- Himalayan Salt Lamp Benefits: Facts, Myths and How to Use Them
- What is a Himalayan Salt Lamp?
- Why is Himalayan Salt Pink?
- How Does a Himalayan Salt Lamp Work?
- Do Salt Lamps Really Generate Negative Ions?
- What are negative ions?
- Negative Ions in Nature
- But, Do Salt Lamps Generate Negative Ions?
- Salt Lamps ARE Hygroscopic
- The Benefits of Himalayan Salt Lamps
- 1. Great Night Light and Low-Light Lamp
- 2. May Improve Air Quality
- 3. Light and Color Therapy Benefits
- 4. Soothing for Allergies
- How To Choose a High Quality Salt Lamp
- Other Ways to Use Himalayan Salt
- Himalayan Salt Lamps and Your Health
- FACT CHECK: Do Salt Lamps Provide Multiple Health Benefits?
- Everything you need to know about buying Himalayan salt lamps
- What exactly is a Himalayan salt lamp?
- Himalayan Salt Lamp Health Benefits
- Do Himalayan salt lamps actually work?
- Which lamps should you buy?
- Salt lamps claim to help allergies, improve sleep — but do they work?
Himalayan Salt Lamp Benefits: Facts, Myths and How to Use Them
There are few things in life as soothing and relaxing as the warm glow of a campfire, and a Himalayan salt lamp offers a similar ambiance at home.
I’ve talked before about how I use them to help keep the air fresh and for their soothing red glow. Salt lamps have exploded in popularity over the last few years, along with some explosive claims about their benefits. In this article, I’ll break down the well-studied benefits, the anecdotal ones, and why everyone seems to love these lamps!
TIP: If you’re just looking for a high quality salt lamp for your home (and don’t care about the science), I have this one on my desk right now and love it.
What is a Himalayan Salt Lamp?
Salt lamps or HPS (Himalayan Pink Salt) lamps are large pieces of pure Himalayan Salt with a small bulb inside. They can be solid pieces of salt ( this one) or decorative baskets filled with large crystals of salt ( these). They offer a nice warm glow when lit and may be beneficial for indoor air quality.
Himalayan salt lamps are made from pure, food grade, Himalayan salt crystals. True Himalayan Salt comes from the western side of the Himalayan Mountains in the Punjab region of Pakistan. Once mined, this salt is hand carved into lamps or powdered to use as salt in recipes.
Why is Himalayan Salt Pink?
Regular table salt is primarily just sodium chloride. Himalayan salt is still about 98% sodium chloride, but also contains trace minerals magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Trace minerals give salt lamps their hue, which can range from light pink to a dark orange/pink.
These beautiful lamps gained massive popularity recently and there are many benefits attributed to them.
But are these benefits actually backed by science?
Let’s find out…
How Does a Himalayan Salt Lamp Work?
Good question! We know the body needs salt for things hydration, electrolyte balance, proper blood pressure regulation and for the nervous system. But all of these benefits come from consuming the salt internally (which I also do).
Most of us aren’t eating our salt lamps so the benefits come from another property of salt. Salt is naturally hygroscopic, which means it attracts water molecules to itself. The theory goes that salt lamps attract water molecules in the air.
Since water in the air can also hold allergens, pollutants and even bacteria, these substances get attracted to the lamp too. The heated salt lamp supposedly dries out the water vapor, leaving the particles attached to the salt. For this reason, many sources recommend wiping down the salt lamp with a cloth a few times a week to clean it.
Other sources claim that Himalayan salt lamp benefits are due to the creation of negative ions.
Do Salt Lamps Really Generate Negative Ions?
Many sources claim that salt lamps are natural negative ion generators, although there are some important points to understand:
What are negative ions?
At any given time, there are both positive and negative ions in the air. As a flashback to freshman science class:
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving the atom a net positive or negative electrical charge.
Positively charged ions are also known as cations, while negatively charged ions are anions. The positive or negative charge makes ions able to move and bond easily.
Negative Ions in Nature
Negative ions occur more often in nature and they are often created by things lightening storms, sunlight, waterfalls, and ocean waves.
Running water is considered nature’s greatest source of negative ions and may be one of the things that contributes to the refreshing scent of waterfalls and the beach.
