In your day to day life, you must have come across various chemicals. Alum is one of those chemicals. It is used widely in different fields. Its uses date back to the classical times. You can also use it in many scenarios as a remedy.

It can even lead to severe diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s. If you are curious about the uses and side-effects of alum, you came to the right place. Here, you will get to know everything about alum.

First of all, when you hear the word alum; the thing that comes to the mind is its use in shaving. But, there is more to alum than we think. It has been used in traditional medicines and has many medicinal uses and health benefits.

Alum is a white powder or crystalline salt of aluminum sulfate. It is soluble in water. It has various uses and health benefits.But you need to make sure that only a pinch is used when taken internally.

Also, it is recommended not to use alum on the skin on a daily basis. Large intake of alum has adverse side effects for the health. So, it is essential to keep the alum stone and alum powder away from children.

Now, let’s see alum in details.

WHAT IS ALUM?

You see, alum is both a specific and combined compound. The one that you usually use is potassium alum. But, there are different types of alum. Some alum occurs as minerals while some are synthesized. It is known by various names according to the regions.

Alum has been in use since long because of its wonderful uses Alum is either sold as a fine powder or in blocks. It is also called shaving alum in the shops

For home remedies, you can powder it in a mortar and pestle to a fine powder, if you have got it in blocks. Alum is popularly used around the world for shaving and water treatment.

It purifies water, and it is one ingredient always advised for campers if they run out of the good water. We also use alum for canker sores, treatment for cracked heels, and even for mouth odor. Alum is very cheap, so try to have a block of alum for treating a variety of diseases at home.

Health Benefits & Uses Of Alum

Health Benefits & Uses Of Alum
Health Benefits & Uses Of Alum

Now, I shall list the home remedies or recipes. The alum in use is the potash alum.

1. ALUM FOR CANKER SORES:

Usually, for canker sores, grind a small piece of alum and then press a pinch of it over the canker sore. It stings for a while, but the next day you will feel relief. This homemade alum mouth rinse is an excellent way to get rid of mouth sores.

To make the rinse, grind the alum. Boil water in a pan along with little salt, once the salt dissolves remove from the heat and stir in the alum powder. Then, strain and use it as a mouth rinse at least 2 to 3 times a day.

Salt is also very effective in treating canker sores, and this mouth rinse can be safely used by both young and old. If you use raw alum powder, make sure not to swallow it while applying and use only a tiny bit.

2. ALUM FOR EYE ABSCESS:

Alum is wonderful for treating eye abscess. First, rub alum on a sandalwood stone along with little water. Rub it nicely to get a paste.

This paste is very effective, and it stings initially when applied. But the boil breaks on the same day it is used, giving one a pleasant relief from eye abscess

3. ALUM FOR CRACKED HEELS:

Alum powder is beneficial in treating cracked heels. For this, heat alum in a small empty pan. When we heat alum, it liquefies and foams. Once all the water evaporates, let it cool.

Once it cools down, grind it and mix with coconut oil and apply on the heels. Grind the mixture smoothly; else it will be difficult to apply it.

4. ALUM FOR SHAVING:

Alum has been used as an after-shave treatment for centuries. To use, after shaving, rub a piece of alum block over the wet face for few seconds. You may wash it off or leave it on the skin.

For the first time, you might not like it. But if you continue to use it, you will find improvement in your skin tone.

5. ALUM FOR WATER PURIFICATION:

To purify muddy water, add about 1 gm of alum powder for every liter of muddy water. You will find the muddy particles settling down, leaving you with clear water.

6. ALUM AS A DEODOURANT:

Alum is wonderful as a deodorant due to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. To make the deodorant, powder alum along with little myrrh and use it as a dusting powder.

Or you could simply wet an alum block and use it. It is advised to use it every other day instead of every day.

7. ALUM FOR HAIR REMOVAL:

Alum can be used efficiently for body hair removal. A mixture of alum powder and water or better still rosewater can be applied all over the body. This paste retards the body hair growth over time.

8. ALUM FOR WRINKLES:

Alum tends to tighten the skin and can be used for wrinkles. Take a piece of alum and wet it in water. Rub it on your damp face. Wash your face with water and apply moisturizer.

9. ALUM FOR PIMPLES:

A face pack of egg whites, powdered alum and fuller’s earth is very effective in treating acne.

