Image by Maryam Zahra
So, you have a Himalayan Salt Lamp, and you want to ensure you look after it correctly. Salt lamps may seem a little more high maintenance than your average lamp, but don’t worry. Keep reading, and we can help you with any questions you may have, whether they’re about salt lamp cleaning, leaking or a whole host of other possibilities.
How to clean a Himalayan salt lamp
The hygroscopic nature of a salt crystal lamp means that water molecules in the air become attracted to the salt rock, and any particles within will settle on the surface of the lamp, whilst the heat of the bulb evaporates the water away. After some time, you might feel the dust and other particles on the surface are too evident, and you may want to clean it. This can happen whether or not you have used the lamp. This will likely only be very occasional, because Himalayan salt, and salt in general, naturally cleans itself.
For cleaning, the main rule is that it should never be fully submerged in water, despite what some may say. Salt lamps are, of course, made of salt, and salt dissolves in water. The effect this will have is that your rock salt lamp will resemble a shiny quartz, with the salt on the surface having smoothed out. This isn’t entirely detrimental to the product, but what it does is slightly inhibit the lamp from working as it should; the roughness of the surface of a rock lamp means it has a large surface area, with more of an area for it to be effective in attracting those water molecules and the pesky particles within. So, if you have already made this mistake, don’t worry too much; it will probably be less effective, but it will still work.
For cleaning, turn your salt lamp off and allow it to cool. Larger lamps will take longer to do so. Wet a clean cloth with lukewarm water, and wring this out so that it is not too wet, only damp. Now, lightly dab at the lamp, focussing on areas with particular build-up. Do not be too rough with it, as you don’t want to smooth it out. If your cloth is damp enough, but you scrape at the surface, some of the pink salt may come off. Don’t use soap or other cleaning products, simple water should do the trick, and don’t use any material stiffer or harder than cloth.
With more stubborn stains you can be more vigorous, but this will always be a balancing act between deep cleaning and damaging the surface.
Once you are satisfied with your efforts, use a clean and dry cloth to pat it dry. You can also leave the lamp on for a while to allow the surface moisture to evaporate.
Why is my salt lamp wet or leaking?
If you’ve noticed that your Himalayan salt lamp is wet or leaking, don’t worry, that’s actually fairly common. Your lamp will get wet, that is unavoidable, but excess moisture is worth keeping an eye on. This may simply mean that your lamp is doing its job very well, but could also mean that there is too much moisture in the air. It’s not really shrinking, which is what some assume, but collecting.
What you can do is simply remove any excess moisture with a dry cloth, as above, and distance it from any moisture that may be around. If you want to minimise this accumulation of wetness, you can keep your salt rock lamp on for longer, or get a stronger bulb within your specific lamp’s specifications. If it’s a problem with moisture in the air around you, you could get a dehumidifier.
Don’t keep your salt light in an area with a lot of inevitable humidity, like a bathroom or kitchen. If you are going away, keep it stored somewhere cool and dry, preferably in a sealed bag, as it will continue to absorb moisture, and will lack the means to evaporate it.
For a DIY tip, if the weather is temporary moist or you want to keep your pink salt lamp fresh while waiting for a replacement bulb, you can simply place some tealights around its base, to stop trickling water and allow for some evaporation. This, of course, won’t have quite the same effect, but it is effective.
How long does a Himalayan salt lamp last?
A salt lamp and the salt rock in particular, could, barring any major damage, last a lifetime and actually, a lot of people’s lifetimes. As long as it is upright, on a sturdy surface, and won’t get knocked off by an errant pet, the only thing you have to worry about are the electrical components within, particularly the bulb.
If you leave your lamp on for extended periods of time, you may have to replace your salt lamp bulb more regularly. If your lamp is wet, this may affect the internal workings. If you are unsure why the bulb is having problems, open your salt lamp. If the bulb is cracked, it probably touched the sides of the lamp internally, and if you hear the filament when you shake the bulb, it probably fused. If you have changed the bulb and it still doesn’t turn on, it means your cord or a dimmer is damaged. If your bulb keeps fusing with too much regularity, this can also be a cord problem. It is certainly possible to get salt lamp cord replacements.
What bulb can I use in a salt lamp?
When you first open your Himalayan pink salt lamp, make note of the bulb and bulb wattage so that you can replace it when necessary. These salt lamps often use standard bulbs that could be bought locally anywhere, but within this range, you have a lot of choice. You could use a variety of bulbs, including incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent bulbs, which each provide their own benefits, from warmth of light, to energy efficiency and increased brightness. The nature of the light is crucial, as the colour of Himalayan lamps can affect how it fits into the aesthetic of your room. Size of the lamp is also something to consider, as the larger or heavier it is, the higher the wattage should be. Most salt rock lamps come with a 15-watt bulb, but that’s usually because people tend to buy smaller lamps. You should make sure the size is conducive to the internal hole of the salt rock, as if it is touching, it may break.
DO NOT get an LED bulb, as these don’t get warm enough, and thus don’t generate enough heat to evaporate the particles.
Replacing them is fairly easy, with the biggest problem being the weight of the salt rock itself, and of course, you should ensure the lamp is unplugged and fully cooled before attempting to do so. Most lamps will allow you to simply lift the salt crystal away, unscrew the bulb, and screw it back on. Others are trickier, requiring you to squeeze a set of internal metal prongs to release the bulb. Other lamps have a safety clip to ensure the bulb doesn’t move around. In summary, you should read any instructions carefully.
If you keep your Himalayan salt lamp on for longer periods, a higher quality bulb from a reputable store will thus be the best choice, saving you both time and money.
How long can you leave a salt lamp on?
It is fine to keep your salt lamp on as long as you want, even if you want to keep it on all the time. If you are uncomfortable with that, 16 hours a day is perfectly acceptable. You can certainly keep them on overnight. The minimum amount of time you leave a lamp on is at least 30 minutes, allowing it to warm the rock enough, though this may be quicker or slower depending on the size of the rock and strength of the bulb.
This is possible because bulbs in Himalayan salt lamps are not hot enough to burn the salt rock, and if you have a high-quality lamp with a high-quality base, it will not be hot enough to burn that either. Of course, it is probably best to leave it off when there is no one home.
Image by belchonock
Why is my Himalayan salt lamp turning white?
Himalayan salt lamps can turn white because of an accumulation of salt on the surface, often considered to be calcium salt deposits. This is a natural reaction to the water evaporation, and can simply be carefully wiped off with a damp cloth.
If it was already white to begin with, you are in possession of a white Himalayan salt lamp, which is higher quality, in more demand, and less common, usually mined from the fringes of the Pakistani salt mines.
Why is my salt lamp shedding salt?
Himalayan salt lamps are simply big blocks of rock salt, so they may occasionally shed some salt here and there, no matter what. A benefit of the authentic Himalayan salt lamp is that each hand cut piece has its own nuances, and the placement of the cuts may contribute to different amounts of shedding. If your lamp is shedding too much however, it may be because your lamp is not authentic or is of very low quality. Periods of particularly low humidity may mean your lamp sheds more, as there are fewer water molecules in the air but the lamp continues to warm. They may also shed a little during cleaning. On occasion, what could be considered shedding is simply the salt deposits falling off, as above.
So, as long as you keep your Himalayan salt lamp upright, you should be fine, but keep a vague eye on the surface and the bulb, to keep enjoying that Himalayan glow.