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What is a Salt Lamp?

By Jane Harmon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A salt lamp is simply a chunk of mined salt that has been hollowed out to allow room for a lightbulb or tiny candle. The light glows through the medium of the salt crystal, which can range in color from a dark salmon pink to a pale orange. Salt crystals for salt lamps are mined in Russia and central Europe as well as in the Himalayas. Salt lamps make attractive accent lights. Their main attraction, however, is that the heating of the salt causes the crystal to release negative ions (often called simply 'ions').

Negative ions have long been considered healthy; the sea air, mountain air and the air around swiftly running water is high in negative ions. Indoor air, recirculated air, and air around electronic equipment is very low in negative ions. Many office workers who suffer health complaints around fluorescent lighting and computer monitors report considerably less fatigue and headaches if the concentration of negative ions in the air is increased. Why negative ions may be beneficial is only partially understood.

It has been shown that negative ions in the air bind with airborne pollutants, making them heavier so that they fall to the ground, and therefore are unavailable to be inhaled. Many modern air purifiers - the so-called 'ionic air cleaners' - use this technique to provide cleaner indoor air for allergy sufferers. Some studies seem to indicate that an increase in negative ions in the air increases bloodflow to the brain, which would have the effect of improved concentration. The salt lamp is an attractive alternative to the utilitarian look of an air purifier.

The amount of negative ions a salt lamp can release depends on its size and how warm the candle or lightbulb can make it. The larger the crystal, obviously, the more expensive the lamp, but the larger area it can provide with negative ions. Salt lamps that produce 'night-light' amounts of light can provide ions to an area equal to the average office cubicle.

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Discussion Comments
By anon997431 — On Jan 06, 2017

I just got a salt lamp. No problem with moisture at all, but after two days of leaving it turned on, I have a constant salty taste in my mouth. It's been turned off for 12 hours and I can still taste salt! Does anyone else have this?

By anon996218 — On Jul 25, 2016

Does any one know if Himalayan salt lamps put Iodine in the air?

By anon994434 — On Feb 08, 2016

I bought a salt lamp on a Friday night and plugged it in 24/7 until today (Monday). I had a tremendous headache on Saturday and Sunday mornings, relieved after I left the house. Monday I was home all day and the headache became rather violent -- so much so that I started looking up info about salt lamps and headaches on the internet. I am not prone to headaches nor have I ever been! I unplugged the lamp and received immediate relief! Needless to say, I was somewhat stunned by this revelation.

By anon979163 — On Nov 24, 2014

Within four hours of opening my lamp and turning it on, I began to notice a strange physical side effect. I turned it off for about one hour, and my symptoms vanished! When I turned it back on, again the symptoms returned!

I repeated this over two weeks and the exact same results beginning and ending quickly with the lamp extinguished. Turning on the Himalayan salt lamp causes both the inside and exterior of my vagina to cast a brilliant and noticeable shade of blue-green.

My eyes, mouth, and of course, anus, remain totally unaffected.

My doctor confirmed that this was a reaction similar to the effect of some people wearing cheap jewelry -- turning their sling colors.

While there seem to be no further symptoms, this color change, almost a glowing blue-green effervescence, may well have positive health benefits, but it impacts my self-esteem and self-confidence, naturally, especially when wearing pants or a thin dress.

By anon967391 — On Aug 27, 2014

Somehow having it on gives me a headache. I was wondering why?

By anon935107 — On Feb 24, 2014

It looks pretty but it leaks. All I'm saying in this debate.

By anon355701 — On Nov 18, 2013

I sell these lamps at The Shops at Dos Lagos. They sell themselves. If you find water in your lamp half a bowl full, it is not authentic! These lamps are pure himalayan dry salt.

By DebbieW999 — On Nov 02, 2013

I unknowingly left a salt 3-votive candle holder on the carpet behind a table for many months. When I tried to move it, it was stuck to the carpet! Can anybody help? I would appreciate any suggestions.

By anon351434 — On Oct 14, 2013

Wow. The power of suggestion is amazing. People are dying after being exposed to it?

By anon347318 — On Sep 05, 2013

If you have any blood pressure problems, please consult your physician before using a salt lamp. Being near one can cause a serious rise in BP - serious. I spent a very bad night and morning after being exposed to the lamps all night. I was pretty scared.

