I tried salt therapy after a bout with sniffles. It's way better than a Neti Pot.

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Soothing pink salt glows while you breathe.

I’ve long been intrigued by the Salt Cave Minnesota, which sits a few blocks from my house in south Minneapolis.

Technically, a salt cave should appeal to everyone, because a) caves are inherently intriguing b) all humans desire to eat/breathe/roll around in salt. It’s just biology. Not only is this man-made cave beautiful, it is not filled with carbon monoxide and/or predators. Not every cave can say that.

This year, I became intrigued by the benefits of salt therapy, and decided it was time to give it a shot. The website says that salt therapy, also known as halotherapy, “has been used for centuries to alleviate symptoms of asthma, allergies, respiratory problems, anxiety, and other ailments.”

As a human that spent my formative years assailing my immune system with sugar and antibacterial gel, I experience some of the above-mentioned ailments. I was curious about what sitting in a glowing pink room full of salt could do for me.

The Salt Cave’s owner, Scott Wertkin, has a few disclaimers for people who roll into Salt Cave expecting an instant miracle. He noted that the salt cave is not an alternative to conventional medicine needed to treat illness or chronic conditions. “It’s a compliment to a lot of things,” he says.

A skeptic himself, he is careful when it comes to discussing the benefits of salt therapy. He sees it as a type of intentional relaxation, and adds that “it’s only as therapeutic as you allow it to be.”

He believes the salt cave gives people a chance to practice their ability to focus, and to get in touch with their breath.

Naturally, making salt therapy a regular habit will to lead to more benefits than trying it once. One customer I talked to had already been there several times, and said he planned to return the next week.

If you’re thinking of heading to the salt cave in the midst of a nasty cold or infection, you may want to think again. Wertkin discourages people from coming in when they could be contagious. Instead, he discussed salt therapy as more of a proactive measure.

The establishment’s newer cave, where my session took place, was nestled in the basement. The room feels like a hypnotic beach setting, with a set of zero-gravity lounge chairs lined up in a row. Debuted in 2014, this cave has a different look than its sister cave’s NeverEnding Story vibe. It’s intimate, modern, and geometric, with a ceiling covered in ropes. (Do not touch!)

You can taste the salt the second you enter the room, and feel it as you breathe. You also generate a salty layer on your skin that I was sure my dog would like when I got home. (She surprised me by not caring.)

My salt companions and I all sat together, facing the salt wall. It was like being on vacation with strangers, although everyone else was there in pairs. Although we had chatted casually before going in, we respected the vibe of the cave by quieting down and following Wertkin’s breathing cues.

The glowing pink wall was making my eyes feel wonky, so I closed them. Wertkin dimmed the lights and left, turning on the halogenerator, which the website says, “infuses the air with a dry aerosol containing tiny particles of pharmaceutical grade salt.”

The 45 minutes went by quickly, possibly because I spent it right in that place between asleep and awake that I usually only achieve listening to podcasts on a road trip. Is that meditation? That will have to be a topic for another column.

It was a very relaxing experience, and I felt like I had snuck in a nap on my way home from work. I left eager to return for a yoga class, which is another service it offers, along with massages, guided meditations, and story time for kids. For those who want to enjoy a salt cave on their own turf, Wertkin and his wife also offer cave design services.

While my visit to the Salt Cave Minnesota didn’t magically cure my winter sniffles, it did provide a spa-like experience that left me feeling calm. Plus, it was a lot more pleasant than that time I tried a Neti Pot.

Those looking to get some halotherapy outside of Minneapolis can also check out the The Salt Room in Woodbury.


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