How & Why I Use Himalayan Salt Lamps

reading time: 7 min

Episode 7.
Today is Yul, also known as the Winter Solstice, and with that we celebrate the return of the light after the darkest day of the year. As a festival of the sun, we naturally surround ourselves with sources of light, such as from candles, fireplaces, fairy lights, bonfires, etc. Another light source that goes perfectly with the spirit of this magical time are Himalayan salt lamps. Himalayan salt lamps are decorative items carved out of mineral-rich pink Himalayan salt crystals found near the Himalayan mountains in Pakistan or Nepal. They bring a warm, cosy atmosphere to the home and also come with various health benefits.
Personally, I own four electrical salt lamps that emit an apricot or peachy orange glow when magnified by a light bulb, as you can see in the very last picture of this blog post as well as one salt lamp candle holder.

So in today's blog post I want to talk all about the benefits – and potential risks – of Himalayan salt lamps!

The Benefits of Himalayan Salt Lamps

  • purifying the air
  • improving your mood
  • promoting better sleep
  • reducing stress
  • reducing asthma and allergies 
  • removing pathogenic microbes 
  • reducing me
    ntal and stress-related disorders
  • decreasing headaches and migraines
  • removing negative energy and radiation from electronic components
  • increasing oxygen in the blood
  • raising energy levels

WARNING: Not all Himalayan salt products out there are made of 100% natural Himalayan salt. Here's a great article from Dr Axe about how to spot a fake lamp. Make sure to invest in a high-quality salt lamp!

How To Use a Himalayan Salt Lamp

1. At night 
Before going to bed, switch off all your bright electric lights and only enjoy the warm, dim glow of the salt lamp – and perhaps a candle or two. Since bright light suppressed our production of the sleep hormone melatonin, the low light and relaxing ambiance of the salt lamp will help you unwind in the evening. It's best to have the salt lamp sat on your night stand.

2. While meditating
The warming glow of the salt lamps is not only great to grow sleepy, but also to calm your mind during meditation. In a couple of small studies on rats and mice, contact with a salt lamp showed antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. While this doesn't necessarily mean that it has the same effect on humans, the relaxing and soothing atmosphere of the salt lamps will balance your mood and raise energy levels, which makes it a wonderful tool for meditation.

3. As colour therapy
Anyone who has been in a colour therapy or chakra therapy sauna before can probably confirm the effect that different colours have on the human body. The warm yellow, orange, pink or red shades of Himalayan salt lamps particularly activate the lower chakras and stimulate feelings of bliss, balance and creativity. So why not take a "light bath", surrounding yourself with one or several glowing salt lamps!
White: improves concentration and focus. Pink: stimulates and activates. Red: activates passion, vitality, sexuality, warmth. Orange: promotes creativity, balanced thyroid, relieves cramps, stimulates respiratory system. Yellow: energizes and rejuvenates, lightens the mood, stimulates digestion. 

4. To aid with respiratory problems
When having a cough or a cold or even a chronic bronchitis, asthma or allergies, you may want to spend some time near a salt lamp – apparently it doesn't even have to be lit. Since salt lamps are claimed to improve the air quality due to generating healthy negative ions that neutralize air pollutants, they can be used as a natural treatment for respiratory diseases. 
This method connects back to halotherapy or speleotherapy which makes use of salt as medicine for people with chronic respiratory conditions. It includes spending time in a salt cave or in flotation tanks filled with salt water, as well as gargling salt water and using salt water for nasal irrigation (I can confirm the latter as a powerful tool to combat a cold!). 

5. To charge or cleanse certain areas 
This brings us to one of the more common questions: Where to place your salt lamp? As mentioned in number one, the bedroom is a great option as it will provide you with a clean, safe and cosy space for the night. Think about where you spend the most time! The living room, perhaps? The home office? Your reading nook? Where do you have a lot of "electronic smog" from computers, TVs, mobile phones, etc.? Place your salt lamps in these areas to cleanse or re-charge them!
I also love to light mine while taking a shower or taking a hot bath (with Epsom salt!). It creates such a lovely spa atmosphere. Don't keep your salt lamp permanently in the bathroom though! See below.

The Controversy

There is an ongoing controversy about the actual health effects of using salt lamps or whether they are just placebos. As mentioned above the lamps are said to work by naturally emitting negatively charged ions that purify the air by binding to positively charged pollutants (like bacteria, pollen, allergens, mould or toxic chemicals) and neutralizing electronic smog in your home. 
There is no objective data relating to salt lamp air purification, although this has been studied for electronic equipment that produces a higher-density (more charges in a given volume of air) of negative ions. However, tests on air ionizers, which emit high levels of negative ions, haven't yet been shown to benefit people with asthma or improve respiratory function. 
A scientific study from 2010, published in the Pakistan Journal of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, says:
"Scientific research clearly points out that a balanced ratio between negative and positive ions in the air we breathe affects our well-being. From this study warm Salt Crystal lamps can be seen to be the natural ion generators. The efficacy of negative ions has been also well-proven from previous and current research mentioned below."

Personally, I don't really care whether or not Himalayan salt lamps are effective ionizers or not, but I care about the calming, uplifting and comforting effect they have on me. Plus, they are very pretty to look at.
My favourite sauna of all time – closely followed by the light therapy sauna mentioned above – was a so-called Himalayan sauna: a room surrounded by walls of Himalayan salt bricks, illuminated from behind. So it's basically a halotherapy salt cave glowing in a soft amber light! I've never felt so peaceful and energized than in this particular sauna. Like I was sitting in a womb :)

The Potential Risks
While salt lamps don't pose any evident danger for humans, they can be lethal for pets! If you have a cat or a dog that might be interested in licking at your salt lamp, they might suffer from sodium poisoning due to the high salt content in the rock. So please make sure to keep your salt lamps out of reach for your pets!

As mentioned above: Not all salt lamps out there are made of 100% natural Himalayan salt. A couple of years ago the "Himalayan" salt lamps by a brand that sold cheap fakes caused a hazard because the dimmer switch and outlet plug would overheat and ignite, posing shock and fire. So please make sure to invest in a high-quality salt lamp! 
If it's suspiciously inexpensive, if it doesn't react to moisture, if it doesn't seem fragile, or if it origin of the salt isn't stated, it is probably fake and you should keep your hands off it!

Lastly, Himalayan salt lamps require proper care and maintenance. Since salt attracts moisture salt crystal lamps are not suitable for damp rooms (such as bathrooms and kitchens). However, since the salt rock also attracts dust from the air in the room, the rock must be cleaned occasionally. This can be easily done with a vacuum cleaner or with a soft brush. Do not clean it with a wet cloth!
Speaking of moisture, if your salt lamp has been exposed to too much of it, it will actually "sweat" and start dripping to the base. This is a very normal symptom of salt lamps, so don't worry! To avoid or minimize this leaking, remove your salt lamp from any moisture (such as damp rooms, open windows, laundromat etc.) and wipe it down with a soft dry cloth. Switch on the light and keep your lamp on for as much of the day as possible in order to immediately evaporate the water. Also make sure to wipe this dripping salt water clean from furniture or other surfaces to remove the salt crystals that might in turn stain your surfaces. 

Do you own a salt lamp? And how do you "use" it? 
Let me know in the comments!