How to Create an At-Home Salt Room for Halotherapy (Guide)
Halotherapy, also known as dry salt therapy, has been a popular complementary treatment in Eastern Europe for many generations but is just now becoming popular in North America. Salt rooms are popping up in spas, resorts and wellness centers across the country, and folks are touting a variety of benefits that primarily center on respiratory health and treating skin conditions.
While you may not have heard of salt rooms before, you are likely familiar with Himalayan salt lamps, which have been popular here for decades. These lamps give off a warm glow and are said to release negative ions into the atmosphere. This, in turn, has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress and enhance relaxation.
Salt room therapy often includes Himalayan salt bricks or lamps for this effect while also taking things a step farther to include breathing in air with a salt concentration that is meant to produce an effect that is roughly the equivalent to spending three days at the beach in just 15 minutes in a salt room.
What is Halotherapy?
Halotherapy, also known as dry salt therapy, got its modern start in the early 1800s when an Eastern European doctor discovered that people working in salt mines rarely had respiratory issues (unlike other miners) and their skin often looked younger. After this discovery, Dr. Feliks Boczkowski set up the first modern salt health spa in a salt mine in Poland in 1839.
More than 100 years later, salt mines in Europe were used as bomb shelters during World War II. During this time, a German doctor, Dr. K.H. Spannagel, found that folks staying in the caves appeared to be experiencing improvement in respiratory ailments. This observation inspired him to further study the phenomenon by setting up inpatient centers in salt mines.
There is much more to the history of halotherapy, but this gives you a general idea of how the health benefits of breathing in salt air were first discovered and studied in modern times. If you are a history lover, you may find it interesting to do a little research to learn more about this alternative therapy that has been in use since at least the 12th century.
Halotherapy can include both dry and wet salt therapies. Wet salt therapies include some commonly practiced at-home remedies, such as neti pots and inhalable saline solutions. Dry salt therapy, which is the type of halotherapy used in salt rooms, consists of breathing in air with tiny salt particles ground up and dispersed by a halogenerator.
According to the Salt Therapy Association, the following conditions can be treated with halotherapy:
- Common cold
- Cystic fibrosis
- Ear infections
- Smokers cough
- Swelling & inflammation
- Dry & flaky skin
- Skin aging
To learn more about the potential health benefits of halotherapy, you can find a list of published research articles here.
Remember, you should always check with your healthcare provider before embarking on any new therapies or treatments.
What is a Salt Room?
You know how you feel like you can breathe better and deeper after hanging out at the beach for a few days? Well, salt rooms were created to give you this same effect in a much shorter time. There are only so many salt mines in the world, and it is not practical for most folks to head to these mines to breathe in the salty air on a regular basis. While hanging out at the beach for days at a time also seems to help, this is not exactly practical for more folks either. So, once dry salt therapy started to become a thing, people had to figure out how to create a similar environment that would be more accessible to patients and clients.
This is how salt rooms, salt caves and salt grottos began to spring up across Europe, and then moving to the United Kingdom, Australia and North America.
Essentially, a salt room – or salt cave – is an enclosed space with carefully controlled salt concentration and ventilation. While in this space, participants breathe in tiny salt particles that are put into the air by a machine called a halogenerator. These particles are said to be small enough to be breathed into the lungs, which is credited for the potential respiratory health benefits.
Salt rooms often include Himalayan salt bricks or lamps that are believed to release mood-enhancing, stress-reducing negative ions into the area. This, of course, can create a relaxing space, but it is the addition of the halogenerator that makes the difference between having a peaceful space for meditation or yoga and having an actual salt therapy room.
Breathing in the dry salt aerosol is key here, so if you are considering building your own salt therapy room at home that rivals those found in spas and wellness centers, you will need to have a halogenerator.
Why Should I Build an At-Home Salt Room?
