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Himalayan Salt Lamp Benefits, Plus Real vs. Fake Salt Lamps

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Himalayan salt lamp - Dr. Axe

What is a himalayan salt lamp? Himalayan sea salt is believed to be composed of dried remnants of the original, primal sea dating back to planet Earth’s creation. I’ve talked before about the health benefits of pink Himalayan salt, but what if I told you that there are actually lamps made from Himalayan salt?

It’s true! They’re called salt lamps or salt rock lamps, and yes, they’re actually made from pink Himalayan salt and are able to light your surroundings — but they’re really not bought for their moderate lighting abilities. There are major claims that a Himalayan salt rock lamp does much more than provide you with a pretty glow.

What are the benefits of a salt lamp? The health benefits of a Himalayan salt lamp supposedly include decreasing air pollution, negative ions and electrosmog caused by electronic devices in addition to symptom reduction for people suffering from from asthma, allergies and other illnesses.

Are there true benefits of salt lamps, or are they just a glowing, earthy addition to your home? And how can you tell if your salt lamp is the real deal or a fake? I’m glad you asked.


What Is a Himalayan Salt Lamp? Does It Work?

What is a salt lamp and how does it work? A real Himalayan salt crystal lamp is actually a solid block of Himalayan salt that has been hand-carved and possibly provides health benefits by the warming of the salt particles when the lamp is turned on.

What is himalayan salt? Deep underground mines in Khewra, Pakistan, located on the western edge of the Himalayan Mountains, are the only source of true Himalayan pink salt. The color of Himalayan salt lamps ranges from a light pink to a pinkish orange salt crystal with the hue a result of the mineral concentration.

Within the hollowed-out center of this block of salt is a light bulb that emits both light and heat. A salt lamp is not a lamp at all if it doesn’t have the light and heat source within it. Without that, it’s just a block of salt.

How It Works

Salt is hygroscopic, which means it attracts water molecules to itself. Being the big hunk of salt that it is, a natural Himalayan salt lamp is believed to work by attracting water molecules. This water vapor may also carry indoor air pollutants like mold, bacteria and allergens.

Once the water vapor comes in contact with the salt lamp, the pollutants are believed to remain trapped in the salt. Since the lamp is heated, the salt dries out and is able to continue the cycle of attracting water vapor and pollutants, releasing the water vapor back into the air but holding on to the health-hazardous pollutants.

Just looking at the glow of a Himalayan sea salt lamp can be calming, which is therapeutic in and of itself, but what about the other health claims? To date, there aren’t any scientific studies focusing specifically on benefits of Himalayan salt crystal lamps.

However, there is good reason to believe that a real Himalayan salt crystal lamp may provide some health benefits given the other salt research out there as well as many encouraging user testimonies.

According to the Lung Institute, salt (in general) has the following health properties:

  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Loosens excessive mucus and speeds up mucociliary transport
  • Removes pathogens (ie., airborne pollen)
  • Reduces IgE level (immune system oversensitivity)

Does It Really Generate Negative Ions?

Makers of salt lamps commonly claim that they generate negative ions. Unfortunately, there is no definitive evidence that a Himalayan rock salt lamp can produce a measurable number of negative ions.

However, is it possible? If the salt lamp is really high in trace minerals then it is possible that it could emit negative ions, but there has yet to be testing to make it clear whether or not any salt lamp can actually produce negative ions.

If by chance a salt lamp does emit negative ions, then it could be a good thing. According to Pierce J. Howard, PhD, director of research at the Center for Applied Cognitive Sciences in Charlotte, N.C.,

Generally speaking, negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy. They 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 irritation.

There are possible pros and cons of Himalayan salt lamps. The support of potential pros mainly lies in research about salt in general and not about actual salt lamps.


4 Possible Benefits

1. Air Purification

Out of all of the possible salt lamp benefits, air purification is often the quintessential goal for most buyers. Air-purifying house plants are often bought for this reason as well. There is not doubt that cleaner air in your home is better for your health.

