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. Jeb Avatar

    First of all: there are no salt mines in the Himalayas. Pink rock salt is usually mined from Pakistan or Poland. “Himalayan” is just a descriptor, because a “Punjabi Foothills salt lamp” doesn’t sound quite so exotic.

  2. Audrey Avatar

    Hi I have just been giving a present of a salt lamp. I have also got asthma and other lung problems. Do you think the lamp would be OK for me to use. Thanks

  3. Mel Avatar

    Salt lamps attract water molecules from the air by hygroscopy. The evaporation of water, and reaction with sodium chloride, create negative ions, however they are short-lived and don’t make it far beyond the lamp.
    Improved indoor air quality is achieved because attached to airborne water molecules are all the airborne irritants like viruses, bacteria, mold, and fungi; with a long list of asthma and allergy triggers as well.
    Moisture is REQUIRED for these things to remain in the air and viable; otherwise they fall to the floor…leaving surrounding air healthier.
    What extends the effect a salt lamp has in a given room is directly related to humidity, along with a lamp’s salt surface area and the warmth of the lamp. Warmth creates a rising convection of air from the lamp and adds circulation to some degree. Existing conditions and individual sensitivities dictate the overall benefits realized. For some a little, for many a great deal.
    And regarding smoke from beeswax candles…Beeswax is made by nature’s worker bees.
    No artificial scents or colours are required and it’s free from petroleum products and chemicals.
    Beeswax candles last up to three times longer than paraffin wax candles and twice as long as soy candles of the same size. Beeswax candles do not drip and are smokeless if made and used correctly.
    Regarding smoke from making bamboo charcoal-many companies collect the smoke and filter it to make bamboo vinegar. In the long run the benefits of bamboo charcoal far outweigh the environmentally risks when made this way.
    Sorry I didn’t stop to obtain links to above info, research into anything you don’t understand is key!!
    And don’t click on the top google results either. Seek out medical/university studies, papers, journals and information from all around the world.
    And don’t forget, the power of massive pharmaceutical companies unfortunately dominates the learning and progression of modern medicine and science.
    Natural is always best!!

  4. Marilyn Avatar

    I have a huge chunk of Himalayan Salt. Weighs about 40 lbs. Is this just as effective as a salt lamp does anyone know?

    1. Josh Avatar

      Hi Marilyn! The salt lamps work through heat, so you would need to have some kind of heat source inside of the salt. Simply placing the salt on a tableside would not work. The heat source is what creates the negative ions when moisture is attracted to the salt lamp (naturally), it evaporates from the heat source and that’s when the negative ions are created. Right now, your salt is attracting moisture, but it isn’t doing anything with it. You may notice that your salt “sweats” or “weeps”, especially if you are in a humid climate.

      1. Marilyn Avatar

        Thanks for the reply. Nope, I live in a very dry climate. It sits in the sun so I thought it might be doing something good besides looking pretty.

  5. lynne Avatar

    I had a very stuffy nose when I woke in the morning. I bought a salt lamp about a month ago and I have no stuffy nose in the morning. I have now bought a large salt lamp for my living room. It has a 40 watt bulb in it. Should the bulb be of a lower wattage ?

  6. Jenny Avatar

    I had to completely damp wipe my lamp due to smoke/soot from a house fire. Of course, all the salt has been removed so how do you get the salt back into the lamp? Is this lamp in good working order without the salt?

  7. Lea Avatar

    I started with one Himalayan Salt lamp in the bedroom since I usually get congestion/allergy issues over night. I have far less issues with congestion and allergies and have since put a lamp on each floor. I also feel more positive and have gone off an anti-depressant medication.

    1. Scott Avatar

      I def Will try this As I may Sleep Better With this Lamo… We see…

  8. Cheryl Avatar

    How do you know you have an authentic salt lamp (I have 2 of them that the box they came in says they are Himalayan salt lamps) and where can you purchase an authentic one? Thanks.

  9. Elisha Avatar

    I am trying to reduce EMFs in my home. I have a salt lamp in my daughters room for her allergies, but I wonder are these emitting emfs? Does anyone know?

  10. Wretha Avatar

    I was given a salt lamp today from my friends garage. I don’t know how old it is and I found that it is broken into3 pieces. If I stack iit back together, can it still be used?

  11. DJ McClain Avatar
    DJ McClain

    I purchased 3 salt lamps. One about 11 pounds, one 5 pounds and one 7 pounds. I placed the smaller one in my bedroom on the night stand, the medium one in the kitchen dining room, and the large one in my living room with my ferrets. My apartment is only 750 square feet. The first two nights I could not sleep at all (figured I needed to get used to a light in my bedroom). On the fourth night I realized I could not smell the ferrets (they naturally stink) or their litter box (it really stinks by the evening time and has to be changed prior to me going to sleep). The only thing I can contribute this to is the lamps. I also have had better nights sleep and feel much more energetic in the mornings. My lamps are on at all times.

  12. Holly Avatar

    Do you have any idea if wearing a piece of himalayan rock salt in a piece of jewelry such as a necklace or bracelet offer a similar effect or does it need the warmth to work at all? Thank you.

  13. Laura Avatar

    This is a great one: My husband, who is a skeptic about anything and everything without doing any research, informed me that he doesn’t believe that our new Himalayan salt lamp. which I bought one day ago, did anything but sit in the corner and glow. He never bothered to ask me what it’s supposed to do. In the next breath he told me that he went to bed feeling unusually positive and woke up feeling the same way. Ha ha ha! Guess it DOES work!

  14. Donald Avatar

    Hello Katie,What would be a reputable company to buy a salt lamp or lamps from and be assured that they are truely himalayan salt.Because i love all natural healing remedies.Thanks

  15. J Cox Avatar

    I have four salt lamps that I bought from Mercola.com. Very please with them. I also bought one for the office. I gave salt lamps for Christmas gifts this last year and all were very please with them. My co-worker said he could tell that he thinks clearer.

  16. Brian Avatar

    We just purchased one for bedroom and one for lounge, I thought I was meant to get good night sleep, now getting less sleep than before. Have decided to place a dark handkerchief over it at night, see how that goes. If your globes keep blowing, go to appliance shop and get an oven one, will last forever then.

  17. Kathie Avatar

    I currently use a humidifier for my sinus,. Recently purchased a salt lamp but wonder can I use the humidifier and the salt lamp together?

  18. Robert Avatar

    An ion is _not_ an atom OR a molecule, an ion _IS_ an atom. A molecule is a grouping of atoms to form the elements (like Hydrogen and Oxygen) and larger compounds like water (a collection of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom.

    A ion is an atom or a group of atoms that has acquired a net electric charge by gaining or losing one or more electrons.

    You can have ionized air, it’s called Ozone. Yes “air” is a molecule and it may sound like splitting hairs. The O2 molecules are not ionized; their constituent parts (the atoms) are in Ozone.

    These lamps are like the new “energy crystals” except they require electricity. The post above from @robert is correct: opening a window will let in more negative ions than these lamps will.

    If you really want negative ions in your house, buy an Ozone Machine. It will guarantee you results; no question.

    Hotel’s use them to freshen rooms and car dealers use them to de-stink cars driven by smokers. They work and are based on _science_, not _hooey_.


    The lamps do generate a cozy glow…

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