Ear candling (also known as thermo-auricular therapy) is a complementary therapy that aims to help symptoms associated with the ear, nose and throat. It involves placing a hollow, cone-shaped tube (or ‘candle’) made of cotton, soaked in beeswax, honey and herbs into the ear canal. This stimulates the ear and is believed to facilitate the removal of excess wax and impurities. Ear candling can promote deep relaxation and helps to relieve stress and revitalise the body.
Different types of ear candle
There are several different types of ear candles used in treatment today – each varying in size, shape and content.
- The Hopi ear candle –These are made of the traditional Hopi formula and are around 22cm long. Burning time is about 10-12 minutes, and safety features include a filter (preventing particles from dropping into the ear) and a maximum burn line showing when the candle should be put out.
- Ear cones –Unlike the traditional Hopi candles, these are wider at the top and much shorter in design. They are made from cotton, beeswax and propolis (aromatic substance collected by bees) and will burn for around 5-7 minutes. Safety features include a flame-breaking ring and a valve, which prevents particles from dropping into the ear.
- Basic ear candles –Also referred to as ‘natural ear candles’, these are made only from cotton flax or hemp and beeswax. Sizes and shapes vary and specialised safety features are rarely included.
It is thought that the Ancient Greeks were among the first to use the technique. They referred to it as ‘coning’ and used it specifically for cleansing, healing and purifying on a spiritual basis. Gradually more ancient cultures picked up on the practice, including the Egyptians, Mayan and Inca tribes. The modern incarnation of ear candling is based on the technique envisaged by the Native American Indian tribe, the Hopis (meaning ‘peaceful people’). The Hopis used ear candling in rituals and healing ceremonies and developed a specific candle formula to enhance the treatment’s holistic and therapeutic benefits. The main ingredients they used in their candles included cotton, beeswax, honey, sage, chamomile and St John’s Wort – a formula still used in modern ear candle treatments today.