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

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Home » 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 (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.

himalayan-salt-lamp-benefits-and-practical-uses

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!

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
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.

Comments

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

  1. Jennifer Avatar
    Jennifer

    I looked on amazon and they also have candle holders made of the salt, do these do the same thing? Also how do you know how many to have? I wanted to start with one in my living room, this is a large room, would one still be sufficient?

  2. Arielle Glenn Avatar
    Arielle Glenn

    I’m trying to locate the actual scientific evidence that support ‘salt lamps emit negative ions’ and some documentation to support when/where the research has been done providing the information regarding health benefits. I would like to invest in some lamps but as I was researching, I found a few articles stating there is no proven health benefit nor is there any scientific research supporting the negative ion information. Any luck with this?

    1. Dawn Avatar

      All I have to say is that the proof is in using it. On the days that I forget to then it on I can see dust particles in the air. On the days that I have it on consistently I don’t e the dust particles.

  3. Melissa Avatar

    I read this article quickly, so apologize if you mentioned this. Please note that if you don’t have a high enough wattage of bulb in them, they do NOTHING. Depending on the size. I have a large one that is categorized by weight 11 – 20 pounds and it needs a 25 watt bulb. If the lamp isn’t warm to the touch, it’s not high enough watts. I am wondering if you can guide me on how to know if it’s a good quality lamp or a cheap salt lamp? Is there really a way to tell. I want to buy one locally too, so I don’t have to wait for it to be shipped, if possible. Thanks so much!!

  4. Jolene Avatar

    If I need a humidifier during the winter cause it’s so dry and cold where I am would buying one of these be pointless? I suffer from asthma and allergies. I’m always in for bettering myself! Tia!

  5. Allie Mossman Avatar
    Allie Mossman

    I have an essential oil diffuser to help with allergies and especially for cold & flu season…Would they counteract each other? Also, could I have them next to each other (i.e. both on my night stand).

  6. Shanna Avatar

    My salt lamp is very hot to where I can barely touch it !!! Is this normal or should I change the bulb wattage ? It a larger salt lamp maybe 20pds ,it’s my first lamp 🙁 o have no a/c on and my house is warm and humid ? But I’m not sure it’s normal for it to be that hot please help

    1. coddie Jones Avatar
      coddie Jones

      I just bought the salt lamp a few days ago I love the color I have not had it that long to comment on the lamp I love tno wake up and see the color at

  7. Leanne Avatar

    I have recently purchased 4 x 1-2 kilo salt lamps, however they do not heat up at all. Came with 7 watt globes, because they r small. Would it be safe to put in a higher wattage bulb in such a small lamp? A downfall with this would be they will be so much brighter (which I don’t want). I am guessing they r so bright because they r so small.

  8. Helen Lai Avatar
    Helen Lai

    I have a large (38 cm) Himalayan salt lamp, plus a small one. The large one is in 24/7 but never seems to warm up with its tiny bulb. The small one becomes warm and seems more effective… I can only use a tiny 40w bulb in the large lamp. Do you have any suggestions for making a larger lamp warmer/more effective please?

  9. Alicia Avatar

    I am just curious if salt lamps can change a persons mood for the worse. It may be a coincidence but I only just got mine while at a retreat and had it on for a few days before we moved. My hubby said he was in a terrible mood those days. We moved and had not had it turned in again till last night. Today he is in a sour mood. Just wondering about negative side effects. Thank you.

    1. Eva Avatar

      Hello!

      It is believed that diffrent stones (gemstone, crystals, and such) give of certain energy. The same way its energy can affect us, we can also affect it. When a stone is exposed to many negative emotions, it absorbs these energies, and later on it will give of negative energy. You can “cleanse” the himalayan salt lamp of the negative energies by putting it out in the sun.

      Other then the possible explanation is, if you leave the lamp on during the night, the light might me to strong for your husband, resulting in a bad sleep, and than throwing him into a bad mood in the morning.

      1. Alicia Avatar
        Alicia

        Awesome info to know. Thank you so much. His mood has jnproved the longer he gets use to the stone. He is a natural healer so he could just be getting use to it and the effects it has on him.

