What is a Himalayan Salt Sauna? (Potential Benefits & DIY Options)

Individually, the benefits of a sauna and the benefits of Himalayan salt are both attractive. For many, the combination of the two may be a fairly new concept but definitely worthwhile. 

A Himalayan salt sauna is when Himalayan salt is used in a sauna, either in the form of crystals, bricks/tiles, or an entire wall panel. In addition to adding a pleasant pink ambiance, the salt can increase the benefits of your sauna session by decreasing pain and improving your immune system, mood, skin, and even overall respiratory system.

Read on to learn more about Himalayan salt saunas, including more about the additional benefits that can be gained by incorporating Himalayan salt into your sauna session. 

What does Himalayan salt do in a sauna?

Himalayan salt is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and can loosen mucus. With all of these great qualities, it is not hard to speculate on how it can combine with a sauna.

The act of breathing in air with salt as therapy is called salt therapy or halotherapy and was first developed in 1843 by Felikis Boczkowski. Boczkowski was a Polish physician who observed that salt mine workers had no breathing problems.

This same phenomenon was observed further after World War II by Karl Hermann Spannagel. Spannagel found that patients appeared to be in better health after the time they spent sheltering in a salt cave. 

When halotherapy is combined with sauna usage, the result is a Himalayan salt sauna. Himalayan salt is the best choice for a salt sauna because of its high mineral content. Potential benefits include reduced pain, improved skin appearance and overall mood, plus strengthened immune and respiratory systems.

Keep reading to learn more about the potential benefits of Himalayan salt and how to incorporate it into your sauna.

Is inhaling salt good for your lungs?

In the Victorian era, the rich would often visit the seaside, claiming it was rejuvenating – while a season-long vacation was almost certainly welcome, the restorative qualities are more likely related to the time spent breathing in the sea air instead of the filthy city air.

Scientifically, salt air helps to make breathing easier by thinning out mucus in the lungs. This is especially good for those with allergies.

Unfortunately, there are also some downfalls to breathing in too much salt.

Can salt therapy be harmful?

A study of individuals working in salt factories shows that inhaling large quantities of salt was similar to ingesting the salt.

It is possible for the inhalation of excessive amounts of salt to lead to hypertension; however, it is unlikely that you’ll see this sort of extreme reaction if you’re using the salt sauna occasionally.

Moderation is key as there haven’t been many studies on its harm or side effects. Some locations that do offer salt therapy say that you may exhibit some coughing and/or runny nose after your session, although this is more likely related to the mucus thinning than any permanent ailments.

For the particular study mentioned earlier, it was advised that individuals with increased exposure should wear protective covering (masks and eyewear). 

How is Himalayan salt used in a sauna

If you are considering Himalayan salt for your sauna, you are probably wondering exactly how it works – how much is needed?

For sauna usage, the halotherapy is activated when the salt is warmed. The Himalayan salt creates negative ions that overtake the positive ions that you’ve been exposed to throughout your day. 

To incorporate Himalayan salt into your sauna you can use:

  • Salt wall panel
  • Salt bricks/tiles
  • Salt crystals 

Some Himalayan salt saunas are encased with salt bricks and/or tiles. For these cases, the Himalayan salt starts off as a salt rock that is made into a brick or tile.

Another option is to place salt crystals on steaming rocks and allow them to evaporate. 

Can you put Himalayan salt in an infrared sauna?

Himalayan salt therapy can be incorporated with your usage of an infrared sauna.

By adding the salt to the infrared sauna, you will activate the negative ions of the salt that assist in relaxation and detoxification. 

Can you steam with Himalayan salt?

If you are wondering if you can use Himalayan salt in your steam room, the answer is yes.

While a steam room does differ from a sauna, the benefits of the Himalayan salt are the same. Using salt in conjunction with the steam will help open the airways for better breathing and relaxation. 

Just note that the temperatures of the steam room will be less than that of a sauna. 

Potential Himalayan salt sauna benefits

While saunas have their own benefits, adding Himalayan salt could help increase these benefits and compound its own.

Here are the biggest reasons to use Himalayan salt in a sauna:

  • Decrease pain
  • Improve immune system
  • Improve mood
  • Improve skin conditions
  • Improve respiratory system

Keep reading for in-depth information about how Himalayan salt can improve your sauna session.

Decrease pain

Breathing in salt during your sauna will help improve the quality of your breathing and increase the amount of oxygen in your blood.

The improved oxygenation can help relieve pain and tension both immediately and in the long term.

This improved breathing can also help you sleep better, which is likely to help decrease chronic pain.

Improve immune system

Himalayan salt is both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, although this is true for all high-quality salts.

In terms of bettering the immune system, salt helps decrease toxins in the body. While in a sauna, these toxins are released via sweat. 

Improve mood

The Himalayan salt that is used in a sauna creates negative ions.

Negative ions have been shown to help increase your mood by lowering anxiety, although there is not enough evidence to conclusively support these findings.

If you’ve ever felt particularly calm or peaceful after a thunderstorm, that’s also because of the release of negative ions into the surrounding atmosphere.

Improve skin conditions

One of the more surprising benefits of a Himalayan salt sauna is improved skin clarity.

The salt increases blood circulation, affects the protective layer of the skin, and triggers cell growth.

Improved respiratory system

Better breathing is achieved by breaking up mucus and decreasing inflammation. Decreasing inflammation allows for the air passage to expand which equates to better breathing.

One study found the use of a salt room with a halogenerator is beneficial for children with respiratory issues, particularly asthma.