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What is Alum Deodorant?

By S. Gonzales
Updated May 21, 2024
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Alum deodorant is a natural deodorant alternative to potentially dangerous, commercially available deodorants. Most deodorants found in stores use a toxic aluminum compound in their antiperspirant formulation, but an alum deodorant employs safe forms such as potassium alum or ammonium alum. These deodorants are for consumers who want to use safe, natural products on their bodies and reduce their risks of diseases and disorders.

Deodorants that are marketed as crystal deodorants usually contain potassium alum or ammonium alum. These are natural crystals and stones that are better for the body than their toxic aluminum counterparts. Thailand, Mexico and the Far East have used these types of deodorants for many years.

Potentially toxic aluminum compounds such as aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium typically are found in antiperspirants available in stores. Much of the danger associated with these compounds can be traced back to their composition. These compounds are soluble and can be absorbed through the skin. After the compounds have been absorbed, the aluminum molecules can be ionized, which can then form free radicals. Free radicals can travel across cell membranes and negatively effect the kidney, liver, brain, cartilage and bone marrow.

Studies have called into question aluminum's safety in personal care products such as antiperspirants. Seizures, breast cancer, kidney problems, Alzheimer's disease and bone formation disorders have been linked to the use of aluminum in antiperspirants. An antiperspirant's effectiveness often can be correlated to the amount of aluminum that is contained in it, so health concerns have arisen among consumers. As a result, many consumers have taken to looking for and using natural alternatives to antiperspirants that contain these dangerous aluminum compounds.

In contrast to aluminum, potassium alum is considered to be pure. Potassium alum contains a negative ionic charge, which does not allow it to travel across cell membranes, so it cannot be absorbed like aluminum can. Excess chemicals, oils, fragrances and alcohol usually are not found in these products. Pure potassium alum is colorless, and alums are even pure and powerful enough to be used as an astringent. An alum deodorant that contains potassium alum can be found at health food stores, green-living stores and online.

There are many health risks associated with the use of aluminum in antiperspirants, but potassium alum and ammonium pose no similar risks. Some people can experience minor skin irritation after using an alum deodorant that contains potassium alum, but potassium alum has not been linked to cancer. In fact, doctors have recommended the use of alum deodorant for cancer patients who are undergoing radiation treatment.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By savyhick — On Sep 29, 2017

To understand how alum deodorant works, you have to understand how body odor works. Bacteria on the skin digests sweat which results in odor. In other words: bacteria + sweat = smell.

Plain deodorant works by simply covering up the smell with a scent of it's own. For many, this just doesn't do the trick. Antiperspirant works by causing your sweat glands to swell shut. No sweat = no smell. This also reduces the ability of the body to get rid of toxins and some people can get a severe rash from antiperspirants.

Alum crystal deodorant works by attacking the other part of the body odor equation. It leaves a thin film that kills bacteria for several hours. No bacteria = no smell. As an added benefit, most people that are allergic to antiperspirants can use alum crystal deodorant.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when using alum crystal deodorant is applying them dry. The crystal must be wet in order to leave the antimicrobial film. Another issue is using it after body odor sets in. While it does great at preventing body odor, it can't help if you've already got it. Alum crystal works best when applied after showering.

By anon973060 — On Oct 08, 2014

My understanding is that alum is potassium aluminum sulphate. Therefore the rock crystal natural deodorants do contain aluminum, but in a different compound, Whether this carries similar health risks to the more widely available commercial types of compound does not seem to be proven yet scientifically. But the rock crystal alum works for me.

By anon344126 — On Aug 06, 2013

Yea, ammonium alum isn't exactly aluminum free though, since it is a double sulfate of aluminum.

By SarahSon — On Aug 11, 2012

@sunshined,-- Just because a deodorant is hypoallergenic doesn't necessarily mean it is an alum deodorant. The label should clearly tell you whether there is aluminum in the product or not.

I use an alum crystal deodorant that is considered hypoallergenic and contains no aluminum. I have been very pleased with this product. Other alum deodorants I have tried in the past didn't seem to work as well.

I just kept trying different ones until I found one that worked for me. They aren't that expensive to buy, and it was important enough to me that I use a deodorant that didn't have aluminum in it.

There are products out there that work just as well, you just might have to try a few of them before you find one that works best for you.

By bagley79 — On Aug 11, 2012

For those of you who use an alum deodorant, do you find that they work as well as traditional deodorants?

I have used them in the past and have not been happy with them. Most of them are unscented, which doesn't bother me, but I don't feel like they do as good of a job.

If it is a hot day, or I am under stress, I feel like I have to keep re-applying the deodorant. When I use other deodorants, I don't have this problem.

By sunshined — On Aug 10, 2012

Is a hypoallergenic deodorant the same thing as an alum deodorant?

I have really sensitive skin and will break out when I use most deodorants. When I finally found a deodorant that wouldn't make me break out, I have stuck with it. If it has aluminum in it though, I think I will try to find an alum deodorant that would work.

By Mykol — On Aug 10, 2012

I have used an aluminum free deodorant for a long time. Many years ago I started selling products for a health and nutrition company and learned that aluminum in most deodorants could possibly be linked with Alzheimer's disease.

I find it interesting that it has taken so many years for this information to become more widespread. When I would tell people about this years ago, they didn't take me seriously.

Now many people have heard this from TV programs or reading about it in magazines and they don't think I am so crazy.

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