A natural salt chamber has a beautiful story to tell about its formation. Sparkling salt speleothems found in salt caves crystallize only in rare periods following rainfall and grow much faster than those in limestone. As a result, beautiful cubic crystals emerge from the brine when rainwater penetrates and saturates the mountain rocks.
You’d be surprised to know that the first modern salt chamber was set up in a salt mine in Poland way back in 1839. When Feliks Boczkowski, an Eastern European doctor, found that salt miners rarely suffered from any respiratory issues, he decided to start a salt chamber.
Likewise, a German doctor discovered that people who were using salt caves as bomb shelters during World War II were experiencing improvements in respiratory ailments. So he set up inpatient centers in salt mines.
What Is a Salt Chamber?
A salt chamber is a special room that recreates the atmosphere of salt caves above ground. It is an enclosed space with precisely controlled ventilation and salt concentration. Here you breathe in tiny salt particles that are dispersed into the air using a halogenerator. These salt crystals are so small that they can easily pass into your lungs and give stunning health benefits.
Speleotherapy is spending time in salt caves whereas halotherapy is relaxing in above the ground salt chambers. Usually, the salt chambers are built using Himalayan salt bricks or lamps. These beautiful salt structures release mood enhancing and stress-reducing negative ions into the air.
Though the salt chamber creates a peaceful ambiance, breathing in the dry salt aerosol is crucial to enjoying the health benefits.
How does salt chamber therapy work?
Salt molecules consist of positive sodium ions and negative chloride ions. Whenever you breathe in the salty air of the chamber, salt molecules enter the moist airways of your lungs. They then get broken down and release negative ions. These negative ions are believed to stimulate airway linings, increase the immune response to pathogens and enhance mucus clearance. Airborne salt particles clear up a variety of skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Moreover, these negative ions have a beneficial effect on your mood.
Benefits of Salt Therapy
Ancient healers recommended inhaling salt to cure respiratory and other health problems. Salt levels affect our blood sugar and energy levels. Salt is a natural disinfectant and has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Dead Sea salts and pink Himalayan salt contain about 84 trace minerals and elements that you can find in the human body. Inhaling dry salt air is more potent than moist air.
Though sodium chloride is dehydrating, pure mineral salts have moisturizing properties. They attract moisture to your skin and support your skin’s water balance and barrier function. Likewise, minerals are essential for cell detoxification. Kinetically charged, dry salt molecules act as an army of janitors to rejuvenate your skin and strengthen your respiratory system.
The Salt Therapy Association states that you can treat the following conditions with halotherapy:
Does salt chamber therapy have any risk factors?
Generally, halotherapy is safe for most people. While it’s believed to treat asthma, this therapy might irritate or constrict your airways, which means that your coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath could get worse. Salt chamber therapy may also cause headaches in certain people.
Being a complementary therapy, it works along with any medications you’re on. Consult your doctor before you try this approach and avoid stopping any medicines without your doctor’s advice. Though it’s considered safe for children and pregnant women, there’s little research to back up this claim.
Why Should I Build a Salt Chamber?
There are many reasons for you to consider building your own at home salt chamber. First and foremost is the cost. Salt chamber sessions last about 45 minutes and cost between $25 to $50 in most areas. Secondly, there are only a few spas across the country, which means you’ll have to drive long distances to reach your nearest salt chamber.
There will also be patients and other clients sharing your salt chamber. Some of them may have respiratory conditions, and you may find it difficult to get your zen on if they are coughing and spitting phlegm. Sometimes you may find it even a little gross. If you prefer privacy and convenience, then an at-home salt chamber might be the right option for you. If you or a family member have a condition that salt therapy might help, then having your personal salt cave is a wise choice.
Basics of Building Your Salt Chamber
Electricity is essential for your salt chamber to run the halogenerator, salt lamps, lighting, audio system, de-humidifier, in-floor heating, and climate control system or ventilation system. Check with the authorities to see whether you’ll be needing any building codes or permits to construct the salt chamber. Maintenance of the correct humidity and ventilation is essential for the proper functioning of your salt room. So bring in professionals to ensure proper installation and maintenance.
