Last year a salt cave opened in the Kingfield neighborhood of South Minneapolis—six tons of Himalayan salt and a HVAC system that pumps finely ground “pharmaceutical-grade” salt into the air and deep into your sinuses and upper respiratory system.
The benefits include reduced inflammation, pressure, and fluid build-up, plus reduced stress and other reported benefits. As weird as it sounds, it really does work on the sinuses. (Here’s our review from way back then).
Despite years of fall allergies and sinusitis, and despite an obviously beautiful cave, I didn’t go last year. I was too busy managing my child’s allergies and sinusitis, with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, decongestants that made him so loopy he once belted Christmas carols for an hour, and eventually (sigh, you know the drill) several cycles of antibiotics.
And several days missed of school. Who can forget that?
And this is where my 12-year-old son and I found ourselves—home from school (and work—sigh) again this year. He was suffering from intense ear pain due to sinus pressure and cankerous throat sores. Yeah, it’s as attractive as it sounds. I was suffering through my normal fall congestion, plus repeated episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants.
We were rescued by Salt Cave owners Scott and Jenni Wertkin, who opened a second salt cave tailored to kids in October. We did a 45-minute session. Here’s what we learned about the brand-new phenomenon of kids in salt caves:
1.) A kid can sit in a low-lit room for a long time when there is sand-like salt all over the floor. Unlike the Wertkins’ primary cave, which has warm rocks covering the floor, the kid-friendly cave is like a salt beach. The Wertkins even have a bin of toys with buckets, shovels, rakes, and toy trucks to run through the salt-sand. There are beach noises coming through the audio.
2.) You can get a massage but you have to schedule it in advance so don’t promise a massage to your 12-year-old. I repeat: DO NOT PROMISE A MASSAGE.
3.) You can change the colors on the salt wall. When they are cycled rapidly it’s like hanging in a freaky rave cave.
4.) Even if you’re 12, which is almost a teenager, you’re still going to pour salt in your hair and all down your shirt and maybe even rub it into your armpits. As this stirs up more salt to breath in, consider it therapeutic. But for reasons I hope are obvious to you, do not bring a jar and take some home for cooking.
5.) My particular 12-year-old had such terrible ear pain he couldn’t even attend a much-awaited rock concert on the day we went to the cave. He left the cave with no ear pain at all. Not only was his sinus pressure and congestion gone but his throat sores weren’t painful. The effect of breathing in the very fine salt was like gargling with salt water for 45 minutes.
6.) Moms and dads can sit in the kid cave too. And breathe easier because of it—two days later my sinuses are still clear.
“Halotherapy” as it’s known in Eastern Europe, has been prescribed for centuries. The salt cave is only a year old; the one for kids just a few weeks old. Today, it’s our new favorite drug-free family allergy hideout.
Best part: Though he does live in a pineapple under a salty sea, there is no SpongeBob in sight.