FDA Warns Consumers Not To Use Ear Candles

“Don't use ear candles,” says FDA.
FDA cautions against sham remedy ear candles.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration, or FDA, is urging consumers to avoid ear candles. In a Consumer Update issued just today, a spokesperson says that the devices "have caused great concern" in the agency.

Ear candles are made by repeatedly dipping long strips of fabric--usually linen--in beeswax then rolling the strips of fabric into long, narrow cones before the wax sets. Manufacturers sometimes also add finely ground herbs or essential oils to the melted beeswax.

To use an ear candle is a 2-person job. The "patient" lies down and allows the "practitioner" to place the small end of the long cone into the ear canal. The large end is then lit on fire and allowed to burn down to within a few inches of the patient's ear.

Practitioners claim that these devices create a gentle vacuum that softens and extracts excess ear wax, trapped pollutants and various toxins. And, indeed, when the stubs of these ear "candles" are cut opened, users often see a dark-colored mass of crumbled-looking gunk stuck to the walls of the cone.

Common sense, however, will tell you that these things can't possibly work this way. There's no scientific evidence that the heat created by the flame forms any kind a "vacuum" inside the ear and even if it did, any force strong enough the "pull" out earwax would damage the delicate ear drum.

So what about the stuff found in the stubs of burned ear candles? It's nothing more than melted beeswax and ashes from the linen.