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This question came in from my Nickipedia email [email protected], Willette Lewis asked the below
Do the Himalayan salt lamps help you sleep and help with the air or did I just buy some really good cooking salt?
Here’s what I found.
Himalayan salt lamps are very interesting, first off there are in fact no salt mines in the Himalayas, which should give you an indication on how these giant salt chunks are more marketing than science. Most of the salt rocks are coming from Poland, Pakastian and India at least 190 miles from the actual Himalayas. This particular salt is made from 98% sodium chloride (or table salt) and 2 % other minerals with one of them being Iron Oxide (fancy word rust) which gives it the really cool pink color.
After researching online I found that there are a ton of claims about Himalayan salt lamps. Some of these include
1) Neutralizing electromagnetic radiation
2) Purifying the air
3) Increasing energy levels
4) Helping you sleep better
5) Reducing stress
6) Doing your taxes
The majority of these claims are rooted in positive and negative ions…so I shall explain
The idea is that positive ions from electromagnetic radiation, which come from things, like your cell phone, TV, thunderstorms and cosmic waves from outer space are causing your body harm. In order to stop this harm we must neutralize the positive ions with negative ions, just like how antioxidants neutralize free radicals.
Salt lamps are claiming to emit negative ions one a heat source like a light bulb is applied, however there is no empirical, statistical or scientific proof this is happening…at all. Also, to truly neutralize positive ion being emitted from electromagnetic radiation we would have to wrap ourselves a thick layer lead, like chainmail armor made of lead… which would be uncomfortable and probably end up causing lead poisoning. So that’s a no-go.
The negative ion emission is also why salt lamps claim to increase energy levels, help you sleep better and reduce stress, but since they don’t emit negative ions, well these claims don’t add up to much.
The other claim is that the salt lamps are purifying the air, which is said to be done through hygroscopy. This is a fancy word for “absorbing moisture”. The idea is that action of absorbing water molecules with contaminants inside of them will purify the air.
While salt does have hygroscopic properties so does sugar, cotton, caramel, honey, sulfuric acid, ethanol (vodka), and…regular old table salt. So would it be fair to say your cotton shirt or salt lick for deer chilling on your coffee table is providing the same benefit?
Adding to this there is no scientific data or evidence that a huge chunk of rock salt is particularly good at using hygroscopic properties to filter the air. Under the same justification methodology your couch is pulling the equivalent contaminated moisture out of the air… but moisture in the air isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. This is in fact why we install humidifiers during the cold and dry months. An article from the Mayo Clinic states :Increased humidity may ease breathing in children and adults who have asthma or allergies, especially during a respiratory infection such as a cold
But don’t toss your pink table salt lamp quite yet! Research published in the journal of consumer psychology states that the intensity of light is directly related to degree of a person’s emotional response. What this means is that if your salt lamp is providing a warm soft glow this type of light can reduce the intensity of high stress emotions leading to a feeling of relaxation and calm.
Writer/Producer: Nick Uhas
Editor: Griffin Louis
DP: Alan Jackman
Sound: Griffin Louis