Alum is the common term for aluminum potassium sulfate (also called Potassium alum and potash alum).
Alum has been used in a variety of things over the years.
- It is has been used in pickling to increase crispiness
- It can be used as the acidic part of baking powder in place of cream of tartar.
- It is used as an antiseptic and an astringent.
- It also helps stop bleeding and is used in shaving.
- It is the only ingredient that makes up a Deodorant Crystal. It works by preventing odor causing bacteria from flourishing.
- is used to make vaccines more effective.
- It is used in both ancient Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.
Aluminum is the second most abundant metallic element on earth next to silicon and is therefore unavoidable in its natural state. Aluminum potassium salt is naturally occurring but most aluminim potassium sulfate used today is created by chemical reaction.
Alum is different from Aluminum chloride and aluminum zirconium. Whereas Alum astringent and tightens the pores, the aluminum compounds in antiperspirants actually enter the pores and expand in the presence of liquid, blocking perspiration.
Still, naturally occurring and commonly used doesn’t automatically mean Alum is safe. People exposed to high levels of aluminum dust at work or who breath aluminum fumes as welders have experienced aluminum toxicity. So, there is no doubt that high levels of exposure can indeed be bad for people. However we are talking VERY high levels of exposure and even those with very high exposure don’t always experience issues. For a wonderful summary of the studies on aluminum exposure, read: The Health Effects of Aluminum Exposure
It seems to me, that alum, like so many things, can be safely used in moderation. Many ingredients, when over exposed to them can be dangerous to our health.
It is not believed that Alum salt is absorbed into the body through skin however I could not find a study to back up this belief.
Alum in Deodorant
I have found that an addition of a little bit of alum, less than 3%, improves how well a non-baking soda deodorant works. People with mild to moderate body odor tend to have difficulty using baking soda deodorants. (For an explanation of why this so, see: ). A baking soda free deodorant with a small amount of alum is, in my opinion, far more effective than a natural deodorant without alum and far less risky than a commercial deodorant with other aluminum compunds.
I chose to add Alum in my roll-on mineral deodorant for the following reason:
- It is very effective at fighting odor
- It has an ancient history of being used as a deodorant.
- Given the small amount I use and the size of the particles, it seems unlikely that much, if any, is absorbed into the body through the skin.
- It is so much better than using a commercial antiperspirant.
Keep in mind, that I am not someone who preaches a 100% chemical free, preservative free, etc lifestyle. I am a moderate when it comes to using chemicals. I try to use as few of them as I can without making my life too uncomfortable.
If you want to avoid Alum and you aren’t sensitive to Baking Soda deodorant or you don’t know if you are, may I suggest trying a sample of my lotion deo? Here is a link: https://ziryabs-body-brew.zibbet.com/natural-deodorant-samples-pack-of-three
I hope this helps!