Life is a curious thing. Each of us has a completely different adventure, yet we all face similar challenges, experience wonders, and are given amazing blessings, even if we don't recognize them. My life has certainly been action-packed. A lot of it good, much of it bad, but I've learned valuable life lessons along the way and managed to become one of the happiest people I know. I'll be sharing my thoughts and stories, and things I know and believe. I encourage you to leave comments so we can all learn from each other! Happy reading!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Himalayan Salt Lamps: To Buy or Not to Buy

For years I've been seeing these cool pinkish, orangish lamps glowing on tables at craft fairs and in particular, at a booth that sets up at our local mall every Christmastime. I've heard in passing that they're wonderful, but kinda thought maybe it was just one of those things without any scientific evidence that people glom onto because it's pretty, different, and some kid with a great spiel talked them into believing it could cure cancer and create world peace. So I've always thought, “Hmmm...pretty,” and continued walking. But now, I suppose I can count myself among the glommers-on. I recently purchased four.

I'm not sure how it started, but I stumbled upon an article about these curious lamps. Once something peaks my interest, forget it. I'm all over it like hummingbirds on nectar. So the next thing I knew, I had researched dozens of sites, reading all kinds of articles and reviews, and done major price comparisons. I could only find a couple of articles that questioned whether they work as advertised, but none that gave any evidence that they don't. And I'm an evidence kinda girl.

The basic (layman's) gist is this : Our environment is filled with positive ions, which are actually bad. There are a number of sources of these bad ions including electronics, cars, air conditioners, cigarette smoke, factory smog, cell phones, heaters, and many other sources that are commonplace all around us. Himalayan salt lamps have a 15 watt or less bulb in them that gently heats the surface of the lamp. This causes a higher surface temperature than the surrounding air and attracts the water molecules from the cooler air. The natural humidity in the air condenses on the crystalline surface of the salt lamp. This enables the electrically bound sodium chloride mineral to split into sodium and chloride ions. This natural ionization creates an electrical charge. Because the atomic structure of the salt contains more negative chloride ions (which are good) than positive sodium ions (which are bad), negative ions are emitted during the ionization process. The negative ions act like invisible dust collectors that attach to all kinds of nasties in the air like dust, pollens, mold, bacteria, pollutants, odors, dust mites and animal dander. When the negative ions bind with the airborne pollutants, they become heavier and fall to the ground, making them unavailable to inhale. I admit, I felt very scientific learning all this.

The list of health benefits are quite long, but the most commonly observed are a marked improvement in breathing ability, helping sufferers of asthma, allergies and other respiratory illnesses. This makes sense, if there's less crap in the air, you'll breathe easier. The claims also list better sleep, which also makes sense if you're not struggling to breathe while sleeping. Many people go on to report more energy and feeling happier. Again, if you can breathe and sleep...

But as I mentioned earlier, I'm an evidence kinda girl. So I wanted to see the scientific studies. Well, there don't seem to be any. Studies on ions support the theories about how the lamps work, but there are no conclusive studies to support that the Himalayan salt lamps produce enough negative ions to purify the air and create the health benefits they are credited with. However. The testimonials I found were endless. I even read one lady's account of having to empty her vacuum three times as often because of the increase of all the stuff falling on the floor. In my little search I was unable to find anyone that owned a lamp that would state that they did not feel better in some fashion.

So it seems there are only three options here. 1. The lamps really do work. 2. The people giving the testimonials are for some reason lying. Understandable on sites that are selling lamps, as they could even be made up by the sellers. But many of the testimonials I read were on sites that were not selling products, so I don't believe this to be the case in most instances. Or 3. There is a massive placebo effect going on here. I have some thoughts about the placebo effect. Does it really matter? If a doctor gives a patient a pill for flu symptoms, and the flu symptoms go away, but the pill was really just sugar, who cares? If the patient feels better, they feel better. How that happens scientifically shouldn't really matter. At least in cases that are non-life threatening. The goal is to feel as physically and mentally fit as absolutely possible, using any means that are non-harming. Some people claim these lamps aren't curing, but nowhere did I find a claim of them being harmful. In any way.

So there I made my decision. I've been plagued with allergies since I was a kid and have had asthma for several years. My sleep is pathetic at best. In reading the lists of health benefits, I found myself thinking, “I'd like to have that, and that, and that...” I decided to give it a try. Not wanting to wait another two and a half months for the guy to set up in the mall, I did comparison shopping and found a vendor to order from. I ordered one for each of mine and my daughter's bedrooms, one for the living room, and one to sit on my desk where I spend hours writing every day.

They arrived yesterday and I promptly set one up on my nightstand. The others will be put in their new places of honor today. My plan is to use them for several weeks and see what happens. I'll post what I think of the lamps and if I see any improvements in my health. If any of my readers have had any experiences with Himalayan salt lamps, positive or negative, I'd love to hear about them. In the meantime, I hope you breathe easy, live happy, and sleep well!

~Update: 1/1/12
After leaving the lamps on 24/7 for nearly three months now, I have noticed a couple of things.  

First, I have not been taking my asthma medication anywhere near what I had been prior to getting the lamps. I simply haven't needed to. I still take some of the meds daily and still need my rescue inhaler on occasion, but not even in the same ballpark as before. Admittedly, this could be a result of a number of other factors, including change of seasons or even a change in my general health. I can only say that there has been a noticeable difference. 

Second, since installing the lamps, I've noticed a crazy amount of pet hair and dust on the floor, desks, tables, etc. We've always had a lot because we have multiple indoor pets and I have a *slight* book addiction, but this is different. Almost to the point of irritating. We've really had to step up our dusting and vacuuming schedule. I haven't made any other changes to the household, so I can only assume that the lamps do indeed work as advertised, causing the stuff that normally floats around in the air to fall downward. I've really been amazed at how much stuff must have been floating around before that I never noticed. I also tend to think that not having that much stuff floating around in the air must be having a positive effect on my breathing ability. 

Not a scientific study, I know. But I have to say that I've been happy with them. I do think they make a difference and I'll continue to use them. They're also very pretty, giving off a soft glow that I've come to really enjoy. I definitely recommend them! :)


  1. Around any body of water the air is filled with negative ions. That is why going to the beach or a lake leaves you feeling refueled. We have a couple Himalayan salt lamps in our house. Havn't paid a lot of attention to if they work but they are really neat :). Mom is a fan of them.

  2. I have one, and I love it, although I've never paid attention if it "works" or not. I forget to turn it on often now, your article makes me wanna go turn it on more often. :-)