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Everything you need to know about trendy Himalayan salt lamps

The proclaimed health benefits of Himalayan salt have led to increased demand for the pink crystals – for food, beauty products, and home wear – but most people know little about where it comes from.

When it comes to Himalayan salt lamps, the truth isn’t in the title.

The distinctive pink salt rocks are actually sourced from the gigantic Khewra mines in Pakistan, situated hundreds of kilometres from the Himalayan Mountains which span across the northern region of India.

The salty, pink masses were formed by ancient seabeds which crystalised over 250 million years ago during the Jurassic period. As the world’s second largest pink salt mine, the Khewra mines have nineteen stories in total, with eleven located underground.

The 250,000 tourists who visit Khewra each year to pore over the carved-out domes and supporting pink pillars know that India is simply the primary exporter of the product, rather than the producer of it.

There is estimated to be anywhere from 82 million tons to 600 million tons of salt in the Khewra mine, however only about 400,000 tons of the stuff is exported and sold each year.

Although the Khewra mine reserves are vast (its underground tunnels cover an area larger than 100km), pink salt is a finite resource. Our growing love for the product, combined with rising political tensions between India and Pakistan, have led leaders in Pakistan to demand credit where it’s due.

The popularity of Himalayan salt soared after widespread claims that it is healthier to consume than regular, white table salt. Its makeup is 98 percent sodium chloride, 2 percent trace materials (potassium, magnesium, and calcium), and it is minimally processed.

You’ve likely spotted pink salt in grinders along grocery store shelves, bagged up in bulk quantities at farmers’ markets, or listed as an ingredient in foods that are soaked in brine. Some people even use them as cooking slabs for meat, salt licks for pets, or wall tiles.

But the pink salt rocks have gained an even bigger reputation within holistic care and wellbeing sectors.

Marketing claims state that the salt has a range of healing properties. Apparently being in the presence of this salt rock can increase libido, reduce signs of aging, improve respiration, sleep quality, and regulate blood sugar levels.

For this reason (and also because they look pretty cool when lit up from inside) people in the West have jumped on the trend of purchasing salt rock lamps for their homes. But most researchers and experts believe the health benefits aren’t rooted in enough science to be taken as fact.

While the health-positive marketing claims might be a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, the lamps are quite the aesthetically pleasing home accessory. That said, the oversaturation of the salt lamp market warrants being more conscious of where they come from.

In terms of environmental destruction, there’s isn’t much call for concern. At the current rate of salt extraction, the reserves would still last for another 350 years as more than half of Khewra’s mines are left untouched to prevent the salt chambers from collapsing.

But each day, about 1,000 tons of salt is mined in Pakistan by hand and exported to India due to their strong relationship with Western markets. The majority – about 80 percent – is sold at double the price to the US and Europe with Indian labels on the product.

The miners in Pakistan pocket around £14 for a whole day’s work, while a single salt lamp sells in shops like Urban Outfitters for £25 a pop.

Since harvesting from the Khewra mines has become part of the Pakistan’s cultural history and agricultural past, its time the local community begins benefiting fairly from the West’s insatiable desire for pretty, pink rocks.

For those looking to purchase ethically, be sure to order from here or here.