For those of you that are not familiar, ear candling is a process that is supposed to clean out ear wax and other stuff by “sucking” it out using heat from a burning candle (sounds weird, right?). Ear candling can be done at home with a kit and is even offered as a treatment by some spas (not sure that putting a lit candle in my ear sounds very relaxing!). Kits are available online and from natural food stores and usually retail between $10 – $30. Lets take a closer look at this process to see if it works and address any safety concerns.What is ear candling?The process (sometimes referred to as coning) works by inserting a wax “cone” or cylinder into the ear and then lighting the other end. Proponents say that the smoke from the candle spirals down into the ear, creating a vacuum effect that gently dislodges foreign debris, old ear wax and helps to evaporate excess moisture.MORE: SELF’s Medical Expert Answers Your Questions!Does it work?No. In fact, according to a variety of sources including the FDA, American Family Physician and the Spokane Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, the efficacy and safety of ear candling was studied and results showed that, contrary to popular belief, ear candles do not produce negative pressure that can draw out wax. The residue that appears in the cones once the process is complete is actually just soot and residue from the candle – not wax and toxins that are claimed by ear candling advocates.MORE: How to Lose 2 Pounds in 7 DaysIs the process safe?Again, no. The above sources have warned that ear candling can cause injury and damage to the ears. The FDA has issued a safety alert warning consumers and health care providers of potential risks resulting from the use of this product. According to the FDA, “[We have] found no valid scientific evidence to support the safety or effectiveness of these devices for any medical claims or benefits. FDA has received reports of burns, perforated eardrums and blockage of the ear canal which required outpatient surgery from the use of ear candles. FDA is especially concerned because some ear candles are being advertised for use in children. Children of any age, including babies, are likely at increased risk for injuries and complications if they are exposed to ear candles.”Bottom LineEar candling is not a safe or effective way to remove ear wax and debris. In fact, wax is actually beneficial to our ears and body. It protects the ear and is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. If you do experience excessive wax you should talk to your doctor about safe wax removal options.MORE: Katherine McPhee’s Slim-Down Shape Up