In fact, this is one of the reasons people often report feeling renewed or refreshed after a storm or after spending time at the beach.
WebMD explains some of the benefits of negative ions in the air:
Generally speaking, negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy,” says Pierce J. Howard, PhD, author of The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind Brain Research and director of research at the Center for Applied Cognitive Sciences in Charlotte, N.C.
“They also may protect against germs in the air, resulting in decreased irritation due to inhaling various particles that make you sneeze, cough, or have a throat irritation.”
And for a whopping one in three of us who are sensitive to their effects, negative ions can make us feel we are walking on air. You are one of them if you feel instantly refreshed the moment you open a window and breathe in fresh, humid air.
Places waterfalls and beaches where negative ions are naturally produced can have a negative ion concentration of up to 10,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter whereas busy cities can have negative ion levels as low as 100 ions per cubic centimeter.
But, Do Salt Lamps Generate Negative Ions?
Short answer: Yes. But not in large amounts.
Spending time in nature, especially around water, is definitely the best way to get exposure to negative ions, but salt lamps also generate small amounts, especially when used consistently over time.
Since positive ions are often created by electronic devices computers, TVs, microwaves, and even vacuum cleaners, they can often exacerbate problems allergies, stress and sleep trouble. Negative ions can neutralize positive ions (they bond together) and help cleanse the air. Additionally, salt lamps offer a soothing glow that many people find relaxing.
I don’t personally use salt lamps strictly as a negative ion generator, but keep them around the house, especially near electronics. If negative ions are the goal, using a negative ion generator would be a much more concentrated source.
Salt Lamps ARE Hygroscopic
As I said above, all salt, by its nature, is hygroscopic, meaning that it attracts water to its surface. In a Himalayan salt lamp, this water evaporates quickly due to the small amount of heat from the light source (this is also why salt lamps tend to sweat and appear wet in humid climates).
Small amounts of water vapor is present in the air and can carry things mold, bacteria, and allergens. Salt lamps attract this water vapor and those items it carries to its surface and removes them from the air. When the water vapor evaporates, this MAY generate a small amount of negative ions.
The theory that salt lamps generate negative ions is not tested or well studied. That said, it is ly that due to the hygroscopic nature of salt, these lamps have a positive effect on air quality.
The Benefits of Himalayan Salt Lamps
Salt lamps may not be the negative ion generation panacea they are made out to be, but we have them in many rooms of our house for other reasons:
1. Great Night Light and Low-Light Lamp
Research has shown that different colors of light affect the body in different ways. My own doctor recommends avoiding blue light after sunset because it can interfere with circadian rhythm and disrupt sleep hormones.
Unfortunately, many modern light sources cell phones, tablets, computers, and TVs emit a lot of blue light and many of us spend a good majority of time staring at these screens, especially in the evening.
Salt lamps, on the other hand, offer a warm orange glow, similar to the orange hues found in a campfire or by candlelight. For this reason, they are a great light source for the evening and can even be used as a night light without negatively affecting sleep.
I often wear orange sunglasses at night if I’ll be on the computer or watching a movie to avoid blue light, and we use mostly salt lamps and other low and orange lights after dark for mood lighting.
2. May Improve Air Quality
As mentioned, salt lamps are not a spectacular source of negative ions. However, due to their hygroscopic properties, they may improve the air in other ways. Besides offering a soothing glow, they can attract pollutants in the air and even help neutralize the effects of electronics.
3. Light and Color Therapy Benefits
These soothing lamps may also help boost mood and energy levels, especially for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
The soft orange hues are one of the soothing colors often used to calm mood and increase focus. The small amounts of negative ions may also be helpful in boosting mood as well.
But, if you’re looking for the benefits of the negative ions, spend some time outside instead!
4. Soothing for Allergies
My brother-in-law has struggled with asthma and allergies for much of his life and he found relief after using a Himalayan salt inhaler. Others notice a difference from having salt lamps in their homes or offices. I haven’t found any studies that have looked into why, but the anecdotal evidence is strong from allergy sufferers.
How To Choose a High Quality Salt Lamp
It is possible to buy machines that create negative ions, but I’ve found that spending time outdoors and having salt lamps around the home indoors are less expensive alternatives that offer other benefits as well.
