Gross, huh? I'm sure not looking forward to cleaning out my patients' ears.

The candles are bunkum.
 

lightnk102

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my college roommate used these earwax drops. you drop them into your ears, and it supposedly liquifies your big chunks. and then you put a tissue by your ear, turn your head over, and let gravity do its work. the earwax drips out of your ears in liquid form. i can find the name of it from her if anyone's interested.
 

i61164

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I was kidding about getting published, but I am serious about this experiment. When I used ear candles, I was very happy with the results and convinced that they were really working. If the experiment shows that they were a scam, then the joke will be on me.

I appreciate the feedback. I was not aware of the special ear drops or the bulb irrigator (sounds like the thing I use to clean my child's nose).

Also, the issue of having a flame near the head is a valid point. It could be dangerous if proper precautions are not taken and ear candles should not be used alone. You can put the cone through a paper plate with a hole in the middle. The plate will catch any floating ashes and you could also cover the person with a damp cloth if you wanted to be extra careful. In my experience the candles burn in a very slow and controlled manner, producing ashes that drop slowly to the protective plate. Once the flame is about 4 inches from the ear (or sooner if it becomes too hot) the candle is removed from the ear and dropped in a bowl of water to extinguish. Also, the candle should be held in place the whole time and never left unattended.
 

beanbean

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The softening drops Murine and Debrox. If you do flush your ears with water, make sure it is slightly warm. Too hot or too cold is not pleasent and will make you dizzy. At the FP site where I rotate we use a splash of peroxide added to the water and flush with a syringe. Never heard of the candles...thanks for the info - nice to have heard of something before a patient asks about it.
 

rpkall

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i61164 said:
Many of you probably still use Q-tips on your ears even though you know better. Admit it!



Guilty as charged. I can't stop!

What the hell were they made for, if not to pick in my ears with?!



Re: ear candles, I have no idea what those are, but they don't sound right. Not as right as QTip spelunking, anyhow.
 

xanthines

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They are mentioned in the book "Choke" by Chuck Palanihuik(?), the same guy who wrote "Fight Club." In the book, he uses paper which lights on fire and blows out before it reaches the ear. The burning embers draw the wax up and prevent the burning ring from burning the ear. Seems more like a wick than a candle. The book is fiction, so the details may also be fictional. Good book, though.

-X
 

i61164

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beanbean said:
Your experiment has already been done and published!

Why Ear Candling Is Not a Good Idea:

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/candling.html

Good article.

Can you tell I am looking for any excuse not to study for Step 1.....I actuallly looked this up?

That's the same article that I saw which prompted me to start this thread. The article put some doubts in my mind, but it did not totally convince me. There are a couple of things in the article that are contrary to my own experience with ear candles.

1. The article says "the air inside her ear became so hot that she had to stop the experiment." In my experience, the ear canal becomes warm, but not hot.

2. The article says "During the procedure, a gray mixture of soot and wax drippings collected on a pie plate under the candle." The candles that I used did not drip at all. They are not really candles, they are cones made of wax soaked fabric. As it burns, it turns black, then gray. As it turns to ash there is no visible dripping.

3. The article says "The candle is lit, and as the wick burns down, it is often trimmed." With the candles I used, trimming was not necessary. As the candle burned down it turned to ash and fell to the collecting plate on it's own.

4. The article says "After the candle is blown out and removed." This was kind of a red flag. The candle should not be blown out, especially while it is still in the ear. That could cause the burning that the skeptics have complained of. When the flame gets about 4 inches from the ear, or the ear becomes too hot, the candle should simply be removed from the ear and submerged in water.

5. The article says "The notion that the ear canal is connected to structures beyond the eardrum is false." I obviously agree with this statement, but it is beside the point. The hokus pokus crap aside, ear candles could be legitimately useful if, in fact, they remove earwax.


The difference between my experience with ear candles and the accounts in the article could be the result of differences in the actual candles used and differences in technique. The author is clearly poking fun at the ear candle vendors/psychics and maybe for good reason. However, for my experiment, I am only going to focus on whether or not ear candles actually remove wax from the ear. I will publish my results on SDN.
 

nockamura

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Try an experiment: just put one of the candles on a bottle and light it. If the wax is truly from your ear then you should not see any wax at the end.
 

sparky5

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I am a big wax collector. Normally I wait for a trip to my FP and the nurse uses the lil rod with a loop on the end to get the wax out. I was told in college by the nurse that unless you are practiced at this technique it is easy to jab right through the membrane. So in college I waited till it got bad, then went back and they tried a water pick in my ear, yes that's right a water pick aimed at my ear. Before the visit i really couldn't hear out of that ear. After 30 minutes of waterpick I had one sore ass ear that was ringing, sore and irritated, so I went to an ENT. He used a vaccum tool that sucked the wax right out, he pulled out a wax mold about 1.5" long.

He told me to not even try the over the counter products and go straight to the ENT since my wax is extra special sticky. I now go once a year to someone. Luckily now at medschool I can go to the nurse who after using the rinse tool that is made by welsh-allen and it not really working, then used the hand tool with the little loop on it and got it all out.
 

thehomez66

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sparky5 said:
I am a big wax collector. Normally I wait for a trip to my FP and the nurse uses the lil rod with a loop on the end to get the wax out. I was told in college by the nurse that unless you are practiced at this technique it is easy to jab right through the membrane. So in college I waited till it got bad, then went back and they tried a water pick in my ear, yes that's right a water pick aimed at my ear. Before the visit i really couldn't hear out of that ear. After 30 minutes of waterpick I had one sore ass ear that was ringing, sore and irritated, so I went to an ENT. He used a vaccum tool that sucked the wax right out, he pulled out a wax mold about 1.5" long.

