Ear coning, also known as ear candling, is a centuries-old home remedy that has caught on as a modern spa treatment to improve everything from hearing to sinus problems.
If you’re looking for a unique service to add to your menu, ear coning may be just the thing you want. Ear coning is an ancient, non-invasive, ultra-calming technique to gently cleanse the ear canal. The benefit claims of this ancient ritual are everything from removing excess wax and debris to improving vision, hearing, taste, and sinuses.
There’s evidence of ear canal cleansing in the ancient cultures of China, Sumaria, Egypt, Tibet, and India. In ancient Egypt it was said to promote immune strength and spiritual enlightenment. In some cultures, the matriarch of the family would do a spring ear coning much as one would do a spring cleaning of the closets.
The basic premise of ear coning is the practitioner lights the large opening of a cone and smoke flows counterclockwise down the cone and out the small end that is gently placed inside the client’s ear canal. “With this airtight seal in place, the smoke flows through the ear canal and draws out toxins and old wax that is inside the ear,” explains Richard Porter of Healing Gateways Center in Guilford, Conn.
As the cone burns, the gentle sound of the smoke flowing in the ear soothes and heals as if flows in and through the body.
“The ear canal gets cleaned out and the body’s natural healing process begins,” says Porter. “If there is water trapped in the ear, this helps to clear and unclog the ear canal. The results can be very relaxing, energizing, exhilarating, and healing. There is also strong evidence that parasites and certain diseases are positively affected with ear coning.”
The service typically takes place on a bodywork table, with the client lying on her side, head on a pillow, and additional pillows between her knees and under her arms to provide a comfortable experience. A non-combustible cloth is then placed around the face and ear and the process begins by lighting the large end of the ear cone.
When the smoke flows from the base of the cone, the small end is placed in the ear canal opening and smoke flows throughout, blending and healing as it moves throughout the body. From time to time, the cone should be removed and the burned material cut away and the inside of the cone should be cleaned out. Then, the cone is placed back in the ear until it has burned about halfway down. The process is repeated on the other ear. Each ear takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
“Sometimes I may use more than one come in each ear, depending on the amount of blockage encountered during the process,” says Porter. After a treatment, cotton should be placed gently in the ears to keep cold wind, drafts, or other blowing materials out of the ear. After a treatment, the ear is slightly vulnerable, and needs to be protected while a normal amount of earwax accumulates for protection.
Service charges run about $60 per session and two to four cones are used, depending on your client’s needs.
So, is it easy to incorporate this service into a salon or spa’s environment? “Yes,” says Porter. “It can be part of a salon or spa’s services if the ear coning practitioner is properly trained. They should know how to use an otoscope to check out the ear canal. They should know basic inner ear anatomy and should also know when to use the ear cones and when not to. For example, someone with an active inner ear infection should not be coned.”
Currently no state regulates ear coning. A license isn’t required to become an ear coning practitioner, but training programs are recommended.
“It’s an unregulated service,” says Becky Sturn, owner of The Salon For You in Saint Paul, Minn. “When we wanted to start offering the service, we hired a practitioner who had taken some classes.”
Sturn does, and recommends, that salons looking to offer ear coning services either post a disclaimer or have clients sign one.
“We’re not doctors or medical authorities who can correct ear problems,” explains Sturn. “We’re offering a relaxing and soothing experience.”
Training programs are available that typically last two days, with 10 follow-up sessions.
“Currently many salons and spas offer ear coning, but the practitioners are not adequately trained,” says Porter. “With the proper training, this could be a very effective tool for a salon or spa to offer its clients. It could lead to the inclusion of reflexology and chakra balancing services that would enhance a salon or spa’s role in pampering its clients.”