We have salt lamps in most rooms in our home and enjoy them in winter months when it isn’t possible to have the windows open or to spend as much time outside. We now have a solid salt lamp and a basket lamp in several rooms of our home and I love them for their ambient glow and orange color.
Salt lamps cost less than many other types of lamps, and a high quality one can last for decades.
If you are interested in adding a salt lamp to your home, choose ones with these features for best quality:
- Orange Color– Darker colored lamps are typically considered higher quality. Lamps should specify that they are 100% Himalayan salt, as cheap imitations may use lower quality salt.
- Size– The bigger the salt lamp, the bigger the affect. Smaller lamps weight 5-6 lbs while larger ones can weigh up to 50 lbs. Smaller lamps are typically much less expensive, so we keep 1 or 2 in smaller rooms and 2 or 3 in larger rooms of our home.
- Rough Surface– The surface area of a salt lamp determines its hygroscopic potential. Rougher lamps have a higher surface area than smooth and polished lamps and are more effective at improving air quality. In my opinion, they also look better and are a great decoration for most rooms.
- Bulb– The hygroscopic benefits are due to the salt and heat together so it is important to use a heat-producing bulb. LED bulbs don’t accomplish this. I use these inexpensive bulbs.
These are a few of the Himalayan Salt Lamps I’ve tried that meet these criteria:
Salt lamps aren’t a panacea and they don’t take the place of a quality air filter. They don’t create large amounts of negative ions you’ll find in nature, especially around water. If negative ions are the goal, taking a hike or a swim in nature is a much more efficient way to get them.
Himalayan salt lamps are a beautiful light source that may offer the benefits of color therapy, by cleaning the air hygroscopically and in alleviating allergies. They are an inexpensive no-blue light source to use after dark and as a sleep-friendly night light for kids.
At the end of the day, they aren’t going to fix any health problems on their own or drastically improve indoor air quality. They are, however, a beautiful and eco-friendly light source that produces a healthy spectrum of light. If you are choosing lamps for your home, they are a great option to consider.
Other Ways to Use Himalayan Salt
- Try Salt blocks for cooking
- In natural detox bath recipes
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Ever used a Himalayan salt lamp or other air filter? How do you it? Tell me below!
Sources: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygroscopy Thayer, R.E. (1989). Biopsychology of Mood and Arousal. New York: Oxford University Press Diamond, M. (1988) Enriching Heredity: The Impact of the Environment on the Anatomy of the Brain. New York: Free Press.
Yepsen, R.B., Jr. (1987) How to Boost Your Brain Power: Achieving Peak Intelligence, Memory and Creativity. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale.webmd.com/balance/features/negative-ions-create-positive-vibes
Himalayan Salt Lamps and Your Health
Himalayan salt lamps are crystals carved from amber-colored rock salt, hollowed out to fit a lightbulb inside. When you light them they give out a warm, reddish-pink glow.
Sellers of these decorative pieces say they do more than light up a room. They claim the lamps can boost mood, improve sleep, ease allergies, help people with asthma breathe better, and clean the air, among other benefits.
The claims sound impressive. Yet the scientific evidence to back them up is scarce.
The salt in these lamps comes from the Himalayas, a mountain range that stretches about 1,500 miles across Pakistan, India, Bhutan, and Nepal.
True Himalayan salt lamps come from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. The salt this mine produces has a reddish, pink, or off-white color.
There are plenty of fake ones sold online. The real versions are fragile and give off a dim light. The phony products are tough to break and glow brightly.
Advocates say the lamps work in two ways:
Pull in particles. They lamps supposedly attract allergens, toxins, and pollutants to their surface.
Possibly release negative ions. Some people believe negative ions in the air have health benefits.
Ions are molecules that have undergone a change in charge. Negative ions have gained an electron. Positive ions have lost one.
Ions are all around us. Some come from particles from outer space that make their way to earth. Others form closer to home, from radiation, sunlight, lightning, or the collision of water droplets in a waterfall.
Some people say they feel more refreshed and clear-headed after a storm, a feeling they believe is due to the amount of negative ions in the air. Commercial ionizers and purification systems also produce negatively charged ions to create cleaner and more comfortable indoor spaces.
