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!

  • 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
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. Lorelei Avatar

    I’ve got a salt lamp that I’ve been using as a night lamp and I usually leave it on a brigter setting since I get up during the night and I need to see. But a couple of nights ago I decided to dim the light more and more and I ended up having some vivid and very weird dreams. Has anyone heard or experienced something similar?

    1. Loriann Avatar

      I just got a lamp yesterday for my birthday…..I put it by my bed last night, and had the Strangest dream ! I dreamed a family friend of ours who we haven’t seen in a year….got shot and robbed. It was Crystal clear ! So….Weird…..I told my husband about it and am making him call our friend. Strange….

    2. Erica Avatar

      Got my salt lamp yesterday and it is very nice. Came from a salt mine in Arkansas. It came with a dimmer switch (spent extra for the special cord) but it is still too bright for me. I will move it to another room and leave on 24/7 mostly because of the vivid dreams I had last night which I do not wish to repeat.

    3. Kim Avatar

      I definitely notice that I am having so many different and vivid dreams all night long. Timing matches up to when I put one in my bedroom. My husband hasn’t noticed this.

  2. Madeline Avatar

    I am thinking of purchasing an EO diffuser (likely the ZAQ you link to) and a salt lamp for my office (small with windows that do not open). I understand the concern re: moisture and the lamps. Do you think I need to choose one or the other? I really want a healthier space.

  3. Heidi Avatar

    Can you answer that? What’s the difference between the genuine Himalayan salt and the cheap Rock salt lamps? How can you tell? Please advise.
    Thank you!

    1. Shannon Avatar

      The answer is above in previous comments. From what I read, you simply take your finger nail and scrape it on the lamp…of salt comes off ~ it’s Real???

      1. Becky Avatar

        Any salt would ‘scratch’. I think the question is, how would you know if it’s actually HIMALYAN PINK SALT.

  4. Audra Avatar

    in all the comments and information you gave us up top you never discussed the cleaning process….so my question is do you need to cleanse its energy or not….and if so how would the best way of cleaning be

    1. Janet Avatar

      All you have to do is wipe it down with water and dry it off with a paper towel (:

  5. Sarah Avatar

    I’ve purchased a number of salt lamps for our family and we love them. However, my husband was talking to someone last night who has been told they are radioactive. Any thoughts or suggestions on where to look to find out more?

    Many thanks.

  6. Tasad Avatar

    Thank you for your quick response. Another pregnancy related question- FLCO- are you concerned at all when your pregnant with mercury/toxins from the FCLO, specifically Green Pasture brand? How many capsules would you recommend daily?

    thanks in advance

  7. Stephanie Avatar

    Thanks for this informative article! I received a salt lamp as a gift. Is there a way to discern if this is a Himalayan salt crystal lamp vs. an imitation rock salt lamp? Also, why is the Himalayan better than the rock salt, if both consist of salt? Thanks in advance for your time to answer these questions.

  8. Marci Avatar

    So what is the best alternative for all of my scentsy pots? Can you put salt crystals in them?

    1. Cathy Avatar

      I don’t know why you couldn’t do that. In fact, I’m going to try. I also stopped using the warmers due to the toxic nature of petroleum-based wax. I put beeswax in mine with a few drops of essential oil!

  9. Chantal Avatar

    I bought a salt lamp after reading this post, and because I heard of it years ago from a friend and have been wanting to try it. I can’t for the life of me find anywhere that says the lamp gives off enough negative ions to be worth it, which bums me. I’ll enjoy the one I have and probably won’t buy another unless I find research or notice that this one dramatically helps health-wise.

  10. Kelly Avatar

    I am intrigued to try this; seems like it would be a great thing for the office – especially in the afternoons when it’s hard to stay focused!

  11. Jennifer Avatar

    I just purchased my first salt lamps, and I am loving the beautiful glow. My question is, the literature in the box recommends 2 lbs of salt lamp per 10 square feet. That would mean I would need more than one lamp for the larger rooms. Is that necessary?

    My next question is about having light in the bedroom while you sleep. You recently posted that we shouldn’t have light in the bedroom at night. Do you turn them off at night? Do they disrupt sleep?

    Thank you!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I don’t use that many, but it’s up to you. I keep the salt lamps out in the kid’s rooms, but sometimes the one in my room gets left on. I sleep with an eye mask so the light does not bother me.

  12. Jen Avatar

    Ionic air purifiers emit ozone, increase asthma symptoms and are not good for breathing in. How are salt lamps different? Or are they just as bad?

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      They don’t create ozone. They just create natural negative ions when the lamps attract moisture and then the moisture evaporates with the salt. Ionizers use a mechanism that creates ions and ozone from what I understand.

  13. Lorraine Avatar

    Hi just had to share my excitement. Have been wanting salt lamps for ages, but oh boy are they expensive here in South Africa.
    I was just through a website similar to ebay, and to my amazement found a Taiwanese gent selling 3 for an amazing price, so naturally bought them all, I absolutely love the ambience.
    The only sad thing is, he has just finished his Phd and cannot find a job here, and is going back home, what a loss to our country!
    Thanks still loving reading all the amazing info!! Never too old too learn.

  14. kate Avatar

    What is the difference between the numbers on the various salt lamps (on Amazon)? like light # 1002 or #1301 ? does it matter which one I buy?
    Also, I didn’t see a reply on the post that stated one member’s naturopathic md feels that the lights can’t make enough of a difference to warrant buying one. Is there research to refute that statement?

  15. Lisa Avatar

    I didn’t see this addressed in the previous comments, but maybe I scrolled too fast. Does anyone know how these items are sourced: the salt for the lamps and the Himalayan salt you can buy in the grocery store? Since the Himalayas are land locked, do companies use strip mining to remove the salt like mining companies do with other minerals?

    I like salt lamps too and have purchase some in the past, but I started wondering about this when I began to see lots of pink salt for sale in the condiment isles.


  16. Jenna Avatar

    I just bought three. My husband has allergies so I can’t wait to try them to see if there is any improvement. Thanks for sharing!

  17. danielle Avatar

    What are your thoughts on Himalayan salt tea light holders. I have a very small study and purchased two of these to use whilst I write. However I find they don’t heat up like my lamps do. Are they still benificial?

  18. Rebekah Avatar

    i wasn’t able to read through all the comments So I’m not sure if anyone has thrown this out there but I replaced the clear bulb that came with my salt lamp with a red bulb. The most important aspect from what I understand is the heat from the bulb. The red bulb gives it more of a darker glow. They sell them at the “spa” salt room (if anyone gets a chance check out a salt room they are great) place near my house and they said that 12-15 watts is best. They also said to check the depth of the hole drilled into the salt because you don’t want to crush your bulb. I’m going to keep my eye out for red replacement Christmas bulbs this season. I’m also looking for a dimmer switch so I can keep my light on while I sleep because even with the red bulb it’s still a little bit too much to sleep with. Hope the suggestions help anyone. Just wanted to share what I learned on my salt lamp journey!

    1. Jan Avatar

      The one I just bought came with a little slip of paper instructions and says never to use more than an 8 watt bulb. The one that came with it looks like one of those old Christmas tree bulbs. I did see a Youtube video from someone in Australia that sells them. He said they were bulbs that you use inside of an oven.

    2. Lynne Avatar

      My night lights all use 4 watt bulbs; my two salt lamps use 15 watt bulbs. I bought a box of them on Amazon.

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