Himalayan Salt Lamps

(January 20, 2009; a LisaBarger.com Q&A) “Do those Himalayan salt lamps really work for cleaning air? Do you think they’re scams?”

I am not convinced that Himalayan salt lamps do anything to make a significant difference in your health. Yes, they’re beautiful but any actual health effect would be, in my opinion, so small that you’d be much better off just using them as a room accessory and purchasing a de-humidifier and an actual HEPA filter.

What Himalayan Salt Lamps Are Supposed To Do

We looked at a few web sites and catalogs selling Himalayan salt lamps and found a variety of claims. Some sites, like IonicSalts.com are very upfront with their “no science” admissions. Others, like Natural-Salt-Lamps.com, go a little further and (in a slightly roundabout way) claim that their lamps produce negative ions that “bring oxygen to your brain”, “boost your immune system” and cure seasonal affective disorder.

How Salt Lamps Work Their “Miracles”

According to claims made on various websites, salt lamps “work” by releasing negative ions into the air. Unfortunately, as this blogger points out, there’s no way these lamps can work as promised.

Is There Any Science Behind This?

While the potential health benefits of bathing in salt waters have been touted for centuries, there is actually some science to back up those practices. In 2000, for example, psoriasis patients were encouraged to bathe in water in which was dissolved salts from the Dead Sea. The patients symptoms improved, no side effects were reported and the patients expressed a “high acceptance” of the therapy.

However, there’s a big difference between soaking in salted water and simply sitting next to a lamp made of salt. Despite seeing claims on several salt lamp web sites of “studies” proving their usefulness, we were not able to find even a single published study on Himalayan salt lamps.

So Are Himalayan Salt Lamps Scams?

It’s not often that I actually pronounce a product an out-and-out scam but I'm doing exactly that here. As beautiful as they are—and I DO have one, by the way—there is just no way Himalayan salt lamps can “clean” your air.


Schiffner, R., et al. (2000). Evaluation of a multicentre study of synchronous application of narrowband ultraviolet B phototherapy (TL-01) and bathing in Dead Sea salt solution for psoriasis vulgaris. British Journal of Dermatology. IonicSalts.com (2004-2012). Accessed January 20, 2009.

Natural-Salt-Lamps.com. (No Date Given). Accessed January 20, 2009.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Hi Faizan. Can I safely eat my lamp for health benefits?

    2. i love that line of questioning ! ... Priceless ! yes, of course, eat about 3 lbs. a day to keep the spooks away. good luck.

    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    4. Wes, these salts are delicious. We use them instead of sodium chloride (table salt).

  2. "There is just no way Himalayan salt lamps can “clean” your air."

    You apparently didn't look very hard for evidence in your brusk dismissal of the therapy.

    "Salt Cave Therapy" has been used for thousands of years, especially in Europe. A recent paper has revealed why the therapy may provide health benefits and explains how it may work:

    Salt Cave Therapy: Rediscovering the Benefits of an Old Preservative, by Sala Horowitz, PhD (2015).

    "Hippocrates is said to have recognized the therapeutic benefits of salt mines...Health benefits have been attributed to the caves' unique microclimate, which is rich in natural salt microns and ions...In the 1980s, the Russians began to build halochambers lined with halite, which mimicked the microclimate of salt caves. With increased scientific attention, such chambers became certified as medical devices in Russia, and are said to have been adapted for use by the Russian space agency in microclimate optimization devices used by cosmonauts."

    — Sala Horowitz, doi: 10.1089/act.2010.16302

    Here's another paper, which also talks about salt particles in the air:

    Salt: Good for What Ails the Airways?, by William D. Bennett, Journal of Aerosol Medicine. February 2009. doi:10.1089/jam.1995.8.vii

    And finally, there is the wiki page for Halotherapy, which shows photos of the caves and mentions the "Effective treatment of asthma and respiratory diseases" from breathing in the air from the unique red salt mines in Belarus.

    It seems that the research is out there and Halotheraphy has been fairly well studied in many European countries.

    From HIppocrates to longstanding European traditions, to the Russian space program have all embraced aerosolized salt for air purification, and you somehow didn't come across all that research??

    1. The thing is, "Mill", I never even attempted to debunk medical devices like salt water atomizers. My piece look solely at scammers who try to trick sick people into believing that a light bulb stuck inside a hunk of salt somehow does something akin to a HEPA filter.

    2. Scientists can be so wrong: arsenic, radium, mercury, asbestos, lead, all deemed safe when in fact they kill, and microbiota, meditation, and massage ruled inert when we know now they are life-giving. And we can't forget all the MD's who claimed that smoking was good for you!

    3. Of course scientists can and do make mistakes. But what you're talking about has NOTHING to do with the lack of evidence for salat lamps. And that was the focus of my piece.

    4. Well there is quite a difference between a salt mine and a salt lamp, you are not talking about the same thing here. Like there is a major difference between being next to a microwave for a minute and being in a microwave for a minute ;-)

  3. All you can really say is that there is no evidence to show one way or another; so there's not enough information to determine if there is a scam or not. To make a claim, you need to show evidence either for or against. You have done neither. An opinion was stated.

    1. If there is no evidence to support the claim, than there is no reason to treat that claim as if it were a fact.

      If you advertise your claim as a fact anyway, it's a scam.

      The burden of proof is on the people making the claim that salt lamps purify the air somehow when a light source is placed inside of it. If they cannot meet that burden of proof, it is perfectly justifiable to call it a scam.

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    1. Dean, I'm happy your salt lamp works for you.

      Please do not use my work to promote your own. I work hard to keep my sites as free of banner ads, pop-ups and advertising overlays as is financially possible. In that spirit, I will be deleting your comment soon.