10. ALUM FOR LICE TREATMENT:

Alum can be used to get rid of hair lice. To make the lice treatment, mix powdered alum in water along with little tea tree oil. Applying this mixture on the scalp for some time helps to get rid of lice.

11. ALUM FOR TOOTHACHES:

Grind alum with Reetha (Sapindus Mukorossi) pip. Apply the mixture on the teeth and gums to get relief.

12. ALUM FOR PILES:

For this, mix a pinch of powder alum in lukewarm. Sit in the mixture for a few minutes. This is a temporary method to provide relief.

13. ALUM FOR TONSILLITIS:

To treat tonsillitis, there are two methods. The first one is simple. You need to roast a piece of alum and mix it in lukewarm milk.

The second mixture consists of turmeric and warm water. You need to mix a tablespoon of turmeric and a teaspoon of alum to a cup of warm water. Gargle with this mixture.

14. ALUM FOR COLD AND COUGH:

Here, you need a tablespoon of roasted alum. Grind the alum with six tablespoons of sugar. Store it in a container. Use a quarter of a teaspoon of the ground mixture. Have it with lukewarm milk at night.

15. ALUM FOR FEVER:

Mix alum with dried ginger. Grind it. Mix it in milk.

16. ALUM FOR WOUNDS:

For external wounds, alum provides antiseptic property. It soothes prickling and puffiness like bee stings. It also helps to prevent blood loss. Directly apply some alum on the affected area.

For internal wounds, you can have a mix of turmeric and alum in milk. Otherwise, you may drink a mixture of 1 gram of alum and ten tablespoons of curd in a cup of water.

17. ALUM FOR SKIN LIGHTENING:

For this, add alum to boiling water. Cool the water. Then, use it to wash your face. It lightens the skin as well as tones it.

18. ALUM FOR JAUNDICE:

Grind 5 grams of alum. Then, divide it into ten equal portion or doses. Mix one dose in a cup of warm milk. Drink this three times a day. It is effective for jaundice.

19. ALUM FOR LEPROSY, ECZEMA ETC:

For this, burn about 200grams of alum. Collect the ash. Make a paste of 2 grams of the alum ash with honey and some extracts of carrot. Apply this on the affected area.

20. ALUM FOR URINARY PROBLEMS:

If you face problems during urination, drink a mix of a small amount of alum with water. It will ease the problem within a week.

21. ALUM FOR MUSCLE CRAMPS:

Alum has blood thinning property. When it mixes with the antiseptic property of turmeric, it can ease muscle cramps as well as inflammations.

22. ALUM FOR ATHLETE’S FOOT:

Boil water with alum in it. Soak your feet in the water till the water is warm. You should soak it for at least 20 minutes. Do this daily and avoid synthetic fibers.

23. ALUM FOR SKIN TIGHTENING:

Alum is an astringent and hence can contract any part of the body it contacts. Washing the face with alum mixed water tones it.

But, these days it is used to tighten loose vagina. Dissolve alum in hot water, let it cool. Use it to wash. Its effect last for 2-3 hours. Or else you can soak a tampon in the water and place it in the vagina. Remove after a few minutes.

Don’t keep it in for long. Also, never use direct alum. You shouldn’t repeat the process without breaks. It is because it can dry and scar the inner tissues.

24. ALUM FOR DIARRHOEA AND DYSENTERY:

Alum had drying property. The alum root helps in dealing with diarrhea and dysentery.

25. ALUM FOR BLACKHEADS:

Combine a pinch of alum powder with water or rose water. Apply it around the area of the blackheads. Do not rub it. Daily use may result in the removal of blackheads.

26. ALUM FOR MISCARRIAGES:

Mix ¼ of a teaspoon in a cup of milk and churn it. Drink the mixture.

27. ALUM FOR NOSEBLEEDS:

Alum has astringent property. This helps in stopping nosebleeds. Add a pinch of alum powder in half a teaspoon of lukewarm ghee. Mix it well. Put a drop of the mixture in the nostrils to stop the bleed.

28. ALUM FOR EARS:

Sometimes a condition known as Purulent Otorrhea can result in pus in the ear. In such a situation, it may also lead to hearing impairment.

Apply alum powder on the interface, and it can do wonders. It can heal the ear.