Himalayan salt lamps supposedly produce negatively charged ions while water molecules from the air attract to — and then evaporate from — the warmth of its surface. Those who believe in the health benefits of these lamps give negative ions much of the credit.
Although a few studies show some benefits from negative ions, the evidence that salt lamps improve health is lacking.
Mood and sleep. Some people believe that positive ions in the air increase anxiety, irritability, and unpleasant feelings. They say that negative ones ease stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve overall well-being.
Studies with mice and rats suggest that high amounts of negative air ions alter levels of serotonin — a chemical that contributes to feelings of well-being.
In some human studies, negative ions at high concentrations did lessen depression slightly, but they didn't have much of an effect on anxiety levels or sleep.
A very small study shows that people did better on thinking skills tests when they were in a room where the paint on the walls had a high concentration of total air ions (both positive and negative ions). But the paint had no effect on their general well-being.
Asthma and allergies. The notion that that negative ions may improve breathing has led to a few studies on the topic. In most of them, negative ions didn't ease breathing or asthma symptoms. They also didn't lower inhaler use in children and adults with chronic asthma either.
Cleaning the air. Negative ions do have some ability to clean harmful particles from the air. When ions build up on bacteria or pollen, they neutralize the pollutants.
Studies suggest that negative and positive ions may kill germs, though exactly how isn't clear, and some experts say the germ-killing may be due to other reasons.
In any case, there's no evidence salt lamps have this effect.
Though the claims sound promising, so far no one has proved that Himalayan salt lamps release negative ions, let alone enough to have any impact on health. Most of the research so far has used negative ions from other sources, not lamps.
In a couple of small studies on rats and mice, contact with a salt lamp had antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. That doesn't mean the lamps would have the same effect on humans. Researchers would have to test the theory.
Though a small amount of pollutants in the air might stick to salt rock, these rocks don't have anywhere near the filtering ability of, say, charcoal, a common component of air filters.
A Himalayan salt lamp might bring a nice decorative touch and a warming glow to your space, but there's no research right now that says it will improve your health in a big way.
American Lung Association: “Promising or Placebo? Halo Salt Therapy: Resurgence of a Salt Cave Spa Treatment.”
BMC Psychiatry: “Air ions and mood outcomes: a review and meta-analysis.”
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: “Ionisers for chronic asthma.”
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: “Exposure to air ions in indoor environments: Experimental study with healthy adults.”
Journal of Applied Microbiology: “The application of ionizers in domestic refrigerators for reduction in airborne and surface bacteria.”
Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine: “Air ions and respiratory function outcomes: a comprehensive review.”
Livescience: “Himalayan Salt Lamps: What are They (and Do They Really work)?”
Mindat.org: “Khewra Salt Mine (Mayo Mine).”
Pakistan Journal of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology: “Exposure to illuminated salt lamp increases 5-HT metabolism: A serotonergic perspective to its beneficial effects.”
PBS: “Himalayas Facts.”
BMC Microbiology: “The bactericidal effect of an ioner under low concentration of ozone.”
© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
FACT CHECK: Do Salt Lamps Provide Multiple Health Benefits?
Salt lamps, which are merely light bulbs of varying wattages placed within blocks of rock salt of varying sizes, have become an increasingly popular product in the alternative medicine scene and are marketed as “natural ionizers.” An ionizer, in theory, produces ions, which are atoms or molecules with a net positive or negative charge caused by an uneven number of protons to electrons.
According a popular (and representative) post about salt lamps, the product can positively affect your health in these diverse ways:
- They emit “boundless amounts” of negative ions, which counter the positive ions that both surround us and make us feel bad.
- Those ions increase oxygen flow to the brain which combats lethargy, gives you more energy, and causes you to be more alert and responsive to your surroundings.
- The ions negate the “radioactive waves” or “electric smog” emitted by our electrical devices.
- The ions offer protection from airborne toxins that could be floating around us.
- The constant intake of negative ions makes your slumber less fitful, and helps you get more your rest.
- The ions lower high blood pressure, reducing the chance of heart attacks and strokes.
