By Asia Pop Culture
I was at Home Depot sourcing some stuff for a home project and to my surprise found the store actually carries salt lamps there.
Himalayan Salt Rock
A salt lamp consists of a large salt crystal lit with a low wattage (25W or so) LED light bulb inside. Himalayan salt is rock salt mostly from the Punjab region of Pakistan. The region is located approximately 310 km (190 mi) from the Himalayas. Almost all the salt lamps in the world are produced in Pakistan.
Himalayan salt is chemically similar to table salt plus mineral impurities. While the salt crystals have an off-white to transparent color, the mineral impurities in some veins of salt give it a pink or reddish color. These lamps come in different sizes (by height or by weight) and colors. In Asia, they come mainly in three colors - orange (the most widely available), pink rose, and white. Today, salt lamps can be found on Amazon and Home Depot for as low as $20-$30 (6 to 7-inch tall), mostly in the orange color.
Now I will describe briefly how salt lamps are used in the Art of Feng Shui (風水)......
(Note: I am not a professional Feng Shui practitioner, and this is just my personal simplistic views and understanding).
The Art of Feng Shui
The Art of Feng Shui mainly focuses on harmonizing the five elements (五行) in individual living space and aspects of life. Five elements in Chinese philosophy are Wood (木), Fire (火), Earth (土), Metal (金), and Water (水). The Art of Feng Shui relies on symbolism, representative objects, mind and body to bring positive meaning, thoughts and energy into individual's life and space.
People in Taiwan and Hong Kong have always been free to practice Feng Shui in homes and offices. In Mainland China, Feng Shui was suppressed during Mao's Cultural Revolution era, but has since then regained popularity.
The orange glow emitting from the salt lamp is a symbol of warmth and the Fire (火) element. In countries like China and Japan, salt has traditionally been associated with wealth and fortune as salt was as or even more precious than money itself in ancient time. It is still a Japanese tradition to put a bowl of "Salt Mountain" in entry way to ward off evil spirits.
Salt Lamps in Feng Shui
The long tradition and symbolism of salt has made salt lamps on the top of Home and Office Cure list for many Feng Shui Masters from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China to Japan. The more popular Feng Shui uses of salt lamps include as a counter-measure for negative energy generated from spaces such as the restroom or a dark storage room, and as a lucky symbol in bedroom or any room corner for obstacle-clearing and good fortune. In addition, salt lamp is made of natural rock, a symbolism to boost confidence and support.
Creating a Feng Shui friendly environment could cost a fortune in most cases as it most likely involves some major home improvement projects or expensive ceremonial objects. So the relatively affordable orange glowing salt lamp has been a Feng Shui Master's darling in Asian countries as far I can remember.
In the West, salt lamps have been marketed as air cleaning, negative ions generating room ionizers. This is as non-mainstream marketing strategy as it could possibly be. Nevertheless, I am still glad to see salt lamps finally at a mass retailer store like Home Depot.
A word of caution, in Feng Shui, salt lamps are meant to be turned on (lighted) all the time to create a consistent flow of 'Fire' (火) energy where it is needed. If you use it like a mood light as many westerners do, keeping it off most of the time, the salt rock will melt and turn into watery mess.
Don't Get Too Hung Up
I think too many people seem to be overly hung up on myth-busting salt lamp's marketing claim of negative ions and potential health benefits. I personally think it is what it is -- a cute lamp made from cool natural salt rock from the Himalayas recommended by Feng Shui Masters in Asia.
Feng Shui Life Style
I have salt lamps in my place simply because I like the calming soft glow, natural origin and the Asian cultural essence. There is a reason why the Art of Feng Shui has survived thousands of years to become part of the Asian culture, and I don't think it matters whether we, the modern people, believe it or not. What I do believe is that Feng Shui is a life style perhaps many of us may learn and benefit from.
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