The innate chemicals in earwax used to kill foreign organisms cause the bitter taste of earwax. Cerumen, the medical term for earwax, is a yellow waxy substance that helps to trap viruses, foreign organisms and even insects.
The glands located in the outer portion of the ear produce earwax, which works to keep foreign organisms from making contact with the delicate parts of the inner ear. People sometimes use cotton swabs to remove earwax, but this sometimes pushes earwax farther into the ear canal. Warm saline water syringes and vacuum machines can draw out excess wax. Improper removal can result in temporary hearing loss, infection, inflammation or even damage to the ear, such as a perforated tympanic membrane, so experts advise caution in removal.