Research behind Himalayan salt lamps

What is a Himalayan salt lamp?

Himalayan salt lamps are made by placing chunks of pink Himalayan salt around a heat source such as a light bulb.

Authentic Himalayan salt comes only from the Khewra mine in Pakistan.

The working mechanism of a Himalayan salt lamp

Salt is hygroscopic meaning it can attract moisture from its surrounding. Along with moisture, other small particles like dust, dirt, and allergens get attracted to the pink Himalayan salt. At the surface of the salt, water condenses to become liquid water and other particles are trapped in the salt.

The heat from the bulb evaporates this water back into the room as negative ions.

So Himalayan salt lamps work by absorbing small particles from the air and releasing negative ions back into the air.

Benefits of Himalayan salt lamps

1. Improves mood and reduces anxiety

Have you ever wondered why we get that happy feeling when something great happens? Why do we feel blue when things don’t go the way we want them to? And, why does it feels so good to eat chocolate or drink caffeine-containing beverages? Chances are, it has something to do with serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps us regulate our moods and behaviors in positive ways. 

Serotonin belongs to a class of neurotransmitters called monoamines that are also responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness. Our moods are linked to serotonin levels in the brain.

This study found that there’s a positive relationship between negative ions and serotonin levels.

2. Help you sleep better

A good night’s sleep can make all the difference in the world – mentally, physically, and emotionally. Sleep has been shown to improve brain function, sharpen memory, boost concentration and productivity, and even help you lose weight. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to overeat since lack of sleep impairs insulin production, which can lead to obesity and diabetes. Getting enough sleep has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

This study published in 2017 involved 33 individuals and found that negative ions affect significantly to the quality of sleep. People exposed to negative ions fell asleep faster and slow-wave sleep was lengthened improving the overall quality.

3. Treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that affects an estimated 20 million Americans every year. SAD can be triggered by the shorter days and lack of sunlight in the wintertime, as well as changes in sleep patterns during this time of year. The symptoms of SAD include feelings of fatigue, sadness, anxiety, weight gain, and cravings for carbohydrates, among others. Luckily, there are several ways to treat and manage seasonal affective disorder symptoms so you can get back to enjoying the upcoming holidays with your family and friends!

This study was conducted over five years and published in 2010 with the participation of 73 women with SAD, and found that negative ions are effective in treating SAD.

4. Improves air quality

As I’ve mentioned above salt is hygroscopic and attracts moisture along with other microscopic particles. However, I couldn’t find any research to support this claim.

5. Reduce asthma symptoms and allergies

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways affecting people of all ages, even babies and children. Asthma symptoms range from mild to severe and can get worse over time, which is why people who suffer from asthma have to take medication throughout their life. Asthma attacks occur when airways in the lungs swell up and narrow, making it difficult to breathe normally.

The effect of ionized water aerosols on reducing asthma symptoms is clear in this study.

Although Himalayan salt lamps are claimed to reduce asthma, there’s no research evidence to back this claim. It could be because salt lamps can’t generate high ion concentrations as natural and artificial ionizers do.

6. Reduce depression

Depression can be experienced by anyone, but it’s more common in women and in people who have a chronic illness or disability, such as diabetes or heart disease. When you have depression, you may feel sadness, hopelessness, pessimism, and loneliness; you may experience changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and you may have trouble concentrating or making decisions.

Negative ions emitted from Himalayan salt lamps are proven clinically as a non-pharmacological treatment for chronic depression.

In this study done in 2005, it was found that negative ions improved the symptoms by 51.1% in a group of 32 people. 

7. Increases cognitive functions

The five cognitive functions include attention, memory, language, executive functions, and Visual and Spatial abilities.

Cognitive functions or cognitive processes are mental actions (or processes) involved in the acquisition, comprehension, and retention of knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. They enable the recall of information from the short-term memory and its manipulation to produce new knowledge and understanding, which may then be stored as long-term memory.

