Salt Lamp Negative Ions 101
What’s so great about negative ions?
It’s all about the ions – and negative ones at that. I know what you’re thinking – Positivity is what fosters good health, right? Well, maybe for your thinking brain and outlook, but not for ions.
Let’s begin with an ionic definition, shall we?
An ion is a charged particle that has either gained or lost an electron. An extra electron creates a negative ion, while a missing electron creates a positive ion. The most common positive ions come from Carbon Dioxide molecules, and yes, that is a bad thing.
Unwanted particles like dust, pollutants and allergens, often carry a positive electrical charge, which in effect, enables them to be suspended in the air, and consequently, inhaled.
Also loaded with positive ions are Electromagnetic Fields (EMF), which is largely created by electronic devices like computers and smart phones.
Operating by the law of opposites, negative and positive ions attract one another, and upon doing so, are neutralized. Not being charged, keeps particles from staying airborne and inadvertently being inhaled into your lungs.
Think of negative ions as the white blood cells of the atmosphere. They attack (or more precisely, are attracted to) positive ions, aka, the bad guys.
In addition to actually helping remove dangerous particles from the air, negative ions have been shown to provide measurable health benefits, such as increased Oxygen flow to the brain. This alone provides a wealth of benefits ranging from heightened mood to greater alertness and energy. Negative ions also prevent acidification of the blood and optimize permeability of the cell prototype plasma membranes, thereby helping improve immunity and metabolism, respectively.
Sounds great. How do I get more negative ions in my home?
An obvious answer is to purchase an air purifier with ionizing capabilities.
The rise of air purification machines and ionizers is evidence that more people are realizing the vital importance of needing purified indoor air to not just achieve optimal health – but just as important, to keep from getting sick.
Certainly there are benefits to man-made air purifiers and ionizers, but one can also look to Mother Nature in fostering the air we were meant to breathe.
The most common experience of encountering purified air in Nature is when we are near large bodies of water. While there are many factors that make an oceanside beach or tropical waterfall soothing and peaceful, the scientifically measurable reason is due to a higher concentration of negative ions in the immediate surrounding air.
But there are also more readily available options for generating negative ions in the indoor air. One such solution are Himalayan salt lamps.
While there are skeptics who challenge the negative ion emitting capabilities of salt lamps, there is indeed a scientific process behind salt rock ion emittance. Salt rocks – being hygroscopic in nature – naturally attract moisture from the air. With the help of a light used to warm the salt rock from within, the moisture is then quickly evaporated back into the atmosphere. It is this evaporation process that is the source of the prized negative ions.
Keep in mind, the ion emittance levels of Himalayan salt rock are not nearly as great as that of costly, laboratory-grade ion generators. However, the countless testimonials of salt lamp owners attesting to health benefits associated with the positive effects of negative ions speak for themselves.
Twenty years ago, the therapeutic effects of salt lamps were not widely known. With the growth of the natural health movement, salt lamps are now becoming more mainstream. Big box stores like Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond are even carrying salt lamps these days.
But like most salubrious claims, there is a big difference in quality amongst salt lamp manufactures and distributers.
The vast majority of salt rock used for salt lamps is sourced from salt rock deposits at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains. Just how this salt rock is carved and handled (the craftsmanship itself) is a major factor in the final quality of a Himalayan salt lamp.
Other than the Himalayan foothills, salt rock often used for lamps is harvested in Polish mines. Poland, in fact, is the birthplace of the original salt caves, which have been used since the mid-1200’s for their therapeutic benefits (speleotherapy), and are largely responsible for the growing popularity of “salt cave spas” now popping up all over North America.
One of the pioneers of bringing salt lamps to North America is So Well. Since 2004, this Chicago-based and Fair Trade-certified company has been providing living wages to the same family of artisans to hand-make their Himalayan salt lamps, which come in a large variety of unique cuts and colors. Unblemished pure Himalayan salt rock, quality hardwood mounts and dimmer lighting cords are some of the stand-out features of this particular brand.
Unlike other brands which are often not Himalayan salt rock, So Well cites the ion radiance range for their salt lamps. In general, the diametric radiance is 1 foot of radiance per 1 inch of salt rock height. This is why So Well recommends keeping one’s salt lamp in a location where a large portion of time is spent, such as near one’s bed. A medium sized salt rock such as this one will provide a 10-feet radiance of negative ions, which makes a dresser or nightstand the ideal location.
With or without the benefits of air purification, a hand carved Himalayan salt light stands on its own as a functional and beautiful work of art. Many salt lamp owners describe a soothing feeling of peace when in the presence of a softly lit salt lamp, which is largely due to the upper nanometer wavelengths (600-700) provided by salt crystal colors. At night, their beauty can be appreciated even more, especially Himalyan salt lamps softly lit with a dimmer cord.
The image gallery immediately below aims to give you an idea of just how beautiful and unique Himalayan salt rock lamps can be.