I called the particular distributor of the lamps I purchased, and the customer service woman confirmed my symptoms were due to the lamps' salt output. They are back in the box awaiting pick up. --Carmen

By anon339650 — On Jun 25, 2013

For those who find water puddled at the bottom of your lamp: The lamp needs to be at least slightly warm to the touch in order to accelerate evaporation, which both produces the negative ions these lamps are known for, as well as keeps moisture from accumulating since it is evaporating before it has a chance to form droplets.

It is recommended to leave your lamp on 24 hours a day. If you are leaving it on all the time and still get water accumulation, you will need a higher wattage bulb to generate more heat. Hope this helps.

By anon337109 — On Jun 03, 2013

Try a salt candle. No electricity involved and with the same effect.

By anon321322 — On Feb 22, 2013

I bought a salt lamp recently from Salzburg, Austria and kept it on a table. But I seldom turn the lamp on. It is on the bottom of the table where I kept my laptop. I went on vacation for 10 days, and when I got back home, I saw water around the lamp and that water has corroded my laptop. Is this water acidic by nature? How can I stop water from the lamp? I need advice urgently.

I kept the lamp under a fan and left the fan running continuously, but still water is coming out.

By anon315324 — On Jan 23, 2013

I don’t know about my being allergic to chlorine, as I can swim in pools with no problem. But the first night I plugged in the salt crystal lamp, my husband who never, ever has headaches, woke up with a bad headache that lasted all morning.

The second night, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. with a bad headache. So I unplugged the lamp and the headache went away. It’s strange that both my husband and I woke up with headaches after using the lamp that is supposed to cure headaches.

By anon310835 — On Dec 27, 2012

My wife is allergic to chlorine, resulting in headaches and her skin begins to itch and burn, when using ionizing products.

By anon273480 — On Jun 07, 2012

My daughter has a 10 1/2" salt lamp in her bedroom and she and my son-in-law say it improves their allergy symptoms. It is right next to the bed and they keep it on only at night. It is very bright, not at all like a soothing glow. I don't know what size bulb it contains.

I have been sleeping here for three days and have not noticed any difference in my allergies or arthritis pain. Does it matter how close it is to the bed and if there is a whole house furnace-installed air dehumidifier? There is absolutely no water near the lamp. It is perfectly dry.

By anon259300 — On Apr 05, 2012

I quite snoring with the salt lamp in my bedroom. I took it out of the bedroom and began snoring again. My dog quit snoring too! Same thing -- I removed the lamp and he snored again. Any of you geniuses care to explain the placebo effect to my dog?

The salt pipe inhaler is now recommended by Dr. Oz. Why do thousands of asthma patients now use reduced amounts of medications and get off their chemical inhalers when using the salt pipe? Remember the Ionic Breeze? Come to find out, this man-made air purifier produced ozone which made people more sick. I'll stick to my God-made salt lamp, thank you.

By anon252425 — On Mar 05, 2012

I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. Most people have no problem eating the white stuff they put on the grocery shelf but think a salt lamp is a scam or dangerous to your health. Please.

They look really nice and they may be a benefit to your health. The worst that can happen is that you have a really unique lamp that people will talk about when they come to your home or office. The health scare industry wants to keep you from trying anything else.

By anon246242 — On Feb 08, 2012

I looked up the science, because I'm really curious and frankly want a solution to the mold growth in my house. It seems that salt (NaCl) will only release negative ions at temperatures over 800 degrees Celsius. Some other chemicals present in the salt may reduce this temperature, but only slightly. So it seems unlikely a salt lamp will be releasing any ions. If it does, the negative ions will be chlorine gas - a poison. Chlorine is used, of course, as a disinfectant so it isn't completely impossible that low levels of chlorine gas emission could produce some of the positive effects described by users of salt lamps -- reduction in airborne pathogens could limit mold growth and allergies. But I'm not sure enough heat would ever be produced by a salt lamp to give off Chlorine gas. At least you don't need to worry about being poisoned by your lamps. The salt may absorb water, and form solution sodium and calcium in solution, which could have an ionic character owing to the polar nature of water -- my knowledge of chemistry isn't sophisticated enough to know -- but it will re-crystalise into salt when the water evaporates. Incidentally, there are absolutely ZERO scientific studies of salt lamps.

