If you’ve just bought your Himalayan salt lamp, or are in the market for one, you should know that authentic is best. That’s true of most things, but particularly here, if you want to avoid certain complications that fake salt lamps can bring. Fine, an inauthentic salt lamp may still give you a nice light, but that might mean accepting some difficult consequences. There have been a few cases of recalled fake salt crystal lamps due to the risk of fire or of overheating. It doesn’t end there. If the rock lamp isn’t real, the base is often not optimised for the lamp, meaning water may allow for corrosion or the salt light may not be sturdy. We want you to be safe, so today, we’ll give you a run through on how to tell if a salt lamp is real.
A quick way to check authenticity is by peeking at the label, usually attached to the cord. Himalayan salt rock originates from the Khewra salt mines in Pakistan, an area that has long produced Himalayan salt products. If the label makes no mention of Pakistan at all, it’s probably not all that authentic. On the other end of the spectrum, if the label specifically makes mention of the pink salt mines, it is probably authentic.
Accumulation of Moisture
The property Himalayan salt is renowned for is its hygroscopic quality. This essentially means that it attracts water to the surface of the rock salt. Any impurities in the water molecules in the air, from dust to pollen, will also get attracted to the pink salt. It is the bulb within the Himalayan salt lamp that allows the water to evaporate off, leaving those impurities on the surface of the salt. This means that no matter what, an authentic salt lamp will attract a small amount of water and moisture, even when it is off. This is why there are often mentions of salt lamps ‘sweating’. If your lamp collects no moisture, that’s a sign that it’s not a hygroscopic rock, and may not be authentic Himalayan salt.
Roughness of Surface
If you have a natural salt rock shape, rather than a cut shape lamp, you can check for authenticity by simply running your hand across the surface. When salt rock is cut in Pakistan, it is not cut at all smoothly or evenly. This is actually a feature of Himalayan salt, rather than a disadvantage. The rougher the surface, the larger surface area there is for the hygroscopic properties to function on. Run a hand over your salt lamp. If it doesn’t feel bumpy or rough to the touch, you likely have a false lamp. Some less reputable stores have even sold fake plastic salt rocks, which shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.
Himalayan salt lamps are known for their particular light, also known as the Himalayan glow. This soft light should be warm, pink or orange-y, and subtle. One way to know that your salt lamp is not authentic is if the light is too bright or too white; it shouldn’t be able to light up an entire room unless it is an equally large salt lamp. There is a chance, however, that this may only be a fault of the bulb, so a second way to test it is by simply rotating the salt rock. Given that the salt rock is unevenly cut from the start, the light should also be uneven. So, when you rotate it, if the light remains even all the way across, you don’t have an authentic Himalayan salt lamp.
Now the size of the salt lamp itself is not an indicator of falsehood or authenticity. There are tiny tealight sized Himalayan lamps, and enormous ones that cover fluorescent tubes, neither falser than the other. But what should be noted is that the size and wattage of the bulb should coordinate with the size of the rock lamp. A small salt crystal lamp should have a small bulb, and is able to have a fairly low wattage, as that is all that it would take to heat the rock. A larger rock salt lamp should have a larger bulb with a larger wattage. If your large lamp comes with a small bulb, or one with very low wattage, be wary. It may not even function as it should.
Remember, this is Himalayan salt rock. If it’s not as heavy as it should be, that’s a clear indicator that it’s not right. For the average, medium sized salt lamp, you should be able to place it on your hand but not lift it. Obviously, this will differ with different sizes, so a smaller salt lamp would be easier to lift, a larger one would be much more difficult. This is subjective, so only you will be able to really tell, but if it’s not heavy at all, you don’t have an authentic salt lamp.
Image by Maryam Zahra
There are many ways you can check if a Himalayan salt lamp is authentic by carefully considering its colour. If your rock salt lamp is less pink or orange, and instead whiter, there are opposite conclusions we can reach. It is either a cheaper cut of Himalayan salt rock, a knockoff, or, if you paid more for it, a rare and genuine white Himalayan salt lamp. If it were the latter however, you would likely know about it from when you bought it. White Himalayan salt lamps are rare and expensive. White streaks through your rock are nothing to worry about, those are expected. If, over time, your lamp begins to lose its colour, your salt lamp is almost definitely fake. Real Himalayan salt will always retain those minerals within that give it its unique colour. Look closely at your rock salt lamp. If it is too even in colour, it may be false. If there are mineral deposits in some areas, and streaks of colour in others, that’s more like it.
As mentioned above, when Himalayan pink salt is cut from the mines, it is not cut smoothly. When it is cut for use as a Himalayan salt lamp, it is also not cut smoothly, but unevenly on purpose. Unless you have purposely bought a cut shape lamp, uneven salt is an indicator of authenticity. Remember, it’s salt. So, one way to make sure it is authentic is taste. A lot of people ask, can I lick my Himalayan salt lamp? The answer is a resounding yes, but make sure you clean the collected particles from it with a dry, damp cloth before you head on in. If it tastes like salt, it’s salt. It’s as simple as that!
Many begin to develop concerns that their Himalayan salt lamp is fake when they see small deposits of salt around the base of their lamp. In reality, this is perfectly normal. In fact, your pink salt lamp should be that fragile. One way to test authenticity is by chipping a small piece off. If it comes off easily, you have an authentic Himalayan salt lamp. Whenever you clean it, a small amount of residue should be left on the cloth. On top of this, small amounts of shedding pink rock salt, particularly combined with moisture, are common features of salt lamps. If your lamp sheds not at all, or far too much, you may not have a real Himalayan salt lamp.
Another way to check authenticity is by looking at the assembly of your salt lamp. Obvious signs will include an askew base, or shoddy construction, but these are easy to spot. More well-hidden signs will be within the pink salt lamp. If it isn’t aligned correctly, or wasn’t assembled right, the gap for the bulb may cause problems. If the salt rock is able to touch the bulb, it may encourage fusing. If the base is wobbly, that’s not only dangerous, but can mean that the rock salt can shatter the bulb. There should be space between your Himalayan rock and the bulb within, and the base should be sturdy. If there isn’t, not only will your salt lamp not last long, it likely isn’t authentic, and certainly isn’t safe.
Now, if you have bought your Himalayan salt lamp solely for the light and the look, rather than the alleged scientific benefits, this may not concern you. But if you bought your salt lamp with an eye on the benefits, you should notice that these begin to affect you within 2 weeks. These mainly include air purifying features, as well as the expulsion of negative ions.
Of course, some of these are subjective, but as a combined checklist, the above features should help you determine whether you have an authentic Himalayan salt lamp or not. Essentially, if your salt lamp looks like salt, tastes like salt, feels like salt, and behaves like salt – it’s salt. There you have it!