Our Natural Salt Crystal Lamps and Crystal Rock Salt wellness products will have a profound effect on your health and well-being. You can breathe easier, feel better and live healthier…That’s a pretty significant claim. Fortunately, they have a Health Benefits link that we can follow to get details on how these crystals can improve our lives.
Salt Rock Crystal Lamps create an environment rich in negative ions that has a wonderfully positive effect on your physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual health.Supposedly our air (especially indoor air) is full of pollutants that carry a positive electrical charge. The Himalayan Rock Crystal is going to “neutralize” these positive ions floating in the air by releasing negative ions. According to the site, this effect is related to another documented treatment.
For many years, people suffering from asthma and other symptoms have gained tremendous relief from underground asthma treatment Speleotherapy, in salt mines, where negative ions are plentiful.Another source -- SaltLamps4U.com -- tries to explain how the ions from salt crystal lamps improve air quality…
Ionizing machines emit negative electric charges into the air, and this supposedly causes airborne allergens to cluster and fall to the ground.Supposedly? They aren't even pretending to have supporting evidence for this claim.
Here’s the problem that I see: one of these lamps is just a hollowed salt crystal with a 15-watt light-bulb inside. How is it supposed to release negative ions? If it’s not getting a steady supply of electrons from somewhere, it can’t be releasing negative ions because it would be giving itself a positive charge that would attract negative ions, thereby defeating itself. Electrical current flowing through that light-bulb is not going to be leaving a surplus of electrons, since the electrons have to keep flowing through the circuit in order to actually work, so where are the electrons coming from? The websites have no explanation, although Natural-Salt-Lamps does try...
…the heated salt crystal attracts the water molecules from the ambient air to its surface. The salt goes into a solution as it mixes with the water molecules. Sodium, as the positively charged ion, and chloride, as a negatively charged ion, becomes neutral and are emitted back into the environment.Yes, salt will dissolve in water, but the positively charged sodium ions and negatively charged chloride ions don’t “become neutral”: they just float around in the solution, which remains neutral overall because it has a balanced number of positive and negative ions in it. The chloride ions won’t magically float out of the solution into the air, because the attraction of the positive sodium ions won’t let them get too far away. You could possibly get both positive and negative ions into the air, but not negative ions alone. In reality, though, you generally get water vaporizing back into the air and leaving the salt behind, and that's exactly the result you should expect with a heated crystal.
Putting aside the physical problems of getting these rock crystals to release ions into the air, we still have to determine whether such ions would be beneficial. According to SaltLamps4U…
It has been researched scientifically that the amount of ions in the environment, that is acceptable by human is ca. 1000-1500/cm3. And normally in closed rooms were electronic appliances are utilized, this amount as low as 200/cm3. So to increase the number of negative ions in the environment, air ionizers are used. These air ionizers generate the negative ions and balance the atmosphere of the room.Naturally, their website doesn't include a reference to these studies. Machines that demonstrably release ions into the air do exist, though, and they’ve been tested. The Division of Respiratory Medicine at University Hospital Basel in Switzerland reviewed studies of alternative asthma treatments conducted since 2002 and published their findings in 2004. PubMed has a summary of their findings:
Studies do not support the use of homeopathy, air ionizers, manual therapy, or acupuncture for asthma. These methods bear some risks to patients related to undertreatment and side effects.Apparently releasing ions into the air has no health benefits, at least not for asthma. So, once again, we have an alternative medicine claim that doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny. If you buy a Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamp (or any other kind of salt crystal lamp, for that matter), you’re essentially paying $60 to $100 (or more) for a decorative night light.
If you really want a device to release negative ions into your home atmosphere, though, don’t despair: you probably already have one or more. Contrary to what SaltLamps4U.com says, television sets and computer monitors are negative ion sources (the Cathode Ray Tube inside a TV is specifically designed to spew electrons), and you can see how much effect they have on your air quality. They certainly attract a lot of dust. Assuming that a 15-watt salt lamp has any effect at all, it will be dwarfed by a 40-watt television set, so there's no need to buy a salt lamp, anyway.
EDIT: Eleven years have passed, and this is still one of the most viewed pages on the blog. The remark about having a CRT to spray negative ions into your house probably no longer applies. No evidence that salt lamps have health benefits has surfaced, though.