I grew up in a Detroit suburb near the Morton Salt company. It was a primitive sort of salt cave before the trend of the salt cabin, lamp and other salt-related treatments. Had we known, the tours into those salt mines might have been popular with more than just elementary school kids.
Morton Salt hosted the salt mine field trips for elementary school kids. Sadly, my class never took one. However, once, a boy admirer gave me a chicken nugget sized rock of salt from his trip to the mines.
My gram couldn’t have salt, so having it was a big taboo. Still, I held on to that rock for years, secretly licking it when nobody was around. I forgot about it entirely until I visit the salt cabin and the taste of salt lingered, reminding me.
I wanted to try dry salt therapy because I heard it’s a natural way to receive various benefits.
It’s said that in ancient times, salt mine workers collectively had better overall wellness, rarely suffered colds, and had better skin and respiratory systems. Their health was eventually attributed to the salt.
In recent years salt lamps have been selling like crazy as people bought into the craze. I’m a skeptic, so I didn’t know how beneficial a salt lamp could be. But a salt cabin … now that had potential.
Photos by Rene Cizio
Benefits of Salt
It is believed that the microparticles in salt help preserve skin and hair – just like it preserves other types of meat. Sorry, but it’s true. Before ice, salt was used to cure and preserve food, and we are, after all, just meat. Ask a tiger.
Besides its preservative effects, salt is believed to help respiratory issues, improve mucous flow and lung function. I’ll go into more detail below, but it was in my lungs that I felt the most immediate impact.
Other benefits are said to boost mood, improve sleep as well as help with the following:
- Sinus Infections
Lamp, Cave, or Cabin
There are a lot of different ways to get your daily salt intake. As noted, many people have bought salt lamps, which are said to pull in toxins and put out positive ions, essentially cleaning the air.
To be effective, the lamps are supposed to be made of Himalayan Sea Salt, which is actually pretty rare and fragile. Salt does act as a filter; however, a lamp’s ability to do much good in an entire room is debatable.
Enter Salt Caves. Observing salt lamps’ popularity, Savvy businesspeople decided to recreate the original salt mine via a cave-like experience.
In these caves, the walls are lined with blocks of salt, supposedly Himalayan, but you know, that’s incredibly hard to believe, seeing as how rare it is – but it’s possible.
These caves are filled with salt, and you sit in a gravity chair for 30 minutes or more and soak in the salt, reaping the benefits. Traditionally, the cave might hold up to a dozen people at a time.
What if You Could Ingest the Salt?
Salt Cabins take salt therapy, aka Halotherapy, to the next level. In a salt cabin, you enter a small, private room the size of a sauna. There is a hole at the top where the salt is heated and crushed into a fine, fine aerosol and misted into the room for you to inhale.
It sounds crazier than it is. Salt therapy has been around since the beginning of time, and you’ve used it in many ways without even realizing it. Saline solutions, nebulizers, skin scrubs, salt baths, and Nettie pots are all salt-based treatments you’ve likely tried.
When my daughter was little, she used to get terrible congestion, and I used a nebulizer, and it cleared her up to breathe freely. It was a Godsend.
My Experience in the Salt Cabin
The cabin I visited was in a private space, with dim lighting and calm music. The door was glass, and the bench was wood, very similar to a sauna.
I laid, fully clothed, on the bench with my legs propped on the wall (it was a short bench). I immediately heard a grinding sound coming from the ceiling. It was the salt halogenerator grinding the salt into particles. There were a small hole and fan that started every few minutes for the entire 25 minutes I was in the salt cabin.
Within minutes the entire room was misty from the salt. I tried to meditate and breathe normally, but I could immediately taste the salt in my nose and mouth. I don’t even use salt in my food, so it was overpowering to me.
What it’s Like to Breathe Salt
I kept my eyes closed because I could feel the salt landing on my face like you would if caught in the spray of an aerosol can.
I alternated breathing through my nose and my mouth, but neither was comfortable, and I found it more difficult to breathe.
The only reported side effects of Halotherapy is a mild tickle in the throat or an increase in cough and slight skin irritation.
I wasn’t congested, so my nose didn’t run, as many report, but I did cough several times. I felt like I was struggling to breathe until the last 10 minutes when I finally settled down.
While many say that salt therapy is relaxing, I didn’t find it to be, but I’m not the ideal client, to be fair. I don’t have allergies or congestion, but I bet I would have liked it a lot more if I did. It seems it would have cleared my sinuses tremendously.
As it was, I felt I was struggling to breathe the majority of the time and found the salt spray on my skin and clothes annoying at best.
Afterward, I could taste salt immensely in my mouth and in everything I ate and drank. As of this writing, it’s been five full days, and I’ve had several showers, but the taste of salt is still lingering.
Would I Do it Again?
No. The salt cabin wasn’t for me, though it is said that several sessions are required to reap the full benefits. Perhaps I’d feel differently about it once I was accustomed to the process. I’m not game for finding out though.