Himalayan Salt Lamp Benefits: Do Salt Lamps Really Work?
Himalayan 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 true Himalayan salt lamp is and how it works to clean the air, whether they really do generate negative ions, 9 reported health benefits of salt lamps, and the one I personally own and why.
Also ahead, how to use a salt rock lamp properly, where to place them in a room for better air and 5 important considerations when choosing the best pink salt lamp for your home.
What is a Salt Lamp?
Real Himalayan lamps are hand chiselled solid blocks of ancient crystal salts, like this beautiful one I have on my desk now, from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. They have a soft pink color, often pinkish-orange, due to the high concentration of trace minerals contained within the salt.
Inside the hollowed out middle of the salt rock 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 bowls of crystal salt blocks, with a light and heat source underneath that creates a gentle pink glow in any room you place them in.
In fact, due to their popularity in recent years, an amazing variety of salt lamp designs are now available and I’ve reviewed the best I’ve found in detail here.
Most people find Himalayan rock salt lamps 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 vapor is always circulating in the air of any room of your home. These airborne water droplets carry along with them allergens like dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, 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 crystal lamp, is especially attractive to water vapor and its attached pollutants.
Once attracted to the lamp, these microscopic allergens remain on the salt and not floating in the air where you could previously breathe them into your lungs.
As Himalayan salt lamps slowly become saturated with moisture they attract from the air around them, the heat from the lamp inside dries them, thus continuing the hygroscopic effect for as long as the light is on.
This heat also re-releases water vapor back into the air. Importantly, any airborne contaminants attracted to the lamp’s salt crystals remain trapped there and will not become airborne again.
Occasionally, perhaps 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 work to clean the air in your home naturally.
Do Salt Lamps Really Work to Generate Negative Ions?
Can rock salt lamps produce beneficial negative ions? This is the biggest question most people usually have when buying Himalayan pink crystal lamps for their reported health benefits. The answer is yes, but not a great deal of them.
Salt lamp benefits do include negative ion generation. This is theorized as primarily from the moisture evaporating on the heated rock salt. Though some authorities now maintain that the photoelectric effect, where light frees electrons from the surface of a solid like salt, plays a larger role in ion generation.
However, as a negative ionizer, crystal salt lamps have a limited range and small output and aren’t considered nearly as effective as a true negative ionizer like one of these.
Some point to the cumulative effect of keeping a 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 lamp on in the room tested versus the initial test.
This may well be the case, and pink 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 salt light to flood a large room with negative ions.
Even a very large one like this, while visually 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 Crystal Salt Lights for the Most Health Benefits
The best place for a Himalayan pink salt lamp 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 vapor 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 feel like you can have a salt rock lamp there.
Most people who own Himalayan crystal lamps report that they find them very relaxing to be near. A high percentage also attribute positive health benefits to them. Perhaps they work in other ways that science doesn’t quite understand yet.
If salt lamps are a hoax, they’re certainly a very popular one. After many hours of reading research, articles, forums and comments about Himalayan lamps, I’ve found the vast majority of those who use them express various kinds of beneficial effects.
They are limited in their negative ion generation, especially compared to a true corona discharge ionizer like this recently released powerful new design.
Despite this, it does seem that 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.
9 Himalayan Salt Rock Lamp Benefits
Commonly 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
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 negatively affect your circadian system, making it difficult to get to sleep at night.
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 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 reducing the negative effects of electromagnetic radiation. Though it’s still 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 people report great results with it. Most often reported benefits of color therapy with Himalayan lamps include higher energy levels, a more positive mood and a clearer mental state.
Humans certainly respond well to beautiful colors so there’s every reason to believe the beautiful pinkish-orange glow of a crystal salt light 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 amber and pink light of your Himalayan salt rock 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 — 5 Important Factors
When choosing a pink 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 can last for a lifetime so it’s worth paying a little more for one that will look great, be long lasting and provide the best air cleaning and most health benefits.
Here are 5 different areas to keep in mind when buying an real Himalayan salt lamp for your home.
1. Depth of Color
Every crystal salt lamp is unique and the different combination of colors that makes up yours can vary significantly.
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 is a fake or was mined from a lower quality vein of crystal salt.
For color therapy, predominantly pink salt lights are associated with positive emotions, closeness and love. While more orange 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. Depth of color is generally considered a good sign of quality though. Unless of course it is one of the rare white salt lamps reviewed here.
2. Size and Weight
The weight of a salt lamp is a good indication of its size and air cleaning ability. The bigger and heavier it is the more health benefits you should notice from it.
Price is of course a factor though, so if your budget is limited then use these salt lamp weight ranges as a guide of the recommended size for different kinds of rooms on your home:
- For beside your workspace on a desk, a smaller pink salt light around 5 pounds is okay, though it should be quite close to you. If this isn’t possible choose a larger size.
- For small bedrooms, mid-sized Himalayan salt lamps around 6 – 10 pounds, like this pretty bestseller on Amazon, are fine and provide a soothing glow in the evening.
- For a larger bedroom, kitchen or small lounge room it’s best to get a salt lamp at least 10 pounds in weight or more.
- For bigger lounge rooms and living spaces, as well as office environments where there is more electromagnetic radiation, it’s better to buy a large lamp, at least 15 pounds and preferably a much larger one like this standout feature-sized tower.
3. Shape — Polished Vs Carved
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 for your health attributed to bigger salt lamps.
In theory, polished salt rock lamps, like these beautiful and unusual pyramid, square and crystal ball designs, while very distinctive, have a slightly reduced surface area so may be a bit less effective at air cleaning than the rough surfaces of carved versions of the same size.
Basket salt lamps should also have their salt blocks stacked roughly to maximize surface area for the most beneficial effects.
4. Quality and Warranty
Make sure you buy a good quality Himalayan 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.
A strong and secure base is especially important for the larger rock salt lamps that can be quite heavy and need good support. When positioning them in a home with very young children be especially aware of their stability.
The best Himalayan crystal salt lamps will also have a UL 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 light in your bedroom.
Read the reviews and check that other people are happy with the construction quality of any Himalayan pink salt lamp you are considering for your home.
Faults can happen but good sellers should rectify any problems quickly. Buying a salt lamp on Amazon, or through a good specialist salt crystal lamp retailer like So Well, who guarantee their quality and authenticity, does give you extra protection as well with their simple return policy.
5. Himalayan Salt Lamp Light Bulbs
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 crystal lamps won’t evaporate moisture properly and can drip water into the base or even onto furniture.
A real salt lamp should feel warm to the touch to work properly. As a general guide, you can use a 7-watt bulb for lamps 8 pounds and under, a 15-watt bulb for between 8 and 20 pounds, and you’ll usually want at least a 25-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 to rectify the problem.
Also remember that you need to use a proper heat producing light bulb like this for salt crystal lamps. Energy efficient 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 Lamps I’ve Found
The Himalayan salt crystal lamp I use on my work desk is this stunning and guarenteed authetic tower lamp. I’ve seen much more expensive ones but I really like the shape, size and particularly the rich and glowing colors of this one.
It would also be fine in a bedroom, if you like gentle pink and amber lighting before sleeping, or in a lounge room or living room, though it’s best to have it quite close to where you sit for the most health benefits.
If you have the space for it, multiple salt lamps placed around a larger room, like these gorgeous artisan made sets in rare colors, can provide even more air purifying and other 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 anywhere near as powerful as the best negative ion producing air cleaners reviewed here, natural Himalayan 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 extensive scientific 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. I’ve also recently created a detailed review of the best salt lamps for 2019 in various different sizes and designs to suit every budget.
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