This study published in 2015 involved 20 individuals and found that their cognitive functions improve in the presence of negative ions.

8. Helps fight cancer

Cancer, the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in your body, affects millions of people each year and often makes it hard to live with even the simplest of tasks. It’s especially prevalent among older populations, but it’s important to understand what cancer is and how it forms in humans so that you can prevent it from affecting you or your loved ones as much as possible.

This study concluded that negative ions significantly increased the activity of natural killer cells that fight against cancer cells, reduced the incidence of cancer, and inhibited the growth of tumors.

How to choose a good salt lamp?

1. A lamp with authentic pink Himalayan salt

The hygroscopic nature is well seen in authentic salt and genuine Himalayan salt will come with a certificate of origin. White salt lamps are the most expensive as they are very rare to find. A more orange lamp will work well for you if you can’t find a white lamp.

2. A lamp with a Good bulb

The heat from the bulb is essential for the proper functioning of the bulb. Make sure to get a good bulb of about 15-20 watts. The wiring of the lamp is also important as defective ones can overheat.

3. A lamp with a rough surface

A rough surface increases the total surface area of the lamp and helps with its hygroscopic property.

How to tell if a salt lamp is fake?

As we have mentioned before, there are many models and types of salt lamps, but not all of them are true and it is very easy to fall into fakes. To prevent this from happening to us, when buying it we must take into account a series of things to detect if the salt lamp is not authentic.

Does not leak water

This is one of the most important issues to consider. By its inherent nature, salt is a water-absorbent. If the lamp does not leak water, especially if it is close to a source of humidity such as the shower, we are surely dealing with a fake.

A true salt lamp is prone to sweating when exposed to moisture. Many people mistakenly believe that the lamp falls apart or melts, but what is really happening is that it releases water from the humidity it extracts from the air.

If your salt lamp is leaking, here’s how to fix it.

Very durable

As we just said, Himalayan salt lamps are fragile. Once we have one, we must be careful not to drop it or hit it against other solid objects, since the salt crystal can be damaged very easily. If our salt lamp is not affected by bumps, it is most likely a fake.

Very powerful light

If you are looking for a powerful light source, a salt lamp is not the way to go. Due to its high content of minerals, it emits light irregularly. A true salt lamp does not emit enough light to fully illuminate a room. If your lamp does, it is most likely not an authentic one.

Cheap white lamps

We usually find Himalayan salt lamps that give off a warm pink or orange hue. There are white Himalayan salt lamps, but it is extremely rare and much more expensive than colored ones. So if you find a white salt crystal that isn’t much more expensive than the pink or orange versions, it’s probably a fake.

No mention of Pakistan

The deep underground mines in Khewra, Pakistan are the only source of true Himalayan pink salt. When buying a lamp, we have to make sure that Pakistan is mentioned as the country of origin of the salt crystal.

Poor return policy

Real Himalayan salt lamps are made from salt, so it is not surprising that they are fragile objects. A good manufacturer knows this and has return policies that are flexible since there could be some damage during delivery.

If the manufacturer of a salt lamp is extremely strict, it may be a fake. Some fake retailers have been known to not allow returns because they know they are not selling the real thing.

Frequently asked Questions

How do negative ions form naturally?

Negative ions are formed as a result of cosmic radiation (sunlight), friction between water molecules in waterfalls and rivers, friction between air molecules in wind and storms, and lightning. (source)

What is the concentration of negative ions in nature and indoors?

In the nature, like near waterfalls, beaches negative ion concentration is around 100,000 ions per ml and in indoor environments, this falls to 100 ions per ml. (source)

Himalayan salt lamps have become incredibly popular in recent years, especially among those who enjoy decorating their homes with unique lighting fixtures that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. While there are many different benefits to Himalayan salt lamps, we’ve compiled a list of our top five favorites below along with scientific research behind them. We hope you’ll find them as interesting as we do!