He told me to not even try the over the counter products and go straight to the ENT since my wax is extra special sticky. I now go once a year to someone. Luckily now at medschool I can go to the nurse who after using the rinse tool that is made by welsh-allen and it not really working, then used the hand tool with the little loop on it and got it all out.

I had a very similar experience, I used to use Q-tips all the time but then I had an extremely painful situation where my ear wax was stuck to my eardrum and not only blocked my ear canal but also caused me a lot of pain. So I went to the nurse and she also used a water pick and removed the wax. And I was also told to never use Q-tips but rather use over the counter products that are espcially made for wax removal as mentioned above.

Also i61164, i wanted to tell you that when i was younger my mom used to remove my ear wax using tweezers, which is very dangerous as stated above, but she did a fine job, but anyways that not the point. The point is that when she would pull one out, it would hurt a bit because the wax was usually stuck to the walls of the canal or caught on tiny hairs in your ear. Therefore, it leads me to beleive that ear candles would not build enough negative air pressure to pull the was completely out. Just my two cents but ear wax is usually stick and not easily removed.
 

fun8stuff

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beanbean said:
Your experiment has already been done and published!

Why Ear Candling Is Not a Good Idea:

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/candling.html

Good article.

Can you tell I am looking for any excuse not to study for Step 1.....I actuallly looked this up?


when i worked at a rite aid pharmacy, if customers asked we would always whisper (so the retail manger couldnt hear) that they didnt work....

anyways... i have always had horrible wax, and i have never used q-tips or wore ear plugs (factory workers that have to wear ear plugs have problems too). It has affected my hearing quite dramatically and when I was a kid I had several ear infections. Children tend to have more problems than adults because their ear canal is not totally straight, which prevents the wax (and water) from falling out. It normally straightens out as the the head grows. Perhaps mine didnt straighten out.. perhaps i produce more wax.

I had my ear irrigated last year when i woke up and could not hear out of my left ear. It was the most horrible experience that I have ever went through. It hurt so bad and was definately not worth it. The nurse was not gentle about squirting the water at all... in the end 2 pieces of wax about the size of a big pea came out (broken in half). If this happened again- I would go to an ENT or some doc that a machine to suck/pull it out.

As a kid, I had these oily drops that the doc gave me-- like just mineral oil or something.... remember your chemistry- "like dissolves like". Anyways, we also would just pore hydrogen peroxide into my ear (store bought) and let it sit in my ear until there were no more bubbles. Then after this we would put the oily drops in. This would normally remove wax either right away or after a couple days. Sometimes my dad would see big pieces of wax come floating up a few mins after pouring the H2O2 in.

Oh yeah, and if you use h2o2, it will feel very tickly... like nothing u have felt before. It's normal.
 

seethrew

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i am convinced that they work wit some degree of efficiency.
i don't think the stuff inside is from the candle cone itself.
i've heard that peeps in south america used some sort of hommade contraption that works similarly.

sounds like the bulb method is more effective.
 

matthew45

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Word to my fellow earwax gangstas. The only thing that works is to put the H2O2 in and let it sit there and fix for awhile and then blast as the wax with warm water out of a syringe (bulbs don't seem to have the pressure). Don't give up, it will come out. If neccessary take a break from the H2O and let another round of H2O2 chill in there.
 

i61164

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For my experiment, I put an ear candle into a shot glass and used Play-Doh to make the opening in the glass just wide enough for the candle to fit. I lit the ear candle and, at first, smoke entered the shot glass in a steady stream. After a couple minutes, it stopped entering the glass and started to leave the glass. At this point I was thinking "Perhaps the candle does produce some suction." Once the candle had burned down to about 4 inches, I pulled it out of the shot glass and submerged it in water. I cut the candle open with a pair of scissors and to my disappointment, the candle contained a large quantity of wax that had the appearance of earwax. It really is a scam.

From my own experience using ear candles, I found that the warm smoke entering the ear is a pleasant sensation. However, I now know for sure that they do not remove earwax.
 

nockamura

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Well, you don't know for sure that they don't work. You should weigh the wax you got from your experiment and subtract that from whatever weight you get from when you actually use the ear candle in an ear. If they are the same weight, then it is a scam, if the actual ear weighs more than the difference is what was in your ear.
 

Furrball2

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sparky5 said:
I am a big wax collector. Normally I wait for a trip to my FP and the nurse uses the lil rod with a loop on the end to get the wax out. I was told in college by the nurse that unless you are practiced at this technique it is easy to jab right through the membrane. So in college I waited till it got bad, then went back and they tried a water pick in my ear, yes that's right a water pick aimed at my ear. Before the visit i really couldn't hear out of that ear. After 30 minutes of waterpick I had one sore ass ear that was ringing, sore and irritated, so I went to an ENT. He used a vaccum tool that sucked the wax right out, he pulled out a wax mold about 1.5" long.

He told me to not even try the over the counter products and go straight to the ENT since my wax is extra special sticky. I now go once a year to someone. Luckily now at medschool I can go to the nurse who after using the rinse tool that is made by welsh-allen and it not really working, then used the hand tool with the little loop on it and got it all out.

I've seen CMA's use Waterpick's in a FP's office I was rotating through. On an ED rotation we used sucralfate to soften the wax and then a soft angiocath on a 20cc syringe to irrigate. It worked eventually.
 
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