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Himalayan salt is a term for halite (commonly known as rock salt) from Pakistan, which various companies in Europe, North America, and Australia began selling in the early 21st century. It is mined in the Khewra Salt Mine, the second-largest salt mine in the world, located in Khewra, Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan, the foothills of the Salt Range, about 300 km from the Himalayas, 160 km from Islamabad, and 260 km from Lahore. The salt sometimes occurs in a reddish or pink color, with some crystals having an off-white to transparent color.
In 2003 the Bavarian consumer protection agency Bayerisches Landesamt für Gesundheit und Lebensmittelsicherheit (the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety) analyzed 15 specimens of Himalaya salt sold in Germany and could detect at least ten different minerals, in addition to sodium chloride (98%). The agency stated that the salts come from Pakistan and can, like all salts, cause hypertension (high blood pressure) if overused.
It is commonly used in cooking, in place of other table salt, in brine, and for bath products such as bath salts. Blocks of salt are also used as serving dishes and in the preparation of food. Fish and some meats can be preserved for use in certain dishes, and blocks of salt can be slowly heated to a temperature of around 400 degrees Fahrenheit and used as a cooking surface thereafter.
Large crystal rocks, mined in Europe and Asia, are also used as salt lamps. A salt lamp is a lamp carved from a larger salt crystal, often colored, with an incandescent light bulb or a candle inside. The lamps give an attractive glow and are suitable for use as nightlights or for ambient mood lighting. When illuminated, salt crystals emit a soft glowing light. Some believe that heated salt crystals emit negative ions or positive energy waves into the air. There is, however, no scientific evidence that salt lamps actually give out a measurable amount of "negative ions", nor is there any evidence of any health benefits from the lamps.