- The salt that is used in these lamps, Himalayan salt, contains up to 84 trace minerals that your body needs, allowing the lamp to also strengthen your bone, regulate your body pH, and balance the water content in your body.
All the claims described above rely on the singularly false assertion that a block of salt with a light bulb inserted inside will naturally emit negative ions.
That argument, when intelligible, usually invokes some sort of interplay between the salt, which attracts water from the air, and the heat from the light evaporating that water, as described in a non-peer-reviewed 2010 paper in the Pakistan Journal of Molecular Biology:
The negative ions are generated by a continuous interplay of water attraction and evaporation. The salt crystal lamp attracts water molecules from the surrounding air to its warm surface. The water and salt form a solution.
In the process of evaporation of the solution, due to the heat of the lamp, negatively charged ions are created. Both positive and negative ions are created but much more negative ions than positive ions are created, therefore providing a surplus of negative ions. Natrium [another word for sodium] is positively charged.
This unique ion emission interplay ability with water is because of salt’s neutral atomic structure.
This explanation has the great benefit of sounding scientific.
Who really knows how ions are formed in the first place or what will happen to blocks of heated salt rock, anyway? One person with pretty deep knowledge on the topic is Caltech professor of chemistry Jack Beauchamp, an expert in (among other things) the myriad processes that generate ions and the analytical methods used to detect those ions.
Beauchamp was skeptical that a heated block of sodium chloride would produce ions (any amount of them, positive or negative ones, let alone “boundless amounts”) but not so skeptical that he didn’t want to hook up the most popular salt lamp available from Amazon.
com to his lab’s quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometer. This instrument, in essence, sucks in air from directly around the solid and analyzes the mass and charge of particles captured by the instrument.
Here’s Beauchamp description of what he did in his own words:
We have a lot of experience with observing ions.
What we did with the lamp, since it’s supposed to make negative ions, was to place it adjacent to the inlet and, just by itself, we observed no ions at all.
We turned it on and looked for negative ions. We looked for positive ions. We waited for the lamp to heat up. The bulb inside eventually does heat the rock salt, but we didn’t see anything.
I can’t think of any physical process that would result in the formation of Ions from heating rock salt, with and without the presence of water vapor in any amount. Rock salt has a face-centered cubic structure which would not be expected give rise to electric fields that would generate ions around individual crystals.
The structure aspect is important, says Beauchamp. One way to get crystals to generate ions is to alter the shape of its crystal structure via temperature, something that can happen if a crystal structure is asymmetric.
He points to a crystal called lithium tantalate, which changes its crystal structure when heated up in such a way as to create areas of high and low electrical potential when heated or cooled. This property allows it to generate an electric field that could, in theory, ionize the air around it.
Sodium chloride’s chemical structure is a symmetrical cube that does not have the capability to generate high electric fields in the vicinity of a crystal.
The bottom line, according to Beauchamp and other chemists, is that there is no reason why putting a 15–45 watt bulb in a block of sodium chloride would do anything to generate ions, and this suspicion was confirmed by testing one of the most popular salt lamp models on the market with a machine designed specifically to detect ion formation.
However, since one should always be concerned with low-sample, un-peer reviewed research (as our salt lamp experiment undoubtedly was), it is worthwhile looking into the claims that rely on salt lamps’ producing the ions we could not find, as these are equally tenuous in their scientific validity.
They emit “boundless amounts” of negative ions, which counter the positive ions that both surround us and make us feel bad.
As discussed above, “boundless amounts” of negative ions would be a bit of a stretch, given the total and complete lack of any ions generated by our lamp.
Ignoring that fact, however, brings us to the claim that positive ions make us feel bad and negative ions make us feel great.
In terms of effects on mood, there is some research that suggests that negative ions can play a role in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. A 1998 study in JAMA psychiatry found, for example, that:
Bright light and high-density negative air ionization both appear to act as specific antidepressants in patients with seasonal affective disorder. Whether clinical improvement would be further enhanced by their use in combination, or as adjuvants to medication, awaits investigation.
A similar 2006 study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, hinted at at the possibility that high concentrations of negative ions could aid in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. A 2013 review concluded, more broadly, that negative ions at very high concentrations had an effect on improving mood.
