Alum Or Phitkari - Uses And Benefits
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 takes 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.
Types Of AlumClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 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 toothpastes 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 prevent 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 the 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 a bathwater. It helps to stop itching and relieves body odor.
- Styptic pencils (that which stop bleeding) are used to prevent bleeding from nicks, cuts, abrasions and hemorrhoids.
- In 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 odor 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.
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.
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