The Museum of Hoaxes
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Stotham, Massachusetts: the town that didn't exist, 1920
Swiss peasants harvest spaghetti from trees, 1957
Mule elected G.O.P. committeeman, 1938
The Man-Eating Tree of Madagascar Hoax, 1874
The Hitler Diary Hoax, 1983
Boy floats away in balloon, 2009
Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
The Cottingley Fairies, 1917
Samsung invents the on/off switch
Paul Krassner's Stereophonic Hoax, 1960
Butt Candles
image Ear Candling is an ancient home remedy in which wax and other impurities are supposedly drawn out of a person's ear canal by sticking a burning hollow candle in their ear. The theory is that the hollow candle creates a vacuum that sucks everything out.
Butt Candling, by extension, is the same procedure, only with the candle placed... well, you can guess where it's placed. As the ButtCandle site (which is safe for work) puts it: "In length and diameter, [the butt candle is] similiar to common candles. However, a hollow channel is cut from bottom to top which causes air to be drawn from the base to the top. In practice, this creates a vacuum at the base which, when inserted in the rectum, gently dislodges intestinal and rectal blockage."
Ear Candling is a real treatment, though don't expect it to work. As QuackWatch says: "Since wax is sticky, the negative pressure needed to pull wax from the canal would have to be so powerful that it would rupture the eardrum in the process."
Butt Candling, by contrast, is just a joke. Though the guy who made the site is selling ButtCandle thongs and mugs on CafeShops. Yeah, that's just what I want to sip my coffee from in the morning: a ButtCandle mug. (Thanks to Jim Terr for the link)
Categories: Health/Medicine, Websites
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 28, 2004
Comments (19)
I honestly can't understand how the medical community can continue to deny that ear candling does anything. Time and time again, I've heard medical reports that state flat out that the ear candle effect is impossible. What the f*ck? Anyone who has tried it (as I have) can see clearly that SOMETHING is happening. The stuff that's in the cone at the end of the procedure doesn't materialize out of thin air...

The idea that wax is "too sticky" (what does stickyness have to do with actual viscosity?) to flow freely from the ear canal reveals a lack of understanding of ear wax. Bear with me. smile Some ear wax is indeed quite high viscosity (ie, molasses-like), but a lot of ear wax is actually kind of fluid and oily. Some people's entire outer ears become shiny with the stuff. Not only that, but ear candles tend to pull out a lot of ear wax of a totally non-fluid nature -- this form is like flaky bread crumbs. Indeed, sometimes you can see this in people's ears as well. Q-Tips, people, Q-Tips -- they're there for a reason. smile

Of course, although the couple of times I've done an ear candle have produced pretty dramatic results (including some very dark and high-viscosity wax), it's anyone's guess as to whether such a thing is actually a good idea. I did feel subjectively like I could hear better after doing it, but it may have been entirely psychosomatic. From a complete lay-man's perspective, it seems like it might be a good idea to "clear the way" every once in a while (similar to why some people get periodic colonics), but maybe sucking so much stuff out (it was indeed a lot) just puts your wax glands into overtime trying to replace it. smile

In any event, my mind is continually blown that the medical community straight-up denies ear candles out-of-hand without trying it. It's like a throwback to when they denied that acupuncture did anything. Now first year medical students do acupuncture on themselves as practice (at least at Northwestern) -- albeit stripped of the "ignorant" Eastern spiritual component. Who knows -- maybe if we give doctors a few decades they'll start lighting up ear candles for us. smile Maybe they're just scared people will have accidents and light their hair on fire or something...
Posted by Ben Syverson  in  chicago  on  Wed Jul 28, 2004  at  09:47 PM
Ben, Next time you have the opportunity to "candle" your ear, get an extra cone and burn it just as you would normally but WITHOUT inserting it into your ear. You will probably find the same ammount of gunk in this cone as you find in the cone you used on your ear. The stuff you find in the cone after candling comes from the candle itself. It's dark in color because of the soot from the paper.
Posted by Joesixpack  on  Thu Jul 29, 2004  at  04:54 PM
We will next time, but the results were enough to convince us. The wax in my fiance's cones was much lighter and much different than mine. Whereas there was more wax in my cones, and it was darker. You can see the darker wax swirled into patterns with the cone's wax. Also, there's a good deal of light-color crumbly wax pulled out -- it looks almost like excelsior, and it fills the cone.

In addition, there was a real feeling of pressure change in my ears when I did it, and you get a feeling kind of like your ears popping.

