Dear Scott: My friend goes to a salon and has ear candling done. It costs $50, and, before I spend that kind of money, I want to make sure that it is safe and if it really works. I have vertigo, and my friend says that it helps her with the dizziness by keeping her ears clean and free of wax. Does this ear candling work, or is this just another crazy fad?

Answer: I was intrigued and curious about this procedure after receiving your email.

Searching for feedback on the results of this procedure online resulted in mixed reviews. It is difficult for me to trust what is posted. Many companies have people who post up wonderful things about their products in an attempt to persuade the consumer to buy them.

For those of you who do not know what ear candling is, it’s a pricey add-on service that many spa/salons now offer. This is a procedure where a candle is put in the ear canal and lit. This is not a normal candle. It is actually a piece of canvas, coated in wax, and rolled into a long cone-shaped cylinder. At the bottom is a filter to prevent the wax from dripping down into the ear.

Supposedly, when the candle is lit on fire, the smoke goes down into the ear canal and somehow sucks the ear wax up into the candle from deep inside the ear where the wax is hiding.

After the process, the ear candler then peels open the candle and shows the patron all of the icky stuff inside the candle that came out of their ear.

In an effort to answer your question, I did an experiment on my own ear. I went to an ENT before performing the procedure to have my ears examined. The doctor confirmed that they were free of any wax or blockage. I then performed the ear candling service on my clean ears to see what would happen.

I was surprised when I peeled back the canvas. At the end of the candle was a bunch of waxy goop that had apparently dripped down the inside of the candle. It would have appeared to be the wax from my ear if there had been any buildup in there in the first place.

Until I can see this procedure done with actual results, I can’t give you any more information than that. I can’t seem to find a technician who performs this service that is willing to allow me to observe the procedure.

I’m not saying that it doesn’t work, but I did notice that “For entertainment purposes only” was clearly written on the box of ear candles in bright red.

Follow Scott Terwilliger Vital Image on Facebook or email