Ear candles--efficacy and safety

Laryngoscope. 1996 Oct;106(10):1226-9. doi: 10.1097/00005537-199610000-00010.


Ear candles are a popular and inexpensive alternative health treatment advocated for cerumen removal. A hollow candle is burned with one end in the ear canal with the intent of creating negative pressure and drawing cerumen from the ear. If effective, significant savings could result from the use of ear candles. This study evaluates the efficacy and safety of this alternative method for cerumen management. Tympanometric measurements in an ear canal model demonstrated that ear candles do not produce negative pressure. A limited clinical trial (eight ears) showed no removal of cerumen from the external auditory canal. Candle wax was actually deposited in some. A survey of 122 otolaryngologists identified 21 ear injuries resulting from ear candle use. Ear candles have no benefit in the management of cerumen and may result in serious injury.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cerumen*
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Pressure
  • Treatment Outcome