Pink salt is everywhere: in salt grinders, craggy-looking lamps, sunset-hued slabs designed for cooking steak and even in “salt rooms” at spas. But is pink Himalayan salt worth all the attention? We checked out the science behind this recent health phenomenon.
The thing: Pink Himalayan salt is made from rock crystals of salt that have been mined from areas close to the Himalayas, often in Pakistan. It gets its rosy hue from trace minerals in the salt, like magnesium, potassium and calcium. Pink salt is often found as smaller crystals in salt grinders, as large, glowing pink or orange chunks in pink Himalayan salt lamps and in the walls of “salt chambers” at spas that promise an instant detox.
The hype: People claim the salt does all kinds of things. It’s rumored to be healthier for its greater concentration of trace elements. In lamp form, companies claim that it eases symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), increases energy and improves sleep by cleansing the air from pollutants like dust and pollen. It supposedly does this by absorbing water molecules from the air and releasing negative air ions, which are said to get rid of particles like dust that can cause respiratory problems, like allergies and asthma, and affect mood. Sp as have also jumped on these claims to offer Himalayan salt-based therapies, where people sit in rooms and breathe deeply while tiny particles of salt are dispersed into the surrounding areas, ostensibly easing respiratory conditions.
“Marketers tout their supposed ability to release negative ions that may enhance physical and emotional health,” says Dr. Andy Weil, the founder and program director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine . This is based on the idea that air near moving water contains high levels of negative ions, which some researchers have suggested is one reason why spending time in nature has been linked to health benefits. Whether a man-made product can produce the same effect, however, is more dubious.