There are few
things in life as soothing and relaxing as the warm glow of a
campfire, and Himalayan salt lamps offer this same ambiance at home.
I've talked before
how I use them to help purify indoor air
and for their soothing red glow.
We use these lamps
so often that I figured they deserved their own post.
What is a Himalayan Salt
Salt lamps or HPS
(Himalayan Pink Salt) lamps are essentially large pieces of pure
Himalayan Salt with a small bulb inside.
They can be solid
pieces of salt (like
this one) or decorative baskets filled with large
crystals of salt (like
these). They offer a nice warm glow when lit and may be
beneficial for indoor air quality.
lamps are made from pure, food grade, Himalayan salt crystals and
can even be powdered to use as salt in recipes if needed. These
beautiful lamps have gained massive popularity recently and there
are many benefits attributed to them.
But are these
benefits actually backed by science?
Let's find out…
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:
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."
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
occur more often in nature and they are often created by things
like lightening storms, sunlight, waterfalls, and ocean waves.
is considered nature's greatest source of negative ions and may
be one of the things that contributes 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 at the beach.
some of the benefits of negative ions in the air:
speaking, negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the
brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness,
and more mental energy, says Pierce J. Howard, PhD, author
of The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications
from Mind Brain Research and director of research at the
Center for Applied Cognitive Sciences in Charlotte, N.C.
also may protect against germs in the air, resulting in
decreased irritation due to inhaling various particles
that make you sneeze, cough, or have a throat
And for a
whopping one in three of us who are sensitive to their
effects, negative ions can make us feel like we are walking
You are one
of them if you feel instantly refreshed the moment you open
a window and breathe in fresh, humid air.
waterfalls and beaches where negative ions are naturally
produced can have a negative ion concentration of up to 10,000
negative ions per cubic centimeter whereas busy cities can have
negative ion levels as low as 100 ions per cubic centimeter.
Do Salt Lamps
Generate Negative Ions?
Yes. But not in large amounts.
in nature, especially around water, is definitely the best way
to get exposure to negative ions, but salt lamps also generate
small amounts, especially when used consistently over time.
ions are often created by electronic devices like computers,
TVs, microwaves, and even vacuum cleaners and can often
exacerbate problems like allergies, stress and sleep trouble.
can neutralize positive ions (they bond together) and help
cleanse the air. Additionally, salt lamps offer a soothing glow
that many people find relaxing.
I don't use
salt lamps strictly as a negative ion generator, but keep them
around the house, especially near electronics. If negative ions
are the goal, using
a negative ion generator would be a much more
But, Salt Lamps ARE Hygroscopic
Salt, by its
nature, is hygroscopic,
meaning that it attracts water to its surface and 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).
of water vapor is present in the air and can carry things like
mold, bacteria, and allergens. Salt lamps attract this water
vapor and the things it carries to its surface and removes them
from the air.
This is one of
the main benefits of salt lamps, and one of the reasons we have
them in most rooms of our home.
The Benefits of
Himalayan Salt Lamps
Salt lamps may not
be the negative ion generation panacea they are made out to be, but
we have them in many rooms of our house for other reasons:
Night Light and Low-Light Lamp
shown that different colors of light affect the body in
My own doctor
recommends avoiding blue light after sunset because it can
interfere with circadian rhythm and disrupt sleep hormones.
many modern light sources like cell phones, tablets, computers
and TVs emit a lot of blue light and many of us spend a lot of
time staring at these, especially in the evening.
Salt lamps, on
the other hand, offer a warm orange glow, similar to the hues
found in a campfire or by candlelight. For this reason, they are
a great light source for the evening and can even be used as a
night light without negatively affecting sleep.
I often wear orange sunglasses at
night if I'll be on the
computer or watching a movie to avoid blue light and we use
mostly salt lamps and other low and orange lights after dark.
Improve Air Quality
Salt lamps are
not a spectacular source of negative ions.
However, due to
their hygroscopic properties, they may improve the air in other
ways. Besides offering a soothing glow, they can attract
pollutants in the air and even help neutralize the effects of
3. Light and
Color Therapy Benefits
soothing lamps may also help boost mood and energy levels,
especially for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder
The soft orange
hues are one of the soothing colors often used to calm mood and
increase focus. The small amounts of negative ions
may also be helpful in boosting mood as well.
My brother in
law has struggled with asthma and allergies for much of his life
and he found relief from using
a Himalayan salt inhaler.
Others notice a
difference from having salt lamps in their homes or offices.
How To Choose a High
Quality Salt Lamp
It is possible to
machines that create negative ions, but I've found that salt
lamps are a less expensive alternative and offer other benefits as
We have salt lamps
in most rooms in our home and enjoy them in winter months when it
isn't possible to have the windows open or to spend as much time
outside. We now have a
solid salt lamp or
a basket lamp in several room of our home and I love them for
their ambient glow and orange color.
Salt lamps cost
less than many other types of lamps, and a high quality one can last
If you are
interested in adding a salt lamp to your home, choose ones with
these features for best quality:
colored lamps are typically considered higher quality. Lamps
should specify that they are 100% Himalayan salt, as cheap
imitations may use lower quality salt.
the salt lamp, the bigger the affect. Smaller lamps weight
5-6 pounds while larger ones can weigh up to 50. A good
general rule is that 1 pound of salt will filter
approximately a 4×4 area of a room. Smaller lamps are
typically much less expensive, so we keep 1-2 in smaller
rooms and 2-3 in larger rooms of our home.
area of a salt lamp determines its hygroscopic potential.
Rougher lamps have a higher surface area than smooth and
polished lamps and are more effective at improving air
quality. In my opinion, they also look better and are a
great decoration for most rooms.
hygroscopic benefits are due to the salt and heat together
so it is important to use a heat-producing bulb. LED bulbs
don't accomplish this. I use
these inexpensive bulbs.
HPS Lamps - Bottom Line
Salt lamps aren't a
panacea and they don't take the place of an air filter.
They don't create
large amounts of negative ions like you'll find in nature,
especially around water. If negative ions are the goal, taking a
hike or a swim in nature is a much more efficient way to get them.
Salt lamps are a
beautiful light source that may offer the benefits of color therapy,
by cleaning the air hygroscopically and in alleviating allergies.
They are an inexpensive no-blue light source to use after dark and
as a sleep-friendly night light for kids.
At the end of the
day, they aren't going to fix any health problems on their own or
drastically improve indoor air quality. They are, however, a
beautiful and eco-friendly light source that produces a healthy
spectrum of light.
If you are choosing
lamps for your home, they are a great option to consider.