Liquids and salt rooms are not a great combination. Liquids could damage the floor, walls, salt lamps, or other features in the room. Bring beverages in closed containers; bottled water would be a great option. If you’re not bringing in the water, then hydrate yourself before and after the salt therapy.
If you’re planning to build the walls of your salt room entirely of Himalayan salt rocks, then locate it in an area that’s safe from humidity, rain and your irrigation system. While the pink Himalayan rocks will look lovely on your patio, the weather would shorten the life of salt cave walls. It’s better to keep the salt rocks facing inside and not expose them to the elements.
Special considerations while using a salt chamber
Alcohol and salt have dehydrating properties. For this reason, never drink alcohol before the salt therapy sessions. Likewise, wear clothes that are easy to wash because a light dusting of salt will coat your clothing during your session. It’s essential to place dry aerosol sensors in your salt chamber because it helps you to maintain proper dry salt concentration in the air.
According to the Salt Therapy Association website, people with contagious diseases, open wounds, fever, cancer, severe hypertension, mental disorders, and active tuberculosis should not undergo halotherapy.
Also, if you’re pregnant, it’s better to consult with your doctor before starting the therapy. Never leave your kids or pets in the salt chamber without supervision.
If you’re suffering from any condition that requires you to build a salt chamber, do your homework beforehand. Get information about the length of the session and salt concentration that's recommended by professionals.
How Does a Halogenerator Work?
All salt chamber halogenerators work on the same basic principle. You must place pure dry sodium chloride crystals into the feeder. It releases dry salt into the grinder. The grinders contain high-quality stainless steel blades that crush, grind and cut the salt crystals into microparticles. A blower then disperses these micro salt particles into the salt chamber room.
How to install a halogenerator
Halogenerators need simple installation and require no special tools. Generally, halogenerators plug into 110 voltage outlets, consume less power and require no particular amperage or modifications to electrical components.
Clean air is a priority for halogenerators to function correctly, so they usually mount them on the other side of the salt room wall. If you install the halogenerator inside the room, it would be recycling the salty air which is not healthy. Designed to disperse salt crystals to just one room, the halogenerator loses its efficiency if you use it for multiple rooms.
Maintenance of halogenerators
Once you’ve installed the halogenerator, all you have do is to put salt into the device and press start. You could also program and handle the halogenerators via Bluetooth. High-quality halogenerators are modular in design and feature industrial strength magnets for easy access during cleaning and maintenance. Depending upon the frequency, all you'll require is two-minute brushings and a five-minute maintenance protocol at the end of the day.
Cost of halogenerators
Halogenerators range from $4,900 to $6,500. The only cost that you'll incur beyond this is the pure pharmaceutical grade salt that you’ll be putting inside the halogenerator. Depending on the salt room size, it could range from a few pennies to 10 cents per session.
What type of salt should you use for halogenerator
Himalayan and dead sea salts may contain metals and other mineral content, so you should avoid them. Only pure sodium chloride dissolves entirely in water and does not stay in your lungs. Anything else will not dissolve in water and may harm your lungs. Additionally, other salts may have high moisture and oil content, and the halogenerator cannot grind them small enough to have maximum effect.
Salt Chamber Floor Options
Any type of flooring works fine for salt chambers be it wood, tile, laminate, salt bricks, traditional bricks or paving stones. In commercial salt rooms, you’ll see a thick layer of loose salt that resembles beach sand. The purpose of this is entirely for aesthetic purposes since the halogenerator discharges the micro salt particles.
If you’re thinking of using Himalayan salt bricks for your flooring, then install an underground floor heating system. The gentle warmth will release negative ions into the atmosphere and makes your salt chamber more inviting.
