09-16-2016, 02:45 AM
#1
  • Teddyboy
  • Guilty, with an explanation
  • NYC
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Hi guys.  I am on a journey to find the best alum block.  Do any of you notice differences in effectiveness between different brands of alum blocks?


Which is your favorite?

Thanks for your input

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 09-16-2016, 04:00 AM
#2
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I haven't used alum in years, and don't recall any major differences among different brands.  I did have a preference for the largest block I could find.  If you go to The Superior Shave, they have a nice selection of French alum blocks made by OSMA.

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 09-16-2016, 04:38 AM
#3
  • Giorgio
  • Senior Member
  • Pennsylvania, US
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I stopped using Alum a while back, and while I never noticed a difference in the brands I used (probably used 3) I do recall something about there being multiple types of Alum (2 major types if I recall), and one being more suitable for use during a shave.


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 09-16-2016, 04:43 AM
#4
  • nikos.a
  • Senior Member
  • Athens, Greece
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I have tried only two Alums, the Omega in stick form and the Osma alum block. I prefer the latter, but I can't detect any major differences between these two.

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 09-16-2016, 04:43 AM
#5
  • Steelman
  • SUPPORT OUR POLICE OFFICERS
  • Delaware
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When necessary, I use an alum stick. I think they are easier to use than blocks and keeps my fingers from drying out. Something like this...

[Image: H4WArVo.jpg]

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 09-16-2016, 08:18 AM
#6
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I've never used alum.

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 09-16-2016, 09:55 AM
#7
  • RSP1
  • Active Member
  • Western NY
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I use the RazoRock stick.  Pretty much the same thing as the Omega pictured above.  Alum is alum.

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 09-16-2016, 12:06 PM
#8
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(09-16-2016, 09:55 AM)RSP1 Wrote: Alum is alum.

Yes, but also no.

Finding the relevant posts would mean going back in the archives a few years, but the key take away is as follows:
  • Alum is both a class of chemical compounds and a specific chemical compound - much in the same way as salt*. The specific compound is potassium alum (aka potash alum, or potassium aluminum sulfate), with the chemical formula KAl(SO4)2. More widely, alums are double sulfate salts, with the general formula AM(SO4)2·12H2O, where A is a monovalent cation such as potassium or ammonium and M is a trivalent metal ion such as aluminum or chromium(III).
  • Potassium alum is a naturally occurring compound, which in the past was obtained from alunite, a mineral mined from sulfur-containing volcanic sediments source. Historically it's been used as a natural deodorant, and as an astringent/styptic and antiseptic -  in addition to the use for tanning, dyeing, clarifying liquids, fire retardant, and pickling.
  • Other alums such as soda alum, ferric alum, and ammonium alum are manufactured, and can be used for many if not all of the things naturally occurring alum is used for. However; since these are different chemical compounds, they will vary in toxicity, taste, skin feel and other properties**.
  • The most common alums used when shaving is potassium alum and somewhat less commonly ammonium alum (aka ammonium aluminium sulfate). The later is sometimes considered inferior, since most shavers feels that it stings more. There is also been claims that there is a link between the use of ammonium alum and dementia, however I have found no solid studies in the field after a brief look.
TL : DR***? Stick with potassium alum, but don't freak out about it.

*    ) By salt we commonly mean sodium chloride, but salt is also a class of ionic compound that results from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base.
**  ) Much like lead diacetate is wildly different from ordinary table salt in taste (it's sweet) and toxicity (it'll give you lead poisoning).
***) Too Long - Didn't Read. Said whenever a nerd makes a post that is too long to bother reading.

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 09-16-2016, 12:28 PM
#9
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
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(09-16-2016, 04:43 AM)nikos.a Wrote: I have tried only two Alums, the Omega in stick form and the Osma alum block. I prefer the latter, but I can't detect any major differences between these two.
My experience mirrors your's, Nick.

(09-16-2016, 04:43 AM)Steelman Wrote: When necessary, I use an alum stick. I think they are easier to use than blocks and keeps my fingers from drying out. Something like this...

[Image: H4WArVo.jpg]
It's very convenient. Less expensive than Osma brand, too.

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 09-16-2016, 12:30 PM
#10
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Bayside, NY
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(09-16-2016, 12:06 PM)WegianWarrior Wrote:
(09-16-2016, 09:55 AM)RSP1 Wrote: Alum is alum.

