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What Is Alum Used For? – The ‘elemental’ Facts

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Alum has multi-purpose utility as an astringent, food additive, purifier, deodorant and antiperspirant…to name a few in its list of applications. The specific Potash alum is an intermediate compound obtained while processing bauxite ore to extract Aluminum. 

What is alum used for?  A brief overview:

• Aftershave: Aftershave lotions need astringent properties to heal small cuts and wounds, and potash alum in rock form, is used as aftershave.

• Hemorrhoids: Of the many uses of alum, one important usage is treating cuts and immediate arrest of bleeding.

• Canker sore: Home-remedy for canker-sores, resolves to application of a pinch of alum to the affected area.

• Tooth pastes: Many brands of toothpastes use this compound as an important ingredient in their toothpastes.

• Play dough: Due to its binding property, alum is used in the making of materials used by children for modeling (clay).

• Skin-Whitening: Skin-whitening cosmetics use this substance as an ingredient in their product.

• Fire-extinguishers: Alum has fire-retarding property, which makes it an important substance in fire-extinguishers.

• Photography: Photographers, who use the conventional method of making a photo film, use common alum to develop their photos. Alum helps in hardening of the gelatin present in the films.

• Deodorants: Also referred as crystal deodorant, Potash alum has the property of suppressing the sweat odor and the growth of sweat causing bacteria.

• Baking powder:  Alum is used in commercial baking powder, and gives a faint metallic taste to it.

• Pickling: As a food additive, this substance should be used in very less measures as indicated and approved by the FDA. Excess usage of alum as a food additive can be poisonous.

• Treatment of water: An age-old use for alum, where alum crystals are dropped in water. The crystals bind to the fine impurities to form hydroxides and sink to the bottom of the vessel. The clear water can thus be collected.

Alum defines its ‘versatility’ by finding a variety of uses. A look-up of what is alum used for just proves that.

Photo Courtesy : http://www.anovascience.com

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