Salt Chamber Wall Options
You’ll be creating a stunning salt chamber if you decide to cover one or a couple of walls with Himalayan rocks. For added ambiance, you could even backlight the walls. However, salt bricks are expensive, so consider your budget before going for this option.
A more affordable option is to stick with drywall and create a smaller section out of salt bricks or small salt rocks. Otherwise, you could start with drywall and spray salt texture. This decor gives you a feeling of being inside a salt cave. This option is pocket-friendly and lightweight, so it's suitable for areas where weight may be an issue.
Lighting Up Your At-Home Salt Chamber
You may not require interior lighting if your salt chamber has a clear siding. In this case, you may use the natural lighting or light from your larger room. Conversely, if you intend to use your salt chamber at night or there is no natural lighting, adding interior lighting may be the right choice.
Harsh or glaring lighting will destroy the ambiance, so choose lighting that gives a gentle glow. Himalayan salt lamps would be the ideal choice for a soft glow. If you’re planning for salt bricks for your walls, illuminate them with a backlight to fill the room with a warm glow. On the other hand, if you want a beach atmosphere, use LED tube lighting or festive string lights.
DIY Salt Chamber Seating
A salt chamber gives you a relaxing and therapeutic experience, and proper seating arrangements significantly enhance your wellness quotient. The seating arrangement for your salt chamber depends on how you’ll be using it and the size of the room. Commercial salt caves have zero-gravity chairs or recliners. Both of these options provide pretty good comfort.
However, if you’re opting for a booth or a small room, you cannot accommodate this type of chair. Your best option would be to use a bench, stool or soft cushion. If you tend to use your salt chamber for meditative purposes, then you may prefer to use cushions in large rooms as well. Adirondack chairs or any chair that is comfortable and easy to clean will be suitable for your salt chamber.
Equipping Salt Chamber with Audio Facilities
It's better to place your audio system outside of the salt chamber due to the presence of salt microcrystals. You can bring it through walls or via speakers in the salt chamber. On the other hand installing a clear acrylic, glass or plastic box where you can place your tablet, phone or music player would be a splendid idea. But it would be wise to keep your electronics outside the room.
Putting your tablet or phone in a waterproof case is a smart option if you want to check your emails. Doing this helps prevent salt ions from settling on to your electronics. But do keep in mind that the basic idea of salt therapy is to enjoy the benefits of the negative ions being emitted by salt particles and not using electronics that give off positive ions.
Since this is your private salt room, you could play any music of your choice. You could use your time to catch up on audiobooks, play your favorite band or listen to talk radio. For a relaxing atmosphere, consider playing meditative instrumental music, classical music or tracks that include bells and gongs especially created for meditative purposes.
DIY Salt Chamber Decor
How you accessorize your salt chamber depends upon how you’ll be using it. If you plan to practice meditation, then go for meditation cushions, an altar, a Tibetian singing bowl, or other curios that enhance your meditative experience.
If you want to practice yoga, you’ll be needing blocks, straps and a yoga mat. A comfortable reading chair, blanket, and a reading light will be beneficial for reading purposes.
If you’re planning to include children in your salt cave, then go for an arts and crafts table with supplies, toys or a chalkboard. Another great add-on would be a saltbox with dead sea salts so your kids can dig in and play. Stuffed toys and electronic items can get covered in crystals, so it would be better to avoid this kind of stuff.
You can also include salt lamps, salt rocks, blankets, healing stones, throw pillows or neck rolls. But an uncluttered space with necessary accessories will enhance the relaxing ambiance of your salt chamber.
Is Salt Chamber Therapy Really Worth the Hype?
And the answer is a big YES! After all, self-care is sure to make you feel rejuvenated. After a hectic day, being in a cool cave will feel healing in itself. Soft music, pretty ambiance, gentle glow of the lamps and the soothing breeze of the salt crystals will definitely notch up your wellness quotient and will give you the extra boost of relaxation, healing, and revitalization that you need.
Once again, this is not medical advice and you should, as always, consult a physician.