Mining the healing science infused throughout the Asheville Salt Cave.
Yes, I have a Himalayan salt lamp. When purchased, I was vaguely aware of the “beneficial properties” touted on the packaging—something about ions?—but really, I took it home for the lovely warm glow. It wasn’t until I visited the Asheville Salt Cave that I realized how proven and primal the healing science behind this mineral was.
Halotherapy, or salt therapy, has been practiced for centuries: by breathing in tiny salt particles, one can heal chronic conditions like COPD and asthma, eliminate microorganisms in the lungs, reduce inflammation, decrease mucus, and more. While there aren’t many conclusive scientific studies on halotherapy, the practice has been embraced globally—proof enough for some.
In 1843, a Polish physician by the name of Feliks Boczkowski noticed that salt mine workers did not experience the respiratory issues or lung disease endured by other miners. Decades later, a German physician named Karl Spannagel noticed that his patients’ health improved after hiding out in the salt caves while avoiding heavy bombing during WWII. The news about the benefits of salt therapy quickly spread across Eastern Europe, and the practice became a longstanding tradition—one that can now be found in Asheville, NC.
The Science of Salt Therapy
For the founders of the Asheville Salt Cave, the lightbulb moment arrived after years of research—and learning that all life forms come from a water and salt concentration called sole (pronounced “so-lay”), the exact same composition found in our bodies, in the primal ocean, and in amniotic fluid. “Salt and water are necessary for our cells to metabolize through osmosis. The concentration of negative ions is naturally higher around waterfalls and by the ocean. When water droplets are dispersed, an electrical charge is created. The two water features in our cave help to replicate this and allow for the absorption of the negative ions by our bodies, which helps to build up our immune systems and aids in balancing our pH levels,” says Jodie Appel, owner of Asheville Salt Cave. “The salt in our cave is antibacterial, growing, and self-sustaining due to our nature-inspired and carefully controlled microclimate.”
The Asheville Salt Cave is built with wood, water, rock, and 20 tons of Polish salt crystals—most of which are 250 million years old and hail from miles below the earth’s surface. “The interior of our cave recreates the unique microclimates found in the Wieliczka and Bochnia salt caves in Poland, which are at a depth of 350 meters,” adds Appel. This design is based on speleotherapy, an alternative medicine respiratory therapy that involves breathing inside a cave. “The unique healing attribute of the Asheville Salt Cave is due to the enriched air that circulates inside the cave. The air is rich in negative salt ions and 84 trace elements, which are absorbed by the body via respiration and through the skin,” says Appel.
Looking to make your trip a full spa day? Don’t miss the Salt Cave’s newest service, the hammam experience—the first of its kind in Asheville. “Inspired by ancient Turkish and Moroccan bathing traditions, this relaxing treatment is designed to detoxify and exfoliate the skin while restoring the body and the mind,” says Appel. Even better: if you opt to get steamy in the private, colorful hammam bathhouse, clothing is optional.
All Natural Benefits Available at Asheville Salt Cave
Studies have found that halotherapy can have benefits for respiratory conditions, skin problems, and allergies. Salt therapy is:
- Mucoactive, clearing up mucus from your airways
- Antibacterial, helping prevent infections
By the Numbers
The Asheville Salt Cave is:
- 550 square feet
- 9-foot ceilings
- 70 degrees year-round
- 50-60% humidity
The Asheville Salt Cave, 16 N Liberty St., Asheville, N.C., 828.236.5999, ashevillesaltcave.com
Photography by Jack Robert Photography.