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. Karen Avatar

    I suffer from depression caused by arthritis and other health problems. I just recently purchased a basket salt lamp for my bedroom. I totally was not expecting much I just loved the look of it and from the first day I have been amazed. I sleep better, my energy is better and I am actually getting things done. I love it so much I just purchased another for my living room.

  2. Robert Avatar

    Basic research shows that opening a window gives more negative ions than these lamps. Science has completely defrauded the “benefits” of these lamps. While they are pretty – they are useless. Be wary of Internet advice that is absolutely baseless and please have your facts (science proven) straight rather than offering opinions disguised as facts. I doubt this will post but I hope you take it to heart in future posts because people subscribe to you to improve their lives – they deserve facts not fiction.

  3. Marie B Avatar

    My daughter bought me one for Christmas and I love it. I want one for every room in our house!

  4. Mike Avatar

    Negative ions (also called “free radicals”), which those lamps supposedly emit, are the oxidizers that people try to remove with “detoxing”. They do damage DNA and in large quantities could cause cancer and other decease. O3 (ozone) is a very strong oxidizer due to the easily released third oxygen atom. It is linked to severe inflammation of lungs and asthma.

    Luckily, those lamps do not generate any negative ions. They are beautiful and emit yellow light which is calms people (as opposed to the blue light emitted from the screen you are now watching). Other than that they do not do anything.

    1. ireen Avatar

      This is rubbish; negative ions are known to be life supporting – why don’t you check out the reports from places that have a natural occurrence of negative ions – I know there are several reports of places in Europe- and people living in these areas have much less incidence of sickness or disease

  5. rollo Avatar

    Anybody try setting one on a purple plate for possible synergistic results?

  6. Vivian Avatar

    Can you get the rock too hot & ruin it? And is hotter better, does it emit more if it’s hotter

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Mine have never gotten too hot with the bulbs that are included but I don’t think heat would ruin the salt, as there are salt blocks that can be used for baking and roasting without a problem.

  7. Lena Avatar

    I purchased a Himalayan salt lamp at a thrift shop, how can I tell if it’s real?

  8. Kathy Avatar

    I have used electric ion generators in the past and it seemed to give me a sore throat. It’s happened more than once with the electric generators. I’d love to get one of these rocks, but don’t want to have the same thing happen. Can anyone explain that? Thank you.

  9. Milpitas Sanjose Avatar
    Milpitas Sanjose

    Great article;

    We brought a lamp from a local museum in Dallas. Alas my 5 yr old dropped it and it broke into 3 pieces. My wife & I are wondering if it is safe to consume the salt ? Please advise.

    1. Tara Avatar

      Yes, you can eat it. You can even buy it that way. For example, Trader Joe’s has a shaker of coarsely ground Himalayan salt to put on food. It is also good to take a bath in.

  10. Leanette Avatar

    I bought a lamp and when I got it home I realized it has an LED in it that changes colors. The lamp is beautiful and the changing colors are very soothing but I am wondering if the LED produces enough heat to produce negative ions. Do you know?

  11. Mandi Avatar

    Has anyone ever experienced adverse effects? Salt lamps make me feel worse like I am walking through paste with lightheadedness and heaviness on my chest. Not finding much info about possible negative effects for some people like my super-sensitive self. Thanks.

    1. Amy Avatar

      It sounds to me as though you may have low vitamin D. Those are all symptoms. Have your Practioner do a blood test.

  12. Tammy sanders Avatar
    Tammy sanders

    Before purchasing, can anyone tell me if it has a smell or give off any “little bit” of an order. I know someone that could benefit from this. She is alergic to everything, can’t even run a clothes washing machine without having issues. It’s called mast cell..

  13. Priscilla Avatar
    Priscilla

    have you considered making your own salt lamp? I know their is option to get Himalayan salt block that is given to a horse (ex. from a feed store)…wondering if I should make my own lamps. Otherwise I saw online Gordman’s has these, I have yet to make it to my local store, they only have 1 size instock locally.

  14. Matt Avatar

    Hello!

    Here is a very complete study I found that suggests that light at night, whether blue or red (at either end of the light spectrum) causes a corresponding spike in cortisol. Red light allows for normal melatonin production as if you were in darkness, but it also spikes cortisol levels to near the amount we have in the morning.

    https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2010/829351/

    While salt lamps might mitigate the effect of outright blue light on our melatonin levels and a proper circadian rhythm, even green light has been shown to depress melatonin levels slightly less than blue light. If red light increases cortisol at night just as much as blue does, being at the other end of the light spectrum, then it is safe to assume that any light, salt or not, can really increase cortisol production at night.

    Now, I do not know the specific effects of higher cortisol at night, but my theory would be that it interferes with proper sleep as it is the stimulators hormone produced in the morning to get our butts out of bed and into the light.

    I am also a purist in the sense that we used to sleep in a much more complete darkness for thousands of years, and we followed a sleep/active cycle in line with the available sunlight of the day. My conclusion with the information from this study is that we must simply return to having our evenings in darkness. I am going to begin doing dark meditation later at night instead of the usual Netflix, or even reading via red light. We’ll see how it goes!

    Thank you Wellness Mama for all of the content you’ve contributed to the Web, and for guiding like-minded people to healthier alternatives to a host of different things.

    1. Gwen Avatar

      The light wavelength effects on melatonin levels and resultant relaxation & feelings of wellbeing seem entirely plausible. However, many of the attributed effects cited here are highly subjective. Look up “placebo effect” and confirmation bias”.

  15. Kimberly Newberry Avatar
    Kimberly Newberry

    Do you all sell he Salt Lamps? I bought one 2 to 3 weeks ago…when it arrived, I got it out of the box to start using it and the cord would not work at all. Had a horrible experience with the owner of this company. Anyways, is there any way to order a cord and bulb for it? Thank you 🙂

  16. Ziomara Avatar

    I need help with my salt lamp! I bought it but when i put it out from the package it started sweating so i had to put it inside fhe refrigerator since 2 months ago! The weather in my city is very hot and 70-90% humidity

    1. Rene Avatar

      The salt pulls moisture from the air so this is common in areas of high humidity.

  17. Chantal Avatar

    Hi there, I have 3 lamps in my house and have had trouble with bulbs blowing regularly. I have limited movement and given them sole power source (no extension cables)
    I like to sleep with mine on.
    I just a found some ‘salt lamp LED bulbs’ online and was wondering whether these would work as they don’t heat up like other bulbs. What are your thoughts?
    Thanks

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