What are Negative Ions?

Posted by Liezel Maree on

Negative Ions

Ions are invisible particles, either molecules or atoms, which bear an electric charge. Atoms, for instance, consist of an atomic nucleus that contains neutral neutrons and positively charged protons, as well as orbiting electrons that are negatively charged. When an atom is in a neutral condition, the number of protons (+) and electrons (-) is equal. When the number of protons and electrons is not the same, the particle becomes an ion that is either positively or negatively charged.

Positive Ion (Cation): an atom (or molecule) that has lost one or more electrons due to a high-energy impact. Natural forces that generate positive ions include the decay of radioactive minerals, radon gas, forest fires, lightning and ultraviolet rays.
Negative Ion (Anion): an atom (or molecule) that has gained one or more extra negatively charged electrons. Negative ions are naturally generated by evaporating water, ocean surf, waterfalls


How are Negative Ions generated through Salt Lamps?

Salt lamps do not generate negative ions themselves. They are “hygroscopic,” which means that they attract moisture... humidity... airborne water molecules; it is a natural property of sodium chloride. Since they do not generate the negative ions, they need a heat source (in this case, heat from a bulb) to accelerate evaporation, which in turn produces negative ions. In more humid regions, an unlit salt lamp will eventually “cry,” even creating puddles of water at its base. It is this evaporation that generates the negative ions, which are beneficial to our health.


Facts about Negative Ions

  • Tasteless, Odourless.
  • Urban areas typically have much lower concentrations of Negative Ions in the air than rural areas.
  • A recent study by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture found that ionising a room led to 52% less dust in the air, and 95% less bacteria in the air (since many of the pollutants found in the air reside on floating dust particles).

How Negative Ions Purify the Air

Virtually all particles in the air have a positive charge, while negative ions have a negative charge. In which case, negative ions and particles magnetically attract to one another. When there is a high enough concentration of negative ions in the air, they will attract to floating particles in large numbers. This causes the particle to become too heavy to remain airborne. As a result, the particle will fall out of the air, and will then be collected by normal cleaning activities, such as vacuuming or dusting.


In nature, negative ions are generated by processes such as sunlight, lightning, waves from the ocean, and from waterfalls. "Concrete Jungles" minimize the natural production of negative ions by disrupting the delicate electrical balance between the atmosphere and the earth. 

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