Pass the Salt (Therapy) at These Ottawa Spas

The healing properties of unrefined salt date back to the days of Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, who used it in her luxurious beauty regime. Make no mistake, this is not the stuff you’ll find in a restaurant salt shaker.

Filled with essential minerals, unrefined salt is said to relieve stress and insomnia as well as skin conditions and respiratory issues. Whether you have an entire day to pamper yourself or only an hour, here are our three picks for salt-based therapies and spas in Ottawa.

Go Solo in a Pod

Relief from depression, soothing the pain of a bad back, or simply detaching from the world for an hour — it’s amazing what relief clients say they find in the pods at the ISÖ Spa Floatation Centre in downtown Ottawa.

“Everybody should try a float; it’s one of the most relaxing things you can possibly do,” says co-owner Mika Husband.

Your individual pod is filled with 264 gallons of water and 1,200 pounds of Epsom salts. At 7.5 feet long and 4.5 feet wide, there’s ample space to stretch out and float as well as the ability for customization. Guests decide if they want to keep the lights on or keep the lid open.

Each 60-minute float starts with 10 minutes of ambient rolling waves and ocean sounds, which fade to nothing, then fade back in shortly before the end.

Breathe in the Salt Wave

spas in ottawa
Experience the benefits of a salt therapy room at Salt Wave. (Photo: Courtesy of Salt Wave)

After Nicola Gazetto almost died from a heart attack following complications from asthma medication, his doctor gave him two choices: Either move to the beach or visit a salt-therapy room.

Gazetto had successfully weaned himself off of his inhaler in his native Italy with the help of halotherapy, a recognized salt-based medical treatment for patients with respiratory conditions. But after immigrating to Ottawa, he found no such option — so along with his wife Hazel, he opened up his own: Salt Wave.

Tucked away in the unassuming Westgate shopping mall, close to the Westboro neighborhood, Salt Wave uses a generator to grind and spray particles of pharmaceutical-grade salt from Israel’s Dead Sea into the air.

Breathe it in over an hourlong session while relaxing on zero-gravity chairs in a softly lit room filled with more than 17,000 pounds of Himalayan salt crystals. You’ll eventually fall into a deep, cocoon-like sleep.

Like Gazetto, many clients come to Salt Wave for relief from conditions like eczema, fibromyalgia and asthma when nothing else has worked. Following demand, the clinic will expand to double its capacity, including a room for children and several private cubicles.

Pro tip: Ask for the discount offered to Marriott TRAVELER readers when you call to book an appointment.

Take the Källa Plunge

At Nordik Spa-Nature, a 15-minute drive from downtown Ottawa in the village of Old Chelsea, the signature Källa treatment pool is one of only two in the world. The only other underground saltwater pool of its kind is in Switzerland.

Carved 16 feet into the rock, the dimly lit pool is filled with nearly 9,000 gallons of water that’s been heated to skin temperature and 12 tons of Epsom salts — making you float effortlessly.

“The benefits of a 45-minute float to your body [are] equivalent to a five-hour sleep; when you are floating you relax all your muscles and let yourself go into a meditation state,” explains Nordik spokeswoman Marianne Trotier. “It is very good for the skin, increases circulation while reducing stress and inflammation, and it is exceptional for relieving arthritis.”

The pool is limited to 20 floaters at a time, which at capacity can feel like a game of slow-motion bumper cars as you brush by an errant toe or limb — but you’ll be too relaxed in starfish position to care.

Stay as long as you like or return as many times as you wish. As the largest spa in North America, there’s plenty to do here, including another salt-based therapy, the Russian-style banya (sauna) and exfoliation room.

After a steam in the banya, help yourself to bowls brimming over with Epsom salts infused with lavender flowers or eucalyptus and menthol. Scrub, rinse and repeat — then marvel at your newly baby-soft skin.