    2. Laura Avatar

      My husband has the same complaint when I use my EO Diffuser. He complains that it gives him headaches….

  10. Michelle Avatar
    Michelle

    How warm does the lamp have to get to be effective? I have a thick lamp and do not feel the warmth of the light on the outside. Is this effective or do I need a stronger bulb?

  11. Raevin Avatar

    I just got a salt lamp and a salt tea light holder. How do I know if my tea light holders are putting off enough heat to be effective? And I’m going through tons of tea lights having it lit all day. Will a flame less LED tea light give off enough heat? Again how will I know if it is?

  12. Ashley Hengesbaugh Avatar
    Ashley Hengesbaugh

    Hi! I was wondering if it is safe to use the lamps during pregnancy. I am interested in getting one for my living room and bedroom but I am pregnant and high risk so I want to be extra cautious. thanks!

  13. Jake Toughill Avatar
    Jake Toughill

    I work at home and spend a ton of time around electronics and at my desk. I felt like I was getting irritable and had concentration/anxiety problems. I purchased one of the more expensive AC filters and also placed a couple salt lamps at my desk. The difference was like night and day. I actually have to thank Katie because I wouldn’t have found my lamp if I didn’t read this post.

    I wish I did just the salt lamps first so I could point to them as the sole reason for my improvement but either way I think they helped a ton. I’m much more productive now.

    I’ve gotten really interested in salt lamps since my improvement and I started writing about them myself. I’ve been trying to compile all the scientific data and anecdotal evidence that I can find.

    https://rmsalt.com/benefits-of-salt-lamp/

    The only thing I have to caution though is that you make sure you know the source of the lamp before buying it. There seems to be some counterfeit lamps for sale and since they’re expensive you wanna make sure you’re getting the real deal. From what I heard, light shades of pink that look structurally weak and have marks on them might be fake.

    You should be able to email the company and ask for a certificate of analysis to find out the origin.

    Another issue is child labor / unfair working conditions. I usually email the company directly and if they’re dodgy or anything with their answer then I don’t buy.

    I’m wondering if anyone has tried the ionizing machines like the one Katie linked at the bottom of the article? I was worried about ozone generation but it seems like low amounts of ozone are acceptable and might be beneficial?

    1. Nancy Avatar

      We use to have an ionizing machine. I enjoyed the fresh feel and smell it emitted. It was kinda pricey and quit working and couldn’t be fixed. But we enjoyed it while it was working.

  14. JC Avatar

    Have you had any issues with puddles or water damage? Mine seems to be great so far, but I’m reading some horror story reviews and getting paranoid!

      1. LETITIA WALLIS Avatar
        LETITIA WALLIS

        I received a Himalyan Rock Salt candle holder – and used it with votive candles. Unfortunately I left it on my wood stove – and the condensation created a rust like patch on the stove – which also seems corrosive. Any hints as to how to I can remove this patch – something that is safe to use on a wood stove surface…it gets really hot!
        Thanks

    1. Jake Toughill Avatar
      Jake Toughill

      I haven’t had any issues either. They can sometimes “weep” and it’s a good idea to make sure they’re on a surface that won’t be damaged.

      I heard they pretty much last indefinitely, but a room with high moisture might be a problem.

    1. Jake Toughill Avatar
      Jake Toughill

      This is something I’d actually like to know more about too. I always thought that the electronic ionizers generated ozone which was bad for your lungs. From what I have been reading it almost seems like low doses of ozone are acceptable but I haven’t found a definite answer yet.

    1. gigi Avatar

      If you read up, some people had bad and weird dreams using these salg lamps.

  15. Mary Avatar

    I am sorry if someone has already asked this question.
    There are a lot of very pretty looking usb salt lamps but they all seem to have colour changing led bulbs, surely these do not heat up enough to be beneficial.

  16. Cindy Avatar

    Just heard from a friend she cannot have her salt lamp all day because it gives off too much energy. Anybody heard of this before. I have had mine for four years and love it.

  17. jake Avatar

    so can i leave it near or next to my laptop on my bedside table when my laptop is on? i was a little confused if this would help the radiation or make it worse?

    1. Jake Toughill Avatar
      Jake Toughill

      That would honestly be one of the best places to put it; near electronics.

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