02-14-2013, 09:36 PM
#1
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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I recently discovered that the alum block I have been using , marketed as ''natural", is in fact synthesised. I feel disappointed, although it does do a pretty good job. What I have been using is ammonium alum "natural body crystal deodorant". It isn't natural. Potassium alum is, however, and is mined. I believed the ammonium alum gives a bit more 'bite' while the potassium alum hardly registers. Experiences, anyone?

Question is whether it is worth paying as much as $30 for a block of the potassium alum (or much cheaper for the 444 which comes from Portugal) when potassium alum is simply ... potassium alum. Why would you pay more when it's exactly the same thing? Different packaging?

On the other hand, the ammonium alum seems to be universally cheaper, and just as good a job (often available in health food stores) but perhaps doesn't pass the 'natural' muster, despite the packaging saying 'natural crystal' and health food store vegans thinking it is a completely naturally occurring substance. It also doesn't have that 'cool as ice' look about it that potassium alum does. It's cloudy and opaque. Still, it's what I use and I like the bite. 'Feedback' I have heard it called. Very good way of describing the feeling. I get more bite after using Feathers. None after the (old brown packaging) Polsilvers.

Anyone know a genuine potassium alum block available cheaply in a health food store or some such? (In Australia, preferably; shipping kills us here).

Let's not discuss the alum/aluminium health side it. It's been done to death. In these two compounds, the alum (aluminium) is rendered quite harmless.

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 02-14-2013, 09:40 PM
#2
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 02-14-2013, 09:57 PM
#3
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I no longer remember which I use, the ammonium or the potassium (I think it's potassium though) and I wouldn't pay extra for what is a chemical. I'm probably using the synthesized, because it's inexpensive, and it works 100% fine.

If you find the Wikipedia write up on it the natural crystals are a product of volcanic action and probably just contain impurities, but that's a guess. I don't need to pay big bucks for impure chemical.

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 02-14-2013, 10:22 PM
#4
  • beartrap
  • Resident Цирюльник
  • Southern California
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Don't know if you have Indian groceries over there, but check it out if you do. Potassium alum that they use is "real", although I have used both in the past and see no extra benefit in one or the other.

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 02-14-2013, 10:58 PM
#5
  • Arcadies
  • Senior Member
  • Greeneville, TN
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I don't use alum anymore but I always used the Shavex block..it's like 110g and comes in a nice little hard shell plastic case for storage. Phil sells it for like 10 bucks, plus shipping. It's a bit more expensive than some other alums, much cheaper than others, it's a decent sized chunk, doesn't leave a milky film and does a great job.

The ammonium alum burns me up, I used some of it in the form of "Crystal Deodorant" and I had blisters and sores under my arms for months and I still have a couple of scars that I guess will never go away...I'm just glad I never tried to use it on my face.

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 02-14-2013, 11:23 PM
#6
  • Songwind
  • Soap Slinger & Scuttle Pusher
  • Burnsville, MN
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I'm not saying you're right or wrong about your particular stick of alum being synthesized, but you seem to be saying that ammonium alum as a substance isn't naturally occurring, is that correct?

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 02-15-2013, 12:06 AM
#7
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(02-14-2013, 11:23 PM)Songwind Wrote: I'm not saying you're right or wrong about your particular stick of alum being synthesized, but you seem to be saying that ammonium alum as a substance isn't naturally occurring, is that correct?

Yes, that's correct. Potassium alum is naturally occurring; ammonium alum is not, despite packaging often stating that it is a 'natural mineral' or some such. The term 'natural' is not regulated. It could mean just about anything you want to imagine it means.

Ammonium alum is made by combining aluminium hydroxide, ammonium sulphate and sulphuric acid (usually, as far as i'm aware). It's not bad stuff; just a bit 'bitier' than potassium alum, but it is certainly not a naturally occurring substance.

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 02-15-2013, 08:41 AM
#8
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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(02-14-2013, 09:36 PM)Shaun Wrote: Anyone know a genuine potassium alum block available cheaply in a health food store or some such? (In Australia, preferably; shipping kills us here).

Hi

Copied from here...

Quote:If you can pick up Thai Crystal Deodorant Stick from a local "health" shop you will be buying 100% Potassium Alum, even though the label states "Ingredients: Mineral Salts", I recently contacted the company that produces/sells it and asked them what "Mineral Salts" referred to and their answer was 100% Potassium Alum.

Take care, Mike

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 02-15-2013, 08:52 AM
#9
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I have the RazoRock alum stick that is potassium. I don't use it anymore unless I get a weeper, but it never stung. I tried using the alum deodorant stick once and it ate my under arms up with a nasty rash, so I'll stick to potassium for all of my alum needs.

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 02-15-2013, 01:18 PM
#10
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(02-15-2013, 08:41 AM)mikeperry Wrote:
(02-14-2013, 09:36 PM)Shaun Wrote: Anyone know a genuine potassium alum block available cheaply in a health food store or some such? (In Australia, preferably; shipping kills us here).

Hi

Copied from here...

Quote:If you can pick up Thai Crystal Deodorant Stick from a local "health" shop you will be buying 100% Potassium Alum, even though the label states "Ingredients: Mineral Salts", I recently contacted the company that produces/sells it and asked them what "Mineral Salts" referred to and their answer was 100% Potassium Alum.

