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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Herbal Medicine Chest #10 - DIY Ear candles

Welcome to Post # 10 of our Herbal Medicine Chest.  We've been exploring creating our own herbal preparations to help us put together an Herbal Medicine Chest. The first 8 posts in this series have dealt with the different types and methods of preparing these herbal remedies.  Although there's a lot of information there, and it is not even close to covering all the bases, it's enough to give you a basic understanding and a starting point for your own Herbal Medicine Chest.

But I'd like to mention a few preparations that could be included in our medicine chest that aren't herbal in nature although they are highly compatible with all the herbal remedies we've discussed.  Join me as I take this herbal adventure in a slightly different direction with the same goal in mind...maintaining good health.

The Herbal Medicine Chest has it's own button!  Grab it from the side bar to share on your site.

See the Herbal Medicine Chest page (directly linked from the new button) to connect with all the articles inthis series...even info pages that are not included in the hop, or visit the archives for direct links.  (The page is incomplete because it's still underconstruction at this time.)

Ear candling
Ever experience that warm feeling of smoke in a tender ear during a cold? Often, it's just enough to ease the pain for a few minutes. Ear candling has always fascinated me but I've never been brave enough to try it. My daughter was also interested in trying it but as with most things, when I get an idea in my head, I don't want to wait until an order comes to move ahead. We had muslin and beeswax on hand so we decided to make our own ear candles!
So for all you DIY mamas out there, here's how we did it and what we learned:
We started with strips of muslin approx 2" wide by 12"-14" long. Melting the beeswax in a double boiler seemed the best way to go about it because we could easily move the pot and all to the work area from the stove without losing heat too quickly.  We added a little eucalyptus EO to the wax for the benefits of aromatherapy during the process.  After oiling a 1/2" wooden dowel with olive oil, we dipped a strip of cloth in the hot wax and began wrapping it around the dowel.  It was a little hard to form a nice cone at the end so after a few tries, we started forming the come with the fabric and then dipping that part in the wax.  After it had cooled a bit, we put it over the end of the dowel and started the wrapping from there.  Each cone turned out to be about 10"-12" long.
When the wax had cooled a few minutes, we gently twisted the dowel while holding the candle in the other hand to loosen it.  Voila!  Ear candles!

After trying them out, we realized that there was a potential for wax to drip inside the candle and possibly into the ear.  Some of the sites online had filters in their candles so we tried pushing a small piece of cotton ball down inside the candle to about 3" from the cone where you would normally stop burning.  The problem with this was that wax melting down the inside of the tube onto the cotton sometimes covered the top completely blocking the flow of air and making the candling ineffective.  Another option would be to wrap the fabric onto the dowel and then dip it in wax so that any melting wax would be on the outside.

Candling is a two person job because of the safety factors involved with trimming the candle and the flame itself.  Please don't try to do it alone.
Before you begin, gently examine the ear for any irritation or redness.  While candling is used to heal or soothe certain ear issues, use caution where infection or ear drum pressure may be higher than normal.  To use the candle, we made a hole in a foam plate covered with foil just big enough to put the candle through.  The "candlee" should be lying comfortably on their side with the ear to be candled up...of course.  Some sites show the person sitting in a chair but we found that lying down was more relaxing and easier for the person assisting to maintain the candle.  If you are having trouble with one ear, candle the opposite side first according to all instructions I've read.  After covering the person's head and shoulders to avoid any wax dripping should they move while the candle is burning, we lit the end.  The flame was surprisingly high.  To avoid ash or hot pieces from dropping into the candle or the ear, we cut the burnt end off at about 1" intervals into a glass or bowl with some water in it.  It took about 10 minutes for the candle to burn down to the 3" mark.  The candle was gently snuffed out and removed from the ear.  The ear seemed clean.  Then we did the other side.  
After both were finished, we decided to cut the candles open to see what was inside. What we found was some waxy residue and a light powdery ash.  Many sites claim that ear candles create a vacuum inside the ear drawing out pieces of wax and pollen, etc. from the ear canal.  Being a little skeptical, we checked it out by burning a candle in a clean jar.  The residue was exactly the same as the ones used in our ears.
However, my daughter has one ear that produces more wax and she sometimes has trouble with it.  After candling that ear we looked in the ear itself and found that wax had moved much closer to the opening after candling and could be removed more easily.  The idea of a vacuum makes sense but the power of that vacuum is what we're not sure about.  Loose pollen or dirt may be drawn out by the chimney type suction created by the flame but I think this would only work if the person is lying down.
Swimmer's ear is another problem that can be helped by ear candling.  Some people feel that ear candling can improve your sense of taste and smell as well as allow you to think more clearly.  TMJ sufferers have found that candling can ease jaw pain.  It make sense that headaches could also be relieved.  There are probably more benefits to learn about.  Faithful ear candling has been practiced by lots of people over centuries past so at least some folks must find relief of some kind.  I've helped with the candling for everyone in my I need someone to do it for me!

As with any alternative treatment, use caution and be educated about the process.  If you have had a recent ear surgery or ear drum rupture, do not use ear candles.  Also if you have had tubes, or inner ear surgery candling at any time should probably be avoided until you check with you doctor.  As with most alternative treatments, your doctor may not be familiar or be contemptuous of treatments outside the pharmaceutical realm.
Alphbe Thursdays @ Jenny Matlock

Hearth & Soul Hop


  1. Hey, me and the hubby tried this awhile back, I think it's fun,but I'm like you I was wondering if the stuff in the candle was more wax than ear wax,but shucks it was fun anyway.
    I'm visiting from Alaphbe Thursday,Great "E" post.

