If you can believe it, it was one of Alexander the Great’s horses who discovered the Himalayan salt deposits in Pakistan. It is said that he and his soldiers decided to rest in the area after a long journey, and their thirsty and hungry horses began to lick at the rocks. A curious soldier soon realised the pink rocks were salt. Almost since this early stage, likely due to their unique colour in comparison to average salt rock, Himalayan pink salt has garnered a reputation for having a multitude of uses and benefits. These rumours have remained over the years, and gained momentum recently. That’s what we’ll address for you below; those claims, the evidence behind them, and whether Himalayan salt products are actually as good for you as they seem.
Central to the functioning of Himalayan salt lamps, in particular, is their nature as a hygroscopic rock attached to a source of heat. This essentially means that the pink salt attracts the water molecules in the air towards it, and in doing so, can also capture any unwanted particles from the air. The heat source – or bulb – within, then heats the pink salt rock and releases the water molecules back into the air, leaving the pollutants attached to the salt rock. This is proven simply by owning one; your salt lamp will sweat on occasion, which is perfectly normal, and simply means that your Himalayan salt is attracting water from the air around you. Whilst your pink salt lamp may attract pollutants, leaving your air cleaner, it is not quite as potent as air purification systems. So, whilst it does work to purify the air you breathe, it is not as industrial as other websites may claim.
Image by Maryam Zahra
Many of the pollutants the Himalayan salt rock will absorb are allergy causing, such as pollen or dust. If Himalayan salt lamps work as promised, symptoms of allergy are said to ease. There is not much data, or many studies on this, but instead, plenty of anecdotal evidence. Some parents who place salt lamps in the rooms of their children with allergies have noticed a change in their child’s symptoms. This is also seen in some asthma sufferers. Some who suffer with asthma or have other difficulties in their day-to-day breathing have travelled into Himalayan salt caves and noticed a change in their symptoms. In fact, we do have a study that shows that children with mild asthma had an improvement in their quality of life with salt therapy. Whilst this may only provide a temporary boost, keeping Himalayan salt products around you may regularly provide you with this very boost.
Whether or not you believe in the above, there are more obvious benefits to Himalayan salt:
Improves Sleep, Energy, and Mood, and Combats Blue Light Exposure, and SAD
This is true of Himalayan salt lamps, mainly due to their renowned soft light. The Himalayan glow is renowned as it has a different hue to most lamp lights, thanks to the pink and orange tinge of the salt rocks themselves. In fact, it is also the perfect hue to counteract blue light that we see when we stare at our mobile devices, tablets and laptops. Blue light exposure is often linked by data to uneven sleep patterns, and restless sleep, as it suppresses the secretion of melatonin. Himalayan salt lamps are thus linked to better sleep cycles, and are less likely to shift circadian rhythms or have a negative impact on your melatonin levels. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a disorder which many suffer from, and it lowers mood in darker and greyer portions of the year, particularly during winter. The soft natural light of a Himalayan pink salt lamp can counteract this also, and thus improve mood and energy. Using this in the early hours helps to set your natural cycle to the right time, in months where in may be darker than usual. Whilst some of these effects could be seen with the average lamp, the particular hue of the Himalayan salt allows the salt lamp light to be softer, with less depth and brightness. It is thus closer to natural light than most lamps, and is better for your wellbeing. If you get a pink salt lamp with a dimmer, you will be able to better vary the light according to your needs across the day. In addition to this, exposing yourself to that Himalayan glow during the day will allow you to sleep easier at night. This is perhaps the best benefit of Himalayan salt use, as it could have a life changing impact on your routine.
Image by Amber Avalona
Environmentally Friendly and Natural
If you are particularly conscious of your impact on the environment, Himalayan salt is a perfect and guiltless addition to your home. It contains many more minerals than your average rock salt, though in small amounts, and these would only be truly useful if you’re not consuming a balanced diet. It is the iron within the pink salt rock that gives it its unique colouring. It is not just the Himalayan salt itself, but the process that is environmentally friendly. The mining process is natural, and has no effect on any known wildlife or plant life. Aside from the initial explosions at the opening of a salt tunnel, the rest is manually mined by local workers in order to protect the structure of the pink salt and the Himalayan salt range. These workers are overseen by a corporation that provides good wages, and education. Once the pink salt is cut, often in slabs, nothing is added to treat it, leaving it all natural. Compared to other salts, which are often iodised or mixed with anti-caking mixtures, Himalayan rock salt is thus pure. Iodine is useful in preventing iodine deficiency, however, so if you do use Himalayan salt in place of any iodised salt, it is best to increase your intake of iodine. Essentially, pink salt is both environmentally friendly, and all natural, so it is perfect for those of you who are environmentally conscious in all aspects of life.
There are many ways in which Himalayan salt can be useful to you, which is an additional benefit. When Himalayan rock salt was only in use by locals, they often used it in food, of course, but also as a preservative. If you need a meat cure, there is no salt better than Himalayan salt, particularly due to its long tradition in this use. It can also be used in fermentation processes, as an all-natural alternative to table salt, with no additives and a unique mix of minerals to flavour your own unique mix. Pink salt mixed in water can be used as a health drink, though with this method you should be careful to monitor your intake of sodium. This is particularly true as people are less cautious with Himalayan salt as they are with average table salt. Best of all, due to its unique colour, using it as presentation and decoration, for example with a Himalayan salt block, is bound to be the perfect talking piece for a dinner party, or a special meal.
Image by Hubertl, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International
There are other claims that have some scientific backing, but little support beyond positive anecdotes:
Allegedly counter electromagnetic radiation
Electronics release positive ions, which can cause some health issues. The apt response is thus to release negative ions in the area. In Himalayan salt, the production of negative ions is caused by the evaporation of water, and these ions are said to help improve blood flow, particularly when you keep your pink rock salt nearby. This theory certainly has a valid scientific basis, but claims can be overhyped by some: the fact is, Himalayan pink salt certainly releases negative ions, but in small numbers when compared to commercial ionisers.
Aids Air Flow
This is often linked to the flow of energy, and draws upon the principle that salt lamps draw and release molecules to allow the movement of water, and air flow. Again, this is true, but in a small amount. If you subscribe to the theory of energy flow, you may notice a difference when you have Himalayan salt products in your home.
Essentially, of the many claims that people may associate with Himalayan salt, there is a basis and history to many of them. The light from salt lamps in particular is associated with many proven benefits, as is the versatility of the product. Some claims are overhyped, but they have some scientific root to their assertions, and even without these few proposed benefits, there are still an abundance of things Himalayan salt can offer you. Thus, whilst you are smart to be wary, there is no need to worry about your Himalayan salt product.