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Learn the truth about Himalayan salt lamps

There are few things better in life as the soothing and relaxing as the cozy glow of a campfire, but if you don't fancy being out in all weathers then a Himalayan salt lamp offers a similar ambience at home.

Salt lamps have exploded in popularity over the last few years, along with some unbelievable claims about their benefits, so let us find out the truth behind the marketing madness. 

TIP: If you’re just looking for a high-quality salt lamp for your home (and don’t care about the science), just search for 'salt lamps' in the search bar above. 

What is a Himalayan Salt Lamp?

Salt lamps are large pieces of pure Himalayan Salt with a light inside. They can be solid pieces of salt. They offer a nice warm glow when lit and may be beneficial for indoor air quality (scroll down for the reasons) 

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 the lamp. 

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.

himalayan salt lamp

How Does a Himalayan Salt Lamp Work?

We know the body needs salt for things like hydration, electrolyte balance, proper blood pressure regulation and for the nervous system. But you only get these by eating it. 

Most of us aren’t going to eat 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 lightning 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 contribute 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.

 

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 centimetre whereas busy cities can have negative ion levels as low as 100 ions per cubic centimetre.

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 vapour is present in the air and can carry things like mould, bacteria, and allergens. Salt lamps attract this water vapour and those items it carries to its surface and removes them from the air. When the water vapour evaporates, this MAY generate a small number 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:

1. Great Night Light and Low-Light Lamp

2. May Improve Air Quality

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 colours often used to calm mood and increase focus. The small amounts of negative ions may also be helpful in boosting mood as well.

 

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-vibeshttps://wellnessmama.com/23569/himalayan-salt-lamp/


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