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Alum or Phitkari - Uses and Benefits

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

About Alum

Usually, when reference is made to Alum, it is specifically with regards to potassium alum which is also called potash alum, tawas or potassium aluminium sulphate, with the chemical formula KAl(SO4)2 and it is commonly found as KAl(SO4)2.12(H2O) - the hydrated form of potassium aluminium sulphate.

Alum is a naturally occurring mineral and is found as encrustations on rocks that contain sulphide and potassium minerals in areas where weathering and oxidation take place readily.

Alum is available in crystalline form though it is most often sold as a fine white powder. All alums are solid at ordinary temperature.

There are many types of alums but the most common alum is potash alum which is simply called alum and this article is about this type of alum.

Alum Crystal

Types Of Alum

Alum is a double sulphate of potassium or another univalent metal like sodium or ammonium and a trivalent metal like aluminium, iron or chromium.

Hence, there are the following types of alum :

  • Soda Alum - Sodium aluminium sulphate. It is used in the manufacture of baking powder.
  • Ammonium Alum - Ammonium aluminium sulphate. It is used in water purification, in deodorants, vegetable glues, tanning, dyeing etc.
  • Chrome Alum - Chromium potassium sulphate. It is used in tanning.
  • Selenate Alum - In this compound selenium replaces the sulphur so a selenate is formed instead of a sulphate. It is used as oxidizing agents and also as antiseptics.
  • Aluminium Sulphate - Technically it is not an alum. It is also called the paper maker's alum.

Uses Of Alum (Potash Alum)

Some of the uses of Alum are :

  • Since the earliest times, alum has been used for the purification of drinking water as well as industrial water. It has the capacity to adsorb the suspended impurities in water and these then settle down at the bottom making filtration and subsequent purification easier.
  • It is used in the tanning of leather and is an ingredient of baking powder.
  • It is used as a pickling agent.
  • Alum is used as a flame retardant while it is also a component of foamite which is used in fire extinguishers.
  • It is used in cosmetics because of its astringent properties and is also used in many brands of toothpaste and tooth powders.
  • It is used to get rid of snails as in gardens and pots as it kills the snails as well as its eggs.
  • It is used as a roll-on deodorant as it kills bacteria and prevents smelly underarms.
  • Alum is incorporated in body hair removal waxes as it soothes the skin.

Benefits Of Alum

In traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, alum is used both topically and internally for healing. Alum has antibacterial, astringent, hemostatic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

  • Because of its astringent and antibacterial properties, it has been used in oral health products. These are used as a mouthwash to protect against tooth decay and gum diseases.
  • Alum water made by putting some alum in water and stirring it is used as bathwater. It helps to stop itching and relieves body odour.
  • Styptic pencils (that which stop bleeding) are used to prevent bleeding from nicks, cuts, abrasions and haemorrhoids.
  • In the block form, it helps to stop blood loss by coagulating the blood.
  • Alum is used as an adjuvant in vaccines.
  • Rubbing alum crystals or stone on insect bites gives relief from, itching, swelling and redness.
  • Alum has no smell, does not block body pores and doesn't stain clothes and can be applied to the feet to stop foot odour while mixed with water it can be applied to the face to tighten pores. The solution can be washed off after 10 minutes if applied on the face.
  • Alum also lightens, whitens, and also tones up the skin.
  • Alum mixed with 1/4 cup of witch hazel and applied on pimples and acne provides relief.
  • Powdered alum has been used as a remedy for ulcers.

References

  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3674728
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8055264
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8783521
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC97997/
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alum

Disclaimer

The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

Some Of My Other Hubs On Health Topics

How to use an alum block stone or alum stick after the shave.

Flawless Underarms with Alum or Tawas

How To Treat Silty River Water With "Alum"

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

Comments

Chuga from Africa on December 22, 2015:

Alum is also used for washing fresh snails to remove the slime.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 15, 2015:

rahman, thanks for stopping by & I'm glad this article was informational.

rahman on September 14, 2015:

thanks for the information about alum, I did n't know it can help prevent

lot illness and injuries.

Gufrana naik on October 16, 2014:

Thanx for the information shared on alums...but i wnt to ask one question as one of relative told me to rub alum pwder aling with coconut oil and apply it on the hair...it not only prevents hairloss but also helps in new growth.....how much is it true??plz reply..

davemukund@gmail,com on July 20, 2014:

thanx for informative share on alums...however i would like to know about RED ALUM CRYSTALS if possible you can inform me ..thanx and regards.

Motaleb on June 19, 2014:

It is very nice informative and really great............

curious on June 13, 2014:

i used to alum whet i was kid. nnothing bad happened to me. may bbe drinking it kills bacteria inside the body system.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 19, 2014:

yes bushra you can't eat alum.

bushra on May 18, 2014:

if anybody take to eat little quantity alum or phitkari so its harmful for him her or any problem create him or her.plz reply must .

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 16, 2014:

Vidhi, yes it is safe to purify drinking water though it only removes the sediments in water.

vidhi on March 14, 2014:

Is this Alum comestible? I mean is it safe to purify drinking wáter , ?

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 23, 2013:

Alum is available at the chemist shops or the pharmacist. Thanks for sparing time to read and share.

Have a great day, Sue.

Sueswan on September 23, 2013:

Hi Rajan,

Thank you for this very useful and interesting hub on Alum. Is it sold in health stores?

