The first time I ever saw a Himalayan Salt Lamp it filled my senses with pure natural beauty lurking in abundance in the soft pink-to-orange light it emitted. It felt like a link to the roots of humanity. My first association was with something genuine, primitive…and magical. Warm ambiance and a kind of mystery that makes you almost feel there’s more to simply being beautiful.
And, indeed, it turned out that behind the purely decorative functions, an arsenal of purported health benefits is hidden. It’s true that most are not yet scientifically proven, but rather theoretically (in a convincing way, though) explained. However, if you consider buying a new lamp for your home or office, an investment in a Himalayan salt lamp seems insignificant compared to the value of the benefits it might bring. Even if only a small portion of them turns out to be true.
Benefits of Himalayan Salt Lamps
Scientific research on the effects of the Himalayan Salt Lamps on health is yet to be done. There is no solid evidence that the benefits listed below could stand the test of science. But still, the explanation given for most of them sound plausible and is worth reading. It might someday receive recognition by scientific bodies.
Purify the Air
Himalayan Salt Lamps are hygroscopic. This means they attract water molecules from the air, absorb those microscopic water droplets together with any pollutants they may be carrying, and trap them into the salt crystal. When you turn on the lamp, it heats up and the water evaporates back into the air, leaving dust, pollen, smoke locked into the salt.
You might ask, “If a piece of salt rock can clean the air in my apartment (or a single room), what are all these air purifying systems for?”. A pretty reasonable question. We all guess it is very unlikely that a 10-inch lamp would clean the air of a whole room. But if an aesthetic home accessory could positively affect the air at home, no matter how small the impact is, that is definitely a great bonus and a good investment!
Neutralize Electromagnetic Radiation
One of the greatest benefits of HPS lamps is their ability to enrich the air with negative ions. This property has been linked to a number of important health benefits.
Our modern hi-tech homes are equipped with all kinds of trendy electronics that fill our evenings with noise, blue light, and positive ions. Electromagnetic Radiation they emit has been shown to increase cortisol levels, causing chronic fatigue, increased stress levels, and compromised immune response. Negative ions emitted by Himalayan salt lamps, on the other hand, are said to reduce the electromagnetic radiation in the room, thus, making you feel more energized and relaxed at the same time.
Allergies and Asthma Relief
Himalayan Salt Lamps might be a great choice for a side lamp for people with respiratory problems. They seem to alleviate symptoms of asthma and allergies. Since they trap particles like dust, pollen and other allergy causing impurities, placing a salt lamp in your bedroom could help you breathe a bit easier and reduce annoying allergy symptoms.
If you’re struggling long sleepless nights and wake up tired in the morning, a Himalayan Salt Lamp could be your best choice for a side lamp. Sleep problems might be caused by a wide spectrum of health conditions. An excess of positive ions, typical for closed spaces supplied with many electronic devices, could be one factor to consider. Too many positive ions in the air could interfere with the quality of your sleep because they can reduce blood and oxygen supply to the brain. What follows is irregular sleep patterns.
As mentioned above, Himalayan Salt Lamps are natural negative ion generators. Keep one or two around your bedroom. Though the number of negative ions they generate is not sufficient to rule out all positive ones, at least it adds a soft pink or orange glow that could work to switch your mood and body activity to a sleeping mode.
Improves mood, increases the production of serotonin, fights seasonal depression
Could a lamp boost your mood? Well, watching beautiful things definitely helps with that. Though, this is not the common explanation for this purported health benefit. Some studies suggest negative ions increase the production of the mood chemical serotonin, thus, making you feel happier and more relaxed. It also helps fight chronic and seasonal depression and relieve stress. (1) Columbia University studies of people with winter and chronic depression show that negative ion generators relieve depression as much as antidepressants.
How Do They Work?
Himalayan Salt Lamps might raise an association with a crystal ball or Aladin’s lamp with the mysterious ambiance they create. But it’s not magic what triggers the health benefits devotees claim they bring.
Two main processes are called to back the above mentioned positive impact on health and wellbeing.
Salts possess the ability to attract water molecules from the air and absorb them. Pollutants attached to the water molecules share the same fate. With the sole difference that they don’t get the chance to leave. While, subsequently, when heated by the light bulb, water molecules go back to the air, particles like dust, pollen, mildew stay trapped into the salt of the lamp. If your salt lamp stays off for long periods of time, it will begin to “cry”.
So, the second important factor is heat. The light bulb used need to produce enough heat to warm the salt rock. Keep the manufacturer’s recommendations as to what type of light bulb is suitable for the specific item you possess.
It’s not a rocket science. It sounds plausible that Himalayan salt lamps could work to reduce, at least to some extent, exposure to harmful allergens. A good general rule is that 1 pound of salt will filter approximately a 4×4 area of a room.
And how about negative ions?
Generating Negative Ions
Let’s refresh some chemistry class knowledge. All that’s surrounding us is made up of molecules, made up of atoms. Each atom has a positively charged nucleus (protons and neutrons) and negatively charged electrons orbiting around it. If the number of protons and electrons are equal, that atom is electrically neutral. Fewer electrons than protons mean the atom has an overall positive charge, respectively, and it is called a positive ion. If, however, the atom contains an extra electron, it is negatively charged and referred to as a negative ion. (2)
Himalayan Salt Lamps emit negative ions but not on a large scale. Having a salt lamp at home is often compared to bringing a tiny piece of nature on your bedside table. The negative ions it generates are not produced by the salt lamp itself. A heat source is needed to accelerate evaporation. The process of evaporation is what makes the salt lamp produce negative ions.