Salt room sessions generally last 45 minutes and cost between $25 and $45 in most areas. Aside from the expense, there is also the time consideration, since there are still relatively few salt spas across the country, which means you may have to drive 30 minutes, one hour or even longer just to reach your nearest commercial salt room.
Additionally, you will likely be sharing the space with other patients or clients, some of whom may be there to use salt therapy to help them get over the common cold or another contagious illness. Even if their condition is not contagious, you may find it less peaceful or even a little gross for people to be coughing or spitting up phlegm while you are trying to get your Zen on.
If you have the time, your budget allows it and you do not mind sharing the space with other people, you probably do not need a salt room in your house or outdoor living area. You also do not need to go to the expense of installing a salt cave if you are only going to use it every once in a while. If you do not plan on using it regularly, you are better off occasionally making an appointment at a spa, resort or wellness center to partake of their facilities.
However, if you prefer the convenience and privacy of getting your complementary treatments right at home, then an at-home salt room might be right for you. It also might be a good choice if you or a family member have a condition that salt therapy seems to help.
If there is a particular health condition you are hoping to treat, you should definitely try out salt therapy at a commercial establishment first to determine its effectiveness for your particular ailment prior to investing in at-home options.
At-Home Salt Therapy Options
Once you have decided that you want a halotherapy space at your house, there are a few options to consider. One option is a salt therapy bed that comes pre-fabricated, simply plugs into the wall and takes up about as much room as a tanning bed. These are sometimes referred to as salt therapy boxes, since they are basically a clear box that you lie in as the salt air circulates around you. This option can easily fit into a guest bedroom or on your covered patio.
Another option is a salt booth. These usually come in one- or two-person options that are about the size of a stand-alone sauna built for the same capacity. These also are ready to go with a bit of assembly and access to a regular electrical outlet – plus, you will not have to worry about any special ventilation or building permit. The compact size of this option makes it a good choice for outdoor living areas or for placement inside your home.
Your next option is to purchase a pre-fabricated, portable salt room. This option is faster and more convenient than having a room built, but it does not allow for much customization, and you will have to find a unit that will fit your space. This option does require assembly, and you will likely want the pros to install it for you to make sure everything is functioning properly.
Then, of course, there is the option of designing and building your own salt room. Whether you enlist the help of experts or take it on as a do-it-yourself project, this option allows you to customize your salt room and to make it perfectly fit that corner of your patio or unused closet space in your home. This also allows you to determine your budget and get started while adding additional features later, if needed.
If you choose to purchase a pre-fab unit, you will likely need to purchase it new. Halotherapy is still a relatively new practice in North America, which means there is not a huge resale market for at-home units. The folks who have invested in salt beds, booths or portable rooms have generally bought them for health reasons and will likely hang on to them, since they are a considerable investment. So, there are just not a lot of used, at-home salt room options for sale. This means that, unless you are lucky enough to find a used one, you are probably going to need to purchase a new, pre-fabricated unit or build your own.
Personal Salt Room Basics
There are plenty of reasons to build your own salt room in your home or backyard, but before you get too far into the project, it is necessary to cover a few basics. So, before we talk about wall coverings and seating options, here are 10 things to know:
1. Your salt room will require electricity to run the halogenerator and, possibly, for salt lamps, lighting, an audio system, in-floor heating, dehumidifier, ventilation system or a climate-control system.
2. Depending on what you are planning on installing, you may need to check with your local governing body to see if there are building codes you will need to adhere to during construction or permits you need to obtain.
3. Maintaining proper ventilation and humidity is important for your health and safety and to retain the integrity of your salt room. It is best to bring in a professional to ensure proper installation and maintenance of these key factors. In some cases, there may be building codes regarding heating, ventilation or air conditioning systems.
4. Liquids and salt rooms do not mix well. Commercial salt caves generally do not allow clients to bring water or other beverages into the space. This is primarily because liquids can damage the walls, floor, salt lamps or salt features in the room. Of course, you can bring water into your own salt cave at home, but be aware of this issue and, perhaps, stick to beverages that can be transported in closed containers, such as bottled water. If you choose to not bring water into your session, it is recommended that you hydrate before and after each session.