Voted up+++ and sharing

Take care

Sue

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 26, 2013:

You are welcome Rajan.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 26, 2013:

Thanks Shyron. I hope you found the information you were looking for about alum. Thanks for the visit,votes and sharing.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 24, 2013:

Thanks Rajan, I knew if anyone would know it would be you.

voted you up, useful awesome and pinned and shared.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 19, 2013:

Thanks, MsDora. Your visit and comments are greatly appreciated.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 19, 2013:

Types, uses and benefits of alum as you present here is a totally new lesson for me. Thanks for always teaching something useful. Voted Up.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 18, 2013:

@Peggy-Thanks fro the read, votes and compliments. Appreciate the sharing as well.

@Phyllis-great to learn that you found this info helpful. I appreciate your visit and votes.

@Rose-I'm glad you enjoyed reading this hub. Thanks for the votes.

@Jo-Thank you for reading.

@Nithya-good to see you and thanks for commenting.

@Prasetio-thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your visit and votes as always.

@moonlake-you are right about using alum to make the pickles crispier. I wonder if it is used in picking as much now. Thanks for sharing it too.

@Deepak-thanks for reading.

@Aurelio-I'm glad some misconceptions were cleared. I appreciate your visit and comments.

@Patricia-thank you so so much for all the info and I appreciate your comments. Thank you.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on June 18, 2013:

O, I do remember those styptic pencils from my youth. My Daddy shaved every morning using the old fashioned razor that he cranked open every so often and added a new double-edged blade to. He then generously lathered up the shaving brush and applied it to his face. Then the shaving began. By the time he was finished there may be one or two spots that needed the alum to stop the bleeding.

This article not only filled in the gaps in my knowledge of this 'wonder' substance but also took me on a walk down memory lane. Thank you for sharing. Angels in abundance are on the way ps

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on June 18, 2013:

When I was little, I had a chemistry set with a vial marked "alum powder." I always thought it was a weird chemical, which the instructions confirmed. Didn't know it was actually a healthy ingredient, until your hub explained it. Voting this Up and Interesting.

Deepak Chaturvedi from New Delhi, India on June 17, 2013:

Good info about phitkari or alum.This useful hub should be bookmared.

moonlake from America on June 17, 2013:

I remember using alum in pickled cucumbers to make them crisp. Voted up and shared.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on June 17, 2013:

Very informative hub. Again....I learn something new from you, brother. Thanks for always give us good education about something didn't know before. Good job and my vote always for you, including press the button as well. Take care!

Prasetio

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 17, 2013:

Informative and useful hub, I have learned a lot about alum after reading your hub. Thanks for sharing.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on June 17, 2013:

There's a lot of this I didn't know....Alum is a very versatile product, thank you for this useful information. Another gem.

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on June 17, 2013:

Great article with some valuable information about alum. I like the way in which you broke the content down into Types, Uses and Benefits which made it easy to read and comprehend. Alum certainly has many beneficial properties. Thank you for sharing! (Voted Up) -Rose

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on June 17, 2013:

My gosh, Rajan, so many beneficial uses there are for this interesting crystal. Thank you for sharing this information.

There is a park in California, Alum Rock Park, and I never realized before where the word Alum came from -- now I know.

Great hub! Voted Up, Useful and Interesting

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 17, 2013:

You certainly do pick interesting topics. I had heard of alum but did not know much about it. I always learn things by reading your informative hubs. UUI votes and sharing.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 17, 2013:

@Rasma-thanks for reading and sharing.

@Devika-Glad you like the info. Thanks.

@Eddy-thanks great visiting and have a great day.

@Carol-thank you for reading and commenting. I'm glad you are aware about alum.

carol stanley from Arizona on June 17, 2013:

I was aware of this..health benefits great. As always a great informational piece of work...Thank you

Eiddwen from Wales on June 17, 2013:

Voted up as always rajan and enjoy your day.

Eddy.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 17, 2013:

A well deserved read most informative voted up and useful

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on June 17, 2013:

Thanks for this informative hub. Never heard of Alum. Passing this on.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 16, 2013:

@Bill-Glad you found it informative. Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great day!

@weavesandbaids-alum is perfect for settling down the impurities in dirty water. Thanks for reading.

@pinto-thanks for the compliments.

@HO-thanks for the read and compliments. Happy Father's day and have a great day as well.

@soconfident-thanks for reading.

@WND-thank you.

wetnosedogs from Alabama on June 16, 2013:

Very interesting facts about alum that I didn't know about. Appreciate my always learning something here.

Derrick Bennett on June 16, 2013:

Wow to be honest I never heard of Alum, how embarrassing

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on June 16, 2013:

Rajan, Happy Father's Day!

This was most informative and very helpful. In a pinch, alum is a great way to purify drinking water that one might need to get from a stream. Also, it's good to know about its many practical uses. With all the walking that I do, I think it's great that alum can combat the bacteria that causes foot odor.

Do have a wonderful day and a great week ahead, my friend!

Aloha!

Joe

Subhas from New Delhi, India on June 16, 2013:

Hi rajan jolly! You have really brought out the real essence of this wonderful natural element. Your hub is really going to help out millions who are in need.

Chuga from Africa on June 16, 2013:

You are so right about Alum. During the dry season in many parts of Africa, the water in wells becomes so concentrated with salts and impurities that Alum becomes a saviour.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 16, 2013:

I had absolutely no idea my friend. I have heard of it for sure, but was clueless regarding its properties or usefulness. Thanks once again for the enlightenment.

I hope you had a wonderful Sunday.

blessings

bill