Salt is a mineral. A salt lamp, even with a low-wattage bulb, slowly warms, becoming a center of heat in a chilly room. While not enough to act as a heater, it makes a small amount of difference in the ambient temperature. It also acts as a finger warmer for chilled hands that have been typing.
Between December 21, 2017 and January 1, 2019
As 2017 winds down into the new year, and 2018 begins, the winter solstice has already passed, and we can look forward to longer days and shorter nights in the northern hemisphere. Right now, travelers in the United States are coping with cold weather, delays in air travel, icy roads and snow. This is normal. There are years when the weather is sufficiently severe – floods, hurricanes, ice storms and more – to merit terms like “unusual” or even “catastrophic.” But cold weather in late December and early January is normal.
Benefits of Cold Weather
Little as we might love cold weather, it has its benefits. Any farmer will tell you that an excessively warm winter mean more bugs than you can count eating up summer crops. Pet owners know that a warm winter means battling fleas – a denizen that has followed humankind’s civilization mercilessly, lodging as happily in a New York high rise as a lean-to shanty in the lowliest slum. Flea eggs can live through dire weather, but hard cold will at least eliminate a few of them.
Thinking About Salt Lamps
Salt lamps are a curious thing. Before receiving mine, I had not given salt much thought. Too much of the stuff from a shaker on your table can lead to high blood pressure, too little can foster mental confusion. I knew that people lost at sea will go insane or die from drinking sea water because there is too much salt in the water, and they die of dehydration. I’d heard of salt mines – usually written up in fiction as a dire sentence for criminals. I’d heard of salt licks – a place where animals come to lick the rocks for the vital mineral.
As I sit by my electric fire, I think back through the ages to how salt must have formed, how it is mined and how it has made its way to my hearthside. No one really knows how the salt deposits were formed. While the Himalayas and Pakistan have incredibly gorgeous salt deposits with a rich history, there are similar deposits around the world. There are two theories as to how this might have occurred. One is that each salt deposit was the location of a body of salty water that evaporated, leaving the salt behind. These deposits are called evaporites. The other theory is that the salt was an extrusion of salty magma that caused the waters above it to boil away. The Ol Doinyo Lengay volcano in the Great Rift valley in Tanzania is a microcosmic example of how this might have happened. At this end of time, it is difficult to say which theory is correct. It is possible that both have merit, and that something else entirely was responsible for this salt of the earth.
What we do know is that these deposits have long been treasured for their purity, for their mineral content and for their beauty. Salt deposits can also be an indicator of gas and oil deposits. My salt lamp is a gift, and I treasure it as such. I treasure it, not only because of the hand that gave it, but also because of the workers who brought the salt up out of the earth, the truckers who transported it, and the craftsmen who transformed the rock crystal from an organic lump into a crystal shell into which a light could be inserted.
My Himalayan Salt Lamp
That is a lot of processing, an incredible gift from many hands, to bring my lamp to my study where it can brighten these short winter days and make a feast of warmth on this New Year’s Eve. It is a day when I wander from task to task, not really settling to any. I type a little, go to the store, have dinner with family, and look out the window at the light deposits of snow from our first snowfall, and wonder if we will have more. I cuddle my cats, and I warm my fingers on the rich, mineral surface of my lamp to ease the stiffness that winter brings to my joints.
It has come to me through human hands, but also through the processes of the ages, as sure and as inexorable and as unchangeable and yet as changeable as the seasons themselves. It’s dense crystalline form might have been extruded from the earth as magma, it might have been dripped from ceilings by water percolating through a cave formed of salt, or it might have been part of an ancient seabed, left when the water evaporated.
Himalayan Salt Lamps and Sustainability
There are those who suggest that this new craving for Himalayan salt is a fad, and that that there are other salt deposits with equally beautiful salt crystals. They might be right on both counts. But I will still send gratitude to the many forces and many hands that created my lamp. It is beautiful. It lifts my spirits. I think of all those workers, all those miles, all those people – and I thank them for this lovely light that makes my life happier. I hope that some of that happiness is traveling around the globe to all of them.
Thank You to All the Workers Who Made My Lamp Possible
Salt mining still involves a lot of hand labor. Mining of any kind is hard, dangerous work. For these reasons, for the craftmanship that has gone into this lamp, I will treasure it and care for it. Whatever climate those workers might have, I wish for them a healthy, prosperous New Year. I wish a healthy, prosperous New Year for all those who read this, as well. May you spread peace and goodwill, and may the works of your hands bring forth joy to all who see them.
A Philosophical Consideration of Salt
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?” Salt is a mineral with multiple uses. It can be used to make things taste better, to preserve food, and as a cleanser. It can even be used to desiccate those pesky flea eggs so that there is a smaller flea population come warm weather. And it can be used to make beautiful things – ranging from my little lamp, to amazing shrines. Its translucent crystals create beauty to ease the heart and to uplift the mind. The quotation is from the King James version of the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is meant to show that those who had received the teaching were to go forth, be good people, and to make the world better. I hope these words in some small way send the light from my small lamp out into the world. I hope they can do some good. I hope that your salt shall never lose its savor, and that you will always be a blessing to and be blessed by those around you. Happy New Year!