The next time you have a romantic candlelight dinner for two...
Dear Matthew: What is earwax and where does it come from? — Mort S.G., San Diego
If you’re looking for a profitable hobby, Mort, you might save your earwax in a little jar until you have enough to make candles, then sell them at the swap meet. Or use it to put a nice polish on the pickup. That gummy stuff (cerumen, technically) is chemically similar to beeswax and carnauba wax, so I figure it should work.
Earwax is actually a cousin to sweat. At any rate, it’s exuded by modified apocrine sweat glands (ceruminous glands) located in the outer ear canal. Its goal in life is to protect the eardrum from dust, bugs, and anything small enough to wander in there and get stuck in the gummy lining. Earwax hasn’t been the subject of major medical studies, but from what doctors can tell, it’s produced at a more or less constant rate that is determined for each of us genetically.
Come to think of it, Mort, the next time you have a romantic candlelight dinner for two, stick a wick in your ear and light it. If you plan carefully, you could be finished with dessert just before your hair catches on fire.