  2. WOW! And WOW again!! This makes perfectly good sense to me and I wish someone would candle my ears! My husband could certainly use it, too. Incidentally, I read recently that people who have dark brownish or reddish ear wax suffer from heart disease of one kind or another. People whose ear wax is light gray have a heart that is working fine. Have you ever heard this??

  3. I have read mixed things about candling. People with ear issues seem to have trouble with it.

  4. I've tried the ear candling on myself, my husband, and my youngest daughter. It amazes me how much "junk" it pull out of your ears. ...But I think I'm too scared to try making my own! (I used to work for an ENT doc, and he would probably have a heart attack if he knew I had ever tried something like that!)

  5. This was very interesting. I have never heard of ear candling but sounds like it would be beneficial.

  6. Quite interesting... here I thought you were going to teach us how to make candles out of our ear wax.... LOL

  7. This is interesting ... I've heard of having it done but by using a funnel and holding the candle in the opening of the funnel. I always thought that was a little strange, but folks say it works. I like your method better! Thanks for sharing.

  8. The ENT doctor I work for says to be careful, this can be dangerous! You are brave to try! But the info is always interesting to read and if you are have good luck with it than enjoy and thanks for posting this great E post with pictures!

  9. @Annesphamily Thanks for posting Anne. Are there other dangers involved besides those I've mentioned?

  10. @upinthecosmos LOL! That's too funny! Thanks for visiting TWJ!

  11. @Judie Hey! Thanks for visiting and sharing! I had not heard that but as with everything, there's always more to learn! I'll check it out.

  12. @Esther Joy My concern would be that the vacuum would cause problems if it were too strong and the ear drum was already compromised because of infection, etc. But I was very cautious about how well the candle was "seated" in the opening so the seal was not as tight as it could have been. Maybe that would make it work better. I guess if the candle was warmed in my hands before putting the end in the ear, it would have been gentle enough to seat comfortably. Thanks for visiting and commenting! Great food for discussion and research.

  13. @Jo Thanks for coming over Jo! It was fun and very relaxing! If nothing else, it was a warm, gentle, feeling.

  14. @dlmsliceofpie Thanks for visiting and commenting! It was a fun experiment and something I'd do again.

  15. @VintagesouthernlifeI love learning new things! I think it did help soften some ear wax and allow it to work it's way out.

  16. @JDaniel4's MomIt's always best to research, especially if you have a special health situation. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  17. A friend of mine does candling and I have to say for me it cleared mine very well and was full of yuk more so from one ear than the other

  18. What a neat walk down memory lane this post was for me.

    I worked for almost a year as a product writer for a health and supplement company here. As part of the catalog work, I had to research each product, develop testimonials and often give it a try myself. The ear candling was something that I still recall very clearly.

    I liked seeing the pictures of this, too. Since I was having it done to me, I never knew exactly what they did while they were hovering over me!

    Thanks for a really excellent stop this week!


  19. Oh my! I'm too big of a chicken to try it, but I have had friends who swear by it....

  20. Great ‘E’ post! And great images too! TFS!

    Have a great weekend ahead,


    Btw Alphabe-Thursday

  21. I've seen these but have yet to try it.
    Very interesting E post, thanks so much!

  22. I've heard of this but never seen it done. I'm not sure whether I would be brave enough to try it or not. Interesting post though!

  23. Wow! What an interesting topic! I have never heard of ear tunneling before so this post really opened my eyes! Of course, I'm too much of a chicken to ever want to try this, especially since I just know I'll freak out at the thought of a lit candle over my ear. I'm quite impressed that your daughter tried it though!

  24. @JennyWhat an interesting job that must have been! Thanks for hosting Alphabe-Thursdays and visiting me here!

  25. @myoriiIt's really more of a hollow tube than a candle but that's what they call it. When it was my turn, I was a little nervous but it was actually relaxing.

  26. This is really cool! I've always wondered what the heck ear candling was. I would so try it if I had a helper. :0)

  27. Thanks for sharing this great post on Living Well Blog Hop! You inspired me to make my own ear candles now! This is a great post and I will share on FB as well.

  28. I've heard of ear candling but as I rarely suffer from earaches I have never tried it. It's certainly an interesting holistic way to treat earache, and you've written a wonderful post here. Thank you for sharing it with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  29. I just received this blog post through a larger blog called "Homestead Survival," so I hope it's not too late to comment.

    I learned about ear candling 30 years ago, and had great success every single time. The results on every person was dry chunks of gold-yellow ear wax inside each cut-open candle.
    I think the reason we were so successful was the fabric and rolling method we used. We found the best fabric was true Irish linen, cut into squares the length of a new pencil. We wrapped it around the pencil and dipped it in paraffin (although beeswax is now more environmentally friendly), and removed the pencil. We cut a 1" square of aluminum foil, wrapped it around the pointed end of the pencil, and then inserted the foil into one end of the candle. This created the end that was set lightly on the edge of the ear canal. On the other end, gently fray about a half-inch length of one thread away from the candle to create a wick. Proceed with candling, following your method.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment and affirmation of the candling success. I'm learning more about thermoauricular therapy and its all good! Is Irish linen easy to find?


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