Do-It-Yourself Instant Earmolds

My hearing loss is severe and I have to wear very tight earmolds to avoid feedback…BUT my ear canals suffer from these deep and tight earmolds. So I am shopping around for new or different earmolds all the time. In fact, I have found out that hard acrylic earmolds are a disaster for me, but soft silicone earmolds seem to do a better job DEPENDING on how much space develops between the earmold and the surface of the canal after the new earmold is inserted. Recently I have noticed some audiologists advertising instant earmolds that can be made with silicone material right in the office the same way that impressions were made previously but were then sent out to a lab to cast the actual earmold that might arrive back 2 weeks later. Earmolds are really pretty simple affairs, but my last set cost me 250$ and this seems pretty pricey too. I am always looking at ways to save (I guess others are like me there)… In fact, I found a earmold you can make at home and use instantly on ebay: the Seller is ebdonrowley and he sells something he calls the earbuddy system which is just a special ear tube and two containers of silicone material you mix together and insert along the sides of the tube to get your instant earmold after about 10 minutes in the ear for setting. I wonder if anyone has had any experience with instant earmolds of this type, either made by an audiologist or by yourself, and if anyone has used this Ear Buddy system on ebay. I got this package from Mr. Rowley which is really kind of overpriced, just a plastic tube with silicon putty in two containers and some directions, and I think maybe you can damage your eardrum if you are not very careful with doing this. Any thoughts on that?

That sounds outrageous. My earmolds were free. I have read on here that others have paid $30-50.

I am always looking at ways to save (I guess others are like me there)… In fact, I found a earmold you can make at home and use instantly on ebay: the Seller is ebdonrowley and he sells something he calls the earbuddy system which is just a special ear tube and two containers of silicone material you mix together and insert along the sides of the tube to get your instant earmold after about 10 minutes in the ear for setting. I wonder if anyone has had any experience with instant earmolds of this type, either made by an audiologist or by yourself, and if anyone has used this Ear Buddy system on ebay. I got this package from Mr. Rowley which is really kind of overpriced, just a plastic tube with silicon putty in two containers and some directions, and I think maybe you can damage your eardrum if you are not very careful with doing this. Any thoughts on that?

When the casting was made for my molds, my HIS first stuffed a small piece of something that I assume was cotton way down my ear canal right in front of the eardrum. He used an Ear Light to place the cotton, then a video Otoscope to fine tune the placement.

When I read your post, I did a little Googling and found plenty of info on self made custom molds, so it seems pretty common. My first reaction was that this is terrifying. Hearing loss has been difficult to deal with, I don’t want to run the risk of puncturing my eardrum. But after reading some of the info out there, I am now intrigued.

It will be interesting to find out if anyone on here has tried this.

Definitely interesting! In Holland you get them for free with new HA’s, but pay 70€ for extra molds later on.
@Bluecrab Could you post the more informative links about this?

Well, just got done reading this. Paid for and supported by Westone, but interesting nonetheless.

This guy made it sound real easy, but this comment in his article really popped out at me:

“After about 10 minutes, the silicone will have set enough so that you can remove the molds. DO THIS VERY SLOWLY. You’ll want to get a grip and very slowly twist them out of your ear. If you remove them too quickly, you run the risk of popping your eardrum. This is not only damaging and painful, but you can run the risk of an infection, so please, do take your time and do this carefully.”

So yeah, make your own, just don’t pop your eardrum.:eek:

This article was very interesting as well. Seems even the pros get it wrong a lot.

I was terrified of the idea at first, then intrigued, now I’m losing faith again. I’m a big fan of DIY, but some things need a pro and I’m thinking this might be one of them.

My experience (Costco) was similar, but the audi used a small round of what looked like sponge to me. It went in first, I assumed to protect the ear drum from the silicone and to keep the mold from being made so that it fit too deep it hit the eardrum. As I remember, mine were $80 and I have 90 days to request redos and could actually have rejected them and gotten a refund.

Yes earmolds are usually included in the package when you buy a hearing aid. But you often do not know if they are troublesome until months later. Nothing of course is free. So if you are like me, and have sensitivity to earmolds, you want to try other options. My problem with earmolds is a serious one: if they are set very deep I get infections. Lots of infections. If I shorten them, I get much reduced volume and my word recognition goes way down. So I wanted to try this ear buddy system. And I too am wary of making the earmold without a little sponge dam that is inserted first. Currently I had to cut the depth of the silicon earmold to avoid infections and that is how I now go. As for costs of an earmold- the price most audiologists charge for making a set of earmolds varies from about 100 to 250$. My audiologist charges top price, but would probably give me a break since I have been his customer for years.

