Are salt lamps worth the hype?

Jane Moore

Over the last couple of years, Himalayan salt lamps have become a ubiquitous symbol of wellness. But do they really have any health benefits?

It’s easy to see why Himalayan salt lamps have become a popular decorative staple to have in your home. Made from the pink rock salt carved from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan, the lamps not only stand out for their unique appearance, but when lit, they emit an ambient, reddish-pink glow that makes any room feel warm and cosy.

But aside from their unusual look and radiant glow, Himalayan salt lamps have been repeatedly hailed for having certain “healing powers”. Many vendors that sell the lamps claim that not only can they purify the air in your home, but they can also relieve symptoms of depression, help you to breathe easier, and improve your sleep quality.

So how do they work? Supposedly, by releasing negative ions into the air in a process called air ionization.

Negative ions are molecules floating in the atmosphere that are charged with electricity. They are typically created in nature by crashing ocean waves, radiation, and even sunlight.

Studies have shown that exposure to negative ions can reduce symptoms of chronic depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), as well as reduce stress and improve your cognitive function.

It’s suggested that Himalayan salt lamps can produce ions by attracting water particles that evaporate off as a salt solution when heated by the bulb inside the lamp. However, a number of studies have found that there is no definitive evidence that the lamps can produce a measurable number of negative ions, if at all.

There is also no evidence that the lamps act as air purifiers, despite companies claiming that their lamps will help remove dust and pollution from the air with negative ions. If you’re looking to improve the air quality in your home, a houseplant might be a better investment.

As for helping you to get a better night’s sleep, while the dim light might help you to relax and unwind before bedtime, the evidence that it can actually improve the quality of your sleep is also non-existent.

So far, no one has proved that Himalayan salt lamps release negative ions, let alone enough to have any impact on health. But, as with any alternative therapy, just because it’s not proven beyond doubt doesn’t mean you won’t experience any positive effects.

While a Himalayan salt lamp would still make a lovely gift for someone this Christmas, it seems that we still need to take the supposed health benefits with a pinch of salt.

Jane Moore 

Image Credit: PxFuel RGB