According to research published by the American Society for Horticultural Science, the main component of air pollution or smog is ozone, which is most commonly linked with outdoor air, but it also makes its way into indoor living spaces like your home or office.

Even if you don’t need additional light during the day, you’ll want to turn on your salt lamp to help clean the air and potentially improve the air you’re breathing.

2. Potential Reduction in Electromagnetic Radiation and Airborne Allergens

A positive ion is a small molecule that has gained a positive charge. So many things around us nowadays release electromagnetic radiation in the form of unhealthy positive ions — things like your cell phone, computer and television, just to name a few. Pollution, toxic chemicals, pollen, mold and pet dander are other examples of things that enter the air as positive ions. (It’s important to note that the same is not true of dust.)

This electromagnetic radiation, aka electrosmog, may be invisible but is believed to cause some serious long-term effects. Constant exposure to EM radiation is known primarily to cause fatigue, increase stress and weaken the immune system … so if you don’t feel your best, it may be time to look into the air quality you’re breathing in.

There have been more than 2,000 studies exposing the toxic effects of electromagnetic fields from all sources. Scientists have come to the scary conclusion that “chronic exposure to even low-level radiation (like that from cell phones) can cause a variety of cancers, impair immunity, and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, heart disease, and many other ailments.”

Do salt lamps work to reduce electrosmog and airborne allergens? Research hasn’t proven this ability for sure, but salt lamps may be helpful by emitting negative ions that can counter the health hazardous positive ions from things like electrosmog, pollution, pollen and pet dander.

It’s interesting to know that most allergens are positively charged and according to experts, “Negatively charged ions may bind to and charged particles in the air or environment and help with neutralization or elimination.”

Himalayan salt lamp benefits - Dr. Axe

3. Eases Asthma and Allergy Symptoms

Himalayan salt is now used in inhalers to bring relief to asthma and allergy sufferers. Salt therapy is also used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. COPD is a debilitating and degenerative lung disease characterized by the restriction of airflow in and out of the lungs.

According to the Lung Institute, “Some people have found salt therapy to be an effective option for relieving symptoms of lung disease, resulting in easier breathing.”

Do salt lamps really do anything? Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated highly impressive salt therapy benefits, including helping:

  • 85 percent of mild and moderate asthma cases
  • 75 percent of severe asthma cases
  • 97 percent of chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis cases

Salt therapy for breathing problems is said to have begun with Siberian salt mine workers in the later 1800s who had a surprisingly small number of respiratory problems compared to people around them with less salty professions. This is likely do to the salts ability to remove pathogens.

Nowadays, you can find salt caves at various spas, and this salt cave experience is also trying to be re-created with the invention of Himalayan salt inhalers. Salt lamps are another smaller-scale way to bring the salt cave experience (and hopefully the health benefits) home.

4. Mood Booster and Sleep Promoter

Some people like to use a Himalayan salt lamp for anxiety. Another possible health benefit of the Himalayan salt lamp is a reduction in anxiety symptoms. According to color therapy as well as general human enjoyment, the warm pinkish to orange glow of the Himalayan glow salt lamp is a calming and happy presence in a room.

Additionally, as a real piece of nature, Himalayan salt can give off negative ions like a waterfall (but in much smaller amounts). Since Himalayan salt lamps may release negative ions into the air, they may help reduce anxiety and also encourage a relaxing atmosphere for sleep. Many people like to keep salt lamps in their bedrooms for their calming effect.

Why are negative ions so great? You can’t taste, smell or see them, but they’re some very impressive molecules. Once a negative ion reaches the bloodstream, they’re believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping alleviate depression, relieve stress and boost daytime energy.


How to Tell a Real vs. Fake Himalayan Salt Lamp

Wondering where to buy Himalayan salt lamp? You can find them easily online and in stores. But unfortunately, a Himalayan salt lamp hoax is possible.

If you’re in the market for an authentic Himalayan salt lamp, you want to do your homework to make sure you choose the best option possible.

