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What is Crystal Deodorant?

By Shirley Siluk Gregory
Updated May 21, 2024
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A crystal deodorant is a deodorant product made with potassium alum or ammonium alum. Both are double sulfate forms of the class of minerals known as alums. Alum crystals are highly soluble in water, which explains their ability to act as a deodorant.

When a crystal deodorant is applied to the underarms, some of the mineral is dissolved by the body's sweat (the stick can also be pre-moistened with water). This leaves behind a thin layer of mineral salts on the skin's surface. That layer of salt prevents body sweat from coming into contact with odor-causing bacteria.

Unlike antiperspirants, which reduce the amount of sweat the body produces, deodorants are designed to prevent naturally odorless sweat from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. Most commercial deodorant products contain antibacterial agents or perfumes to prevent body odor or mask its scent. People who choose to use a crystal deodorant instead often do so because they are concerned about the potential health risks of applying such chemicals to the thin and highly absorbent layer of skin under the arm.

Many people also find that rock deodorants are gentler on the skin. The Mayo Clinic notes that commercial antiperspirants are linked to skin irritation more than any other cosmetic product.

Crystal deodorants have long been used in many cultures, including ancient Egypt, China and other parts of Asia. The Roman philosopher Pliny (AD 23 - 79) gave one of the first recorded descriptions of the properties of alum crystals in his encyclopedia Natural History.

Today, Thailand is one of the largest producers of commercial deodorant stones. The stones are manufactured rather than mined. Mineral salts taken from the Earth are crystallized from an aqueous solution then hand-shaped into crystal deodorant form before being packaged and shipped to market. Numerous companies sell these rock deodorants under a variety of product names.

In addition to the benefits of being natural, a crystal deodorant can also be a cost-effective alternative for preventing body odor. A single crystal deodorant stone can last up to one year -- much longer than the typical commercial deodorant product. Unlike other deodorants and antiperspirants, rock deodorants are also hypoallergenic, don't stain clothing and do not involve lab testing on animals.

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 anon285145 — On Aug 14, 2012

What caught my eye was potassium alum. Isn't aluminum the very reason we're looking for alternative "natural" ways to beat sweating? Isn't it the very chemical that is believed to be causing breast cancer?

By anon226442 — On Nov 01, 2011

Alum is short for aluminum sulphate, hence Potassium aluminum sulphate, Ammonium aluminum sulphate. These stones may contain a higher aluminum content than the antiperspirants you are trying to avoid.

By anon95355 — On Jul 12, 2010

Crystal deodorants can be dangerous. There are too many risks involved. I stay the natural way and use a natural deodorant. I have allergies and natural products I find online work the best!

By anon93031 — On Jul 01, 2010

In your post I find interesting fact about using crystal All Natural Deodorant by Egyptians and Romans. Thank you!

I know that the he problem of body odor is ancient, as are mans' attempts to solve it. From the dawn of written history, 5,500 years ago, every major civilization has left a record of its efforts to produce deodorants.

The early Egyptians recommend following a scented bath with an underarm application of perfumed oils. They even developed special citrus and cinnamon preparations that would not turn rancid in the heat and render them offensive.

By anon85690 — On May 21, 2010

Nice post. Accurate and to the point. I think deodorant stones are great and work well, too. It is just unfortunate that even the manufactured deodorant stones claim to be natural and try to deceive consumers. Verdan, a natural deodorant stone producer, shows some interesting photos comparing natural deodorant stones and manufactured deodorant stones.

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