Himalayan Salt Lamp Benefits: Facts, Myths and How to Use Them

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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 (like this one) or decorative baskets filled with large crystals of salt (like 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 like 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 like 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 like 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 like 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 like 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 like computers, TVs, microwaves, and even vacuum cleaners, they can often exacerbate problems like 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 like 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 likely 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

Himalayan Salt Lamp Benefits for Clean Air and Reduced Allergies

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 like 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

Himalayan Salt Lamp Benefits: Bottom Line

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 like 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

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 like it? Tell me below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


427 responses to “Himalayan Salt Lamp Benefits: Facts, Myths and How to Use Them”

  1. Tanya Avatar

    I haven’t read any mention here of the potential risk to pets. A caution should be posted to keep the salt away from pets since they can, and will, OD on it.

  2. David Avatar

    For weeks I’ve been feeling strange energies each time I rested in bed (day or night). I would feel these strange energies all over my body…particularly my legs in which it would feel like bubbles moving my light body. My intuition finally kicked in and I discovered that this was caused by the salt lamps which were on either side of my bed. I knew all things were connected but never expected that my lamps would connect with my aura and body and cells. I hope this proves to people that salt lamps are highly powerful. I own 3 of them.

  3. Don Avatar

    Thank you for this article. It is informative and doesn’t have the “hype” I’ve read elsewhere. I will be ordering a salt lamp now.

  4. Melanie Avatar

    My friend at work gave me her salt lamp she had on her desk. I used it at work and noticed I felt like I had more energy. This is even before I looked up the benefits of a salt lamp. I took it home because I felt better at work and wanted to see how I felt at home with it by my bed. I was amazed. I have vertigo and always have a floating on water feeling when I lay down to go to sleep. I have not had this feeling the two days I had the salt lamp on. Praise always goes to God who worked through my friend to give me her salt lamp.

  5. shey Avatar

    can a salt lamp make the room feel warmer? I´ve had my salt lamp for over 2 years and our room is really warm, as soon as we set foot outside we can feel the difference in temperature.. we´ve never turned it off for more than a couple of hours..

  6. Anda Avatar

    Now I go buy travel ticket for my house to clean herself near a running water, waterfall, beach and ocean breeze, to fill up with negative ions. You are not very smart if you keep confusing a house cleaning with a person cleaning.

  7. Larry Harrison Avatar
    Larry Harrison

    I have a spray bottle with an essential oil mixture (in water) for sleep and anxiety. I ocassionly spray the surface of the salt lamp with that. Works great. Anyone else do this?

  8. William Avatar

    Thank you for the article. I just finish reading another article that attempted to disprove salt lamps but failed to provide any evidence in their claims. Your article provided details, facts and you showed where some of your information came from. Thank you for that. With that said, I was skeptical about it but bought one and put in my daughters room. The humidifier wasn’t working for them as of late, difficultly sleeping, sniffles etc. Having the lamp in the room has made a difference for them. They have not been coughing while sleeping, sniffling or waking up in the middle of the night. So far, it seems to have a positive result on them. Perhaps its coincidence but I’m just monitoring to see if their sleep pattern changes again.

  9. Sarah Avatar

    Wellness mama,
    I just read the article from Life Science. I think that maybe we (all of us out there ) should read it and other articles like it when considering the “health benefits ” of the lamps. Just fyi everyone I own two Himalayan salt lamps and I love them. I am just wondering what others think about this articles information.

  10. Nancy Avatar

    I just purchased a salt lamp after many years of thinking about it. Actually got 1 for me and 1 for my 13 year old. It’s still a novelty for her, but she turns it on when she gets home from school and she has tried to fall asleep with it but it’s too bright. It’s too bright for me as well. I am intrigued about the lamp you mention with the dimmer switch. However, I would think that if you are dimming the light bulb there wouldn’t be as much heat created and therefore the salt lamp would be largely ineffective?

  11. Carole Jackson Avatar
    Carole Jackson

    Thank you. Very informative. I have a couple of salt lamps. I’ve noticed that they can get too hot to rest one’s hand on it for long without discomfort. I’m wondering whether it’s a fire hazard to leave them unattended. Or, how to find the right bulb that will generate decent light without overheating.

  12. Lindsey Barrett Avatar
    Lindsey Barrett

    Hi, can you please tell me how long you should leave a salt lamp on for, just at night or all the time ?

  13. Linda Avatar


  14. Marie-D. Avatar

    One thing that is rarely mentioned, though: during a heat wave, your lamp will melt and leave a puddle of wet salt on whatever it sits on or around it (don’t ask me how this happens). Had many things damaged this way over the years.

  15. norma pace Avatar
    norma pace

    I have 2 salt lamps but about 1-2 years ago, heard that certain lamps were unsafe, but do not remember the numbers that was listed, do you have the numbers of the lamps? I would appreciate the numbers, as I stopped using them because I did not know if mine were safe.

    Thank you so much!

  16. Leeann Avatar

    what makes my salt lamp leak liquid, and now my nite light is dripping liquid?

  17. madelyn Avatar

    I purchased himalayan salt lamps for our son’s room, one for our bedroom, and one for my office at work because I have read that it releases negative ions that can counteract some EMF’s. But there have been some recalls on salt lamps due to possible electrical issues (melting cord, fire risk) and so there are a few companies that have not been recalled and use only UL certified cords. One of these companies is Levoit and I saw this brand recommended by you. However, I have read that one good tip to reduce EMF’s is to avoid dimmer switches and all Levoit salt lamps use dimmer switches. I tested it while it was on with an EMF reader and while the reading was virtually 0 where the cord was plugged into the wall, the reading at the dimmer switch (while on high) was around 6-7 gauss and made the reader flash red and beep. I’ve reading that recommendations are to stay under 2 gauss… So is my himalayan salt lamp pointless, or doing more harm than good? Not worth putting in our bedrooms? I’m so disappointed.

  18. Cathy Avatar

    Hello! I was wondering what your thoughts are on dimmer switches? I’ve read and seen a video that show the electromagnetic radiation is higher with a dimmer switch cord…

  19. Camille Avatar

    I have two tea light salt “lamps”, because I figured that burning candles in the salt would be better than something electric. I have searched out beeswax tea lights for their benefits as well. Do you think these salt “lamps” have just as many benefits? They definitely emit the soft red/orange glow, so that’s a plus! Just curious what your opinion of these vs the plug-in lamps is.


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