UV and thermal stable, photoluminescent carbon dots (CDs) prepared by embedding CDs in ionic salt crystals such as NaCl, KCl, KBr are demonstrated. The salt crystal embedding matrix does not interfere with CDs strong emission, and provides effective protection to CDs from the environment. The degradation of 20% of the initial luminescence intensity of salt-encapsulated CDs (S-CDs) is 15 times slower under UV and 6 times slower under heat compared to that of CDs in silica matrix. We also demonstrate that the S-CDs can be applied as a color-converting phosphor for typical GaN UV light emitting diodes (LEDs) with significant improvements in stability as well as processability. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.