Yes, but also no.

Finding the relevant posts would mean going back in the archives a few years, but the key take away is as follows:

  • Alum is both a class of chemical compounds and a specific chemical compound - much in the same way as salt*. The specific compound is potassium alum (aka potash alum, or potassium aluminum sulfate), with the chemical formula KAl(SO4)2. More widely, alums are double sulfate salts, with the general formula AM(SO4)2·12H2O, where A is a monovalent cation such as potassium or ammonium and M is a trivalent metal ion such as aluminum or chromium(III).
  • Potassium alum is a naturally occurring compound, which in the past was obtained from alunite, a mineral mined from sulfur-containing volcanic sediments source. Historically it's been used as a natural deodorant, and as an astringent/styptic and antiseptic -  in addition to the use for tanning, dyeing, clarifying liquids, fire retardant, and pickling.
  • Other alums such as soda alum, ferric alum, and ammonium alum are manufactured, and can be used for many if not all of the things naturally occurring alum is used for. However; since these are different chemical compounds, they will vary in toxicity, taste, skin feel and other properties**.
  • The most common alums used when shaving is potassium alum and somewhat less commonly ammonium alum (aka ammonium aluminium sulfate). The later is sometimes considered inferior, since most shavers feels that it stings more. There is also been claims that there is a link between the use of ammonium alum and dementia, however I have found no solid studies in the field after a brief look.
TL : DR***? Stick with potassium alum, but don't freak out about it.

*    ) By salt we commonly mean sodium chloride, but salt is also a class of ionic compound that results from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base.
**  ) Much like lead diacetate is wildly different from ordinary table salt in taste (it's sweet) and toxicity (it'll give you lead poisoning).
***) Too Long - Didn't Read. Said whenever a nerd makes a post that is too long to bother reading.

Great post, Hans.

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 09-16-2016, 12:39 PM
#11
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(09-16-2016, 09:55 AM)RSP1 Wrote: I use the RazoRock stick.  Pretty much the same thing as the Omega pictured above.  Alum is alum.

Not true. Aside from there being actual chemical differences, most brands used for shaving are Potassium Alum. Some brands (Osma, the Omega stick) are solid and smooth, while others are what seem like pressed and rough (I'm looking at you Gentleman Jon), and dissolve very fast. 

I don't really ever use it for shaving these days anyway, but rather as underarm deodorant. No more crispy armpit stains on my shirts!!!

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 09-16-2016, 12:52 PM
#12
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The only Alum I have is from Maggard's and I use it very rarely. I heard good things about the Osma brand.

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 09-16-2016, 01:13 PM
#13
  • Teddyboy
  • Guilty, with an explanation
  • NYC
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(09-16-2016, 12:06 PM)WegianWarrior Wrote:
(09-16-2016, 09:55 AM)RSP1 Wrote: Alum is alum.

Yes, but also no.

Finding the relevant posts would mean going back in the archives a few years, but the key take away is as follows:

  • Alum is both a class of chemical compounds and a specific chemical compound - much in the same way as salt*. The specific compound is potassium alum (aka potash alum, or potassium aluminum sulfate), with the chemical formula KAl(SO4)2. More widely, alums are double sulfate salts, with the general formula AM(SO4)2·12H2O, where A is a monovalent cation such as potassium or ammonium and M is a trivalent metal ion such as aluminum or chromium(III).
  • Potassium alum is a naturally occurring compound, which in the past was obtained from alunite, a mineral mined from sulfur-containing volcanic sediments source. Historically it's been used as a natural deodorant, and as an astringent/styptic and antiseptic -  in addition to the use for tanning, dyeing, clarifying liquids, fire retardant, and pickling.
  • Other alums such as soda alum, ferric alum, and ammonium alum are manufactured, and can be used for many if not all of the things naturally occurring alum is used for. However; since these are different chemical compounds, they will vary in toxicity, taste, skin feel and other properties**.
  • The most common alums used when shaving is potassium alum and somewhat less commonly ammonium alum (aka ammonium aluminium sulfate). The later is sometimes considered inferior, since most shavers feels that it stings more. There is also been claims that there is a link between the use of ammonium alum and dementia, however I have found no solid studies in the field after a brief look.
TL : DR***? Stick with potassium alum, but don't freak out about it.