There are said to be several ways to tell if you have a salt lamp that’s the real deal. Unfortunately, some of these characteristics will only be made known to you if you read Himalayan salt lamp reviews very carefully or, the less desirable scenario, once you’ve been actually using it in your home for a while (so hang on to that receipt!).

Top signs that your Himalayan salt lamp is a fake include:

1. Poor Return Policy

Real Himalayan salt lamps are made of salt so it’s not surprising that they’re fragile objects. A good manufacturer knows this and has return policies that are flexible since there could be some damage in transit.

If a salt lamp’s maker is extremely strict (like a “NO RETURNS” policy), then it makes you wonder if it’s a scam operation. This might not necessarily be the case, but some fake retailers have been known not to permit any returns because they know they’re not giving you the real thing.

2. Highly Durable

As I just said, Himalayan salt lamps are inherently fragile. Once you own one, you definitely need to be careful not to drop it or bang it into other solid objects because the salt crystal can be damaged very easily.

This is actually a rare time when durability is not desirable. If your salt lamp is unaffected by a collision, it could likely be an imposter.

3. Very Bright Light

If you’re looking for the best Himalayan salt lamp, it’s actually not going to be one that emits very bright light. If all you’re looking for is a bright light source, a salt lamp is not the way to go. Himalayan salt lamp bulbs are small and not designed to give off very bright light (they’re typically 25-watt bulbs).

But more importantly, due to its high content of numerous minerals, a Himalayan pink salt lamp gives off light in an irregular and muffled manner.  A true pink salt salt lamp will not give off enough light to completely illuminate a room. If yours does, then it’s most likely not the real deal.

4. Inexpensive White Crystal

You’ll typically find Himalayan salt lamps that give off a warm pinkish or orange hue. There is such a thing as a white Himalayan salt lamp, but it’s extremely rare and a lot more pricey than the colored ones.

So if you find a white salt crystal lamp that’s not substantially more expensive than the pink/orange versions, steer clear because this is likely an imposter. It’s also unclear how legit a blue himalayan salt lamp so you may want to avoid that variety as well.

(Sidenote: If you’re wondering, why is my salt lamp turning white? If you have a legitimate Himalayan crystal salt lamp then one explanation is that as water lands on the surface of the lamp, it causes some of the ionic crystalline structure of the salt to break down and then when the water evaporates, the ionic bonds will reform again as the solution turns back into salt. So the more you use the lamp, the more white crystals may accumulate.)

5. No Mention of Pakistan

Deep underground mines in Khewra, Pakistan, are the only source of true Himalayan pink salt. A real Himalayan salt lamp must be made from real Himalayan pink salt crystal.

If you’re questioning whether you have a real Himalayan salt lamp, look for mention of Pakistan as the salt crystal’s country of origin. You can also ask the lamp’s maker about the salt’s origin, keeping in mind that it may list the country of origin as the location of the lamp’s assembly.

6. Moisture-Resistant

People wonder, do Himalayan salt lamps actually work? Well if they are going to work (and actually be made out of real salt rock) they are definitely not going to be moisture-resistant.

By its inherent nature, salt crystal is an absorber of water. If your salt lamp has no problem being near a moisture source (like a shower), this is a good sign that you own a fake. A true salt lamp is prone to some sweating when exposed to moisture.

7. Not Experiencing Any Benefits

If you’re sure that you bought the appropriately sized salt lamp for the space you’re using it in and you’ve also been exposed to it on a regular basis and don’t see any positive effects whatsoever, then you may not have a real Himalayan salt lamp.

The brand I personally use and love is FAB Glass and Mirror’s salt lamps.


Why Himalayan Salt Is Good for You

Himalayan pink salt is an extremely pure, hand-mined salt that comes from ancient sea salt deposits in the Punjab region of Pakistan. It’s believed to be the purest form of salt available.

As a pink salt, it is naturally rich in iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and copper. With all these vital minerals, it’s not surprising that there are a variety of possible Himalayan salt benefits. All these nutrients are actually what give Himalayan salt its pretty pink color.