I thank all for the links to information online. I do believe that the ebay method might be dangerous and on further investigation I think you need to have to use a better method for making these “instant” earmolds including use of a small foam dam to protect the ear drum. Almost all online resources say that you really need to use a syringe to inject the silicon material and use care in removing the earmold once it is set up. Also you clearly cannot easily do a good job on yourself-you need another person to inject the silicon. My best sources online for more on this include a video from Warner: Untitled Document , and some very detailed instructions on the traditional way of making earmolds from Microsonic: http://www.microsonic-inc.com/index2.php?section=80 I think I will be returning the ebay “earbuddy” system for a refund to Mr. Rowley which he will hopefully allow…

I had always assumed that custom fitted “molds” (sometimes referred to, here, as “domes” when off the shelf) came with your $4K+ HA. Mine did. You wouldn’t buy a $2K suit and not expect to have at least the arm sleeves custom fitted.
This subject of domes/molds seems quite prevalent on this forum. Since HA are somewhat regulated as a medical device, fitted earmolds should be required.

But that suit may or may not come with a necktie. That’s why I like to encourage people to know what they are getting before they commit to a provider.

This subject of domes/molds seems quite prevalent on this forum. Since HA are somewhat regulated as a medical device, fitted earmolds should be required.

Seems to me that in plenty of those discussions, most people prefer the domes. Simpler to use, more comfortable, and replaceable. I got custom molds because my domes were backing out. But in all truthfulness, I liked the domes better.

But hopefully, people who read these forums prior to purchase will at least know to ask if they are included.

I tried to educate myself via this forum before getting my first HA 5+ years ago. Even so, I wouldn’t have known to expect custom fitted molds/domes rather than someting “off the shelf”. Fortunately, my HMO doesn’t try to cut costs that way. How many newbies would know about something like this. The one thing I learned from this forum was I should be a good candidate for (think it’s called_ “open fit system”. I did go to Costco to see what they had - and they wanted to sell me a closed system where I wouldn’t be able to use a phone in normal fashion and would have required extra hardware to wear. Stuck w. HMO - which I woud have probably done anyway since they are less than a mile away,

I know a couple of people who have made temporary earmolds using the noise suppressing earplugs that you can buy at a hardware store. They punch a hole lengthwise in the earplug, insert the sound tube, squeeze the plug and insert it in the ear and let it expand. I guess it works pretty good as long as you don’t need a vent hole. I guess you could put a second tube in the plug and insert the section of the cut off sound tube to work as a vent if you needed one and had enough room int the plug.

Curiosity and finance got me to try to make my own earmolds using Silicone Putty kit sold for custom diy earplugs (Radians Kit available from a number of vendors on ebay for about 10$ and available in various colors-I used tan). For the tubing I used the smallest size ear plug plus tube which wereincluded in a Siemen’s cheap backup hearing aid I purchased for emergency backup. These earplugs are shaped like domes but have a 90degree connector which attaches them to the tube, and they are available separately on ebay. I simply attached the bte hearing aid and sized the tube to fit, inserted the ear plug to make sure of the fit . I then added about 1/8 teaspoon of each silicon component to a plate, mixed well to activate and rolled the mixture into a short length of “rope” (mixing activates it so you work fast) and wrapped the mixture around the top of the earplug and pressed it all into the canal tightly, waited half an hour, and carefully removed. This did the trick. The diy earmold is soft silicon and completely seals the dome into the canal so there is no feedback whatsoever, even with the cheap backup hearing aid (which is nondigital and has no suppression electronics). This is the best earmold I have ever used for comfort and I have no feedback problems with it. I am sure it will need replacement after a while. How long will it last? It looks like it should last for months, maybe longer. Very comfortable and barely visible because I don’t use a lot of silicon and it is set deep into my ear. Others will want to try this: Take your time in making these and do not remove until fully set. And yes, remove gently to avoid damage to the eardrum. Slow is the key, prying up one edge of the hardened earmold slowly to let pressure equalize and then very cautiously removing the finished earmold. You have saved yourself some bucks for sure, but you may be surprised at how comfortable these feel and how well they work.

In describing this diy method, I think I need to clarify the basic item that I used to make my own: The “ear plug” I used is actually a mushroom temporary ear mold made of cheap plastic and attached to a long length of tubing with a right angle connector. There are many of these available on ebay and you can view one online here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sale-SIEMENS-ReSound-Hearing-Aid-Aids-Ear-tips-Plug-Domes-Molds-12-pcs-L-M-S-/181681865073?hash=item2a4d154171:g:dWAAAOSwBLlU9w~e

I’m fascinated by this method, since I think I need new earmolds, they are very pricey, and because of the anatomy of me ear canals they never fit very well. I also don’t need vents.

