Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Ear candles

from the December 30, 2012 Newsletter issued from the valley of the Dry Frio River in northern Uvalde County, southwestern Texas, on the southern border of the Edwards Plateau, USA

For three months my Estonian lady friend Malle has been living with me, and I have enjoyed learning a bit about her culture, and even the Estonian language, which is closely related to Finnish. "Tere hommikust" I say each morning when I come in from jogging, for "Good morning."

The other day a package arrived from Estonia bearing Christmas gifts and a few items from the motherland Malle felt like she needed but couldn't get here. "Taimsed kõrvaküünlad" was printed across two interesting looking packages so I asked what that meant.

"Organic ear candles," Malle replied with glee, and one package was for me. Above you can see what the package looked like and what was inside.

Ear candles are not part of Estonian culture, but rather of the Chinese, Indian and Tibetan cultures. Ear candles not only clean ears but have a spiritual action. "Alive fire cleans energies in the body and stimulates the spirit," Malle says.

Heat from the candles melts ear wax and air currents streaming up through the candles' empty interior carry wax with them. You swab out any wax remaining in the ear with a cotton swab. In the picture you see two candles. Malle says that they are made from cotton fiber soaked in beeswax, oil of eucalyptus and peppermint, and cinnamon, lavender, and other such ingredients. You can see what it looked like when Malle placed an organic candle in my ear and set it ablaze below:

Ear candle ablaze in ear

I feared that sparks might fall down inside the straw into my ear but there were no sparks. You can see how the straw chars black and doesn't crumble. As the flame approaches the narrow blue ring around the candle's base you feel a little heat but not much. Mainly you hear the crackling flame approaching and that's why I look a little worried.

When the flame reached the narrow blue ring Malle removed the candle and doused it a glass of water she'd set beside us, and then she started unrolling the candle's base. You can see what she found inside the base below:

base of used ear candle showing powdery wax removed from ear

She says that the yellowish powder is tiny beads of wax that had melted in the ear, then was carried up into the candle to accumulate there.

I didn't experience much of a change in my ear, but Malle says you have to use ear candles regularly to get the full benefit.