But as I listened to what I was about to experience, my palms starting to sweat and my heart start to race.
“It’s like being on the inside of a snow globe,” said the employee. “It’s totally normal if you start coughing or your nose starts running – that just means that the salt is helping to remove toxins from your body. Just make sure you breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.”
So, I’m basically willingly entering a gas chamber is what you’re telling me, I thought to myself.
Adding to my panic was the fact that I had made this appointment thinking it was a massage. After all, it had the word “spa” in it. I thought it was going to be some exfoliating massage with salt.
A woman who was leaving said the experience is “incredible.” She looked so relaxed.
Maybe she’s high from the airborne salt crystals and she doesn’t even realize what she’s saying.
“It’s really relaxing,” the employee continued. “You’ll just fall asleep and the next thing you know, the session will be over and you won’t even know what happened or where the time went.”
So, I’m basically going to be drugged on the salt crystals and incapacitated for 45 minutes, was my first thought.
Man, I have some serious control issues, was my second thought.
As I envisioned myself locked in a room with visible salt particles flying through the air, I started to get more panicky.
The employee seemed to notice.
“You can leave the room at any time if you’re uncomfortable; the room won’t be locked,” he assured me. “And you’re not alone, you’re with other people. Let me show you a room.”
We opened a door and two women were sitting in reclining seats, facing a serene blue wall as soft music played in the background. Their feet were stuck in mounds of sand covering the ground.
“Let me show you the pharmaceutical-grade salt that we use,” he said. “Maybe that will help.”
He took me to the side room, where it looked like they were cooking salt in a crockpot.
I really appreciated him walking me through my fears. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting to need to convince someone this much to relax and enjoy a spa treatment.
I resolved to woman-up and try the experience for at least 15 minutes. If I didn’t like it or if I felt like I was starting to lose consciousness (carbon-monoxide-poisoning style), I would just get up and leave, I resolved.
As I settled into my chair (or was it my final resting place?!), my overactive imagination wondered if the salt would be silent-but-deadly, traveling through the air and into my nasal passageway, poisoning me before I realized it.
To my initial surprise and then minor annoyance, a fan started loudly whirring at about that moment, announcing to all of us that THE ROOM WAS NOW FILLING WITH SALT PARTICLES!!!
Luckily, I had taken off my glasses earlier at the recommendation of the employee (I guess they can get pretty dirty in a salt spa) and so I couldn’t see the particles careening through the air.
Thoughts raced through my head as I “enjoyed” this “peaceful” and “amazing” spa treatment: How is this not the same thing as a gas chamber? Are we all going to fall asleep and never wake up? Maybe it’s not that big of a deal – maybe it’s like when you go into the mines and there are some particles in the air. Or that time I went to Bolivia and the air was definitely arid and dusty. Or at Christmas time when they’re lighting a tree in Florida and the fake snow falls from a fan above and you breathe that stuff in. I never died during any of those previous experiences.]
I kept thinking my chest was starting to tighten up too. I think I was just nervous. But I also wondered if that was the feeling caused by salt entering my lungs. I tried to stay vigilant to see if the sensation worsened.
Despite my racing mind and some new body sensations (and the lady next to me who was hacking up a storm. She must have had a LOT of toxins in her body), I found myself starting to doze. Every time I felt myself slipping into unconsciousness, I defensively jerked awake.
But eventually, it happened to me too: I slipped into unconscouness and then suddenly the employee was opening the door and I had no idea what happened. But I sure was glad I’d survived!
When I arrived home later, I did some research on what the hell salt spas were anyway.
Evidently, they have been around for hundreds of years. One noted physician studied how miners in salt caves tended to have good health (including lower rates of lung diseases), even though mining was traditionally associated with health problems.
The Polish physician, Dr. Feliks Boczkowski, went on to found and open the first health resort facility at the Wieliczka Salt Mine in 1839.
“The benefits of salt therapy are wide-ranging,” reported Organic Spa Magazine. “… The negatively charged ions in salt improve our health and mood. Inhaling particles may reduce inflammation and mucus in the lungs, improving respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergies, bronchitis, sinus congestion and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
The article went on to say that it can also help with skin conditions like eczema.
Other places reported that 45 minutes at a salt spa is equivalent to three days at the beach!
For me, I think I’d prefer the beach!
I mean, I’m glad I tried it and I’m glad I stayed for the entire 45 minutes. And I will say that my skin smelled great afterward and there was this satisfaction of my lips tasting salty afterward – like I really had been at the beach.
But there was something a bit too hokey or new-agey about the experience. And I kind of feel like I could have enjoyed a lot of the same relaxation benefits (for free!) by just sitting back in my recliner in the dark and listening to some Enigma at home.