29. ALUM FOR THROAT HOARSENESS:

Mix equal quantity of alum, baking soda, and salt. Grind them together. Take one teaspoon of the mixture in lukewarm water and gargle with it.

30. ALUM FOR ITCHES:

For itches, mix two teaspoons of alum with two tablespoons of ground alum. Make it into a paste. Apply the paste in the area of the irritation.

SIDE EFFECTS OF USING ALUM

Below listed are some of the side effects.

  • Potassium alum may be a weak irritant to the skin.
  • A higher dose of alum use affects the human semen and fructose level in men.
  • Prolonged use in higher amount might cause cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.
  • Astringents, for example, potassium alum can dry your skin excessively, making the skin peel and look dry and flaky. If you have delicate skin, astringents can bring about rashes, redness, consuming and disturbance.

OTHER USES OF ALUM

Alum is used in various ways and hence I will divide it as topics.It is used in a simple household as well as industries. It covers almost all fields; cosmetics, culinary, medicines, etc.

Now let’s take a look at the uses.

1. Industrial Uses Of Alum-

 The members of an alum are used mostly in industries are potassium, sodium, and ammonium. It is used in the dying of clothes. These days it is primarily used for purification of water. When you add alum, the impurities form flocs. The flocs may float or settle, or it can be filtered before use.

Alum solution also has the property of dissolving steels while not affecting aluminum or base metals. It can be used to recover workpieces made of these metals with broken tool bits lodged inside them

2.  Cosmetics-

  • Alum in block form (usually potassium alum) can be used as a blood coagulant.
  • Styptic pencils containing aluminum sulfate or potassium aluminum sulfate are used as astringents to prevent bleeding from small shaving cuts.
  • Alum can be used in waxes for the removal of body hair or applied to the freshly waxed skin as a soothing agent.
  • In the 1950s, men sometimes applied alum to their hair as an alternative. When the hair dries, it will stay up all day.
  • Alum’s antiperspirant and antibacterial properties contribute to its traditional use as an underarm deodorant. It has been used for this purpose in Europe, Mexico, Thailand, throughout Asia and the Philippines. Today, potassium or ammonium alum is sold as a “deodorant crystal,” often in a protective plastic case.

3. Culinary-

  • Potash alum powder, found in the spice section of many grocery stores, may be used in pickling recipes as a preservative to maintain crispness of fruit and vegetable.
  • Alum is used as the acidic component of some commercial baking powders.

4. Flame retardant-

  • Solutions of alum may be used to treat cloth, wood, and paper materials to make it fire resistant.
  • Alum is also used for fireproofing wood.

5. Chemical flocculant

  • Alum is used to clarify water by neutralizing the electrical double layer surrounding the fine suspended particles, making them flocculate. After flocculation, the particle enlarges enough to settle and then you can remove it.
  • Alum increases the viscosity of a ceramic glaze suspension which makes the glaze more readily adherent. It also slows its rate of sedimentation.

6. Taxidermy

  • It is used in the tanning.  Alum removes moisture, prevent rotting, and produce leather from animal hides. Traditionally instead of tannic acid, alum was used which is called tawing and not tanning. It is because alum doesn’t bind to the hide and is washable.

7. Medicine

  • Alum is used in the treatment of canker sores in the mouth, as it has a significant drying effect to the area and reduces irritation.
  • Since the 1920s, alum is the primary adjuvant used to increase the efficacy of vaccines.
  • Alum has been used to stop bleeding in cases of hemorrhagic cystitis.

8. Art

  • Alum serves as a base for the majority of lake pigments
  • It fixes pigments on a surface, for example in paper marbling.
  • It is used in some recipes for homemade modeling compounds for children. These are often called “play clay” or “play dough.”

In conclusion, you now know the various uses and types of alum. How it can be useful. But at the same time how dangerous it is. Hence, if you are using it for medical purposes don’t forget to consult your doctor. Keeping alum out of reach for children is also a safety measure as consumption of it is lethal.

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Dr. Sania Siddiqui is a Unani medicine expert, who has completed her Bachelors in Unani Medicine & Surgery from Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi.She is an experienced Medical Content Writer and has been writing in the online space for the past 7 years. Her areas of expertise range from skin & hair care, women’s health, diet & nutrition, pregnancy, parenting, lifestyle and fitness.