Himalayan salt lamps are made from solid Himalayan salt from Pakistan. They have tinges of white, pink, orange, and red. They have been hollowed out to allow space for a light bulb. Once they are lit, they radiate a soothing and warm amber color.
There are people who buy them to decorate their home, but others buy them because of their alleged health benefits.
The benefits of Himalayan salt lamps are believed to stem from two key factors: hygroscopy and negative ions.
Hygroscopy and Negative Ions
Water vapor is constantly circulating in the air, carrying along with it smoke particles, dust, pollen, mold, spores, bacteria, and viruses. Since Himalayan salt lamps are big chunks of salt, they are believed to absorb water molecules in the air, which contain air pollutants. Being hygroscopic, Himalayan salt lamps tend to “cry” if unlit for a long time. The heat produced by the light bulb keep them dry; thus, continuing the hygroscopic effect for as long as the light is on.
It is suggested that when the Himalayan salt is heated by the lamp, it absorbs water particles. Then, the water absorbed evaporates off as a salt solution. This is how negative ions are formed.
This is why many believe Himalayan salt lamps are natural air purifiers. Harmful microscopic compounds are no longer able to float in the air, making the air that you breathe cleaner.
Negative ions are created when a molecule gains a negatively charged electron. This makes them attracted towards positively charged ions found in airborne particles like mold, dust and other pollutants and potential allergens. When attached to these airborne contaminants, negative ions give them a negative charge. So, instead of drifting in the air, the airborne contaminants fall to the floor or the nearest surface.
Negative ions can be naturally found in nature, particularly in forests, beaches, and waterfalls. It must be the reason why people feel so recharged when they are in these places.
Negative ions play an important role in our health as they:
- purify the blood
- neutralize free radicals
- enhance immune function
- revitalize cell metabolism
- balance the autonomic nervous system, promoting deep sleep and healthy digestion
To further understand the role of negative ions, let’s also talk about positive ions and their negative effects. Yep, that one’s ironic.
Positive ions, also known as positively charged ions, are carbon dioxide molecules that have been stripped of an electron. Excessive exposure to them has negative effects on your body.
Places charged with positive ions are thought to contribute to asthma, depression, anxiety, tension, irritability, tiredness, and lack of energy. Positive ions also increase stress, cause sleep problems, and worsen allergies.
In nature, high winds, humidity, dust, and pollution usually form positive ions. They can also be found in our homes and workplaces. At work, chronic generators of positive ions include fluorescent lights, air-conditioning systems, computers, printers, and photocopiers. At home, fluorescent lights, phones, laptops, computers, clothes dryers, and women’s hair dryers all generate potentially harmful positive ions. Likewise, toxic paint, carpeting, and upholstery do the same.
So, since Himalayan salt lamps are believed to generate negative ions, having them around neutralizes positive ions and their negative effects.
Himalayan salt lamps are believed to be able to:
- clean and deodorize air
- ease coughing
- reduce stress
- create better sleep
- increase energy levels
- improve skin diseases
- reduce allergy and asthma symptoms
- improve mood and concentration
- reduce static electricity in the air
- reduce headaches and migraines
- increase relaxation and calmness
- treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- lessen cases of colds and flu (due to less airborne viruses)
- reduce symptoms from disorders like rheumatism and arthritis
- improve the ability to concentrate and work for longer periods around electrical equipment like computers.
- promote an overall sense of health and well-being
The Himalayan salt lamps look really pretty; they would make a nice decoration on your bedside table. Aside from the really beautiful colors and glow, many believe that Himalayan salt lamps have all those health benefits just mentioned. But are these claims really true? Do Himalayan salt lamps really work?
Claim: Himalayan salt lamps improve air quality
According to researchers, there is little to no evidence supporting the claims regarding the health benefits of Himalayan salt lamps. There is no evidence supporting that they are able to produce significant amounts of negative ions or that they able to reduce air pollutants. Currently, this theory has not been tested.
Most people who have been using or are using Himalayan salt lamps claim that these lamps improve the quality of air, making them beneficial for people who have asthma or allergies. However, as of the moment, there is no evidence that proves that these lamps can purify the air and remove potential pathogens.
The claim that Himalayan lamps are good for people with respiratory conditions may have stemmed from halotherapy, an alternative treatment that involves breathing salty air. Some people claim that it can treat respiratory conditions, such as allergies, asthma, and chronic bronchitis. However, there is also little support regarding this claim. It is unclear if halotherapy is indeed effective for people suffering from respiratory conditions.
Moreover, high emission of negative ions have not yet shown any benefits to people suffering from asthma.
Claim: Himalayan salt lamps promote sleep
There are no studies supporting that these lamps promote sleep. There is also no evidence showing that air ionization has any beneficial or positive effects on relaxation and sleep.
However, the soft glow coming from a Himalayan salt lamp, may help promote sleepiness. Unlike bright lights that can delay production of melatonin or sleep hormone, Himalayan salt lamps produce a soft amber glow. This dim light can also create a relaxed ambiance that may promote sleep.
Claim: Himalayan salt lamps can boost mood
Studies have shown that people with depressive symptoms who were exposed to very high levels of negative ions have improvements in their mood. However, it’s very unlikely that a Himalayan salt lamp can produce the same large amounts of negative ions used in these studies.