05-14-2014, 11:18 AM
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Potassium alum - technically known as KAl(SO4)2 - has several interesting abilities and uses; for tanning hides, for clarifying water (settling and removing of particles), making flame retardants and fire extinguishers. as a preservative and spice for pickling, as an alternative for pomade for those sporting a flattop hairstyle, as an astringents and a blood coagulant, and it has antiperspirant and anti bacterial properties.

The later - the antiperspirant and anti bacterial properties - was discovered in antiquity, even if they probably didn't use those terms back then... after all, bacteria wasn't discovered until 1676, and their connection with diseases not understood until the last part of the 1800's. What they did notice back in antiquity was that it would stop you from sweating and stinking up the place... in other words, that alum worked as a deodorant.

For the last year and a half - maybe a bit longer - I've been mainly using a hunk of potassium alum under my arms instead of the mix of chemicals that have become more common to use in the western world. It works well for me, if I observe two basic rules: Put it on when I'm fresh out of the shower - it works best at keeping the stench at bay if my pit's isn't already stinking - and put it on damp...

I don't use alum in the GoBag - I simply can't guarantee when or if I'll get a shower on the go, so I resort to more common sorts of deodorants which covers the stench with a different smell.I also don't use alum on the warmest, muggiest days in the summertime - at least for me the antiperspirant properties of an alum block just isn't strong enough when I'm sweating like a pig.

Alum antiperspirants can be found in various forms; sticks, gels, roll-ons... or as I prefer, a hunk of alum crystal. If you're not happy with more common deodorants for whatever reason, I can and will recommend trying using alum as an antiperspirant instead; it may not be for everybody, but many wetshavers have some already so the cost of trying is near zero.

3 7,426
 05-16-2014, 01:39 PM
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I did not know that they were anti-perspirants. I was aware of the deodorant properties. Thanks!

32 6,609
 05-16-2014, 01:44 PM
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I used it as a deodorant and i like it a lot. Had no idea of the others uses besides as after shave astringent and deodorant dough.

1 202
 06-04-2014, 06:39 AM
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Very interesting. May have to give this a try!

66 352
 06-04-2014, 06:48 AM
  • Barrylu
  • Senior Member
  • Portland OR
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I agree I have been using it as a deodorant successfully fir the past few months. Don't know how well it will hold up in July and August but so far so good.

109 1,290
 06-05-2014, 10:28 AM
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I no longer use it on my face after shaving. However, I've been using it as a deodorant for years and it works very well at that.

60 10,887
 06-05-2014, 10:54 AM
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The only place for alum for me is in the garbage can. The stuff gives me a rash wherever I use it. If it's part of your routine and you are experiencing irritation regardless of which kit you use, then try removing the alum for a week. You may be pleasantly surprised.

31 8,065
 06-06-2014, 01:36 AM
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(06-05-2014, 10:54 AM)SharpSpine Wrote: The only place for alum for me is in the garbage can. The stuff gives me a rash wherever I use it. If it's part of your routine and you are experiencing irritation regardless of which kit you use, then try removing the alum for a week. You may be pleasantly surprised.

same here.

every time I used it, my face was on fire. in fact, I think I may of tossed/sold/traded a few soaps/creams because I thought they were giving my skin problems, but it was likely the alum.

40 5,829
 06-06-2014, 06:07 AM
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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There are two types on alum. The stronger and more corrosive is ammonium alum, often passed off as 'natural crystal' in health food stores.

Then there is the milder potassium alum which is kinder on the skin (I find, at any rate). I wouldn't let ammonium alum near my face.

If it doesn't specify 'potassium alum' on the package, don't trust it, even if it says 'natural'. It's likely from Thailand and is an industry by-product.

Then again, some folk find even potassium alum too astringent. I have sensitive skin and have no problems with the real deal.

0 2,363
 06-06-2014, 03:46 PM
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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Been using the ammonium alum type deodorant stick post shave for a year and no problems. It does sting a bit more than the potassium alum types when you screw up the shave but that is about it so far. Asked a pharmacist what the difference was between the two types and was told something like not much but the ammonium based one will sting more.


0 1,693
 06-26-2014, 01:58 PM
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I bought a stick of the crystals alum to try on my feet.

I typically use regular antiperspirant on my feet to keep them from sweating, but I'm trying to move away from using that as the body's natural action is to sweat..

40 5,829
 08-07-2014, 12:06 AM
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Ahh, good ol' Alum.. My worst memory was using this stuff on the WORST Razor Burn/Nicks in History on my neck. Boy, did that BURN! I think it may have made matters a whole lot worse but I was new to Alum at the time and figured it might help lol.

Anyways, yes, Alum is great as a Deodorant. I recently stopped using it because I dropped it in the sink and it broke but I need to start using it again. Just not as nice when it has sharp edges!

46 1,102
 11-08-2015, 04:30 AM
  • Jsanchez
  • Active Member
  • Ramstein AB, Germany
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Interesting, I've never used alum for a deodorant but it works wonders on cold sores in the mouth.

22 368
 11-08-2015, 03:40 PM
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I have used alum (potassium) after shaving for as long as I can remember.  As with anything you put on your face, quality matters:  a good quality potassium alum, with no impurities, normally shouldn't cause irritation.  Has to be put on moist, and -- IMHO -- should be washed off with cold water shortly thereafter.   It is not desirable to leave a deposit of any salt on your face -- as to leaving the deposit as a deodorant, I can't say.   Used this way, it has never caused me irritation.


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