I read an article in the newspaper recently that shared the story of Hannah. It reported that, lying on her side in front of her bedroom mirror, Hannah had ignited a long, tapered candle and then inserted its unlit end into her ear.
But as she attempted the delicate manoeuvre, the candle slipped from her hand — and fell into her light brown hair. Thankfully, 43-year-old Hannah was unharmed except for a few singed hairs. ‘But it could have been so much worse,’ she said.
But why on earth was Hannah putting a naked flame near her hair in the first place? She was trying to give herself a hopi-ear candle treatment.
NEVER. DO. THIS!
Whilst ear candles are available from major online retailers such as Amazon and High Street health food shops, this does not mean that you should attempt to use them without really understanding what you are doing. Sadly, retailers are simply buying into the popularity of this treatment but there are many good reasons why they should only be used by practitioners who are properly and professionally trained to use them.
What’s It All About?
Ear candles are thin, hollow tubes of linen (or organic cotton) soaked in paraffin or beeswax and they are usually combined with honey and herbs such as sage, chamomile or St John’s Wort. The process takes 10 to 15 minutes for each ear and is carried out whilst you lie on one side. Your therapist will protect your hair and face with a special protective cloth, that has a special hole for accessing the ear, before inserting end of the candle inside the ear and lighting the other end.
Many people believe that, as the candle slowly burns down, the heat produced creates a low-level pressure that draws wax and other debris out of the ear and into the candle but this is not the case – it does not draw wax out of the ear. What actually happens is when the candle is lit at the top, the rising air column inside the candle begins to heat up. As the candle burns down, it continues to heat up the top of the rising column of air in the candle. It is this that creates a very mild and gentle suction action at the base of the candle which warms up and helps to loosen any compacted ear wax. It does not remove it.
At the same time as this is happening, the beeswax and other ingredients that the candle has been dipped in are vaporised. The oils that it may have been dipped in can make the air in the candle heavier (as they are oily). The air then travels down into the ear canal, causing pressure waves and gentle sound waves (vibrations) which act as a gentle inner-ear massage.
The slightest movement of the eardrum is then carried into the middle and inner ear, so the gentle massage effect affects all parts of the ear. The combination of the sound frequency vibrations and the heat from the flame help to soften and break up any ear wax or congestion so that the body can find an easier way of expelling it naturally and flushing the debris through the lymphatic system.
Fact Not Fiction!
Some retail suppliers say that, after unwrapping the candle at the end of the treatment, the user should look to see what is left inside – they report that the lump/wax-type remnants are the wax that has been drawn out of the ear. This is physically impossible. There is a filter towards the bottom of each candle that prevents anything from the candle falling down into the ear. In the same way, it will prevent anything from the ear being drawn up into the candle – ABOVE THE FILTER!
When I first trained in Ear Candling, the tutor placed the end of a candle in an empty and completely sealed bottle, just as it sits in the ear. She then lit it and let it burn down, as in a treatment, and unwrapped it at the end. The residue from using it in a sealed bottle was exactly the same as it was when the candles are placed in the ear. Proving that it is not wax, simply some powder from the herbs contained in the candle and possibly some melted beeswax.
Always Choose A Qualified Therapist
In the article I read, Hannah reported “’I was suffering irritation in my ears and they felt blocked all the time, so when I saw these ear candles in a health food shop, I thought I might try them. What I didn’t think about was how tricky they would be to use and that I would end up nearly setting myself on fire.”
In fact, burns are only one of the risks of ear candling and that’s why it’s never advisable to simply buy them off the shelf and self-treat. A qualified therapist will first check whether or not the treatment is actually suitable for you before they treat you – there’s many different reasons why some people should never undergo the treatment.
Amazing Benefits When Carried Out Properly
However, if a qualified therapist gives the go ahead, there are many reported benefits from Hopi-Ear Candling. At the Camomile Rooms our ear candling treatment includes a lymphatic drainage facial massage and scalp massage. General consensus from our clients is that that treatment is incredibly relaxing and they can usually breathe a little (or a lot) more easily with a reduced sense of pressure in their head.
Whatever benefits it brings, one thing’s sure, this treatment should only be carried out by a qualified practitioner to avoid the sort of near miss that Hannah suffered or, even worse, a permanent injury!