Himalayan Salt Lamp Benefits: Do Salt Lamps Really Work?

Health Benefits of Himalayan Salt LampsHimalayan crystal salt lamps make an attractive feature in any living space but do they really work and are there any benefits backed by science?

Here’s what a Himalayan salt lamp is and how it works, whether they really do generate negative ions, the reported health benefits of salt lamps, and 4 important considerations when choosing the best Himalayan crystal salt lamp for your home.

What is a Salt Lamp?

Real Himalayan salt lamps are hand chiselled solid blocks of ancient crystal salts like this. They have a beautiful pink color, often pinkish orange, due to the high concentration of minerals.

Inside the hollowed out middle of the salt lamp is a light bulb to generate both light and heat. This is important for their reported benefits and salt lamps won’t work properly without a heat-producing light.

Himalayan salt lamps also come in decorative baskets of crystal salt, with a light and heat source underneath that creates a soft pink glow.

Himalayan rock salt lamps are quite beautiful to look at, but how do they actually work and can they generate negative ions for better health?

How do Himalayan Salt Lamps Work?

Water vapour is always circulating in the air of any room of your house. This water vapour carries with it allergens like dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke particles, and even bacteria and viruses.

Salt is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts water molecules from the surrounding air. A large block of rock salt, like a Himalayan salt lamp, is especially attractive to water vapour and its pollutants.

Once attracted to the salt lamp, these microscopic compounds remain on the salt and not floating in the air where you can breathe them in.

As Himalayan salt lamps slowly become saturated with water vapour they attract from the air around them, the heat, from the lamp inside or beneath, dries them, thus continuing the hygroscopic effect for as long as the light is on.

This heat also re-releases water vapour back into the air. Importantly, any airborne contaminants attracted to the salt lamp remain trapped there and will not become airborne again.

Occasionally, perhaps every few weeks, it’s good to turn off your salt lamp for an hour, let it cool and then gently rub it with a damp cloth to clean away trapped dust and particles. The rest of the time just leave it on and let it work to clean their air in your room.

Do Salt Lamps Really Work to Generate Negative Ions?

Can salt lamps produce beneficial negative ions? This is the biggest question most people usually have when buying Himalayan pink salt lamps for their reported health benefits.

Himalayan salt lamp do they workThe answer is yes, but not a great deal of them. Salt lamp benefits do include negative ion generation. It appears primarily from the moisture evaporating on the heated rock salt, though the photoelectric effect may also have a role in ion generation.

However, as a negative ionizer, salt lamps have a limited range and small output and aren’t considered nearly as effective as a good negative ionizer like one of these.

Some point to the cumulative effect of keeping the salt lamp on at all times and how this can slowly generate more and more negative ions and improve the air quality over time. One reported test showed significantly more negative ions after a few days of having the salt lamp on in the room tested versus the initial test.

This may well be the case, and the salt lamps are certainly a beautiful addition to any room. Practically though, their negative ion producing range is quite limited. Don’t expect a small Himalayan crystal salt lamps to flood a large room with negative ions.

Even a very large one like this, while stunning to look at, will only produce a small radius of beneficial negative ions.

Instead, it’s best to consider negative ions from salt lamps as an added benefit and position them with their short ionizing range in mind.

Where to Place Rock Salt Lamps for the Most Health Benefits

The best place for a Himalayan pink salt lamps is quite close to where you spend a lot of time so you can breathe in the fresher air it generates directly. The hygroscopic air cleaning effect is not dependant on negative ions and is the basic science of water vapour attraction and evaporation.

By a coffee table next to the seat where you watch TV is a great place, as is your work desk at home, or even at the office if you can have a salt lamp there.

Not only will it help clean the air and expose you to at least some negative ions, it may also help counteract electromagnetic radiation and provides a gentle, soothing pink glow.

Most people who own Himalayan salt crystal lamps report that they find them very relaxing to be near. Perhaps they work in other ways that science doesn’t quite understand yet.

Other Himalayan Rock Salt Lamp Benefits

Reported health benefits of Himalayan salt lamps include:

  • Improving breathing problems and reducing allergies.
  • Less colds and flu (due to less airborne viruses).
  • Increased relaxation and calmness and less stress.
  • Improved ability to concentrate and work for longer periods around electrical equipment like computers.
  • Fewer headaches and migraines.
  • Reduced symptoms from disorders like rheumatism and arthritis.
  • An improvement in skin diseases.
  • Easier to get to sleep at night.
  • A better overall sense of health and wellbeing.

It’s difficult to back up these claims with scientific studies, though there is of course little incentive for research to be done on salt lamps in the first place.

There are, however, two other potential salt lamp health benefits, aside from negative ions, that proponents point to that may help explain why so many people report positive effects from using Himalayan rock salt lamps.

Salt Lamps and Electromagnetic Radiation

All electronic equipment like televisions, stereos, computers, appliances and smart phones emit electromagnetic radiation.

Constant heavy exposure to electromagnetic radiation has been shown to increase cortisol levels, which leads to tiredness, higher stress, reduced ability to concentrate and lower immunity. It can also have many other negative health effects.

You can feel this effect particularly in open offices with a lot of electrical equipment. Try working near a strong electromagnetic generator like a printer and you’ll know how quickly it wears you out.

Proponents for Himalayan salt lamps say they help protect you against electromagnetic radiation. Though realistically, just one salt lamp would have trouble counteracting all the electromagnetic radiation from a room full of electronic equipment.

The closer the salt lamp is to you the better job it will do at counteracting the negative effects of electromagnetic radiation. Though it’s better to keep as far back from screens and other electromagnetic emitting equipment as possible.