These studies, however, used high concentrations of negative ions generated by industrial scale ion generators. Seeing as we have uncovered no evidence to support the claim a salt lamp produces any ions, the notion that a $29.
99 block of rock with a light bulb could rival the power of a specifically designed laboratory equipment seems dubious.
Much of the pseudoscience written about the positive effects of negative ions similarly disregards scale in their analyses, equating negative ionization at any level as the same phenomenon.
Those ions increase oxygen flow to the brain, which combats lethargy, gives you more energy, and causes you to be more alert and responsive to your surroundings.
There are two main arguments one could make to suggest negative ions increase oxygen flow to the brain or provide you with more energy.
The first one is that negative ions increase respiratory function and, as a consequence, would allow your body to deliver more oxygen overall. This claim, though oft repeated, has very little evidence to support it.
A 2013 systematic review of papers investigating a relationship between exposure to ions and respiratory health stated:
Despite numerous experimental and analytical differences across studies, the literature does not clearly support a beneficial role in exposure to negative air ions and respiratory function or asthmatic symptom alleviation.
Further, collectively, the human experimental studies do not indicate a significant detrimental effect of exposure to positive air ions on respiratory measures.
Exposure to negative or positive air ions does not appear to play an appreciable role in respiratory function.
The other claim, discussed in more detail below, has to do with a study published on the effects of ionization in neural structures and blood flow in laboratory rats.
In a similar issue of blindly comparing different scales, these rats (which are both not human and much smaller than humans) were directly fed negatively ionized air at high concentrations that would be inconceivable for a block of salt to produce, even if it did produce some small amount of ions.
The ions negate the radioactive waves or “electric smog” emitted by our electrical devices.
While “radioactive waves” are not—strictly speaking—a thing, what the author is ly talking about is an electromagnetic field generated by household electronics.
The issue is that the only problem a salt lamp (via its dubious negative ionizer mechanism) would theoretically solve is a preponderance of positively charged ions in the air which would be in turn neutralized by the negative ions.
An electromagnetic field will only generate ions if the voltage is high enough to cause an electric discharge, and the electromagnetic fields generated by household appliances are not that that strong, per the WHO:
Some electromagnetic waves carry so much energy per quantum that they have the ability to break bonds between molecules. In the electromagnetic spectrum, gamma rays given off by radioactive materials, cosmic rays and X-rays carry this property and are called ‘ionizing radiation’.
Fields whose quanta are insufficient to break molecular bonds are called ‘non-ionizing radiation’.
Man-made sources of electromagnetic fields that form a major part of industrialized life — electricity, microwaves and radiofrequency fields — are found at the relatively long wavelength and low frequency end of the electromagnetic spectrum and their quanta are unable to break chemical bonds.
In terms of lessening the actual voltage of any electromagnetic field caused by household electronics, you’d be hard pressed to come up with a mechanism by which a salt lamp could provide any effect whatsoever, even if it did produce “boundless amounts” of negative ions.
The ions protect you from airborne toxins that could be floating around us.
Many air filters do have an ionization component to aid in the removal of dust and particulate matter from the air. These machines ionize the air, then attract the dust and other ions created with charged surfaces as air is pushed through the system, thus and removing those particles from the air.
A block of sodium chloride, which, again, does not produce any ions, does not have any mechanism for the flow of air or the trapping of the particles in that air, and would therefore be useless as an air filtration system. This is, incidentally, why the Sharper Image Ionic Breeze line of products, despite actually producing ions, is complete bunk.
The constant intake of negative ions makes your slumber less fitful, and helps you get more your rest.
This claim has existed sporadically in the scientific literature for decades, but ultimately is not supported by current science. A 2013 review of psychological effects attributed to air ions, which looked at 33 studies from 1957 to 2012 evaluating “the effects of air ionization on depression, anxiety, mood states, and subjective feelings of mental well-being”, concluded:
No consistent influence of positive or negative air ionization on anxiety, mood, relaxation, sleep, and personal comfort measures was observed.
The ions lower high blood pressure, reducing the chance of heart attacks and strokes.
