Clearing the air
At new Waunakee business, relief is spelled S-A-L-T.
From the pages of In Business magazine.
Tiffany Zander is married, the mother of two young boys, and she had worked in accounting for several years. But when her eight-year-old son Matthew developed year-round allergies requiring medications that had negative side effects, she set out to find an alternative.
While visiting a friend in Pennsylvania, she visited a salt room and was so impressed that she continued researching the idea with the hope of bringing one to the Madison area and, in particular, to her son. “Being that he’s so little, there are no proven studies as to the effects of allergy medications long-term,” Zander maintains. “I was concerned that by the time he was 18, he’d need two jobs just to cover his medical expenses.”
After months of research, including discussions with physicians and nurses, Zander opened The Salt Room, inside Waunakee’s Sapphire Studios, in April.
The small front office leads to a 12-by-14-foot room that is caked floor to ceiling with a mix of Dead Sea Salts — Himalayan, Epsom, and rock — creating a white, cave-like effect. Visitors don socks or blue booties and lounge in one of six zero-gravity chairs set up in the room like beach chairs. In one corner, sand toys are available to keep youngsters occupied.
Wellness can’t get any easier. Visitors sit inside the room, which is darkened during the 45-minute sessions, and inhale the pharmaceutical, hospital-grade salts being pumped into the air with a special vaporizer. The salty air is naturally anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal, Zander explains. Between sessions, a blue UV light helps further sanitize the room.
Zander employed the services of an Orlando company to create the salt cave, which took about a week. “We get our pharmaceutical salts from Minnesota. Our other salts are imported from the Bahamas,” she adds.
Salt room therapy, also known as halotherapy, has been around for eons, she explains. “Polish hospitals have salt chambers used for respiratory care, and salt miners were notoriously healthy throughout their lives because of the air they were breathing.” The therapy is said to be excellent for respiratory conditions (allergies, asthma, COPD relief, and snoring issues), skin rashes, and a host of other health concerns, but the treatments are not recognized by insurance, and the concept has its skeptics.
“This is an all-natural alternative, not a cure,” Zander clarifies.
The Salt Room is the first business of its kind in Wisconsin, but it is not a franchise. Rather, Zander purchased the license to the Salt Room name, making her one of just a handful of licensees around the country. Each is free to design their locations however they choose, but their websites and logos look similar.
Zander put a business plan together with the help of family members, and she received an SBA loan through Summit Credit Union. She and her husband, who is the primary breadwinner right now, planned for first-year losses and set a goal of five customers a day. So far, they are nearly on track with about 20 to 30 visitors each week.
“Profit can mean two different things,” Zander says. “It can mean money, but for me, it’s the benefit of not giving my son allergy medicine.”
A buzzer suddenly signals the end of one 45-minute session as an older woman exits the salt room. “This place is wonderful,” she exclaims, saying she’s got rheumatoid arthritis among a host of other issues. This is her 39th visit since early June. “I come every day. You don’t feel the best after the first time, but by the third session, the difference is amazing.”
Zander, meanwhile, is already envisioning a second location, one that might offer massage, yoga, or acupuncture — all within a salt-coated environment.
“I want to show my boys that even though you go to school for one thing, you can do other things to follow your dreams. Have no regrets, take risks, and dream big.”
The Salt Room
202 S. Century Ave., Waunakee, WI 53597
608.850.9801 | saltroomwaunakee.com
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