*    ) By salt we commonly mean sodium chloride, but salt is also a class of ionic compound that results from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base.
**  ) Much like lead diacetate is wildly different from ordinary table salt in taste (it's sweet) and toxicity (it'll give you lead poisoning).
***) Too Long - Didn't Read. Said whenever a nerd makes a post that is too long to bother reading.

Now here is a man with a curious mind who also likes to read.  Thank you for the background and input.

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 09-16-2016, 01:16 PM
#14
  • Teddyboy
  • Guilty, with an explanation
  • NYC
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Gentlemen, thank you.  It looks like Osma-Or-Bust, mainly for its reputation.  I also like the idea of an alum stick.  I don't know why I wouldn't buy both for an extra $6 or so.  How many thousands of dollars have I already spent on this crazy hobby/obsession?

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 09-16-2016, 02:32 PM
#15
  • RSP1
  • Active Member
  • Western NY
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(09-16-2016, 12:06 PM)WegianWarrior Wrote:
(09-16-2016, 09:55 AM)RSP1 Wrote: Alum is alum.

Yes, but also no.

Finding the relevant posts would mean going back in the archives a few years, but the key take away is as follows:
  • Alum is both a class of chemical compounds and a specific chemical compound - much in the same way as salt*. The specific compound is potassium alum (aka potash alum, or potassium aluminum sulfate), with the chemical formula KAl(SO4)2. More widely, alums are double sulfate salts, with the general formula AM(SO4)2·12H2O, where A is a monovalent cation such as potassium or ammonium and M is a trivalent metal ion such as aluminum or chromium(III).
  • Potassium alum is a naturally occurring compound, which in the past was obtained from alunite, a mineral mined from sulfur-containing volcanic sediments source. Historically it's been used as a natural deodorant, and as an astringent/styptic and antiseptic -  in addition to the use for tanning, dyeing, clarifying liquids, fire retardant, and pickling.
  • Other alums such as soda alum, ferric alum, and ammonium alum are manufactured, and can be used for many if not all of the things naturally occurring alum is used for. However; since these are different chemical compounds, they will vary in toxicity, taste, skin feel and other properties**.
  • The most common alums used when shaving is potassium alum and somewhat less commonly ammonium alum (aka ammonium aluminium sulfate). The later is sometimes considered inferior, since most shavers feels that it stings more. There is also been claims that there is a link between the use of ammonium alum and dementia, however I have found no solid studies in the field after a brief look.
TL : DR***? Stick with potassium alum, but don't freak out about it.

*    ) By salt we commonly mean sodium chloride, but salt is also a class of ionic compound that results from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base.
**  ) Much like lead diacetate is wildly different from ordinary table salt in taste (it's sweet) and toxicity (it'll give you lead poisoning).
***) Too Long - Didn't Read. Said whenever a nerd makes a post that is too long to bother reading.


Wow! Thank you for the knowledge bomb. I should've done my homework before I responded.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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 09-16-2016, 02:51 PM
#16
  • kav
  • Banned
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Rough textured alum is the same as smooth- which has been cosmetically shaved.

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 09-16-2016, 02:54 PM
#17
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(09-16-2016, 02:51 PM)kav Wrote: Rough textured alum is the same as smooth- which has been cosmetically shaved.

Why does it dissolve 10 times as fast ? I drop and break the smooth Osma blocks before they shrink, whereas I've worn through blocks of rough alum in a few months, both cared for in the same manner. Also, the smooth Osma blocks as well as the omega stick stay smooth, the rough blocks just get rougher as they dissolve.

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 09-16-2016, 03:13 PM
#18
  • kav
  • Banned
  • east of the sun,west of the moon
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I was told they were shaved. I could be wrong and the rough forms are the equal to a creme VS a triple milled soap? It's all good stuff.

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 09-16-2016, 04:09 PM
#19
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I stopped using it because it stings, and I didn't experience any post shave benefits.  I also had some concerns about a supposed link between aluminum and alzheimer's, although I've never seen any credible scientific evidence on this.

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 09-16-2016, 06:48 PM
#20
  • kav
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Aluminum and alzheimers is an old urban legend with utterly no basis in any research. Modern medicine has pretty well figured out that plaque buildup in the brain as cause. All of us have, or will experience a gully washer cut that no tourniquet will staunch. Keep some alum for that day.

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