Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Himalayan salt lamps are growing in popularity these days. You must have heard about Himalayan salt lamps sometime or the other in the recent times. These lamps not only make a beautiful addition to your living space, but also have a lot of benefits associated with them. In fact, people who use a Himalayan salt lamp often swear that it provides a soothing and relaxing atmosphere in the house and is similar to the warm glow of a campfire.

What is a Himalayan Salt Lamp?

A Himalayan salt lamp is actually just a large piece of pure Himalayan salt. It is a hand-chiseled solid block of crystal salt found in the Himalayas. They are usually soft pink in color, and can also be pinkish orange, depending on the concentration of the trace minerals that are present in the salt. The inside of this block of salt is hollowed out from the middle so that a light bulb can be fitted inside to generate light and heat. The light source is an important factor of Himalayan salt lamps because these lamps do not work properly and provide the associated benefits without a heat-producing light source.

Apart from an actual block of salt, the Himalayan salt lamps are available in a decorative bowl of salt blocks. These bowls have the light and heat source placed underneath to create a pink glow in any room that they are placed in. In fact, as Himalayan salt lamps have grown in popularity, they are now available in a wide variety of designs.

It is believed that the genuine Himalayan salt lamps that are sourced from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan are believed to be millions of years old and they contain small amounts of trace minerals, which give the salt lamps their distinct pink color.

Many people buy these Himalayan salt lamps for the benefits they offer, while many simply buy them because of the beautiful ambiance and the pink light it creates.

While these Himalayan salt lamps are beautiful to look at, but how do they actually work and how are they able to generate negative ions that are associated with getting better health?

Do Himalayan Salt Lamps Actually Work?

Do Himalayan Salt Lamps Actually Work?

Salt is known to be hygroscopic. This means that it attracts water molecules from the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the air of our room has water vapor circulating inside it, which is full of allergens, bacteria, viruses, smoke particles, etc. Some of the most common allergens found inside our rooms include dust, pet dander, and pollen.

A big block of rock salt, such as the one contained in a Himalayan salt lamp, attracts the surrounding water vapor and the pollutants that are attached to the water vapor. Once these become attracted to the lamp, these microscopic allergens get 'trapped' on the salt, or you can even say that these compounds remain on the salt, and are not able to continue to float in the air where the occupants of the room will eventually breathe them in.

The science behind these Himalayan salt lamps works in a manner that causes the heat from the lamp to dry out the water vapor that they attract from the room's air. The hygroscopic effect then continues to work as long as the light is kept switched on. So in a way, it can be said that these Himalayan salt lamps work as a natural air purifier.

The airborne allergens or contaminants remain attracted to the salt lamp and do not get re-released back into the atmosphere. Once these contaminants become trapped on the lamp, they will not become airborne again. However, the heat will re-release the water vapor back into the air, thus maintaining the level of moisture in a room. Every few weeks, it is recommended that you turn off the Himalayan salt lamp for an hour or so to allow it to cool down and then you can gently rub it clean with a damp cloth. This will clean away the dust and contaminants that have been trapped on to the lap. Apart from this, you can leave the lamp on and let it continue to clean the air in the house.

Do They Generate Negative Ions?

Well, many people think that every Himalayan salt lamp generates negative ions that are beneficial to their health. However, this is not true as there are only some salt lamps that generate these negative ions. Also, the lamps do not generate a lot of negative ions. These negative ions are generated from the moisture that evaporates from the heated salt rock. Many experts believe that the photoelectric effect may also be responsible for ion generation.

However, a Himalayan salt lamp has a limited range and small output when it comes to functioning as a negative ionizer.

Some studies, though, have shown that keeping the Himalayan salt lamp on at all times does generate more negative ions after a few days.

Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that the negative ion generating a range of these salt lamps are quite limited. It will be wrong of you to expect that a Himalayan salt lamp will flood your room with negative ions. Even a bigger rock lamp will only generate a small radius of negative ions.

What Are The Benefits of Himalayan Salt Lamps?

Advocates of Himalayan salt lamps firmly believe that these lamps help in keeping the air in your home clean, in soothing allergies, boosting your mood, and also helps you sleep.

There are three major health claims that are made about Himalayan salt lamps. Let us take a look at the three health benefits.

  1. Cleaner Air Quality

    Himalayan salt lamps are known to clean the air in our homes. These lamps are usually advertised as being beneficial for people who suffer from asthma, allergies, or other respiratory system diseases such as cystic fibrosis. These lamps are often referred to as nature's air purifiers.

    However, it is important to note that there is no evidence that supports these claims that the lamps remove allergens and contaminants from the air. On the other hand, it is believed that claims about these lamps being good for people suffering from respiratory conditions stems from the ancient practice of halotherapy, wherein people suffering from respiratory conditions used to spend time in salt caves.

    In spite of all this, halotherapy does not find much support and there is not much evidence to show whether the therapy is safe and effective in such cases.

    Coming back to salt lamps, studies conducted to show their effective as air ionizers have also not shown to be conclusive on whether they actually benefit people suffering from asthma or whether they improve respiratory function.

    Therefore, this health benefit cannot be backed up by any scientific studies. Nevertheless, people all over the world have a firm belief in the functioning of salt lamps as air purifiers.

  2. Mood Boosters

    Another benefit that is frequently associated with Himalayan salt lamps is that they are successful in boosting your mood. Now there have been some studies conducted on animals that have successfully shown that exposure to high levels of negative ions is known to increase the levels of serotonin, a hormone that is related to mood regulation. However, human studies on the psychological effects of air ionization have not proven any consistent effects on an individual's moods or overall feelings of well-being.

    On the other hand, studies that were done on people suffering from depression and being exposed to very high levels of ionization found that the participants showed an improvement in their mood. Though the participants were exposed to very high levels of negative ions, the study also found that there is no relation between people's mood and the dosage of negative ions received. The researchers ended the study questioning whether the link was causal.

  3. Effect on Sleep

    While Himalayan salt lamps affect the environment around you, it is not really clear whether they have any impact on sleep patterns. There have been o studies conducted so far to examine the effect of these salt lamps on sleep. It is probable that the dimly glowing light from a Himalayan salt lamp is responsible for promoting sleepiness. This is even more likely so because being exposed to bright electric lights before bedtime can cause a delay in the production of melatonin, which is the sleep hormone.

    So while Himalayan salt lamps claim to have a positive effect on your sleep patterns, improve the air quality, and boost your mood, none of these have been proven till date and there is very little evidence to support these claims also.

Do Himalayan Salt Lamps Actually Have Any Benefits?

While there might not be any evidence to show that Himalayan salt lamps have the above-mentioned health benefits, they still have some other benefits. These include:

  • They are an attractive addition to your home.
  • The soft pink glowing light creates a relaxing atmosphere in the home and it helps you unwind.
  • They help limit bight electric lights in the evening.

Conclusion

Do not believe everything that you read about Himalayan salt lamps. While science does not support the health benefits claimed by these lamps, there are many people who are ardent supporters of Himalayan salt lamps. If you want to buy a Himalayan salt lamp, then go ahead and do so, but do not buy them for medical purposes. Instead, purchase a Himalayan salt lamp for its sheer beauty and attractiveness.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 14, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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