Tinnitus and ear candles | British Tinnitus Association

Name of treatment

Ear candles (Hopi ear candles, ear cones, auricular candles)

Type of treatment

Physical intervention

Claims for treatment

Claims to remove ear wax, which may be the cause of tinnitus. Other claims for ear candling include treatment of sinusitis, vertigo, glue ear reducing stress.

How treatment is delivered

A hollow tube of fabric that has been wound into a cone shape and soaked in wax is inserted into the ear and lit. This is left alight for several minutes before being removed.

Potential negative consequences

Burns to the face, ear canal or ear drum; injury to ear canal or ear drum; plugging of ears by candle wax; hearing loss.[1]

Evidence offered:

Papers available

8 on ear candles via PubMed

Conclusions drawn

‘…its mode of action is implausible and demonstrably wrong. There are no data to suggest that it is effective for any condition. Furthermore, ear candles have been associated with ear injuries. The inescapable conclusion is that ear candles do more harm than good. Their use should be discouraged.’[2]

Quality of evidence[3]


Does the BTA recommend this treatment?


BTA opinion on this treatment:

Unsafe and to be avoided

Would the BTA support further studies into this treatment?


Verdict: Safety – is this treatment harmful?

Evidence of harm 

Verdict: Efficacy – does this treatment work?

Evidence that it has no effect

For further information

The BTA Tinnitus Support Team can answer your questions on any tinnitus related topics:

Telephone: 0800 018 0527
Web chat: – click on the icon
Email: [email protected]
Text/SMS: 07537 416841

We also offer a free tinnitus e-learning programme, Take on Tinnitus.

Download this information

This information is in PDF format.


We welcome feedback on all our information. You can pass your comments to our Communications Team:

Telephone: 0114 250 9933
Email: [email protected]
or by writing to us at the address below.


[1] Rafferty J, Tsikoudas A, Davis BC. Ear candling: should general practitioners recommend it?. Canadian Family Physician. 2007;53(12):2121–2122.

[2] Ernst, E. Ear candles: a triumph of ignorance over science. The Journal of Laryngology and Otology. 2004 Jan; 118(10: 1-2

[3] A = Systematic review/meta analysis. B = Randomised control studies. C = Cohort studies. D = Case control studies. E = case studies/reports. +/- to be used to indicate quality within bands

Author: Nic Wray

Version 2.0

Updated: 7 July 2022

To be reviewed: July 2025

Photo: Bjørn Bulthuis from Langley, BC, Canada [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

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