Ear Candling: What is it -- and is it safe?

Ear Candling: What is it -- and is it safe? »Play Video
This is James Mally, N.D. performing ear candling on a patient. (Photo courtesy John Flux/Wikimedia Commons)

EUGENE, Ore. -- The YouTube video shows actress Jessica Simpson lying on her side with a burning candle in her ear.  She has a make-shift ear guard that appears to be cut out of a pizza box. 

Ear Candling is said to suction wax out of the ear by using heat and a hollow candle.

We watched the clip with Eugene Audiologist Stephen Chelius and says ear candling doesn't work.  "A lot of times I've had people do it, Chelius says, "and they'll say yeah, my ears are clean and I'll look in their ears and there's a lot of ear wax still in their ears."

Beyond not really working, ear candling can cause damage to your eardrum.  Chelius says, "As the wax is burning, it can drip down the inside."

The FDA has not approved ear candling as a safe do-it-yourself wax remover.  You need to have a professional help you. 

Dr. Succo of Eugene Hearing and Speech Center demonstrated the process.  He first looks into the ear using a small camera connected to a computer screen.  The camera displays an image of the inside of the ear canal.  If the ear contains wax, Succo simply lifts it out using a surgical steel hook and the camera to guide the tool.

Audiologist Chelius and Doctor of Audiology Peter Succo both say ear candling might move wax inside the ear but it won't vacuum it out.

To be fair, there are many homeopathic practitioners who use ear candling and say it is safe and even recommend the procedure twice a year.  They also argue it can cure ear aches ear infections and sinus issues.