Hopi ear candles are used in ‘ear coning’ or ‘thermal auricular therapy’ which some claim promotes general good heath and well-being whilst also facilitating in the removal of ear wax. It is regarded as a form of alternative medicine and believed to have originated in North America by the Hopi Tribe. However, this has been repeatedly denied by the Hopi Tribal Council who have asked for this association be stopped.


The procedure is performed by beauticians, complimentary therapists or by people themselves. It involves inserting a hopi ear candle into the ear with the person laying on their side. The hopi ear candle itself is hollow and made of cotton or muslin cloth which has been soaked in either beeswax or paraffin. They are sometimes scented with honey and herbs. The opposite end of the hopi ear candle is then lit supposedly creating a vacuum in the ear by warming the air inside which then rises and escapes (like a ‘chimney’) drawing out the ear wax in the process. The hopi ear candle can be pierced through a paper plate to prevent hot beeswax from falling and scalding the persons face and ear.

A session of using hopi ear candling typically takes around 30-60 minutes to perform depending upon whether you are having one or both ears treated.


There are no clinically proven benefits of hopi ear candles in the removal of ear wax. However, some people are known to find the whole experience relaxing and therapeutic. Practitioners of hopi ear candles also claim that it can alleviate and cure symptoms such as:

  • Congested sinuses
  • Irritation in the ears
  • Tinnitus
  • Rhinitis
  • Migraines


Hopi ear candling must not be performed in people who have a perforated eardrum or grommet, mastoid cavity, cleft palate, foreign object inside the ear canal or have had an outer or middle-ear infection in the last 6 weeks. In addition, there are many possible complications that can arise from the use of hopi ear candles. The most obvious and dangerous is local burns to the persons face and ear from hot falling beeswax. The hot beeswax can also enter the ear canal potentially perforating the eardrum. Other known hopi ear candle side effects and risks include:

  • Occlusion (blockage) of the ear canal through beeswax and soot falling into the ear.
  • Increased risk of infection due to foreign bodies entering the ear canal.
  • Hair burns especially if flammable hair products have been used.
  • Ear wax being further impacted into the ear canal by inserting the hopi ear canal into the ear.
  • A false sense of thinking the ear wax has been removed when in fact the residual debris collected inside the hopi ear canal is beeswax and not ear wax.
  • As hopi ear canding is normally performed by a non ear professional, there is no clinical inspection of the outer ear and ear canal before or after the procedure to check for any contraindications and complications.
Image: Contents found inside ear candle after treatment was found to be residue from candle burning and not ear wax