Color Therapy with Himalayan Crystal Salt Lamps

Color therapy may not sound particularly scientific but many report great results with it. Most often reported benefits of color therapy with Himalayan salt lamps include higher energy levels, a more positive mood and a clearer mental state.

Ionic salt lampHumans certainly respond well to beautiful colors so there’s every reason to believe the beautiful pinkish orange glow of a crystal salt lamp would be beneficial for stress relief.

Another potential benefit of salt lamps is that they don’t emit blue light. Most artificial light is high in the blue spectrum which has been shown to reduce melatonin production and can interfere with normal sleeping patterns.

The soft pink light of your Himalayan crystal salt lamp is the ideal soothing color to look at and relax before bed. Doing so for a while before you go to your bedroom may even help you get to sleep.

How to Choose the Best Himalayan Salt Lamp

When choosing a salt lamp for your home or workplace, there are a few important factors to be aware of. It’s not just about getting the lowest price.

A good quality salt lamp should last for decades so it’s worth paying a little more for one that will look great, be long lasting and provide the most health benefits.

Here are 4 things to keep in mind before you buy a Himalayan crystal salt lamp.


Every Himalayan crystal salt lamp is unique and the combination of colors that makes up yours can vary.

Generally though, the darker shades of pink and orange are considered of higher quality. Very light pink, especially with black deposits visible within it, can be a sign that it was mined from a lower quality vein of crystal salt.

For color therapy, predominantly pink salt lamps are associated with positive emotions, closeness and love. While more orange shaded salt lamps are said to impart a sense of security and be beneficial for your nervous system and internal detoxification. Most Himalayan rock salt lamps are actually a combination of both color spectrums.


The weight of a salt lamp is a good indication of its size and air cleaning ability. The bigger and heavy it is the more health benefits you should notice from it.

Price is, of course, a factor though, so if your budget is limited use these salt lamp sizes as a rough guide:

  • For beside your workspace on a desk, a smaller crystal salt lamp around 5 pounds is ok, though it should be quite close to you. If this isn’t possible choose a larger size.
  • For small bedrooms, up to 10 square feet look for a smaller Himalayan salt lamp like this beautiful one around 6 – 8 pounds.
  • For a larger bedroom, kitchen or small lounge room go for a salt lamp between 9 – 11 pounds.
  • For larger spaces and office environments, where there is more electromagnetic radiation, it’s better to buy a large Himalayan salt lamp, at least 12 pounds and preferably a much larger one like this big tower.


The shape of your Himalayan rock salt lamp won’t affect its ability to clean the air or generate negative ions. Only the surface area is important here, thus the higher benefits attributed to larger salt lamps.

In theory, polished salt lamps, like this unusual pyramid design, while often attractive, have a slightly reduced surface area so may not be quite as effective as the roughly chiselled versions. Basket salt lamps should also have their salt blocks stacked roughly to maximize surface area for the most benefit.

Other Considerations

Make sure you buy a good quality Himalayan salt lamp if you’re going to invest in one. This is important both for the better crystal salt and for how well the base has been attached.

Himalayan rock salt lamp benefitsA strong and secure base is especially important for the larger salt lamps that can be quite heavy and need good support.

The best Himalayan crystal salt lamps will also have a UL/CSA approved light fixtures and a way to hold the light bulb securely in place. Dimmer switches could also be useful if you intend to use the salt lamp in your bedroom.

Read the reviews and check that other people are happy with the construction quality of any Himalayan salt lamp you are considering.

One other important factor to consider is the wattage of the light bulb that comes with your salt lamp. Without a strong enough wattage bulb, salt lamps won’t evaporate properly and can drip water into the base.

Pink crystal salt lamps should feel warm to the touch to work properly. As a general guide, use a 15-watt bulb for salt lamps 10 pounds and under, a 25-watt bulb for between 10 and 20 pounds, and a 40 to 60-watt bulb for above 20 pounds.

If your lamp isn’t warm or drips too much water, particularly in humid environments, try increasing the wattage of the light bulb within it.

Also remember that you need to use a heat producing light bulb like this for salt lamps. Low heat bulbs aren’t suitable. Any good salt lamps will come with the right kind of light bulb but remember this when you eventually replace them.

The Best Salt Lamp I’ve Found

The Himalayan salt crystal lamp I use on my work desk is this best-seller. I’ve seen much more expensive ones but I really like the shape, size and particularly the color of this one.

It would be fine in a bedroom, if you like the soft, glowing light, or in a lounge room, though it’s best to have it quite close to where you sit for the most health benefits.

If you can afford it, a larger Himalayan crystal salt lamp like this feature can provide even more beneficial effects. For smaller spaces and a different feel visually many people also like the basket design salt lamps, such as this pretty one.

While they are not as powerful as the best negative ionizers reviewed here, Himalayan natural salt lamps are a beautiful addition to any living space.

They can definitely clean the surrounding air of allergens and, even though it’s difficult to find studies to back all of the reported health benefits of salt lamps, the many positive reviews of people’s personal experiences makes them well worth considering, either for your own home, or as a gift for a friend who cares about health and wellness.

There’s a lot more about negative ion benefits for your health and wellbeing here. If you found this page useful please share it so other people can find out more about Himalayan salt lamps and how they really work.

I’ve also recently created a detailed review of the best salt lamps for 2016 in various sizes and designs here.

Photo 1: Edward Peters / Photo 2: Barb Watson / Photo 3: Gnangarra / Photo 4: sigusr0