This claim stems from research performed on laboratory rats who were under anesthesia and essentially pumped directly with high concentrations of negatively ionized air. It goes without saying that humans are not rats, and a that specifically designed laboratory ionization instruments produce a whole lot more ions than a salt lamp, which, not to drive this point home too much, they do not.
The salt that is used in these lamps, Himalayan salt, contains up to 84 trace minerals that your body needs, allowing the lamp to also strengthen your bone, regulates your body pH, and balances the water content in your body.
This assertion is perplexing because it is a) unclear where that number comes from, b) which ones they are, or c) how these trace minerals would be released from the salt in a lamp and transported into your body.
It seems ly that the number and associated health claims comes from a page on Dr. Mercola’s online store in which he is selling his own brand of Himalayan salt (supplies are limited!) Ironically, Mercola claims Himalayan salt to be “the most pure” while simultaneously suggesting its health benefits come from its impurities:
This salt from the Himalayas is known as “white gold.” Together with pure spring water, Himalayan Crystal Salt offers all the natural elements original to its source – the very same elements originally found existing in the “primal sea.”
Containing at least 84 naturally occurring trace elements in their natural mineral form, the benefits of natural Himalayan Crystal Salt include […]
Needless to say, the claims listed on an advertisement for a product cannot be taken as peer-reviewed science. Not that you need to even look that far.
This advertisement is for salt to cook with, which would provide a much more plausible route for those trace minerals to get into your body. Unless you are licking your salt lamp, however, the only thing those impurities might do is impart its nice pinkish color.
Incidentally, that nice pinkish color that glows once the bulb is turned on is the only thing you are going to get from a salt lamp.
Salt lamps may look neat, but claims that they can do anything medically rely — fatally — on the claim that the lamps produce negative ions and then further rely on a series gross simplifications or misinterpretations of science to argue that those negative ions (which don’t exist in the first place) could affect you in any meaningful way.
Everything you need to know about buying Himalayan salt lamps
- Himalayan salt lamps are created pink salt crystals that are native to areas close to the Himalayas.
- Its purported benefits helping your mood and purifying the air in homes.
There are a lot of products out there that claim to make your home a healthier place.
Light therapy alarm clocks are thought to improve your overall mood and help you wake up more naturally; weighted blankets are designed to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
And Himalayan salt lamps are said to improve your home's overall air quality, one reason they've grown in popularity over the past few years.
What exactly is a Himalayan salt lamp?
If you've been scratching your head over what exactly a Himalayan salt lamp is, here's a quick explainer. This wellness product is created pink salt crystals that are native to areas close to the Himalayas, Pakistan. The pink salt is used in everything from cooking slabs for grilling to what's known as “salt therapy” at spas.
Himalayan Salt Lamp Health Benefits
When it comes to the lamps, the pink salt is thought to release negative ions into your space, which would be able to get rid of dust particles that may affect your health, thus purifying your space and helping the air quality of your home. Because of that, many believe that it can do everything from increasing your energy levels to alleviating symptoms of allergies. Some people say these pink salt lamps can even help boost your overall mood and help you sleep more soundly.
Do Himalayan salt lamps actually work?
It's important to note that no major studies have supported the alleged health benefits of Himalayan salt lamps when it comes to air quality, but one study did suggest that negative ions can help decrease depression.
But that being said, we still think this popular decoration can make a great addition to your home. The lamp emits a pinkish hue that makes the ambiance warm and relaxing. Different designs can fit your home's aesthetic, including miniature versions, which make ideal night lights.
Plus, it doesn't hurt that these lamps are currently trending in the home decor space.
Which lamps should you buy?
Currently there are plenty of options out there with high customer satisfaction ratings, some of them going for under $20, so you've got lots of choices. However, our team scoured the market to find you the best of the best, so you know you're getting a quality product with the items below.
Levoit's Kana Himalayan Salt Lamp ($19.79; amazon.com)
An Amazon best-seller sources its Himalayan salt from Pakistan. It has a dimmer that lets you adjust the light as much as you want, and the steel base also provides a more modern spin on the product. Since it has a two-year warranty, it's the perfect gift for your wellness-obsessed friend, who may just use this item 24/7.