As a side note, if you get the idea to build the walls of your salt room entirely out of Himalayan salt bricks, make sure it is located in an area that is protected from rain, humidity and your irrigation system. While this might be beautiful to look at on your patio, the weather is going to shorten the life of your at-home salt spa by damaging the walls. It is best to keep the salt on the inside and not exposed to the elements.
5. It is not recommended to drink alcohol before or during a salt therapy session. Alcohol dehydrates you, and so does salt, so this is not a good combination.
6. Dry salt therapy is believed to be good for your skin and may even help to heal some skin conditions. Therefore, most partakers wear clothing that exposes the areas they would like to treat or that exposes as much skin as possible to reap the potential benefits. In commercial settings, this often includes a bathing suit, shorts and a tank top, or yoga pants and a t-shirt. Keep in mind that your clothing will be covered in a light dusting of salt after your session, so just be sure to wear clothing that is easy to wash.
7. You will not always see aerosol sensors in salt rooms, but it is a good idea – especially if you are managing your room on your own without the help of a professional. It is important to maintain consistent, proper dry salt concentration in the air in your halotherapy room, and a dry salt aerosol sensor can help you do that.
8. According to the Salt Therapy Association, there are some people who should not partake in halotherapy, including “people with contagious diseases, fever, open wounds, cancer, severe hypertension, mental disorders and active tuberculosis.” (Salt Therapy Association website)
The group also notes that pregnant women should consult with their healthcare provider before including salt therapy in their wellness regimen.
9. While this alternative treatment is considered safe for children and animals, you should never leave your children or pets in your salt room without proper supervision. Breathing in salt air may be good for our health and wellness, but ingesting too much of it is still considered a bad thing – and you and I both know that once your children figure out the room is made from delicious salt, they are going to start licking the walls or eating handfuls off of the floor. Animals will also lick the salt and may use your loose salt floor as a restroom.
10. If you are considering a personal salt therapy room to treat a particular condition, do your research beforehand to better understand the salt concentration and session duration recommended by professionals for your condition.
At-Home Salt Room Wall Options
If you have the budget to cover one or more walls in Himalayan salt bricks or blocks, this is a truly stunning salt room wall option that will significantly enhance the visual appeal of the space. These walls can be backlit to provide a warm glow for added ambiance. However, salt bricks are not cheap, so this might not be in your budget.
Another option is to stick with conventional drywall and create a smaller section or art piece out of salt bricks or smaller salt rocks. An option commonly seen in commercial settings is to start with drywall and spray on a salt texture that helps create more of the feel and look of being in a salt cave. This is generally much more affordable than salt bricks, plus this is a much lighter material, which makes it better suited for areas where weight may be an issue.
At-Home Salt Room Flooring Options
Your salt room can have almost any type of flooring, including laminate, wood, tile, conventional bricks, salt bricks or paving stones. The most common choice seen in commercial salt rooms is a thick layer of loose salt that resembles beach sand. This is largely aesthetic, since your halogenerator dispersing tiny salt particles into the air is what is really considered beneficial. However, it does create a great aesthetic and goes with the zero-gravity beach chairs typically found in this setting. A loose salt floor is also a fun option if you are installing your at-home salt room to try this complementary therapy for children with asthma, allergies, sinus issues or skin conditions.
If you opt for Himalayan salt bricks or blocks for the floor, consider installing an under-floor heating system to gently warm the floor, which is believed to increase the release of negative ions into the atmosphere and will make your salt therapy room even cozier and more inviting.
At-Home Salt Room Lighting
If your room or booth has clear siding, you may not need interior lighting at all. If this is the case, you can simply use the lighting available in the larger room in which your salt room is located or the natural light flowing in through windows or directly through into the booth or room, if it is located outside.
