ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Is Using Alum in Home Canning Recipes Safe?

Updated on October 19, 2016
Canned Pickles
Canned Pickles | Source

Is It Safe?

I became interested in the use of alum when someone asked me if it was alright to use alum as a substitute in my Crispy Cucumber Recipe. So I started researching alum and I was surprised, because I used it at one time myself in my pickle recipes for home canning.

Alum is only considered safe if used in very small quantities in foods. Anything over 1 ounce can cause death even in an adult. Most pickling recipes that call for alum are handed down from our grandmothers. Alum is approved by the FDA and can be purchased at most grocery stores, but the FDA prefers we start to use other products.

What is Alum?

Alum is used to make fermented pickles crisp. It will not work with pickles that are fresh packed. It is not only used for pickling, but has many industrial uses.

Alum is a salt. It is produced by a chemical reaction between an alkaline metal and trivalent metal. It was used in some countries as an ingredient in deodorants. Another use was for a shaving powder that was used to stopped the bleeding of small cuts. It is often used for cold sores in very small amounts.

You might be surprised to know that baking soda also has trace amounts of alum, so it is safe if used in small amounts. It is used in industry also.

If You Do Use Alum

If a recipe calls for this ingredient, use it wisely. Don't use anymore than the recipe calls for and keep it out of the reach of children. Follow the rinsing instructions in pickle recipes religiously. I'm going to keep it out of the house, because I have older children that like to experiment with different spices in their foods.

The recipes for pickles will instruct you to thoroughly rinse the alum off several times. If you do use it, follow the instructions and make sure that you do rinse as many times as the recipe tells you to do. Don't skimp on this step.


Some better substitutes are pickling lime or a new product put out by the Ball Canning Company called Pickle Crisp. I have read the suggestion that you just omit the step of letting the pickles set overnight and don't use the lime or the alum. Then just put in the Ball Pickle Crisp in the bottom of the jars in the recommended amount and the pickles will be crisp.

My Conclusion

I think I will start staying away from using alum. If it can be poisonous in such small amounts and a safer product is available, why not use something safer?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      7 years ago from USA

      sharon, Thanks for visiting the hub.

    • profile image

      sharon pierce 

      7 years ago

      Glad to know this info.; I just used a little this year in some pickles and also have older recipes using it. AAlso, have been trying to get a natural deodorant that will work for me, as I believe to that many people probqbly get cancers from thes products with aluminum too. I do use white vinegar sometimes ,laugh, but got it from a booklet of uses of vinegar, olive oil.

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      vocalcoach, I used in pickle making years ago too. It is no wonder so many people have cancer and other diseases. I wish you the best of luck in the challenge too and I'll keep an eye out for your hubs.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      OMG! I had no idea. Years ago I used it in canning. I have also seen it used in deodorant. Great, great information. So glad I read this. I found you in the forum for the hubchallenge. I wish you the best on completing the 30 hubs in 30 days. (I'm taking it too). :)

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      Nell Rose, I haven't checked my deodorant. Maybe I should. Now that you mentioned it I read something about this years ago. I makes sense, since skin would absorb it.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      8 years ago from England

      Hi, Barbara, Oh my God! this made me panic, I suddenly realised that the deoderent that I use has alum in it! I changed from using the usual on the shelf products because this one was bought in the health store! it is supposed to be safer than the store ones!! I just ran across to my cupboard, and read the ingredients! I have just thrown it in the bin! Thank you! so much for safety! rated up as very useful! and bookmarked! cheers nell

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub. I thought we must give attention to this. Nice hub and very informative as well. I learn much from you. Vote up!


    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      moonlake, Thanks for your comment. I think everyone used it for pickling in the old days. I have a lot of the old time recipes that I've saved and most of them call for it.

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      Cardisa, Thanks for providing this additional information. I have heard of salt peter before, but I didn't know what it was.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      8 years ago from Jamaica

      This product is called "salt peter" here in Jamaica and just recently a restaurant was closed by the authorities because there were several deaths resulting from the overuse of the product. As it turned out they seem to have been using the alum a little to frequently in theri cooking and maybe as a substitute for regular table salt.

      This is a dangerous product and I would advise anyone to stay away from it.

      When I was much younger the only uses I knew alum had was to ease a tooth ache. You would mix the alum with water and gargle the mouth for a few minute and the tooth ache would disappear.

    • moonlake profile image


      8 years ago from America

      No kidding I wouldn't use it either I use to in the old days when canned. Good information.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 

      8 years ago

      I doubt there is any alum in my house, but this is good information to know.

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      Old Poolman, I wouldn't have known this either, but someone asked if they could substitute for an ingredient in my pickle recipe and I started researching it. The way my kids play around dumping spices in everything, no way am I using it anymore.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 

      8 years ago

      Wow, read and learn. I had no idea alum is what made pickles crisp, or that it was a deadly poison. Live and learn.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)