Himalayan Glow Natural Salt Lamp ($19.99; amazon.com)
The really unusual shape: Instead of a standard hunk of salt, it has several small crystal pieces arranged artistically in a metal vase, which makes it look more a centerpiece than a simple light fixture. Imagine it out at a dinner party, creating romantic pink light and really setting the mood.
Natural Iconic Pink Salt Lamp ($16.99; amazon.com)
It's only 6 inches high, so you can give the trend a whirl before you decide whether you want to invest in a bigger lamp. The coolest thing about this lamp is that it's currently on sale for only $10 and still provides the soothing effects of any typical salt lamp so you know you're getting a bang for your buck.
Windsor Seasons Hand Crafted Salt Lamp ($89.99; amazon.com)
The Windsor Seasons Hand Crafted Salt Lamp is both a calming lamp and an ionizer and air purifier.
The ionized air generated from the lamp helps you achieve a good nights sleep and acts as a mood elevator and stress reliever. A dimmer control switch allows you to set the lamp at the optimal glow that suits your needs.
What's even more interesting is that each lamp is crafted by a master craftsman so you know your lamp is one of a kind.
D'aplomb Himalayan Salt Lamp ($39.99; amazon.com)
For a more aesthetic option for a desk or bedside table, this lamp is great because it is hand carved into a rose. It has a wooden base for a more neutral look, allowing it to match almost any home decor.
The dimmer lets you pick the light intensity, with several reviewers complimenting the warm glow the light gives off. One reviewer wrote, “Not only does it create a nice ambient glow, but it also creates a great decoration for my room!.
” We think that pretty much says it all.
We can't promise that these will keep your home healthy, but they will keep your home stylish. And that's fine by us.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed prices at the time of publication.
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Salt lamps claim to help allergies, improve sleep — but do they work?
Step aside, lava lamps.
Today's bohemian-loving crowd is all about the Himalayan salt lamp, and it was a big holiday gift for teens and the 40+ crowd. Not only does the lamp look cool, it reportedly has loads of health benefits, thanks to negative ions it is said to emit.
The lamps are advertised to improve air quality, thus making it easier to sleep and taming allergies and asthma, and boost our mood and energy levels, especially for people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or depression.
But if you're thinking that sounds a tall order for a lamp, you'd be right. While the lamps are certainly pretty, they're probably not a cure-all for your health, said Dr. Svetlana Kogan of New York City, who specializes in holistic and integrative medicine.
“There has been some talk in the holistic community about the fact that electromagnetic radiation from cellphones, from microwaves, from computers, creates positive ionization of our body,” Kogan explained to TODAY. “The talk has been that the negative ions supposedly produced by the lamps help to neutralize the positive charge. But to be honest with you… I haven't seen any large studies that would confirm this.”
Simply put, all those health benefits really are too good to be true. “Whenever somebody is promising you the world, it starts sounding very suspicious to me,” she added.
Specifically, many people claim the lamps help with asthma or allergies by purifying the air.
“I have never once in my career recommended a salt lamp to a patient,” allergist Dr. Julie Kuriakose told TODAY. “I'm not saying it doesn't work; it's just not very well-studied.”
The connection between salt and respiratory problems isn't so far-fetched, though.
“In theory, where salt goes, water goes,” Dr. Kuriakose said. “You can somehow thin out mucus (with salt). But with salt lamps, I don't think the data is there.”
While salt lamps, which are available at Whole Foods, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Amazon.com and more for around $20, may not have proven health benefits — they do look pretty, and it's not crazy to think the orange or pinkish glow can be calming and relaxing.
“I love they way they look, the soft light, the pure aesthetic of them is beautiful,” Dr. Kogan said.
So while we recommend you take the health benefits of salt lamps with a grain of, um, salt, the lamps still make for beautiful additions to any home. Though you should shop with caution: Three rock salt lamps sold under the Lumiere brand were recalled last year due to shock and fire hazards.
So if you're testing out the trend, take note and be careful. And if you're looking for a natural way to clean the air, hope isn't lost — you could also try plants!
This story originally published in January 2017. For more health and wellness advice, sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter!
TODAY has affiliate relationships, so we may get a small share of the revenue from your purchases. Items are sold by the retailer, not by TODAY. All prices are subject to change and items could sell out the merchant’s inventory.
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