Bolivia’s Healing Salt Block Hotel
The Palacio de Sal (Spanish for “Palace of salt”) is located at the edge of Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, 350 km south of the Bolivian capital of La Paz. Recently renovated, the walls, floors, ceilings and much of the interior decoration and furniture, including chairs, tables, beds, sculptures and so on, are built entirely out of salt. The hotel is considered one of a kind in the world thanks to this special and exceptional use of material.
The building was constructed of about 1 million 35-cm (14-inch) salt blocks and in terms of amenity includes a dry sauna and a steam room, a saltwater pool and whirlpool baths. The 30 rooms (21 twin and 9 doubles or single), all have a private bathroom, heating and hot water.
The mineral composition of these bricks that really make them unique as building materials. Salt is a natural ionizer which means that as a material, it fosters the exchange of negative ions, or anions. When used in an interior environment, the salt blocks therefore lead to ion exchange, which helps to clean the surrounding air as well as create a bacteria-free environment. Additionally, this process assists in regulating water and blood pressure throughout the body.
The beneficial properties of salt bricks have even been referred to in a study at Columbia University, which confirmed that high densities of these anions in negatively charged environments are beneficial to human health, even helping to alleviate symptoms of depression.
In the new hotel, as in the old one, there is one very special rule. In order to prevent degradation of the building, licking the walls is prohibited.
The use of salt block here in a hotel interior environment is quite unique, however, salt blocks are frequently used in health and healing environments such as saunas – particularly within the country of Korea. You can read more about the use of salt blocks in construction applications here.