How To Make Your Own Ear Plugs Out Of Safe Materials

Is it safe and effective to make your own ear plugs, and can you save money by doing so? Read on to find out.

The most common use of ear plugs is to protect oneself from extremely loud noises, which can damage one's hearing. Many commercial ear plugs are available, from cheap foam rubber cones to expensive custom-made plugs shaped to fit one's individual ear.

When it comes to making your own noise-protection ear plugs, common wisdom is often less than wise. For instance, musicians stuff their ears with cotton balls all the time, even though cotton balls provide very little protection against the aural assault of stage amplifiers. Now, there's nothing wrong with using cotton balls to block out household noises at bedtime, but don't confuse comfort with safety. Remedies that suffice for trying to get to sleep needn't meet the same standards necessary to protect against hearing loss.

If you must make your own ear plugs, try to acquire the same sort of material used in the cheaper sort of commercial ear plugs. Soft, dense foam rubber is the most common of these. Roll it tightly into a cone, then insert it such that it rests right at the opening of the ear canal. It will re-expand inside the ear canal for a close fit.

However, commercially made ear plugs can be found at any drug store for as little as fifty cents, which is probably cheaper than the price you'll find on bulk foam rubber. Why risk choosing a material that affords less protection and safety, when you can buy better ear plugs for less than the price of most vending machine soft drinks?

An arena in which home-made ear plugs can be a viable option is that of preventing water-related ear infections, such as otitis externa ("swimmer's ear"). Chlorinated water can be especially conducive to infections, as the ear canal can become irritated by chemical reactions relating to the chlorine. Chlorine also has the effect of drying out the ear, reducing its resistance to germy intruders. But we risk infection any time we get water in the ears, and not just in swimming pools, since the moist, warm ear canal is a haven for bacteria and fungi.

A safe and relatively effective way to water-proof the ear while swimming or bathing is to use cotton balls covered in petroleum jelly. The oil-based petroleum jelly repels water, and the cotton holds the oily shield in place. However, this remedy should not be relied upon at great depths or for long intervals. And never reuse these home-made ear plugs, especially if you already have an ear infection; you don't want to re-infect yourself.

Never push an ear plug very far into the ear. It should sit comfortably just inside the canal entrance. Inserting an ear plug too deeply can push naturally occurring ear wax into a compact mass, blocking the canal. It can also make ear plug removal difficult. If you do manage to push an ear plug farther in than you can reach to remove it, do not try to pull it out with tweezers, and don't try to lever it out with a cotton swab, toothpick, or other tool. It's much safer to let a doctor coax the stubborn plug out than risk permanent damage to your ears and hearing.

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