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Earplugs that clean your ears

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Povilas S
Povilas S Mar 20, 2022
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Disposable earplugs that are designed to absorb earwax. When you remove them from your ears after use, the wax remains sucked inside the porous earplug material. You throw the wax away together with the earplugs.
Why?
Double benefit - clear your ears while having a good sleep (or using earplugs for whatever reason).
When you remove ordinary earplugs from your ears, often you also remove some earwax that sticks to their surface. It's pretty nasty and if you want to reuse the same earplugs you then have to clean the wax off of them. So why not make them clean your ears properly at once?
How it works:
The earplugs should be made from a material that would be both soundproof and absorb the cerumen while expanding inside the ear cavity or/and after. The material should thus be porous and have lipophilic properties since fatty acids take a big part of the composition of earwax. I'm not sure how feasible is to develop such a material, but it seems like it shouldn't be too complicated.
2
Creative contributions

Core filled with oil and a screw-like foam

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola Mar 21, 2022
What if you designed an earplug that has a soft gel core filled with a mineral or any other kind of oil and a surrounding "screw-shaped" foam?
Why?
  • Mineral or olive oil softens and lubricates an ear canal, making wax removal much easier.
  • Screw-shaped foam could "guide" the wax out of the ear.
How does it work?
  • You press an earplug and insert it into an ear.
  • By pressing it, you made a small amount of oil get out of the "core" through the semi-porous membrane.
  • The earplug spreads and fills the ear canal.
  • The oil softens the earwax and lubricates an ear canal.
  • You remove the earplug by circular movement (like unscrewing the screw) to "guide" the wax out of the ear along with an earplug.
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Povilas S
Povilas S2 months ago
Could work
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Several problems with earplugs

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola Mar 21, 2022
I was never a big fan of using earplugs, so maybe my opinion will be a bit biased, but I want to point out some problems.
Pushing the wax deeper and deeper
Earplugs usage is often related to more wax buildup and ear infections, since the earplugs, the same as cotton swabs, act like a ramrod in an old-style cannon - pushing the wax deeper and deeper into an ear canal. Therefore, making in foamy would definitely make it less "dangerous" in that sense, but the negative impact on the ear would still exist.
The benefits of an ear wax
Besides, wax has antifungal and antibacterial properties and is therefore useful. On the other hand, excessive daily removal of wax by such earplugs, if made efficient, could possibly make the ear more susceptible to infections due to a significant reduction of the ear wax.
I think these facts should be taken into consideration while designing an earplugs or similar noise-cancelling gadget.
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Povilas S
Povilas S2 months ago
That's true. Earwax has its purpose. But excessive amounts of it might clog your ear and it's not very aesthetic or hygienic either if it becomes visible on the outer ear. Therefore cleaning it from time to time is necessary. So such earplugs should not be used excessively, but once a month or so.
Some people use earplugs only occasionally, when the circumstances force them, say on a plane or if the neighbors are having a party, etc. So that would be rare enough for regular and healthy cleaning of earwax.
For those who use earplugs regularly it's perhaps still better to use earplugs that would suck the wax in rather than pushing it deeper as you noted, but removing it too often would not be healthy, so the alternative is to use, say noise-canceling headphones or other means that not go deep inside your ear cavity, it's perhaps possible to design shallow earplugs that only occupy the first centimeter or so of your ear canal but have better noise-canceling properties.
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