“Lamp shady” (Himalayan salt crystal lamps)


Himalayan salt crystal lamps are made from material mined in Pakistan, which lies outside the Himalayas.  “Himalayan” is probably used to appeal to those captivated by eastern mysticism or New Age thought. But Panama hats are made in Ecuador and Canadian Bacon is of British origin, and I have no issue with those products. With the lamps, my concern is again not with the region, but with the alleged benefit.

The primary claim is that they purify the air, though depending on how many unicorns and wizards are in the storefront you’re buying them from, additional boasts may include the ability to increase chi, produce positive energy, realign chakras, boost immune systems, and my favorite, eliminate electro-smog.

All this is allegedly accomplished by releasing negative ions. But how they are released and the mechanism of how the ions purify the air or retool auras is never explained. In truth, there is no scientific support for the powers attributed to salt crystal lamps.  Electric lights don’t get near hot enough to break apart the ionic bond between sodium and chlorine. That’s probably a good thing since it would open the possibility of kitchen lights causing salt shakers to release chlorine gas. I for one prefer my French fries without World War I overtones.    

The only way to get the salt crystal lamps to release negative ions would be to destroy them by boiling, which would emit sodium and chlorine ions. So unless one plans on keeping an armada of salt lamps on hand for a daily boil, they are not an effective means of unleashing negative ions. It is noteworthy that the lamp’s size remains constant. Lamps are wont to do that, of course, but ones that are releasing ions would be shrinking over time. 

These lamps are merely a hollowed salt crystal with a light bulb inside.  Without a steady supply of electrons from a source, there’s no way for them to be releasing negative ions. If they did, they would be giving themselves a positive charge that would attract negative ions, rendering the whole process pointless. It would be like comedian Steven Wright’s stated desire to place a humidifier and dehumidifier in the same room and let them fight it out.

There is a separate question about the impact of releasing negative ions. The idea that it proffers a multitude of health benefits is mostly without merit, though there are some double blind studies that suggest being bombarded with negative ions can positively impact Seasonal Affective Disorder. But this is a negative ion overload for persons with a specific condition, not the release of a spattering of negative ions for the general population to fend off any malady. I don’t want to go traipse down this road any further since it doesn’t matter because lamps aren’t releasing ions anyway.  

They look pleasant enough and there’s nothing wrong with buying one.  Just don’t expect any benefit beyond increased visibility when looking for your Panama hat.

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