Also known as ear candling, ear coning is an ancient healing practice that is supposed to remove wax, impurities, and even infections from inside the ear. Proponents even claim that ear coning has mystical qualities, such as opening bodily channels and increasing energy flow.
The “cone” is made from cloth, usually cotton, that is soaked in wax and twisted into a long, thin, conical shape, not unlike a dinner candle. It is hollow, and sometimes scented with various herbs.
Ear coning is best done with two people. The person undergoing ear coning lies on his side or tilts his head. The practitioner puts the ear cone through a hole in a flat plate, usually an aluminum pie pan. The plate protects the recipient from ash or other fallout from the burning candle. Additional protection is provided by a damp towel over the recipient’s shoulders and neck.
The small end of the ear candle is put just inside the ear canal. The plate therefore covers the side of the head while the large end of the ear candle is lit. It takes about 10-15 minutes to burn all the way down to the plate.
Admittedly, ear coning is a controversial procedure with conflicting conclusions. Proponents of ear coning have multiple claims as to its effectiveness and how it works. Here are some of the claims as to the mechanism of ear coning:
- The gentle warmth of the flame produces a chimney-like draught, or up-draft, which draws wax and other excess material out of the ear.
- The heat from ear coning softens the ear wax, so that it can be more easily removed by conventional means.
- The smoke that spirals down the ear cone is somewhat sticky, picking up impurities and then spiraling back up into the ear cone (since the ear canal is probably blocked).
- Ear candles produce a vacuum as they burn, drawing out wax and fluids.
- The ear cone acts as a wick, softening and drawing up wax from the ear canal as a lit candle wick softens and draws up the candle wax.
Regardless of your stance on the practice of ear coning, it remains a popular therapy for everything from TMJ to swimmer’s ear to emotional healing. If you choose to undergo ear coning, be sure it is done by a reputable practitioner. Injuries and other negative effects have been reported by those who have tried to do ear coning on their own, or who have gone to untrained practitioners.