A few months ago, I decided to redecorate my living room. I had grown tired of my old decors, so I decided to get some new ones. While I was window shopping at a store, one of the attendants recommended that I get a salt lamp.
The attendant stated that the lamp had many health benefits and that it could not only improve my overall well-being, but it could even improve the air quality in my house.
I couldn’t believe that a mere lamp could do so much, so I decided to do some research for myself.
It took me months to get the whole story together, but I discovered that there was a whole world of pseudoscience based on the uses and properties that these salt lamps created.
I was amazed to find so many people championing the healing and mood-altering effects these salt lamps possessed. I told myself, if these lamps are so useful, why aren’t they in houses worldwide.
I had to know what they were all about, and I needed to know if these salt lamps were truly miracle healing agents or if it was just snake oil being peddled by a bunch of people who didn’t know what they were talking about.
What is a Salt Lamp?
A salt lamp is a hollowed-out reddish-pink salt rock that houses a bulb that emits a reddish-pink light when lit. These bulbs, according to their sellers, can do more than just light up a room. They claim that it has the unusual property of emitting negative ions into the atmosphere by liberating ions from water molecules that land on the surface of the salt lamps.
The entire concept of these salt lamps is based on the belief that they can produce negative molecules, which can improve people’s moods, headaches, alertness, sleep, and allergies for those who are near the salt lamps.
What are Negative Ions?
A negative ion is an atom or molecule that has gained an electron, and a positive ion is an atom or molecule that has lost an electron. Now any basic science textbook would tell us that, unlike charges, attract. So our negative and positive ions would come together to neutralise each other.
However, negative ions are a naturally occurring phenomenon, and we know that they occur in many naturally occurring events, like waves crashing against the rocks and propelling air molecules into the air to become negative ions.
We also know that they are produced by the natural decay of particles and ions found in long-lived radioactive isotopes such as Uranium and Thorium. The decaying particles emit highly energetic particles such as alpha, beta, and gamma rays.
These energetic particles ionise the air, and their concentrations vary greatly from location to location, but they can contribute thousands of ions per cubic centimetre. We know that waterfalls and oceans contain the same amount of negative ions.
However, science tells us that these negative ions can affect our overall well-being, mood, productivity, and alertness. All of which occur when negative ions are in a high enough concentration. However, science does not tell us that negative ions can do what has been touted by the advocates of salt lamps.
What are the Benefits of Using a Salt Lamp?
A salt lamp can only improve your general mood when on. Everything else that a salt lamp has been said to do is merely speculative and has not been proven by any scientific experimentation. Any benefits that have been felt from using the salt lamp can be attributed to a kind of placebo effect.
Most of the time, anyone who buys a salt lamp buys it on either the word of a friend or buys it because they have been sold on the idea that the lamp can do all these amazing things. Now, you expect to feel those benefits described, and your body adjusts accordingly.
What Are Salt Lamps Good for?
Salt lamps lack any real material value aside from lighting up a room in a specific colour or shade, but aside from that, they have no medicinal or scientific value. It can also provide a room with a nice appearance as salt lamps are very beautiful ornaments.
Do Salt Lamps Work?
A salt lamp functions similarly to any other lamp in that it can illuminate and brighten a room. It can be very pleasing to the eye due to its distinct shape and design. However, in terms of science, the salt lamp is no better than a regular lamp.
The salt lamp produced no negative ions when tested with a Mass Spectrometer. Even after being left on for over an hour, the Mass Spectrometer could not detect any negative ions emitted by the salt lamp.
This is because the amount of energy required to liberate a negative ion from a water molecule is far greater than that of a light bulb.
So then, it is clear that a salt lamp can not produce negative ions meaning it can not provide any of the benefits found in being in an environment where negative ions are highly concentrated.
Do Salt Lamps Purify Air?
Salt lamps can purify the air but not to any degree that would be described as actually making a difference or having an impact on the environment where the lamp is found. As salt rocks do trap a small number of pollutants in the air, it is in no way close to the filtering ability of charcoal, which is a common component of air filters.
At this point in time, there is no strong scientific evidence to support the claims that salt lamps have any benefits. The only benefits that have been attributed to them are due to the Placebo effect.
If you are looking for ways to improve your mental health and physical well-being, you are better off taking a walk outside or going to the beach to get a taste of the negative ions.
However, the most beneficial thing you can do is to add exercise to your daily routine and get the bonus of taking in all that fresh air.
Now over to you, have you ever used a salt lamp before? Do you believe in their benefits? Let us know in the comment section below.