I actually would like to try it with a few tightly rolled sheets of regular paper. I've heard of people doing this and getting the same results -- no possibility of the cone's wax intermingling.
Posted by Ben Syverson  in  chicago  on  Thu Jul 29, 2004  at  07:45 PM
I just want to say that ear candling DOES work. I've used it, and gotten *plenty* of wax out of my ears, and as far as I know my eardrums have not ruptured. Quackwatch is mistaken, somehow. It is possible, because it happened.
Posted by TheVillageSucked  on  Sun Aug 01, 2004  at  05:47 AM
Goodness, the preceding posters are sure it works because "something" happened to them? My how gullible. But I shouldn't talk, because I fell for the "butt candling" site.

Honestly, don't people understand the power of suggestion? Of placebo?

How about swimming? If you want your ears cleaned, just swim to the bottom of the pool, people, then instill some alcohol.
Posted by Liz Ditz  in  http://lizditz.  on  Fri Sep 03, 2004  at  05:02 AM
I suppose the problem with Ben's reply is this:

"I honestly can't understand how the medical community can continue to deny that ear candling does anything. Time and time again, I've heard medical reports that state flat out that the ear candle effect is impossible. What the f*ck? Anyone who has tried it (as I have) can see clearly that SOMETHING is happening."

Well the medical community doesn't deny that something is happening. They simply don't agree that the "something" is the removal of wax from your ear. As tests have shown, there is very little difference between the amount of wax produced regardless of your EAR actually being present.

"but a lot of ear wax is actually kind of fluid and oily"

Well if so, then it has little to do with your perceptions of ear candles. Something of the consistancy of oil would come out of your ear on it's own ( which earwax does! ).

"medical community straight-up denies ear candles out-of-hand without trying it"

Which betrays a moron-like ignorance of medical science. A number of institutions have performed tests on candling (Including Health Canada).

"...denied that acupuncture did anything"

The question would be one of "Which claims?" sure there are uses for acupuncture ( medically speaking ) but not every claim of acupuncture is validated by medical science. For example tennis elbow can be treated well by AP but as an anesthetic for childbirth...not so much.

In my non-medical opinion, it's partialy probability at work. The claims of accupuncturists are so wide, varied and vague that it's not all that unlikely that a few show a positive health benefit. However that's light-years away from validating accupuncture as a whole ( as you seemed to imply! ).
Posted by Jonathan Graham  on  Wed Jul 13, 2005  at  12:57 PM
I have had this treatment and it worked very well for me, although it felt weird! It is a litle like homeopathy, which works too. I am actually medically qualified too, so I should know.
Barbi wink
Posted by Barbi  on  Fri Jul 15, 2005  at  07:47 AM
I've tried burning an ear candle without having it in the ear. The candle itself secreted no earwax like substance. The gunk people are getting out of their ears is not coming from the candles.
Posted by Dave  in  U.S.  on  Fri Sep 23, 2005  at  02:07 PM
If your burning an ear candle that's not in an ear and your not getting the same wax then you aren't burning it the same way. Try giving the bottom of the candle an almost completely closed airway like the palm of your hand (or your butt). You'll get the same amount of "earwax" that way.
Posted by Chris  in  Texas  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  01:18 AM
raspberry

My girl friend recently brought home ear candles, and I knew it was a hoax from the start. She got upset and insisted that I did it, and then cut it open to "show me the wax". I figured the "wax" was just the soot in the wrapping of the paper.

To prove to her that it can't be wax, I took a small small small piece of dirt, put it on a table, and put the candle on it. If it can pick up the "wax" and "wax flakes" mentioned in the above post, it would clearly pick up the dirt.

I proved my point to her!
Posted by Binoy  on  Fri Mar 10, 2006  at  09:33 AM
A plugged ear is not a subjective condition and the removal of the obstruction as with water syringe produces an immediately noticeable benefit in the wasy of renewed normal hearing,and an MD can show his patient the wad just dumped out his or her canal. There should be no reason why clinical research cannot eatblish once and for all if this benefit is achievable by way of coning. I find it quite incredible that so many people unable to hear properly before a coning session would attest to better hearing after the "treatment" out of mere self-delusion. Where there's smoke...
Posted by Gordon Tryon  in  Canada  on  Sat Mar 11, 2006  at  02:50 PM
Seriously people this is a hoax. My boyfriend and I decided to give it a whirl based on my suggestion because I seem to be highly gullible. We were amazed at first by the "wax removal." Upon my boyfriend's further inquisition we burned a candle in the same environment, plugging the tip inserted usually into the ear. Yeah, needless to say we had the same "wax removal" as when the candle was inserted into the ear. What the f#$% is all I have to say. TOTAL RIP-OFF!!
Posted by Kerry  on  Sun Jul 09, 2006  at  02:48 PM
I just want to say that maybe it is a hoax. Maybe it is a 'placebo affect'. Does it really matter to the people that are finding some kind of relief when they do it?

