The therapy can cause infections and burns, Consumer Council says Ear candling might be dangerous and there has been no scientific proof to support the benefits claimed by therapists, the Consumer Council says. But a veteran beauty parlour practitioner claims the therapy has been proven useful by its popularity and in practice. The therapy, which is also called coning, involves inserting a hollow candle into the ear canal and burning the other end, which creates a vacuum that is supposed to extract earwax. The council said ear candling might be hazardous as it could cause ear infections and burns on the skin, if not monitored properly. 'Consider this - you have a candle so close to your ear and there is a fire on top of it,' said Ching Pak-chung, vice-chairman of the council's public and community relations committee. In a report from the United States, a survey of 122 ear specialists found that 21 patients had suffered serious injuries caused by ear candling, with six cases of temporary hearing loss, seven cases of candle wax blocking the ear canal and one patient even having an eardrum punctured. But Sandy Lam Sau-yung, an 18-year veteran in beauty therapies who has conducted ear candling at Ziz Skincare for Men, said the dangers were low and usually caused by using cheap candles, and a lack of experience among some therapists. 'There are many low-quality candles from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong now because of the increasing popularity of the therapy,' she said. 'There are a lot of them because they are very cheap - it is one tenth of the price we pay for imported candles from the west.' Ms Lam's beauty centre charged HK$280 for one treatment but in many other parlours, the price was as low as HK$80. 'It's very simple - the cheaper it is, the lower quality it is,' she said, adding that cheap candles usually made a bigger fire and would be more dangerous. She also warned the public not to try doing ear candling at home because good therapists all required training before conducting the therapy. The council also warned the public that ear candling might not bring the benefits that have been claimed. Therapists have long claimed ear candling can do more than remove earwax, including reducing earaches, migraines, stress and even hay fever. Professor Ching said these benefits had no scientific backing and a study in Canada had shown that the therapy could not create suction in the ear canal and certainly no medical benefits. But Ms Lam said that in her eight years' experience in ear candling she found all her clients had benefited. 'Science is science, but real-life proof speaks for itself,' she said. 'If clients found it useless then some of them would not have bought 50 therapies in one go.' Professor Ching said most people did not need ear candling as earwax usually moves along the canal and made its way out.