Negative ions are abundant in nature, especially around moving water, as well as in specific meteorological conditions such as after a thunderstorm. They are created by the effects of water, air, sunlight and the Earth’s inherent radiation. The invigorating effect of being in nature, the sudden flow of energy and relaxation while near a waterfall, a river, or on the beach near the ocean, is often attributed to the positive health effects of negative ions.
High concentrations of negative ions are essential for high energy and positive mood (Thayer, 1996) (3) It is also linked to health benefits like better sleep and reducing the EMF levels.
Dry salt therapy, known as speleotherapy or halotherapy, has been soothing inflammation and boosting respiratory health since the 1800’s when a Polish physician discovered that breathing pure, ionized air in salt mines cured respiratory conditions.
Dr. Albert P Krueger, microbiologist and experimental pathologist, “worked with bacteria of the kind that float in the air and spread diseases “ mostly colds, influenza, and other respiratory ills “ and found that an astonishingly small quantity of neg-ions could kill them and quickly take them out of the air so they were less likely to infect people.” (The Ion Effect, by Fred Soyka, p. 57, 1991.)
Some scientists deny health benefit claims. For example, a 2013 study in the journal BMC Psychiatry reviewed data from several studies. It found that “overall, negative air ionization has no overall effect on anxiety, mood, sleep or personal comfort. However, those studies did document a slight reduction in depressive symptoms, with higher levels of impact from higher concentrations of negative ionization.”
Again, the concentration of negative ions in nature, near a large waterfall could reach up to 50 000 ions/cm3. An HPS lamp can’t load the air in a room with that amount of negative ions, not even close, not even the biggest designs available on the market. It could be considered an added value to the main function of the lamp – to add authentic natural beauty to your home, give out soft beautiful pinkish orange light and help you breathe a bit cleaner refreshed.
If you’re buying it for the purpose of populating indoor air with negative ions – give up the idea and buy a negative ion generator.
Where do Himalayan Salt Lamps come from?
Real Himalayan Salt Lamps are made from salt rocks formed over 500 million years ago. An ancient inland sea slowly evaporated, leaving behind expansive mineral salt deposits. It is obtained from the depths of Khewra, Pakistan, on the western edge of the Himalayan mountains. Claimed to be the only place where true Himalayan pink salt is found, it is also the largest mine that holds 6.7 billion tons, of which about 220 million tons is currently accessible.
With harvesting at a similar rate, without expansion, the deposits would be enough for about 550 more years.
It is believed that Himalayan crystal salt is identical in composition to the ancient primal ocean. Himalayan salt contains all the elements found in our bodies that occur naturally – all in all 84 trace minerals and elements. It was called by ancient alchemist “the fifth element” and crowned with names like “king salt”, “salt of life”, or “white gold”.
Caring for Your Himalayan Salt Lamp
Himalayan Salt Lamp is not a regular decorative home accessory in terms of caring. To keep its appearance and properties for a longer period, follow these basic care rules:
- Don’t place the lamp in a room with excess humidity (such as bathroom, laundry, kitchen). It might not be able to absorb and evaporate at a rate enough not to cause it to “weep”.
- The lamp has natural self-cleaning properties, thus, never try to wash it. You will need to dust it or clean it from time to time, to preserve its looks. Switch the lamp off and use a dry or slightly damp (not wet) cloth to clean it.
- The process of hygroscopy means that sometimes a Himalayan salt lamp is going to “sweat”. To avoid damaging your furniture, place your Himalayan salt lamp on a decorative plate or holder.
- If you need to be away for some time or for other reason need to keep the lamp off for a longer period of time, unplug the power cord. Separate the cord from your salt lamp. Then, wrap the salt lamp in a plastic bag to keep it from absorbing moisture.
To be clear, if you are looking for a placebo or a magic wand that will improve your health in the blink of an eye and make you fly high full of energy and enthusiasm – maybe you’ll need to wait for someone to discover that miracle. But if you’re on the lookout for a new home accessory that will add a touch of nature to your living room, bedroom or your office desk and, possibly, freshen up the air and add some amount of negative ions, though small it might be – go ahead and try it. Many already have, and many swear it works for them. Might science have missed on something? Who knows. It might have missed on beauty and serenity of the calming pinkish orange light ;).
Only be careful not to get tricked when buying one. There are many fake salt lamps out on the market. Be sure to check the origin of the Himalayan Salt Lamp and purchase only from verified credible stores. You can’t go wrong with these guys.
They offer a wide range of fair trade Himalayan Salt lamps, that are not only beautiful, well-made and hand excavated. You’ll find in their catalog rare salt crystal lamps like this one – RARE GREY HIMALAYAN SALT CRYSTAL LAMP. It caught my eye, but nevermind, each Himalayan Salt Lamp they offer is one of a kind and is made of real Himalayan salt.