We've got a lot of ground to cover on this blog entry! It has taken me almost two weeks of research to gather all of this information!
In this blog entry I would like to address a concern voiced by a friend of mine, Patricia.
After showcasing a few photos on Facebook of three new salt lamps I purchased, Patricia voiced some concern on the potential impact that a salt lamp could take on her pets. Here is her question.
"Have you done any research on the affect these (salt lamps) have on animals? I know lots of essential oils are hazardous, anything on salt lamps?"
What a great question!
I personally keep a beautiful pink Himalayan lamp that my mother gave me at home and I am proud mom to two adorable fur babies. An Australian Shepherd and a Cairn Terrier.
If you have cats it may be a bit of a different story. My salt lamp is up high atop a large jewelry box on top of my dresser, so its hanging out roughly 4 feet from the floor. My girls can't get to it there. However, keeping your cats away from your salt lamp may be a challenge if they like to climb up on your counter tops and furniture. Several cat owners have caught their pets licking on their salt lamps and I imagine that a dog may be able to find a low lying salt lamp and turn it into their chew toy for a bit, although i haven't found any evidence of this happening anywhere I've looked. This is a big no - no.
Salt is essential to our nerve and muscle movement and is involved in the regulation of fluids in the human body. Salt also plays a role in the regulation of blood pressure and blood volume. However too much salt can cause those systems to become unbalanced leading to such conditions as hypertension and high blood pressure. The same can happen to our furry pals. Salt is essential to some of the functions in dogs, cats, and birds, but if they decide to go on a salt binge the results can be catastrophic.
If you have cats and really want to own a salt lamp, try to put the lamp in a spot where the cats won't get to it. If you have an aviary, please don't place the salt lamp inside the cage where the birds can snack on it! It's perfectly safe to keep a salt lamp in the same room as your bird cage. If you are left with any doubts, just place your salt lamp at the other end of the room or in another room to keep some distance from your birds as an extra precaution.
If you are still having doubts, here is a message from a halotherapy owner acquaintance of mine from my inquiry. "I immediately messaged my salt expert at a mine in Poland who replied laughing that only Americans would claim this. They have cats and dogs living in salt mines for years in excellent health. At the mine outside Krakow, at one point there were 30 horses who were stabled in the mines to work transporting salt. They came into the mines at 2 years of age, never saw sunlight or ran (a horrible state of affairs) BUT they lived to 30 years of age in excellent health."
There is a whole industry tailored specifically to horses and halotherapy. A mobile halotherapy horse trailer comes to your location and treats your horse. These horse owners claim that the horses do perform better after halotherapy. There are also halo rooms that encourage you to bring your dogs into halotherapy. There are claims that Halotherapy helps dogs suffering from anxiety to relax. My expert tells me that its amazing to watch the calming effect that halotherapy has on dogs.
In my research for this blog entry, I came across a secondary bird owner concern regarding negative ions. So, lets talk about your salt lamp and the negative ions.
Himalayan Salt Lamps 101
To create your salt lamp, huge chunks of crystals are mined and shaped. Holes are then drilled into the lamp to house a standard light bulb to illuminate the crystal from the inside.
OK - So Whats a Negative Ion?
In my quest to better understand the Negative Ion, I had to go back to sophomore year in high school chemistry.
A negative ion is an electrically charged atom that is formed by the gain of one or two negatively charged electrons. Wait what? Its been A WHILE since high school chemistry.
I have read on several different sites that in order to get a Himalayan Salt lamp to release negative ions, they must be heated to 120 Degrees. Live Science claims that "To dissociate the two ions, people would need to raise the temperature to about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (816 degrees Celsius), which cannot be accomplished with a 15-watt light bulb. (If the lamps were hot enough to dissociate the two elements, they would present a fire hazard.)"
Wellness Mama explains the wellness properties of Himalayan salt lamps through its Hygroscopic (tending to absorb moisture from the air) qualities. "Small amounts of water vapor is present in the air and can carry things like mold, bacteria, and allergens. Salt lamps attract this water vapor and those items it carries to its surface and removes them from the air. When the water vapor evaporates, this MAY generate a small amount of negative ions."
Both of these schools of thought generally agree that Salt lamps that are not under significant heat stress are not enough of a source of negative ions to really feel any benefit. Not to say that negative ions aren't a thing. There might be something in the fact that negative ions are detected in abundance around places that have lots of moving water. Waterfalls, and shorelines have very high concentrations of negative ions. ""The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods," says ion researcher Michael Terman, PhD, of Columbia University in New York."
WebMD has this to say about Negative Ions:
"Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy."
So, what does that mean for my pets?
I reached out to several pet health professionals and got some mixed reactions about salt lamps in the home. The main concern was about the pet's consumption of the salt in large quantities. A concern was expressed to me by an Avian expert who was adamantly against having a salt lamp in the home. His concern was over environmental allergens being attracted to the negative ions. He claims that when an allergen interacts with a negative ion, it will become weighed down. His concern was that he did not know what would happen to a birds very fragile lungs if one of these allergen infused ions suddenly gets inhaled and drops inside of the lung (from the weight). Not being an avian expert, I wasn't sure what to make of this information. It seems that in all the bird forums there is a good bit of confusion over the difference between a negative ion and an Ozone generator. I did not, however, find a single report of poor health being caused by a Himalayan salt lamp from all of those forums I checked out. It was mostly just speculation. More extensive scientific testing is really needed to determine either way.
One thing is clear from the rest of my research, whatever benefits we may be getting from salt lamps whether it be from the negative ions or the allergen containing water molecules, the effect is minimal. It is a very localized phenomenon happing only in close proximity to the salt lamp. This is evident by the fact that Salt Lamp fans feel the need to keep one in every room to get the benefits they claim to recieve from the salt lamp. So, if you're worried about your bird's lungs, don't put a salt lamp in the room where they are!
I really hope that all my hard work helped answer any questions that my fellow pet owners might have about Salt Lamps. Unfortunately, science has yet to do any really meaningful studies on salt lamps. I was seriously tempted this week to purchase an Ion meter to test out my salt lamp!
I certainly enjoyed researching for this entry and I hope you guys enjoyed reading it! Please feel free to ask some more questions in the comment section or give me some info I may have missed!
Also, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, if you have a question about halotherapy, don't hesitate to ask! Your questions inspire me to research and write!