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Alum is referred to a class of chemical compounds, and also to a specific chemical compound which is the potash alum. But, mentioned in this article are the uses of potash alum. Potash alum is obtained by a common process, where leaching of alumina from bauxite is done and then is reacted with potassium sulfate. However, potash alum is also found in naturally occurring alunite and kalinite minerals. Let us look at the different alum uses.
Potash alum can be found in various forms. The various forms of potash alum found are crystal, cubes, pencil, powder, etc. Given below are the uses of powdered and crystal alum.
Aftershave: In rock form, alum is used as an aftershave, due to its astringent property. It can be rubbed on freshly shaved face, and its astringent property helps in preventing and reducing bleeding caused due to minor cuts.
Deodorant and Excessive Sweating: Potassium alum is also known as crystal deodorant, and is used widely as a deodorant, and a solution for excessive sweating problem. This naturally occurring mineral salt, helps to suppress the underarm bacteria.
Hemorrhoid: Alum powder is sometimes applied to treat hemorrhoid and cuts, to reduce and prevent bleeding.
Canker Sores: Alum powder is also used to treat canker sores at home. Just apply a pinch of alum to the affected skin area.
Baking Powder: It is an ingredient used in many commercial baking powder, which gives a faint metallic taste to baking powder.
Pickling: Alum for pickling is approved by the FDA, and is used as a food additive. However, one needs to be very careful with the amount of alum being used, as more than an ounce of alum can give a toxic effect. Traditional methods of preparing pickles include the use of alum powder, grape leaves and lime water solution.
Photography: Common alum being a double sulfate of potash and alumina, is used by photographers who use traditional techniques for the development. It is used for hardening of the gelatin films.
Flame Retardant: Solutions which contain alum, are used to treat objects like wood, cloth and paper to increase their resistance to fire.
In Fire Extinguishers: Alum is also a component of the foamite, which is used in fire extinguishers.
Skin Whitening: Alum also forms one of the ingredients of the whitening toner products.
Alum Use in Water Treatment: This is a common and old use of alum. Crystals of alum are inserted in water to purify it. Alum catches very fine suspended particles, and forms a gel-like precipitate of aluminum hydroxide which sinks to the bottom of the utensil and can be removed easily.
Films: In olden films, alum was used in comedy films as a gag, mostly during the 1920s and 1930s, where it would be introduced in foodstuffs, which used to cause a person's mouth to form a tight pucker.
In Play Doughs: Alum is also one of the ingredients used to make homemade modeling materials used by children, which are popularly known as play clay or play dough.
Toothpaste: It is also used by many brands, as an ingredient to make tooth powders and toothpaste.
Hair Styling: During the 1950s, men used it to style their hair like crew cuts and flattop. It used to have a gel like effect, and helped the short front hair stay-up all day.
Hair Removal: Alum can be used for removing of body hair. It is used for manufacturing body removal waxes. Also, alum crystal can be used as an astringent to soothe the skin after hair removal.
Man-made Crystals: Alum is used to grow crystals. You can grow crystals using alum powder. Just pour half cup of hot water in a clean jar and stir in alum powder a bit at a time, till the solutions gets saturated. Let the solution sit overnight. In the morning, pour the solution into another clean jar, and you will observe alum crystals have formed at the bottom of the jar.
Preventing Snails: Alum can also be used to kill and prevent snails. Just add a tablespoon of alum powder to one gallon of water and let the solution be in soil for overnight. This will help kill any snails or its egg in the soil and you can keep plants free of snails.
These were the various uses of potash alum. The uses of alum can be attributed to its two important properties which is the antiseptic property and the deodorant property. So, make sure you use the recommended amount of alum, to prevent any health complications.