Guest post by William Dixon Earlier last year, my mom and dad took a day trip to Kitchener, Ont. to buy a Himalayan salt lamp. The nondescript white cardboard box they returned with was hefty. With a flick of his pocketknife, my dad pierced the packing tape and opened up the box, revealing an orange chunk of crystalized salt. The salt used to make the lamps had been locked away within the Himalayas for thousands of years. “That’s it?” I said. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I didn’tthink the actual product would be so… literal. What is a salt lamp? Salt lamps come in many different shapes, sizes and colours. You can find them crafted into pyramids or spheres; other designs include small chunks gathered together in a wire basket with a bulb in the centre. My parents' lamp looked chiselled, with a rustic and natural appeal, as if it had been torn right out of a salt deposit. They placed the lamp in the downstairs living room. Despite my initial lackluster reaction, I began to see that the colour of its light really complemented the room; the comforting, orange glow of the lamp fit right in. Health benefits? And these lamps aren’t just good-looking, they’re good for your health, too. Known for releasing an abundance of anions (negatively charged ions) into the air, salt lamps help to clean the air you breathe. Isabella Samovsky of Solay Wellness in Skokie, IL, has sold salt lamps since 2004. She explains that the lamps are “hygroscopic,” meaning they attract moisture in the nearby air. As water collects on the surface of the lamp, the heat from the bulb makes it evaporate and it’s this process that charges the air with anions. The scattered anions then attract dust, smoke, bacteria and other airborne pollutants. When enough combine together, the particulates become so heavy they fall to the ground instead of being inhaled. Salt lamps may also help boost happiness. The jury still seems to be out on how mood is improved with the use of the lamps, but Walt Ingvolstad, a health coach with 12 years of experience in holistic medicine, maintains that they can help make you feel better. “When you breath in negative ions, it brings in more electric charge to activate red blood cells,” he says. He adds that anions created from salt lamps charge the hemoglobin (responsible for carrying oxygen through the body) within the cells. Ingvolstad has several salt lamps in his own living room and, after 24 hours with the lamps on, he says that coming home is like “walking into warm bath water.” Not only is the glow from the lamps relaxing, but the air just feels cleaner. At home, we usually flick on our lamp in the evenings and let the gentle light add to the atmosphere. It’s a staple in the living room and is a nice conversation starter for guests. I’m even planning on getting one for my own room. Ionizers: An alternative If you want a faster option to charge your surroundings with negative ions, check out ionizers. For instance, a USB ionizer is both small and compact, perfect for the office! Or, if you want something to accommodate larger spaces in your home, an ionic air purifier is a great option. Photography by William Dixon Discover how to relieve stress through meditation with our helpful guide.