Salt Cave Cure-All

Sinus relief in south Minneapolis.

Salt Cave
Photo by Cameron Wittig

Deep in southern Poland, some 1,000 feet underground, stretches the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Ever since 19th-century scientists discovered that salt miners there didn’t suffer from pulmonary problems, people have come from all over the world to sleep in Wieliczka’s saline chambers, stay in its salt mill guest rooms, and host business meetings in one of its grottos.

Meanwhile, in south Minneapolis at 824 feet above sea level, I’m lounging in a zero-gravity lawn chair surrounded by six tons of Himalayan salt. I’ve come to The Salt Cave to experience the benefits of salt therapy, or halotherapy. Eastern Europeans have enjoyed it for years to relieve asthma, allergies, sinusitis, ear infections, fatigue, stress, sleep disorders, and depression.

As with any natural treatment, I am optimistic. Herbs, tinctures, aromatherapy, acupuncture—they’ve all served me well at various times in my life. Why not salt? I decide against licking the wall.

Scott Wertkin and his wife, Jenni, built the cave last year after learning about the concept on a trip to Florida. They’ve each had sinus surgery, and their son suffers from asthma. The Salt Cave has helped with both. It emulates the conditions inside a natural salt cave by infusing the air with imperceptible particles of pharmaceutical-grade salt. “Salt draws out moisture, helping to release sinus pressure and alleviate allergies,” explains Wertkin. “That’s why your nose may start running.”

Mine did not, but my inner ear, which gets congested during ragweed season, opened up—even more so the next day. A friend whom I had brought along said her nasal passages hadn’t felt this clear in years. Benefits can last for a day or a week, and they can improve with more visits, says Wertkin.

Maybe it was the sunset-hued glow of the cave or the luxury of lying in silence for 45 minutes, but we emerged energized, renewed, and yes—lightly salted. Next time, I plan to book a massage with local therapist Alisia Ray, who offers her services INSIDE the cave. I bet they don’t do that in Wieliczka.

$30 per session (discount packages available), The Salt Cave, 4811 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-567-2587,

Where You’ll Find Me

Having a glycolic facial at Spa Sweet, the darling new location and name for Sonja Eileen Aesthetics. Proprietress and aesthetician extraordinaire Sonja Boatman has expanded across the street and added a beauty boutique. Now if only she could bottle her hand and foot massages. 4747 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-799-3588,