Walking into the Port Salt Cave, one feels transported to a mystical cave seemingly out of a movie with its glowing walls and sounds of waterfalls. With a light salt smell in the air, the dimly lit room with a pink glow has one leaving the cave feeling at ease. But relaxation is not the only benefit the therapeutic salt imported from Poland offers. Port resident Sue Sullivan thought it was the perfect idea to create the first salt cave on the North Shore to bring all of the benefits to local residents.
Sullivan had previously worked in medical device and pharmaceutical sales, having sold mainly respiratory devices and allergy and asthma drugs, for 27 years before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2016, Sullivan was fired from her job due to complications with breast cancer that caused her to be unable to work. However, soon after, Sullivan’s sister Lori Ciotoli heard about a salt cave from her friend and thought it would be perfect for Sullivan.
“I had never been in one before and I knew I had to do my homework,” said Sullivan. “I found this woman in Vermont who told me to come up and she’d tell me everything I need to know. What really drew me in was the fact that I’d been in respiratory for about 27 years with all my sales. I understand the respiratory system and then I started reading about the salt caves and what it does for the respiratory system and it’s all about salt. It makes total sense to me because in the medical industry, they use saline and salt all the time for respiratory. I just started reading the studies and talking to people and it all started making sense.”
After much research, Sullivan decided to open her salt cave in Port Washington because there were no other salt caves along the north shore and when the location by the water became available, it seemed like everything fell into place.
“My dreams just came true,” said Sullivan. “I don’t have to wear suits to work anymore, I don’t have to go to the city for work anymore and I’m on the water. I’m the happiest I’ve been in my entire life. It’s changed my entire outlook and it’s going to help with my recovery.”
The Port Salt Cave is made up of 10 tons of salt, with four inches of salt on the floor and entire walls made of salt, mined from Poland. The salt cave is kept at a temperature of 67 degrees and holds two water cascades that have iodine, which helps the thyroid gland.
“There’s a halo generator outside the tube and it takes pharmaceutical grade salt and it atomizes it to the finest particle size which is 2.0 particle size,” said Sullivan, explaining how the cave works. “That’s the size that fits into your small airway. That’s where breathing issues occur. The salt is naturally an anti-inflammatory because it opens up the airways, so you’re breathing it in. You want to deep breathe it in and it opens up your airways.”
Salt caves offer a variety of benefits, helping with respiratory conditions, skin conditions, anxiety and depression. The salt cave reduces stress and inflammation and boosts immunity and healing.
“We’re getting a lot of 9/11 responders who are sick with asthma and firefighters and cops,” said Sullivan. “They’re coming in for therapy. Tom Rice, who is running for police commissioner, is off all of his asthma medication since he has been coming to the cave. He started at another cave and now he’s going to be coming here so that’s incredible to talk to someone it’s already worked for.”
While the salt cave is the main attraction, Port Salt Cave also offers an infrared sauna and hand and detox foot therapy that uses warm salt blocks. Right outside the cave, there is a small salt boutique run by Ciotoli that offers salt lamps, jewelry and bath salts for purchase.
Port Salt Cave is located at Inspiration Wharf, 403 Main St. #3, Port Washington and is open Monday and Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Port Salt Cave is closed on Tuesdays. To make an appointment, book a private event or for more information, visit www.portsaltcave.com or call 516-439-4820.