Teaching Tuesday- Himalayan Salt Lamps

A few years ago I came across an interesting light. It was actually a carved salt block with a light socket inserted into its base. It became even more interesting when the company asserted that these lights provided healthful healing as they released negative ions into the air, and some of the carved shapes also had the added benefit of being feng shui. For those not wanting an electric light, there was also a nice assortment of (salt) carved candle holders. And now they have even added some oil burners for the aromatherapy enthusiasts. Being heavily into herbs and natural remedies, I admit that I was rather intrigued, however, the nurse in me was also rather skeptical of the health claims. They certainly seem like a natural addition to my product line, but if nothing else, these products are rather unique, and quite lovely in their own right. So at worst, the Himalayan salt products would be great conversation starters, artful, and the lights are even practical. Certainly the oil burners and the candle holders are quite artsy and practical. All in all, a bit of research seemed in order! 

While Himalayan salt is a marketing term for Halite, which is rock salt, from Pakistan. It began being sold by various European, North American and Australian companies in the early 21st century. It is mined in the second largest salt mine in the world, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Explosives are strictly prohibited in the mining of the salt, in order to preserve the crystal structure. The crystals are all hand carved and there are truly some beautiful colors to be found. They can appear transparent, off-white, pink or even reddish in color. Composition wise, I have read some conflicting reports. So my best offering is that they are from 95 to 98% sodium chloride, with the remaining percentages consisting of 10 other minerals. Realize though that, one study stated that this salt was contaminated with 2-3% of gypsum, making the 10 other minerals present, present at very  minimal amounts. While another study reported a full 5% of the 10 other minerals. So, as with most things, it seems that we need more studies in order to be more definitive.

This salt can be used just like a table salt for cooking, as brine, or in bath products. You may have seen the Iron Chef show where the Master chef used a block of Himalayan salt to cook and serve his fish dish. This, as well as curing meats, is also a common use for salt blocks. Then, more recently, the larger crystal rocks have also been carved out to house light bulbs or candles, to be sold as night lights, mood lighting and candle holders. 

So what about the supposed health benefits? They say that research bears out that the salt crystal lamps exhibit biophysical characteristics, which demonstrate a positive effect on our well-being. There are three natural action principles to look at; ionization, the electromagnetic oscillation and the transparent-crystalline structure developing the light waves. Additionally, salt  is a primal element just like water and air, and its natural minerals and trace element have unique biophysical and biochemical characteristics in and of themselves. 

Salt is neutral chemically and physically, without its own polarity, so it is balancing and neutralizing. Both the Earth and human beings consist of about 70% water, salt/brine water to be more specific. This brine solution transmits oscillation (vibration) energy, not only evenly over the planet, but also in our bodily nerves and cells. Chemically speaking the body needs salt in order to maintain all of our bodily functions, but from a biophysical view, salt is needed to bring the body back and keep the body in its natural vibration rhythm.

Research and laboratory tests seem to bear proof that lighted salt crystal lamps deliver ions to the  environment, and they show that there is primarily an increase in the number of the negative ions. The emission of ions is (mainly) caused by the salt's ability to first absorb water, then to evaporate it. The heated salt crystal attracts water molecules from ambient air to its' surface. The salt then goes into a solution as it mixes with the water molecules. Sodium is the positively charged ion, and chloride is the negatively charged ion, together they become neutral, and are emitted back into the environment. This ion emission is quite unique and is only possible with the mineral salt because of its electrically neutral atomic structure. Over the past decade or so, scientific studies seem to show that having an environment with a small surplus of negative ions can positively impact our physical health.  

Although the heated salt crystal lamps are natural ion generators, this is not their primary characteristic, because from a scientific standpoint, the surplus of negative ions is negligible. So the  more important aspect of the lamp is its' ability to clean the ambient air. The ability and effectiveness of each lamp will depend upon its size and the surface area of the salt crystal that is used for the lamp. But the ambient air that surrounds the lamp is measurably cleaned by the transformation cycle of the hydrogen and oxygen, as well as sodium and chloride ions, as described above. Supposedly, this characteristic is especially important for relieving symptoms associated with allergies and  asthma. This research of the characteristic of purified air through the action of the salt crystal lamps is  based on a medical therapy called Spelaeotherapy. Spelaeotherapy uses a treatment where the patient goes into an underground salt mine and is exposed to the concentrated atmosphere of negative ions. Certainly, additional scientific research, along with medical guidance, needs to take place. But since scientific investigations are still in the beginning stages, we can only infer. While the  therapeutic effect of a singular salt crystal lamp don't exactly compare to the effects found in a salt mine, under medical prescription/guidelines, the principles would seem to be on the same wave length. Besides, there are a great many people that report positive health impact. Yes, these are completely subjective, yet they should be considered.

Lastly, let's look at salt crystal lamps and electromagnetic oscillation. An electromagnetic belt surrounds the Earth. Every form of life on our planet depends on the power of this electromagnetic field of vibration, which is known as the Schuman resonance frequency. The frequency of this electromagnetic field is at 7.83 Hz (cycles) per second, which is known to be the resonant frequency of the Earth. Due to our industrialized/technical way of life, our bodies are constantly being bombarded by artificial electromagnetic wavelengths, ones with diverse frequency values, which are caused by the various electronics devices we are surround by.  As we are constantly exposed to the varying frequencies, our own electromagnetic energy field becomes imprinted by the frequencies that are forced upon it.  These odd frequencies have been proven to promote illness, as they disrupt our normal bodily systems. Supposedly, with the use of a salt crystal lamp, we can adjust and neutralize the electromagnetic wavelengths caused by various electronic devices. Because of the atomic structure of the salt, which is neutral, it is surmised that the artificial frequencies in our environment can be harmonized, or brought into balance by a lit salt lamp.The lamp works as a natural amplifier for the resonant frequency of 8-10 cycles per second, which is necessary for our life, thereby naturally correcting the frequency. 

So, my take?  I am not really sure if I am a true believer in the benefits of the Himalayan Salt lamps or not. But, worst case scenario, You get a lovely, discussion provoking, unique lamp. 
They certainly can't hurt anything even IF they are nothing besides a night light or mood lamp.  Not to mention, some of them are very artistic, making them more than a light or candle holder. Since they usually sell by the pound, if you aren't sure about a large one, you can always start off with a small one. They come in many shapes as well. One of the coolest ones, in my opinion, is a carved bowl that holds many small blocks/rocks, or now days you can even order (carved) heart shapes for your bowl (also comes in a metal basket if you prefer). The base of the bowl lights up, illuminating the bowl and many of the blocks. 

I do have to tell you though, a LOT of people support the health claims attributed to the Himalayan Salt Lamps. Every one of the lamp users that I have spoken with LOVE their lamps, and they are convinced  that they help with breathing issues and pain levels. So in the Best case scenario, you get a health aide that will last you a lifetime, while simultaneously providing you with an extra lamp, and a discussion provoking piece of artwork. As far as I can tell, owning one really is a no loose situation.....except, of course, for the cost of the lamp. According to what I have read, the average size bedroom needs at least a medium sized lamp (to be effective), and those lamps run upwards of $45. While not exactly a piece of chump change, considering that 

BTW, they now carry oil burners. So if you are not into getting just a light,  you can always try burning your favorite aromatherapy EO blend in one of their burner lamps. I plan on placing an order for a few of these for my Spring show. Using an electric bulb to heat the EO is better than using a candle anyway, as it warms slower and more even. Besides that, I am always about the Unique! 

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