I didn't believe it either, boyfriend insisted, I tried it. I 100% felt better, clear headed, my ears felt better and my sinuses were clear for quite some time!

I've done it since then and had the same results. I also burned one without putting it in my ear and there was no 'gunk' at the bottom of the candle.

Maybe it's just a phenomenon that works only if you believe it works -
Posted by Traci  on  Wed Oct 04, 2006  at  03:27 AM
I tried the ear candle. A room mate of mind claimed it felt so good, got rid of her ear wax, and she craved the feeling of the was being sucked out of her ear.

So years later, I wanted to try it for myself. I went in a firm beleiver that this has to work...

Disapointed. Nothing. I have had to have my ears suctioned before (due to post ear surgery care), and did not feel like annnyyyyttthing was being suction out of my ear. I also had a surgery on my ear, so the opening is different on one vs the other. So I tried the other ear. Again, NOTHING.

This is a hoax. A relatively EXPENSIVE hoax, considering what this is made out of versus cost. If you beleive in something and it makes you feel better, such as prayer, reincarnation, God, whatever, and it helps you, that is great. But if you beleive that candling is working to suction your ear wax, I can only roll my eyes... It is obvious with visual evidence that it does not work! Looking back, my roommate was kinda naive and wanted to beleive in anything 'newage/natural'.
Posted by Kel  in  Chicago  on  Thu Feb 01, 2007  at  02:10 AM
Barbi.. Man, do I pity you. You're medically certified, and you didn't have the sense to burn a candle in open air, and then CUT IT OPEN? Yes, that is where you find the so-called wax (a.k.a., yeast).
My aunt, uncle, sister, and I just tried out the ear-candling method, my sister being the only veteran, having previously done it with my mom. She was convinced that they had amazing effects on your ears. My uncle was skeptical after we found an insane load of gunk in his cut-open candle after burning it. I tried to convince him, showing him how my wax was darker than his.
Sure enough, Uncle Ronnie found several websites claiming ear-candling was a hoax. Not sure ourselves, we burned a spare candle in open air, and naturally, it was full of crap. You can actually un-ravel an unused candle and see the layers of junk that come off due to the heat. The reason my wax was darker was finally discovered: when you blow out the candles, more or less of the burnt and singed end may remain. The wax that has been burned will obviously be darker, and my candle had a longer singed end than he did. Plus, he didn't look at the wax on both ends, like I did.
So sorry guys, this thing is a huge hoax. You wasted whatever small fortune you spent on these supposed 'natural remedies'. By the way, have you ever read the immature descriptions on the back of the packages? The particular brand we had the misfortune of coming across sounded like it had been written by a pissed-off six-year-old: there were various typos and non-stop disclaimers, including phrases such as, "This flyer is distributed under the First Amendment of our Constitution." Wow. But here's my personal favorite:
"Do no [typo: I'm assuming it meant to say "not"] use ear candles without consulting your doctor because our beliefs are not consistent with the medical establishmnt (even though the drs [Nice abbreviation] have only 60 years of experience and natural healing has thousands of years of experience).
And you wonder why they're illegal in Canada?
I rest my case.
Posted by Certified Genius  in  Fort Pierce  on  Tue Feb 06, 2007  at  10:50 PM
Check out this site for answers
http://www.usanest.org/faq.htm
Posted by Truth  in  CA  on  Wed Mar 14, 2007  at  12:50 PM
I just did an experiment with an ear candle in which I inserted the candle into the top of an empty glass pepper shaker (without the top), which had an opening about the size of an ear canal. The end result was that the candle produced the normal gunk at the bottom of the candle that was indistinguishable from what one sees if it were in an ear.

Now for the interesting part: in the bottom of the glass shaker was a brown waxy residue. Guess what- an ear candle will actually ADD WAX to your ear, not remove it!!
Posted by Dennis  on  Wed Apr 30, 2008  at  01:09 AM
Hoax from the start.
Posted by Candle Company  on  Thu Oct 29, 2009  at  08:26 AM
I have tried these on my own when I was younger. I noticed a peculiar amount of wax, so I decided to do it again. Again, mucho wax. Twice more with the same results. I must have been born with really waxy ears for these to keep working. Quickly I realized it WAS a hoax. But, in the defense of the ear candle quackery, it did make my ear nice and warm and provided a slight pressure change that was somewhat pleasant. The warmth actually made it easier for me to use a bulb syringe and get the wax out that actually was in my ear. So, to their credit, they can help warm your earal (?) area; but the humiliation of laying with my head tilted to the side was more than I could bare. I committed suicide shortly after.
Posted by woo-ha  in  Whoregon  on  Mon Apr 05, 2010  at  09:21 PM
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