Himalayan Salt Lamps - Is It A Scam?

(January 20, 2009; a LisaBarger.com Q&A) “Do those Himalayan salt lamps really work for cleaning air? Do you think they’re scams?”
The salt lamp scam.
Himalayan Salt Lamps - Just Another Scam?

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 numerous experts have explained, 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 a hunk of salt with a light bulb crammed into it. 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.