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Himalayan Salt Lamps: The Real Story

Himalayan rock salt owes its pinkish-orange colors to traces of particulate hematite, or iron oxide. (STEVE VOYNICK)

Himalayan salt lamps—decorative lamps carved from translucent blocks of pinkish-orange rock salt—are popular home-décor items oft en seen in rock shops and souvenir shops, and at gem-and-mineral shows. When lighted internally by candles or low-wattage lightbulbs, they emit a warm, diff used glow to create a pleasant, relaxing ambience. Himalayan salt lamps are oft en advertised as off ering health benefits. The lamps are purported to remove free-radical pollutants from the air. And when heated by their light source, they supposedly emit negative ions that alleviate allergy symptoms, elevate moods, promote sound sleep, and even improve the immune system—impressive stuff for hollowed-out blocks of rock salt that cost as little as $10.

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