When ingested, real Himalayan pink salt benefits include:

  • Making drinking water alkaline water
  • Providing essential minerals and trace minerals
  • Balancing the body’s pH
  • Normalizing metabolic functions
  • Being readily absorbed by your body’s cells
  • Increasing energy flow and circulation

Are there any Himalayan pink salt side effects? As with any source of sodium, your intake shouldn’t be too high. Getting too much sodium in the diet (especially with not enough potassium to balance things out) can lead to high blood pressure for some people. It can also cause concerning buildup of fluid in people with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver or kidney disease.

Fake Himalayan salt lamp signs - Dr. axe

Why Someone Might Use a Salt Lamp

While salt lamps are controversial in whether or not they actually truly work, if you read a Himalayan salt lamp review, you’ll often find people enjoying salt lamps that are dealing with one or more of the following health concerns:

  • stress
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • allergies
  • breathing problems like asthma

When it comes to buying Himalayan pink salt lamps, take into consideration the size of the room in which you wish to use your lamp. The coverage of a salt lamp is determined by the size of the salt crystal.

For the average-sized bedroom, a smaller lamp is usually adequate, but if you’re looking to use it in a bigger area like your living room, you want to opt for a large Himalayan salt lamp.

On average, to effectively cleanse the air of a space, you need one pound of salt rock for every 16 square feet (four feet by four feet) area. If needed, you can always use multiple salt lamps spread out in a single room. They act as beautiful soft lights as well.


Precautions and Side Effects

Salt is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs water. This is why Himalayan pink salt crystals start to melt with prolonged exposure to high humidity. Thus, you should keep them away from household moisture sources like showers, dishwashers and laundry washing machines.

Another important Himalayan salt lamp warning: it can be dangerous if the salt begins leaking onto the lamp holder. To avoid buying a substandard lamp holder and possible salt lamp dangers, purchase a salt lamp that’s firmly connected to the base.

It’s important to learn the different types of salt lamps, as some are safer and more beneficial than others (because some are even fake). If you’re looking for a certified Himalayan salt lamp, try to find a salt lamp that has UL certification, which is an extra measure of safety assurance. Some salt lamps also come with a FCC and CE approved/UL certified dimmer control switch if you’d like a softer glow in the evening.

Are salt lamps dangerous? As with any lamp, always practice proper fire safety, including keeping it in a place where a child cannot pull it down or knock it over. Do salt lamps start fires? It’s possible.

In 2017, there was a massive recall of salt lamps. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said the lamp’s “dimmer switch and/or outlet plug can overheat and ignite, posing shock and fire hazards.” No injuries were reported, but as with any item that involves using an electrical outlet, there is the possibility for faulty lamps that could pose fire hazards.

Can you leave a Himalayan salt lamp on all night? Many manufacturers advise that it’s safe since their lamps have small, low-wattage bulbs and therefore the lamps don’t become too warm. With that being said, they’re also generally safe to leave on for long hours during the days. It’s also possible to purchase a Himalayan salt lamp night light.

Are salt lamps toxic? They can be to pets, which is why you should not leave them in areas where your pets may be able to lick them.  Salt poisoning in animals can cause serious symptoms and even death.

When used and stored properly, salt lamps should last many, many years; you shouldn’t need to purchase a new one.


Final Thoughts

So far, scientists don’t seem to be too interested in the therapeutic glow of Himalayan salt lamps. Hopefully there will be more Himalayan salt lamp benefits research very soon!

In the meantime, the general salt research that’s out there right now is quite impressive and encouraging. Claims of potential pink Himalayan salt lamp benefits include improvement in indoor air quality which can help with health conditions like asthma and allergies.

If you’re looking to make a Himalayan salt lamp the newest addition to your home or office, just make sure you get the real thing. If you buy a true Himalayan salt lamp and use it regularly, you may just notice easier breathing, a calmer demeanor and better sleep in your near future.

Read Next: Pink Himalayan Salt Benefits that Make It Superior to Table Salt


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