If you create a space without much natural light or that you intend to use at night, you will need to include lighting. Salt room lighting should never be harsh or glaring, which will take away from the ambiance. Choose lighting that gives off a gentle glow, such as one or more Himalayan salt lamps. If you opt for salt bricks or blocks for your walls, you can backlight one or more walls to fill the room with a warm, welcoming glow.
If you are going for more a beachy atmosphere, consider festive string lights or LED tube lighting.
DIY Salt Room Seating
The seating you choose for your DIY salt room depends on the size of the room and how you intend to use it. Most commercial rooms have either recliners or zero-gravity chairs like those that are most commonly seen in outdoor living areas. Either of these options allows you to relax comfortably during your session. However, if your room is particularly small or you opt for a salt booth, you will not have room for this type of chair. In this case, you may only have room for a small bench, stool or meditation cushion.
You may choose to use floor cushions or meditation cushions in larger salt rooms as well, particularly if you plan on using your room as a hangout space or for meditation. Other options include Adirondack chairs, small chairs for children, or just about any chair that is comfortable and easy to clean – since tiny salt particles will coat it every time you do a dry salt therapy session.
At-Home Salt Room Sound
You can play any type of music or audio that you like inside your private salt room, since this is your space for healing and relaxing. This could mean that you use the time in your salt cave to catch up on audio books, listen to talk radio or play your favorite band. If you want to maintain a relaxing atmosphere, you might want to consider classical music, instrumental music created for meditation, or tracks that include gongs and bells specifically created for meditation or sleep improvement.
The important thing to note is that tiny particles of salt being blown around the room are not a good match for electronics, so you will need to set up your audio system outside of the room and bring it through the wall or via bluetooth to speakers in the room. Alternatively, you can install a clear acrylic, plastic or glass box in which you can deposit your phone, tablet or music player to protect it from the salt, but it is best to keep electronics safely outside of the room.
Some folks who want to check emails or have their phone with them while enjoying their salt room place their tablet or phone in a waterproof case generally intended for use at the beach or by the pool. This may help keep salt from getting into your electronics. Do keep in mind, however, that part of the benefit of salt therapy is believed to come from relaxing in a space with negative ions and not using electronics that give off positive ions.
DIY Salt Room Décor and Accessories
How you decorate and accessorize your halotherapy room will largely depend on how you intend to use it. Of course, the main purpose of this type of space is to breathe in the dry salt circulated in the room, but you do have options for what you want to do in the room while you are breathing in the salt air. For most people, this includes relaxing activities, such as meditation, reading or yoga. When salt rooms are designed for children, they generally are set up for playing or creative activities.
If you plan on using your room for meditation, you may want to include meditation cushions, a Tibetan singing bowl, an altar or other items that enhance your meditative experience. For yoga, you will want a yoga mat, blocks and straps. For reading, you may want a comfortable reading chair, reading light and blanket.
If you plan on having your children use the space, you may want to include toys, an arts and crafts table with supplies, or a chalkboard. Just remember that everything will be covered with salt, so you likely do not want to bring in stuffed animals or electronic toys. Another great addition when kids are involved is a salt box (think: sandbox but with dead sea salt) in which they can dig and play.
Commercial salt rooms found in spas and wellness centers often include salt lamps, salt rocks, healing stones, blankets, neck rolls or throw pillows. For the most part, you just want to keep it simple in order to maintain a relaxing, uncluttered space and to incorporate accessories that will enhance your comfort or your overall experience.
If you are considering installing a halotherapy room in your home or outdoor living area, it is best to purchase a pre-made kit or to enlist the help of a professional to get you started. Setting up your halogenerator and ensuring proper ventilation are the two most important factors for which you may need professional assistance. Once you have the basics set up and understand how to operate and maintain the room, you can pick your throw pillows or yoga mats on your own to personalize the space.
Best Seller Halotherapy Products on Amazon: