The first time I saw illuminated salt crystals was in a salt mine in Berchtesgaden, Germany in 1974. Backed by light, these football-sized chunks of natural salt emitted a red, yellow and orange glow as light filtered through the minerals of these translucent rocks. Seeing them in the darkness of the caverns was an unexpected delight.

More recently, Himalayan salt has been touted as “the purest form of salt of earth.” This is owing to the depths in the earth from which it is mined and the absence of contamination. Unprocessed salt like Himalayan, also boasts 84 other beneficial minerals besides the sodium chloride (salt).[1] But what does this have to do with salt lamps?

The Ion Effect

health benefits of salt lampsWe cannot talk about alleged health benefits of Himalayan salt lamps without discussing ions. Ions, and more specifically negative ions, are what we’re after. Ions are airborne molecules that have either lost or gained an electron. Depending on which it is this renders the molecules either positively or negatively charged.[2]

We have to make a shift in our minds when it comes to ions, because positive ions are harmful and negative ions are healthy and beneficial. In fact, negative ions are sometimes referred to as “vitamins of the air.”[3]

What is it about rivers, waterfalls, oceans, and mountains that draw us to them? Of course we’re attracted by their natural beauty, but there’s another reason that we seek out these places and why we feel so good when we’re there. The reason is that all of these natural wonders create an abundance of negative ions.

Positive ions are generated in automobiles, airplanes, in areas with high air pollution, and indoors around common electrical appliances: TV, computer, microwave, air conditioning, etc. Positive ions leave us feeling tired, irritable, depressed and they lower our immune system.[4] Have you ever wondered why you get so tired on an airplane, or on a road trip in the car? The positive ions are largely to blame.

If you’ve ever experienced the freshness in the air following a thunderstorm, or a feeling of euphoria while strolling on a beach with the surf pounding in, then you’ve experienced some of the natural benefits of negative ions.

  1. Negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain.
  2. This results in greater alertness, more energy and less drowsiness.
  3. A study conducted by Columbia University found that ion generators (that produce negative ions) were as effective in relieving depression as antidepressants—but without the side effects of those drugs.[5]
  4. Negative ions also attract foreign particles in the air that may be destructive like germs and spores. As the negative ions attach themselves to these unhealthy particles, they become heavy and fall from the air. In this way, negative ions assist our immune system.[6]

Himalayan Salt Lamps and Negative Ions

Himalayan salt lamps do not actually produce negative ions, but they create the right environment for them to be produced. Salt lamps are said to be hygroscopic, meaning that they attract moisture from the air.[7] If you’ve ever been on a farm where salt licks are laid out for cattle, these blocks of salt appear to “sweat.” What’s actually happening is that they attract moisture from the air that collects on the salt.

It’s also common practice for people in humid climates to put a little uncooked rice in their salt shakers. In this way the moisture that the salt attracts is absorbed by the rice instead of caking the salt and making it difficult to get out of the shaker.

When a light is put into a hollowed salt crystal, it heats the rock causing the moisture that has collected there to evaporate. It is this evaporation that creates negative ions and provides the desired calming and natural energizing effects.[8] Additionally, many people find the soft, diffused light and the pastel pink color of the Himalayan salt lamps soothing.

Maximizing your Exposure to Negative Ions

You may be thinking, “If negative ions are that beneficial, why wouldn’t I want a Himalayan salt lamp?” But a salt lamp is not the only way to generate negative ions. Other examples that produce negative ions are:

  • Burning beeswax candles[9]
  • Candles placed in Himalayan salt candle stands
  • Electric ion generators
  • Water fountains

Additionally, merely opening your windows and airing out your home is a great way to freshen your living space with negative ions. Also, consider spending less time in front of or around electronic devices that emit positive ions. Go out for a walk, ride a bicycle, or take a hike in a nearby woods or park. And when you return from your outing, step into a shower to produce more negative ions. You’ll experience all the natural health benefits from negative ions, including:

  • More oxygen to the brain
  • Greater alertness
  • Natural energy booster
  • Decreased anxiety, better mood
  • And a stronger immune system

What’s the best method for getting exposure to negative ions? Probably the one that works best for you.

How will you get your daily dose of negative ions today?

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Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.


[1] Dr. Mercola, “Now You Can Take Advantage of Even More Glowing Benefits from Himalayan Salt…” nd,
[2] Natural Salt Lamps, “Health Benefits of Himalayan Salt Lamps and How They Work,” nd,
[3] Denise Mann, “Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes,” WebMD, May 6, 2002,
[4] Perfect Health, “Himalayan Rock Salt Lamps,” nd,
[5] Denise Mann.
[6] Kate Prudchenko, “Natural Ways to Create Negative Ions,” eHow, August 12, 2014,
[7] Natural Salt Lamps.
[8] Natural Salt Lamps.
[9]Beelite Candles, “Benefits of Beeswax,” nd,