Himalayan salt lamps and their supposed health benefits are taking the wellness world by storm. But do they actually live up to the hype?
Carved out of pink Himalayan salt, these on-trend decorative lights are worth purchasing purely for their atmospheric aesthetic. But it is not their soft glow that has made them so popular. The lamps claim to purify the air, calm allergies, boost mood, relieve anxiety and stress and aid in a better nights sleep. With a host of physical and mental benefits, are these lamps too good to be true?
What are Himalayan salt lamps?
Himalayan salt lamps are exactly what the name suggests—a bulb inside a large chunk of Himalayan salt. A proper salt lamp is made of salt from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan—mineral-rich salt that is believed to be millions of years old.
How do Himalayan salt lamps work?
Salt lamps are considered ‘natural ionisers’—they pull positive ions from the air and cause any unwanted particles to stick to nearby surfaces.
The lamps are also said to purify the air using hygroscopy—attracting water molecules from the surrounding air. This vapour carries impurities such as allergens, smoke particles, and also bacteria and viruses. These microscopic compounds then attract to the lamp, where they are heated and dried. The lamp releases the water molecules but the pollutants remain trapped inside.
Do Himalayan salt lamps really clean the air?
Salt is naturally hygroscopic and pollutants do get trapped in airborne water molecules in the air around us.
However, a salt lamp only purifies the air in its immediate vicinity. Most commercial crystal lamps are on the smaller side and will only be able to target a limited radius. The larger the lamp’s surface area, the more allergens it will be able to trap.
Placing a salt lamp next to your bed, on a coffee table or at your desk can remove allergens from the air around places you frequent.
Do Himalayan salt lamps really give off negative ions?
There is little large-study evidence to prove that salt lamps produce negative ions. The common belief is that they do, but the quantity is so small that it is insignificant.
Again, a smaller lamp will produce less negative ions that one with a larger surface area.
Are Himalayan salt lamps beneficial for health?
Whilst we’re not completely sold on Himalayan salt lamps as ionisers, the lamps have other, more subtle benefits.
Colour therapy is an ancient technique that alters mood using different wavelengths of colour. The warm, pink/orange glow of Himalayan salt lamps generates slow wavelengths that mimic the sunset. By syncing the body to its natural circadian rhythm, the colour not only looks beautiful, but triggers relaxation.
Similarly, orange light acts as a contrast to the blue light of the LED screens that follow us to bed. It is recommended to avoid blue light before bed as it strains the eyes and inhibits the production of melatonin that helps us sleep. On the other hand, having a Himalayan salt lamp can limit harsh light in the evening and contribute to a better night’s sleep.
The negative ions produced by Himalayan salt lamps are said to neutralize the positive ions in our environment. Ironically, these positive ions make us feel down and drained, and so balancing them can boost our mood. More concrete evidence comes from the many users who report that the ambience of their salt lamp calms their anxiety and makes them less stressed.
Whether or not the benefits of Himalayan salt lamps are scientifically proven, there is definitely something comforting about the soft glow that they emit. Their natural, holistic look automatically makes us think of relaxation and health, and having a pretty pink crystal by your side can always put you in a better mood. Call it a placebo, but we’re not getting rid of ours yet.