I'm sure salt lamps have heaps of benefits --they're pretty, for a start, may reduce humidity, although probably very very slightly, and have a very mild purifying action -- but whatever their benefits are, they aren't the ones claimed by sites advertising scientific studies of negative ion release.

By anon245177 — On Feb 04, 2012

Salt lamps can crystallize when exposed to high humidity temps or where the temp change from warm to cold, etc. They are pure salt, after all. Just be sure if you have this trouble to place it on something protective like a doily or something to protect any furniture surface.

I have only had one do this; the rest are sitting everywhere around my house with no problems. I leave mine on 24/7 and use a 15 watt bulb for smaller lamps and a 25 watt for larger lamps.

By anon240584 — On Jan 14, 2012

Do salt lamps release any liquid?

By ccalder — On Nov 21, 2011

Yes, it's like a religion, believe only. The salt reacts with the moisture in the air all right. I got a whole heap of caustic soda that lined my floor, only!

By anon230812 — On Nov 21, 2011

There are a lot of things out there that aren't scientifically proven. But some things work for some people and some don't. If it works for you. then it works.

My salt lamps on my nightstand by the bed do help me breathe better. In fact, when I get up and get away from the lamps, I get stuffed up.

I use an inhaler a couple times a day that lets you breathe in pure Himalayan salt. That works for me, too. Some online sites have those for a reasonable price.

By ccalder — On Oct 27, 2011

My salt lamp formed crystallised crumbs and I had to throw it out.

By anon210306 — On Aug 30, 2011

I have recently purchased a salt lamp but didn't realize the amount of water it dripped. Can I still turn it on? I fear I might do damage.

By anon181300 — On May 29, 2011

This is utter nonsense. There is simply no evidence that salt lamps produce negative ions at all. Don't be conned.

By anon177521 — On May 18, 2011

Don't use a salt lamp and a humidifer together. I did it, and my entire house was covered with a thin salt layer. It seems that the humidifier water carried the salt particles all over the house. It took me days to clean the piano black electronics (Xbox 360 S, black Wii, TV) and my book cases (books were covered in a layer of salt as well). Horrible experience.

By anon157242 — On Mar 02, 2011

I do not believe the salt lamp produces chlorine. I would be curious to know how that could happen. Heating these salts at a (relatively) low temperature does not cause them to break down.

The human nose is extremely sensitive to chlorine and I was not able to smell it. Chlorinated water which is considered relatively safe to drink (or to swim in has a very pungent smell and a high level of chlorine).

Even if trace amounts of chlorine would be present, the human nose detector states that they would be so low that no danger exists.

By anon157240 — On Mar 02, 2011

Explanation why certain salts will produce floating aerosols. Not the sodium chloride per se, but other trace salts which are present in the natural salt crystals.

Many salts (for example, epsom salt or magnesium chloride which is known to be present in sea salt)are present in the form of hydrates. These have a very low melting point (around 150 celsius), and below that temperature they will evaporate into the air.

I have tried this experiment personally with a pure salt and there can be no debate about it.

These salts also ionize into the air. However, the exact chemical composition of the lamp determines whether positive or negative ions will result.

By anon155442 — On Feb 23, 2011

I am an avid sceptic. I know it works and it is not a placebo effect like some mention. The air is cleaner. My wife, who suffers from allergies, improved in one day. She is now a believer in the product. This has saved pulling up the carpet in the media room.

By anon150412 — On Feb 07, 2011

I just bought a salt lamp and cannot tell any difference in my air quality. I live in Denver where we have very low humidity. It sounds like moisture is the key to this thing working. Does anyone know if dry air voids the effectiveness?

By anon147810 — On Jan 30, 2011

My father has lupus so I think I will gift him with this. Also my mom has awful allergies, so maybe they should have one for the living room since dad has a humidifier in his bedroom.

By anon138926 — On Jan 03, 2011

i have a salt rock lamp on a side table. can you tell me why it produces so much water? I'm too scared to turn it on as it was sitting in a bowl as not to damage furniture and the bowl was half full of water? what can i do?

By anon136921 — On Dec 25, 2010

So I am actually a sixth generation Texan, not a crazy anonymous person who lacks the ability to spell or use correct grammar. Plus I actually exist, in contrast to those posts by the owner of the website.

