Before you decide to buy the Himalayan salt lamp you've been eyeing to brighten your bedroom and your spirit, keep reading to learn research-led takes on the gains it stands to offer you, and then scroll down for top picks you can buy.
How do salt lamps work?
Himalayan salt lamps are giant chunks or sophisticated carvings of salt from (wait for it) the Himalayas. They have room for a light bulb, and when you plug them in, they glow in a way that's evocative of photo-editing or light room. But to ensure that what you're working with is actually, in fact, the real thing, make sure to confirm the materials so you can feel confident in knowing that you're not simply buying a piece of pink plastic that just had a glow-up.
One reason people tend to use Himalayan salt lamps in the first place is because the product is purported to have an overall cleansing effect. Think about it this way: Salt is historically used as a purifier or a cleansing agent when it comes to negative forces. (In witchcraft, for example, you draw a salt circle for protection. And according to the superstition of spilled salt bringing negativity, you toss salt over your shoulder afterward to protect yourself.) So Himalayan salt lamps aren't necessarily meant to light up your whole room, rather, they're meant to clear out the negative energy.
But as for any tangible salt lamp benefits, whether mental and physical? That's a bit more complicated.
So what are the supposed benefits of salt lamps?
1. Claim: salt lamps boost your mood
This is probably the most reasonable benefit, because seeing a salt lamp definitely doesn't make me feel worse. As in, it's a lovely decor choice, for sure, and lighting has historically been used to pull people out of the doldrums (see: SAD lamps). But the reason salt lamps are intended to make you feel perkier is because they allegedly release negatively charged ions.
The research around this, though, focuses on air ions as a catalyst to up serotonin levels...and results show that there appears to be little if any difference in serotonin level as a result of salt-lamp use. There seems to be no noticeable, chemical improvement in mood, but it also doesn't make your mood worse, by any means.
So if having a salt lamp makes you feel cheery, that's great, and no one can deny that effect you feel is authentic. But it's probably just because, you know, you really love the thing.
2. Claim: salt lamps purify the air
Salt lamps are intended to cleanse the air, pulling in particles like allergens, toxins, bacteria, and pollutants. The reasoning here is that salt, in general, is a natural ionizer. It's supposed to release the aforementioned negative ions, attracting airborne pollutants and altering their chemical charge. When the charge is altered, the pollutants are supposed to fall to the ground. But, no major studies validate the notion that lamps have the power to impact your air quality.
3. Claim: salt lamps help with respiratory issues
Halotherapy (which pretty much translates to "salt therapy") is used to treat certain respiratory issues like asthma and allergies. Some research has found that halotherapy chambers can clear the air and improve breathing conditions. But the emphasis here is on "halotherapy chambers." That is, high concentrations of salt, as seen in salt rooms, can have tangible benefits. So, please do not get a desk salt lamp and use it as an asthma treatment.
4. Claim: salt lamps help you sleep
There's really nothing substantial by way of research confirming that salt lamps can deepen sleep, help you fall asleep quicker, or even relax you into a state where sleep feels more achievable. The one argument I could make is this: If you're someone who's afraid of the dark, or someone who just likes to leave a night light on, a salt lamp night light could be a good option for you. That's pretty much because it's emitting a warm-toned light, and red light in particular, is the best light for allowing you to fall asleep.
So the main salt lamp benefits to take away? They looks pretty. On one hand, that's disappointing, but on the other hand, it's also not the end of the world. We can still appreciate them for potential negative-energy-clearing spiritual properties, and we can enjoy them aesthetically.
4 especially chic (and potentially effective) options on the market
Shop Now: Himalayan Mood Lamp ($13)
This little salt lamp has real aurora borealis vibes, and would add a little bit of glow to an empty bookshelf.
Shop Now: Succulent Himalaya Salt Novelty Lamp ($31)
Trying to merge your role as Plant Mom with a little bit of illumination? This sweet little succulent lamp should do the trick.
Shop Now: Himalayan Crystal Rock Salt Lamp ($20)
This is like the Audrey Hepburn of salt lamps—timeless and classic. It would definitely be right at home with your gem collection.
Shop Now: Cat Salt Night Light ($25)
Sure, why not? If you're looking for a fresh night light, you can plug in Miss Kitty right here. Again, she won't sing you to sleep, but she also won't keep you up at night with that warm glow.
In summary, salt lamps benefits don't include treating your asthma, combatting your symptoms of depression, or making your house anything more than energetically cleansed. Halotherapy in general might be a valid way to breathe easier, but a lamp alone won't do the trick. But don't worry, they still make for an eye-catching Instagram post.
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