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Himalayan Salt Lamps: Hype or Healers?

 | 10 Comments  | Health


You’ve probably seen a himalayan salt lamp. Maybe you’ve even seen a salt lamp and not known what it is. That’s certainly what happened to me the first time I saw one; just a weird but oddly soothing lump of pinkish-orange rock lit from inside by a small electric light bulb. This particular salt lamp was plugged in next to an electronic cash register at a health food store. “It’s supposed to suck up all the bad stuff the machine puts out,” the girl said matter of factly, flicking her long purple hair out of her face.

And that is one of the benefit claims of salt lamp enthusiasts. The makers and proponents of salt lamps claim that the lamps help to clean and purify the air around us, helping us sleep better, reduce and relieve allergy and asthma symptoms, and improve mood. The lamps are also supposed to give off negative ions, which are supposed to cancel out positive ions put out by electronic equipment and electromagnetic radiation from our computers, cell phones, etc.

How on earth could a lump of salt with a light bulb inside do these things?

The air purifying claim is interesting. Salt is hygroscopic, which means it attracts water. It’s why a doctor tells you the flush your sinuses with a saline rinse when you’re really congested. The mucus will cling to the salt particles and be washed away. The salt lamps are supposed to function in a similar way. The idea is that all the dust, dirt, allergens, pollution particles, etc. that are floating in the air have water molecules in them. The chunk of salt, which is heated from the light bulb within and activated, attracts these particles. As it absorbs them, the dirt and other yucky junk becomes trapped in the salt and the lamp can release the purified water back into the air. This sounds pretty plausible to me if not super effective.

The second big claim, that the lamps give off negative ions, seems a little more difficult to swallow. But first of all, what are negative and positive ions?

It’s kind of a complicated thing to explain and it gets into some old school chemistry lessons, but basically a positive ion is an atom that bears an electric charge. In regard to what we’re talking about today, a positively charged ion is carrying around something extra, extra in a bad way like bacteria or radiation. Some people think that things like electromagnetic waves (explained below) can positively charge an ion and then your body can absorb it. When a negative ion meets a positive ion, it will cancel out the positive ion and whatever extra thing it was carrying around with it. And that’s the idea behind negative ion air purifiers. They’re just little machines that produce negative ions to destroy the dirty positive ions and clean the air. And negative ion purification has actually been proven by scientific studies. It’s definitely a real thing.

So how does it all fit together? Well, wireless devices and their towers and routers give off electromagnetic waves. As this form of communication has become more widespread, many people claim to have a sensitivity to these electromagnetic waves or radiation. Reported symptoms range widely and have included, but aren’t limited to, headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, and sleep problems. Electromagnetic radiation sickness is difficult to prove or disprove, which has created controversy around the subject.

People who think these waves are harmful believe they are absorbing the positively charged ions that are emitted from their electronic devices and sources of wi-fi. And the idea is that salt lamps are giving off negative ions, which can eliminate the positive ions. So some people believe that salt lamps can purify the air of electromagnetic radiation.

Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence that salt lamps give off any useful negative ions at all. But it’s also true that salt lamps haven’t been studied very much.

So, whether or not you believe in the benefits of a himalayan salt lamp, it can’t be denied that they are beautiful. And they definitely won’t hurt anything. I personally have one and find it wonderfully soothing, just like that one I saw in the health food store.

What do you think about himalayan salt lamps? Do you think all the claims are bogus? Do you have a salt lamp? I’d particularly love to hear from people who feel like having one has helped them. As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments!


Sources: Columbia Psychiatry, Critical Cactus, Healthline, Today.com, Science and Education Publishing, New England Journal of Medicine, Negative Ionizers, Newsweek, Quantum Balancing, Amazon, Ionic Balance

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10 comments on “Himalayan Salt Lamps: Hype or Healers?”

  1. private avatar image

    Private  |  GA, United States

    From what I understand, cathode ray tvs generate negative ions (I think I’ve read?)…and there wasn’t really a rage about health benefits from them (at least that I know of). Buuuuuut…I, too, think the salt lamps are GORGEOUS and we have 3 of them in our fireplace as an alternative to lighting a fire (so that we get the cozy glow without the fire). My husband has bad allergies (and asthma), and was horribly allergic to my dog when my little guy was alive. No difference whatsoever with the lamps…but they sure look amazing (and the looks are what we got ’em for)! PERSONALLY, I don’t take stock in there being any health benefits, but since they look so awesome, there’s certainly no harm in having them! 🙂

  2. private avatar image

    Private  |  Seattle, Washington

    How big are these lamps?

  3. private avatar image

    Private  | 

    I love your open-mindedness, willingness to explore, and desire to learn Zuzka. I wish everyone had these characteristics.

  4. private avatar image

    Private  |  Canada

    I have four of them in my home, and I’m no scientist, but I definitely feel better being in a room with them. I don’t know, could be all in my head, but they are lovely to look at and give off a beautiful glow, makes me feel warm, and relaxed. I personally believe though that they do help to some degree.

  5. private avatar image

    Private  |  PEI, Canada

    Great write up. We have a salt lamp in our home and really enjoy the beautiful light it gives off. I don’t know whether the claims hold true or not but all of us do enjoy the glow 🙂

  6. private avatar image

    Private  | 

    We have three of them in home one in each bedroom my boys my husband and I had bad allergies, could be all in my head but I definitely feel better sleeping with them. They look beautiful, makes me feel relaxed. I personally believe though that they do help to some degree.

  7. private avatar image

    Private  | 

    Been wanting one of these for a while now. Glad to see your post. Haven’t done any research but I’ve heard from others they love theirs so why not? I’m putting it on my mom’s day/b-day/Christmas list. I could use some extra positive energy around me that’s for sure

  8. private avatar image

    Private  |  Ft lauderdale, Fl, USA

    I was given one as a gift. I knew nothing about them but plugged it in and placed it on an end table next to my bed. I left it on all night thinking it made a nice soft nightlight. I have suffered from allergies for years and had adapted to breathing through my mouth at night and I always woke up stuffy. After the first night sleeping with the salt lamp, I woke up with a clear nose and for the first time in years I could inhale comfortably through my nose. I didn’t attribute it to the lamp because I wasn’t aware of the touted benefits. I later went online to read about how to care for the lamp, when I read how great they were for allergies I was ecstatic. I leave it on all the time but at night I dim it now because I also noticed that I experienced more energy during the night. They say this is due to the light (not really sure). I have since purchased another for my main living area. If you buy, look for one with a dimmer so you can control the light. Also, I would recommend researching the weight recommended for the size of the room you put it in. I love them and my improved allergies are proof that they have some benefits.

  9. private avatar image

    Private  |  Switzerland

    If you want to see if it’s working you can test with your aura and notice if it expands or retracts 🙏🏽
    It’s also excellent for unloading stones (like pink quartz, amethyst, labradorite, rock crystal, etc).

  10. private avatar image

    Private  | 

    I have them, and I personally haven’t noticed a difference, but my husband claims he sleeps better when we have it on in our room. They are pretty though!

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