Anyway, I have suffered from allergies since I was about six. I recently heard about these salt lamps and, long story short, I got a good deal on a few of them. I am a huge skeptic when it comes to anything sort of --weird -- and, at the risk of sounding xenophobic, foreign, like this, but it does actually work.

I have no "scientific" facts like all of these, obviously, certified biochemists, (If you don't have a degree or a reference to cite do not provide quasi-facts.) but I do know that I can breathe in the morning after putting one of these next to my bed.

These prices are steep, but I can do nothing but recommend searching for one of these at a reasonable price if you are an allergy sufferer like myself.

By anon113269 — On Sep 23, 2010

I have been diagnosed with systemic lupus, and recently at our state fair, we purchased our first Himalayian Salt Light. I noticed after the first night with it in our bedroom that my pain was better. I awoke feeling refreshed, and it was the first time in over two years I felt this kind of relief.

I am a christian, and I thank God for all of His creations, including the salt lamps. My husband and I are planning to sell the lamps ourselves in the near future. --WR Kansas

By safron — On Jul 25, 2010

My cousin gave me a 9" oval salt lamp that gives a rosy glow when turned on. For whatever reason, it does make the atmosphere calmer.

By anon74931 — On Apr 04, 2010

i don't care what experts say what. i felt noticeably better after using it every night for a week. i accidentally unplugged it and noticed a return to feeling worse. replugged and felt better in a few days. i have Lupus, asthma and allergies. all of which palpably improved.

By anon74320 — On Apr 01, 2010

The "negative ion health effects" are pseudo scientific bunk, but they are pretty. And hey, if you feel better due to a placebo effect, good for you.

By mike1999 — On Mar 16, 2010

I would leave the lamps turn on 24/7 hours. They will last for ever unless you get them wet.

By anon65908 — On Feb 16, 2010

I would really like to know how long they last?. My doctor recommended one for my daughter but i am considering buying for the whole house.

By anon64923 — On Feb 10, 2010

I am very glad because i came across himalayan salt lamp last year. i eventually fell in love with it! i decided to bring it here in the Philippines and now I have good business. I now distribute it locally and our customers are very grateful.

By anon54435 — On Nov 30, 2009

Simply, they work. Too many people have had positive experiences with these salt lamps. Add a salt pipe to help your lungs (speleotherapy).

By ionicsalts — On Nov 24, 2009

There is no scientific evidence that salt lamps emit or generate negative ions. The hygroscopic reaction between hydrogen and oxygen with sodium and chloride does not produce a floating negative ion.

Actually, salt lamps reduce positive ions in the form of water molecules that quite fortunately also come attached with bacteria, viruses, mold, fungi, and a host of asthma and allergy triggers. Lower balance of positive ions = higher balance of negative ions, as they exist naturally this way.

Indoor air generally carries a slight positive electrical charge, and it is certainly proven and verifiable that an atmosphere with a slight negative charge (higher negative ion ratio)is beneficial to human mental and physical health and well-being.

My theory about salt lamps is fundamentally correct, based on known science and logic. This is how a salt lamp really works.

By anon49462 — On Oct 20, 2009

how can I get the just cut grainy look back? I've wiped the lamp with a damp cloth and the look now is slicky shiny not grainy powdery like originally. Can I use sand paper?

By anon41400 — On Aug 14, 2009

I forgot to take my salt lamp off the floor after i moved into a new apartment and during the warm whether the salt lamp began to sweat from the heat and caused a ring on an old wooden floor. After letting the ring dry completely, I need to know is there something I can use to remove the ring it made on the floor? Any suggestions

By anon39781 — On Aug 04, 2009

himalayan salt lamps are really a natural gift of the God that purifies the atmosphere of the environment. Himalayan Salt Lamps - all the products of Himalayan Salt Lamps are available here at cheap prices.

By anon34166 — On Jun 18, 2009

After using salt lamps for about a year, I realized that during summer, salt lamps actually cool your environment down a little.

By anon31616 — On May 08, 2009

I just got one at Home Goods for $15 & I've also seen them at other off-price stores like Marshall's & TJ Max, so they can be found affordably.

By Bluezinnia — On Feb 17, 2009

Okay, these puppies are expensive, and I'm not well off. So here's a thought: I have a little bedside lamp with an upward-facing, tulip-shaped shade, the old-fashioned "hobnailed" milk-glass kind. What's to keep me from putting a 40W bulb in there and simply filling the shade with rock salt, sea salt or plain table salt?

