Alum Powder

Alum powder, often found in spices department of grocery stores, is often used for pickling, as additive to preserve crispness for cucumbers and other foods. It is also one of several components in baking powder. Furthermore, it has many uses, popularly endorsed being a do-it-yourself home remedy and treatment for canker sores. Alum is readily available in many, sold in powder or crystalline stone in sachets found in groceries, pharmacies and online stores. Ingest it directly, the taste will be sweet and then cause the mouth to pucker. Most of us have eaten it or in contact with it, in one way or another. In case you are wondering, Alum is not the same nor related to aluminium.

What is Alum Powder?

Alum Powder

Alum in powder form

Alum, also referred to as hydrated aluminum potassium sulfate, is a combination of chemical compounds, which occur naturally in crystal forms on rocks (kalunite) and fiber form (kalinite). Soda alum, ammonium alum and chrome alum are also alum compounds, but in most cases, alum mean potassium alum or potash alum for short. It is odorless, colorless and soluble in water, for both powder or crystalline rock form.

Due to the antiseptic characteristics of alum powder, it is used in many health products. For example, it is used in mouthwashes where it is used to treat halitosis, gum and canker sores. You can also find alum extensively used in toothpaste and in most skin products like deodorant because of it antibacterial attribute preventing the bacteria causing body odor. Alum can helps shrink the skin, closing the pores and reduce bleeding from razor cuts thus it is excellent aftershave tool, which sold as Styptic pencils. But if you have the Alum crystal, all you have to do is dip the it in the water then press and rub it gently on the skin.

Alum Crystal

Alum Crystal

Alum powder makes a good additive as water treatment agent because of its acidic and antibacterial nature, also makes the insoluble compounds in water to form residue, which then sink to the bottom and thus be easily filtered out.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved alum for oral health care products as an astringent, and for preparation of flour and cheese. For safety reasons it should be used in less than an ounce and only pharmacist grade alum should be used. Commercially, it is used in foamite for fire extinguishers.

References for FDA Code of Federal Regulations for Potassium Alum
CFR about Potassium Alum for Flour
CFR about Potassium Alum for Cheese
FDA Over-The-Counter (OTC) Ingredient List