Sweet effects of getting salty

Sweet effects of getting salty

Himalayan salt in white background
Himalayan salt cave in Lincoln offers hidden escape with halotherapy

LINCOLN – Hidden within a shopping center on Front St., an ordinary storefront flanked by a nail salon and tax preparation office gives way to a unique experience: a Himalayan Salt Cave right here in Lincoln.

The Saltitude Himalayan Salt Cave opened in March at 204 Front St., providing guests the opportunity to unwind in its Himalayan sea salt cave and reap the alleged health benefits of “halotherapy,” with halo being the Greek word for salt. The wellness trend has been growing in popularity in recent years after the first salt cave opened in the U.S. in 2016. Proponents of the therapy claim it naturally cleanses and detoxifies the body while relieving stress.

Owners PJ and Steve Johnson spent a year realizing their dream of opening a space to escape from reality. After visiting a salt cave in western Connecticut last Valentine’s Day, the couple were so moved by the experience they committed themselves to bringing it to Rhode Island. The couple sold their home in Lincoln, and PJ quit her 20-year job at a contracting company to dive fully into establishing their family business.

Raffa Yoga studio in Cranston was the first in Rhode Island to offer Himalayan salt therapy when it opened a Himalayan salt therapy room as part of its Urban Sweat program. The salt room is one of six heat-therapy rooms offered by the studio, allowing clients to rotate through the rooms at their leisure.

Saltitude is the first dedicated salt cave in the state, offering patrons 45-minute dedicated appointments in the handcrafted cave. Unless all six seats are reserved, the space may be shared, but private sessions are also available.

An unassuming door in the front lobby of Saltitude opens to reveal its salt cave, which contains more than nine tons of pink Himalayan sea salt to imitate the microclimate of the natural mines found in Europe. Its walls are lined with pink Himalayan salt, and the floor of the cave consists of crushed salt rocks. Salt rock lamps emit a soft orange glow over the space.

PJ said guests’ shocked reaction to the space, “never gets old.”

Clients are asked to remove their shoes and leave behind their electronics. They can sit in one of the cave’s anti-gravity chairs and gaze up at the (salt-infused) stalactites that hang like icicles from the starry roof of the cave. Each session begins with three minutes of guided meditation via a recording to help people get to a relaxed state.

There are a few rules of etiquette: food and drink are not allowed in the cave. There’s a sign in the lobby barring people from climbing, eating or throwing the salt. The Johnsons are frequently asked whether it’s OK to lick the walls of the cave – it’s not.

The cave, set around 70 degrees, uses a halo-generator that gently grinds and disperses fine particles of ionized salt and trace minerals into the air. Himalayan sea salt contains 84 natural elements, including iodine, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and chloride. Guests cannot see or feel the particles in the air.

Proponents of Himalayan salt therapy say regular visits to the salt cave may aid with allergies, arthritis, asthma and other breathing ailments, sleep disorders, depression and anxiety, migraines; skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes and acne – and even snoring. The meditative aspect of the experience is said to include benefits such as reduced stress and anxiety, improved mental clarity and increased self-awareness.

“If you have 45 minutes to yourself and you’re at home and sit down to meditate, there is always a distraction. This forces you – once you make it in the door – to leave everything behind and just breathe, be yourself and be here,” said PJ. “It can be hard for some people to do, but they always come back the next week. Once you achieve that calm, it’s like you slept for eight hours.”

A 45-minute session costs $35, and children are also welcome to join in on the experience. Johnson said many children play in the crystals like beach sand.

If you’re still skeptical, fret not.

“We have at least 10 people come in every day who ask, what is this place?” PJ gives them a pamphlet, shows them around the studio and encourages them to give it a try. Those looking to ease into salt therapy might consider buying a salt lamp or skin scrub, sold at Saltitude.

Saltitude also hosts classes such as meditation, yoga and reiki.

For many, the cozy cave offers a place to escape for some quiet time.

Kim Hawthorne, of Cumberland, said she has visited the cave three times with different groups of people, and often alone. She was one of the first customers at Saltitude.

“I like everything about it … the serenity … it’s very hard to disconnect and to meditate outside in the real world. Here, there’s no noise, it’s soothing, it’s my way of giving something to myself that’s better than a massage. You’re massaging your brain to quietness and there’s nothing like that,” she said.

PJ and Steve Johnson are the owners of Saltitude Himalayan Salt Cave at 204 Front St. in Lincoln. (Breeze photos by Nicole Dotzenrod)
The cave where clients can relax and meditate.