By mervo4 — On Jan 17, 2009

An atom contains a balanced number of electrical charges, positive and negative. Salt results from the combination of two atoms, in the case of edible salt, sodium and chlorine. Chlorine takes one electron from sodium and acquires a net negative charge. The sodium is left with a net positive charge. If your salt is releasing negative ions, they must be chlorine with an extra negative charge. What happens to the positively charged sodium left behind. As more and more chlorine ions are released, what prevents the salt left behind from acquiring an overwhelming positive charge?

By anon21515 — On Nov 17, 2008

You should probably not use a salt lamp in a room where there is also a humidifier (or in a room where there is a lot of humidity, such as the kitchen or bath) because the moisture in the air will tend to break down the salt. Even when using a salt lamp in dry room it is a good idea to set it on a glass, ceramic, or stone surface because sometimes there is still enough moisture in the air to cause the lamp to "weep" a bit (which could leave an unsightly ring on wooden furniture, for example). I tend to take out my salt lamps when the days lengthen in October, and then put them away when the days get noticeably longer in April or so--you could time them with clock shifts. In the humid summer months it is a good idea to let them "rest" in a plastic bag and cardboard box. In addition to improving the air quality, I think that the soothing light assists with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) problems because when lit they glow like a live coal and emit a very warm, soothing color spectrum. You can also change their tint somewhat by putting different color light bulbs in them.

By anon21332 — On Nov 14, 2008

Hi... a few days ago I posted a long and informational response that answered many of your readers questions along with many fresh comments about Salt Lamps.

I am wondering why you have chosen not to post it. The phrasing, grammar and spelling were all at a level that should have been appreciated relative to those you have already chosen. If I need to rewrite any of it please send it back to me with suggested corrections and I will resubmit

By anon17402 — On Aug 28, 2008

if i were you i would not buy this product, my geology professor explained to the class with evidence that in fact the salt lamp produces a chlorine gas which in no way is good for humans. so, i hope that those of you who read this don't buy this product.

By gudda — On Jul 26, 2008

I have purchased a salt lamp. I suffered with asthma and felt hurdles while breathing but now after the purchasing and using the giant salt lamp from this site i really feeling well. Salt lamps purifies the air of my room.

By anon15772 — On Jul 21, 2008

I bought a salt lamp about a month ago. The salesperson told me to leave it on 24Hrs everyday. The reason why I got it is because of my bad seasonal allergies. I hope in the future they do allow speleotherapy more frequently.

By anon13458 — On May 27, 2008

I just bought one and the guy said that the highest bulb is 7 watt night light. he also said wipe off the salt with a wet rag to clean it which will recharge the salt due to salt being like 65% water. I just really got it because it looked cool.

By lamp123456 — On Apr 10, 2008

I read some articles, they said salt lamps produce very little negative ion ( some time can't even be measured ). amount of neg. ion also depend on size and surface roughness... it that true?

By anon7669 — On Jan 31, 2008


I've read that part of the effects of the salt lamp is that it draws moisture out of the air. I live in Montreal, and have to keep a humidifier going through the winter months. Will a salt lamp essentially be working against my humidifier?

I'm guessing that the answer is yes, but only to a very small degree, versus the amount of water the humidifier is throwing into the air, but am curious if someone knows for sure.


By anon5415 — On Nov 24, 2007

Does the salt disintegrate over time or does the lamp last and its forever?

By anon4856 — On Nov 04, 2007

I don't know of any documented information, but I suffer from severe allergies and have put a salt lamp in every room of my house. Since doing this I have suffered from less sinus problems and have been much healthier. So they do work. I have used mine for almost a year now and love them.

By anon4778 — On Nov 01, 2007

Leave your lamp on as much as you can, even 24 hours a day.

Most lamps will handle up to a 40W bulb.

By maguire — On Oct 04, 2007

what is the highest bulb i can use in my salt lamp?

By anon2551 — On Jul 16, 2007

How long can a salt lamp be on? i.e..... 8, 10, 24 hours at a time? What is the highest wattage light bulb that can be used?

By anon2174 — On Jul 01, 2007

is there any way or medical proven certificate that it really works at it is said on net?

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