Do Himalayan Salt Rock Lamps Really Work to Clean the Air?

Rock salt lightSalt lamps make an attractive feature in any living space. But how do they work and can they clean the air within your home?

This article covers what a Himalayan salt lamp is, if they release negative ions, how they trap airborne pollutants, and the one I have and why.

Also ahead, how to use pink rock salt lamps properly and where to position them in any room to purify the air you breathe.

What is a Salt Rock Lamp?

Real Himalayan salt lamps are hand-chiseled blocks of ancient crystal rock salts, like this beautiful one I have on my desk now, from the Khewra salt mine in Pakistan.

They usually have a soft pink-orange color, due to the high concentration of iron and other trace minerals contained within their crystalline structure.

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

They also come in baskets and bowls of glowing salt blocks, like this pretty ‘firebowl’ design, that radiate with a gentle amber glow in any room you place them in.

Beautiful pink salt crystal bowls

Their popularity in recent years has seen a wide variety of new shapes and designs come onto the market. I’ve written about the best Himalayan salt lamps that I’ve found, as well as more unusual salt lamp colors here.

Most people find pink rock salt lamps attractive and soothing to look at. But how do they work and can they produce beneficial negative ions?

How Salt Lamps Improve Air Quality

Water vapor is always circulating in the air of any room in your home. These airborne water droplets carry along with them allergens, like dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, smoke particles, and even germs.

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

Once attracted to the lamp’s surface, these microscopic allergens remain trapped on it and not floating in the air where you could previously breathe them into your lungs.

As a salt lamp slowly becomes saturated with moisture from the air around it, the heat from the light bulb inside evaporates it, thus continuing the hygroscopic effect for as long as the internal light is on.

Every few weeks it’s good to turn off your lamp for an hour, let it cool and then gently rub it with a damp cloth to clean away trapped dust and pollution. The rest of the time just leave it on and let it purify the air in your home naturally.

There’s much more on salt lamp leaking, shedding salt, turning white and cleaning here.

Can They Really Generate Negative Ions?

Do rock salt lamps produce negative ions? This is a question many people have when buying one. The answer is yes, but not a great deal of them.

Testing has shown low levels of negative ion generation. This is theorized as primarily from the moisture evaporating on the heated salt.

Some scientific authorities maintain that the photoelectric effect, where light frees electrons from the surface of a solid, such as salt crystals, plays a larger role in ion production.

As an ionic generator though, these lamps have a limited range and very small output. They cannot be considered anywhere near as effective as a true air ionizer. Even a mini negative ion necklace will produce significantly  more ions.

Don’t expect a small salt light to flood a large room with negatively-charged ions. Even very large ones like these, while visually stunning, will only produce a small amount of anions in the air around them.

Instead, it’s best to consider any ions from salt lights as a bonus and position them with their short ionizing range in mind.Salt Pink Rock Lamps

Where to Place Salt Crystal Lamps for Best Results

The recommended position for a pink salt lamp is quite close to where you spend a lot of time so you can breathe in the fresher air it creates.

The hygroscopic air purifying effect is the basic science of water vapor attraction and evaporation and is not dependent on negative ions.

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

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

Are Salt Lamps a Hoax?

Reading customer feedback online, most people who own Himalayan crystal lamps say that they find them very relaxing to be near. A high percentage also attribute positive properties to them.

If salt lamps are a hoax, they’re certainly a very popular one. After extensively reading wellness forums and owner comments about these lamps, I’ve found the vast majority of those who use them say they’ve experienced beneficial effects.

Conversely, the majority of those calling Himalayan salt lamps a hoax also say they’ve never owned one. Perhaps they should give them a try. They might change their mind.

They are limited in their negative ion generation, especially compared to a true ionizer. Their hygroscopic properties will improve indoor air quality though and they can have other benefits for anxiety and better sleep.Pink rock salt carved into a lamp

The One I Own and Why

The Himalayan salt crystal lamp I own and have on my desk right now is this beautiful, hand-carved tower.

I’ve seen much more expensive ones but I really like the shape, size and particularly the rich and glowing colors of this brand.

It would also be fine in a bedroom, if you like gentle amber lighting before sleeping, or on a table in your lounge room or living room. It’s recommended to have it quite close to where you sit for the most benefits.

If you have the space for it, multiple lamps placed around a larger room, like these artisan made sets in rare colors, can provide even more indoor air purification.

While they are nowhere near as effective as the top ionic air purifiers here, natural salt rock lamps do clean the air and are a attractive addition to any home.

You can find the best salt lamps of 2023 here, in a variety of different sizes and designs to suit every budget. There’s also 5 ways to quickly tell the difference between genuine versus fake salt lamps here.

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