But I’m having a little trouble figuring out how you did this. I know your directions are reasonably clear, but when it comes to sticking silicone goo into my ears, well I am inclined to be super-cautious.

Would you mind explaining a little more? I think I’m getting a little lost where you say you “wrapped the misture around the top of the earplug and pressed it all into the canal tightly…” [edit] I think I’m unclear about what the top of the earplug means.

Thank you!

SO here is the scoop on ear molds…

There are quite a few ear mold companies out there. And then of course, the manufacturers of hearing devices also make ear molds. The costs depend on what kind of ear mold, what kind of technology, and which company does it for you.

Most dispensers/AuDs will include the first set with your new devices, but some some will itemize it out. That is a choice for the practice. There are actually something like 10 or 15 different hardnesses of material available from very soft silicone, to hypoallergenic silicone, all the way to hard lucite, and everything in between. There are also hollow shell ear molds that are fairly popular now… Phonak calls them slimtips and Oticon calls them Litetips, and others have their own names.

The shape or your ear canal, the brand of hearing device, the sensitivity of your ear canal and the type and severity of the hearing loss are all factors that must be balanced.

And NOW, most manufacturers have high power ear molds that have the receiver built into the mold. This makes these styles more expensive.

PLUS, what kind of shipping do you want to pay for? And if the ear mold is not QUITE perfect, do you want to have to pay for that shipping again to get it remade?

So as a premium service provider, my practices charge on the higher side in our area. BUT, we overnight ship everything. Thats $20+ each time. And I prefer to use the device manufacturers ear mold labs, which tend to be more expensive than third parties. Why? Because they each know their own products the best. So if I am fitting a Phonak, I feel Phonak does the best job of making molds for Phonak devices. If I am fitting Oticon, I like Oticon molds, etc…

And I never charge YOU for the shipping for a remake, because I want that ear mold to be correct for you.

There was a time when I had a different price for every ear mold and variation. It got really stupid complicated and made people more likely to choose an inferior option for the purpose of saving a few dollars. So to simplify, I consolidated everything. Now I include ear molds with the device purchase, and just charge $125 for each additional earmold no matter what options are selected and I cover the cost of unlimited remakes and modification until we get it just right. In the end run, sometimes I lose money on ear molds, and sometimes I make money. But it always seems to balance out, and my business run much smoother having just one price and always ordering the option that will suit the patient the best. I do not consider myself to be in the business of selling ear molds. Ear molds are just a PART of a hearing device. If that means an absolute power Starkey ear mold or a Phonak cshell integrated super power receiver or an Oticon minifit105 power receiver mold, then so be it.

But every practice is free to do as they want. I have made instant impressions for people in the office as well. They are crappy quality and do not hold up nearly as long. And every patient who has brought in their own home made molds always has the same problems… Poor fit, poor quality, and usually too shallow because they couldn’t see what they were doing…

This is all fascinating. I would recommend people to look into the science of acoustic options.

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner on your question. There is a kit you can purchase from Don Rowley, available on line at ebay. It is basically a silicon putty mix but Don sells special tubes called ear buddy tubes for various prices. I think it is overpriced and I decided to send it back and do it myself with the radians silicone kit and mushroom type ear molds as I explained. But Mr. Rowley has a video on you tube on how to do this, which is the method I used: Here is the link YouTube Hope this helps. I do warn you to use ONLY 1/8 teaspoon of the silicone putty. I tried this with a larger amount, half a teaspoon, and then had a devil of a time getting that out of my ear. So the smaller amount limits this problem since with this method you are not using a dam and string to prevent stuff from getting deeper into the ear canal.

Thank you for this info and the links: I just viewed your helpful note some time after you posted it. I may look into the Widex option you suggest but I am not hopeful. Alas my situation with hearing loss is very depressing. Guess I am just about ready to give up on audiology. The reason I tried DIY earmolds was to use with a cheap pair of backup aids I need when the regular BTEs I wear conk out. I am totally deaf without hearing aids so I need backups and the ones I use are cheapies that just give me some sound, not much else.
One thing I would suggest that people on this forum try is AVOID ABBREVIATIONS! KS5’s??? Well I guess that refers to Kirkland Signature 5 aids? Who would know??? Took me a while. Thanks again.

Hello, I was wondering if there’s a newer approach to diy earmolds. Today, there’s new 3D technology. I was wondering if it’s possible to get a 3D ear impression, and send it to an online or take it to 3D printing store for printing. Is this something possible? Thanks.