Take care, Mike

Hi Mike, thanks for this.

I tested the site and shipping to Australia comes up as $0, interestingly. I also contacted the company to see if this is correct. If it is, it's an opportunity to stock up, and make gifts available to my friends and family here. The oval stone looks the most suitable for shaving purposes.

I will let members here know if shipping is in fact free.

Once more, thanks Mike

Shaun

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 02-15-2013, 01:46 PM
#11
  • mikeperry
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  • St Louis via the UK
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(02-15-2013, 01:18 PM)Shaun Wrote: I tested the site and shipping to Australia comes up as $0, interestingly. I also contacted the company to see if this is correct. If it is, it's an opportunity to stock up, and make gifts available to my friends and family here. The oval stone looks the most suitable for shaving purposes.

I will let members here know if shipping is in fact free.

Hi Shaun

No worries and nice to hear it might be a good solution for you. Fingers-crossed on the "FREE" shipping.

I'd not seen (noticed) the Oval Stone option before, but agree it does look like a good option for shaving purposes.

I have the Deodorant Stick and use it as my (post-shave) Alum when traveling -- it works very! well and having used both Potassium Alum and Ammonium Alum as a post shave treatment I feel as sure as I can be that Thai Crystal is as they say "100% Potassium Alum".

Take care, Mike

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 02-15-2013, 08:30 PM
#12
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Shaun, if you find a natural health food store, you should be able to pick up a potassium alum deodorant crystal stone/rock. Most reputable health food stores should carry them.
Good luck.

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 02-15-2013, 10:00 PM
#13
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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Thanks. It seems here in Australia they don't label clearly the 'ingredients' in health food stores and merely assume that because it's for sale in a health food store, etc, it must be 'good' because it's 'natural'.. They simply say 'natural crystal' or something like that, the stones, I have found. When asked, usually the store owners have no clue what the alum actually is, or that ammonium alum is't a naturally occurring stone.

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 02-17-2013, 09:51 AM
#14
  • vferdman
  • Artisan
  • Western Massachusetts
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Amazing. I have paid as much as $10 for a block of alum, but in my local oriental food and spice store I got a bag of alum chunks that had to be at leas one pound in weight for $2.99. Go figure. I believe that is 100% potassium alum, but I have no evidence. Still, even for ammonium alum the price discrepancy is alarming.

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 02-17-2013, 02:12 PM
#15
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(02-17-2013, 09:51 AM)vferdman Wrote: Amazing. I have paid as much as $10 for a block of alum, but in my local oriental food and spice store I got a bag of alum chunks that had to be at leas one pound in weight for $2.99. Go figure. I believe that is 100% potassium alum, but I have no evidence. Still, even for ammonium alum the price discrepancy is alarming.

Bought straight from the source? Tongue

Although I do wonder if converting pellets into a block/stick/cylinder takes a good amount of effort or not.

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 02-17-2013, 05:12 PM
#16
  • vferdman
  • Artisan
  • Western Massachusetts
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(02-17-2013, 02:12 PM)asharperrazor Wrote: Bought straight from the source? Tongue

Although I do wonder if converting pellets into a block/stick/cylinder takes a good amount of effort or not.

Maybe making them regularly shaped does take effort and cost, but they work perfectly well in irregular shaped way too. In the older days the health stores sold "deodorant" crystals that way. Just chunks. I used them then as deodorant, never new about the shaving application, unfortunately. Anyway, if people want a chunk of alum check out your local oriental food/spice store. Pick up some spices while you are there, too. I love those places. I get sea salt there for fraction of the price of health food store too.

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 02-17-2013, 06:36 PM
#17
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This thread got me thinking....

Is the alum we use on our faces the same stuff as say, aluminum chloride/sesquichlorohydrate?

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 02-17-2013, 09:45 PM
#18
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(02-17-2013, 06:36 PM)asharperrazor Wrote: This thread got me thinking....

Is the alum we use on our faces the same stuff as say, aluminum chloride/sesquichlorohydrate?

No.

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 02-18-2013, 06:24 AM
#19
  • RobE
  • Active Member
  • NY USA
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Alum bars (blocks?) are something I'd never even heard of until a few weeks ago, and I just - maybe wrongly, assumed they were the same as Styptic pencils, which I've known of for years, and is all I'll occasionally use. I'll certainly have to do some reading-up on Alum.

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 02-18-2013, 09:53 AM
#20
  • vferdman
  • Artisan
  • Western Massachusetts
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(02-18-2013, 06:24 AM)RobE Wrote: Alum bars (blocks?) are something I'd never even heard of until a few weeks ago, and I just - maybe wrongly, assumed they were the same as Styptic pencils, which I've known of for years, and is all I'll occasionally use. I'll certainly have to do some reading-up on Alum.

Don't read, just go out and buy one of the Thai Crystal deodorant sticks in your local health food store (Whole Foods?). It's about $7. Then just use it immediately after the shave to tighten up the skin and close the pores and tiny bleeders, if any. Leave on for a minute or two and then rinse off with cond water and follow with whatever you want. I use alcohol-free whitch hazel and skip any kind of alcohol based AS splash or balm. Keeps the skin healthy.

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