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Alum Or Phitkari - Uses And Benefits

Updated on December 15, 2015
rajan jolly profile image

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

About Alum

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.

Alum Crystal


Types Of Alum

Click thumbnail to view full-size
small crystals of potash alumchrome alumAlum block being sold as a common aftershave in India. Available at medical stores.
small crystals of potash alum
small crystals of potash alum | Source
chrome alum
chrome alum | Source
Alum block being sold as a common aftershave in India. Available at medical stores.
Alum block being sold as a common aftershave in India. Available at medical stores. | Source

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.

How to use an alum block stone or alum stick after the shave.

Flawless Underarms with Alum or Tawas

How To Treat Silty River Water With "Alum"


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    • weavesandbraids profile image

      weavesandbraids 23 months ago from Africa

      Alum is also used for washing fresh snails to remove the slime.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 23 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      rahman, thanks for stopping by & I'm glad this article was informational.

    • profile image

      rahman 2 years ago

      thanks for the information about alum, I did n't know it can help prevent

      lot illness and injuries.

    • profile image

      Gufrana naik 3 years ago

      Thanx for the information shared on alums...but i wnt to ask one question as one of relative told me to rub alum pwder aling with coconut oil and apply it on the not only prevents hairloss but also helps in new much is it true??plz reply..

    • profile image

      davemukund@gmail,com 3 years ago

      thanx for informative share on alums...however i would like to know about RED ALUM CRYSTALS if possible you can inform me ..thanx and regards.

    • profile image

      Motaleb 3 years ago

      It is very nice informative and really great............

    • profile image

      curious 3 years ago

      i used to alum whet i was kid. nnothing bad happened to me. may bbe drinking it kills bacteria inside the body system.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      yes bushra you can't eat alum.

    • profile image

      bushra 3 years ago

      if anybody take to eat little quantity alum or phitkari so its harmful for him her or any problem create him or her.plz reply must .

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Vidhi, yes it is safe to purify drinking water though it only removes the sediments in water.

    • profile image

      vidhi 3 years ago

      Is this Alum comestible? I mean is it safe to purify drinking wáter , ?

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Alum is available at the chemist shops or the pharmacist. Thanks for sparing time to read and share.

      Have a great day, Sue.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 4 years ago

      Hi Rajan,

      Thank you for this very useful and interesting hub on Alum. Is it sold in health stores?

      Voted up+++ and sharing

      Take care


    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago from Texas

      You are welcome Rajan.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks Shyron. I hope you found the information you were looking for about alum. Thanks for the visit,votes and sharing.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago from Texas

      Thanks Rajan, I knew if anyone would know it would be you.

      voted you up, useful awesome and pinned and shared.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks, MsDora. Your visit and comments are greatly appreciated.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Types, uses and benefits of alum as you present here is a totally new lesson for me. Thanks for always teaching something useful. Voted Up.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Peggy-Thanks fro the read, votes and compliments. Appreciate the sharing as well.

      @Phyllis-great to learn that you found this info helpful. I appreciate your visit and votes.

      @Rose-I'm glad you enjoyed reading this hub. Thanks for the votes.

      @Jo-Thank you for reading.

      @Nithya-good to see you and thanks for commenting.

      @Prasetio-thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your visit and votes as always.

      @moonlake-you are right about using alum to make the pickles crispier. I wonder if it is used in picking as much now. Thanks for sharing it too.

      @Deepak-thanks for reading.

      @Aurelio-I'm glad some misconceptions were cleared. I appreciate your visit and comments.

      @Patricia-thank you so so much for all the info and I appreciate your comments. Thank you.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      O, I do remember those styptic pencils from my youth. My Daddy shaved every morning using the old fashioned razor that he cranked open every so often and added a new double-edged blade to. He then generously lathered up the shaving brush and applied it to his face. Then the shaving began. By the time he was finished there may be one or two spots that needed the alum to stop the bleeding.

      This article not only filled in the gaps in my knowledge of this 'wonder' substance but also took me on a walk down memory lane. Thank you for sharing. Angels in abundance are on the way ps

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      When I was little, I had a chemistry set with a vial marked "alum powder." I always thought it was a weird chemical, which the instructions confirmed. Didn't know it was actually a healthy ingredient, until your hub explained it. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Deepak Chaturvedi profile image

      Deepak Chaturvedi 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Good info about phitkari or alum.This useful hub should be bookmared.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I remember using alum in pickled cucumbers to make them crisp. Voted up and shared.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very informative hub. Again....I learn something new from you, brother. Thanks for always give us good education about something didn't know before. Good job and my vote always for you, including press the button as well. Take care!


    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Informative and useful hub, I have learned a lot about alum after reading your hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      There's a lot of this I didn't know....Alum is a very versatile product, thank you for this useful information. Another gem.

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      Great article with some valuable information about alum. I like the way in which you broke the content down into Types, Uses and Benefits which made it easy to read and comprehend. Alum certainly has many beneficial properties. Thank you for sharing! (Voted Up) -Rose

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      My gosh, Rajan, so many beneficial uses there are for this interesting crystal. Thank you for sharing this information.

      There is a park in California, Alum Rock Park, and I never realized before where the word Alum came from -- now I know.

      Great hub! Voted Up, Useful and Interesting

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      You certainly do pick interesting topics. I had heard of alum but did not know much about it. I always learn things by reading your informative hubs. UUI votes and sharing.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Rasma-thanks for reading and sharing.

      @Devika-Glad you like the info. Thanks.

      @Eddy-thanks great visiting and have a great day.

      @Carol-thank you for reading and commenting. I'm glad you are aware about alum.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I was aware of benefits great. As always a great informational piece of work...Thank you

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Voted up as always rajan and enjoy your day.


    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A well deserved read most informative voted up and useful

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thanks for this informative hub. Never heard of Alum. Passing this on.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Bill-Glad you found it informative. Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great day!

      @weavesandbaids-alum is perfect for settling down the impurities in dirty water. Thanks for reading.

      @pinto-thanks for the compliments.

      @HO-thanks for the read and compliments. Happy Father's day and have a great day as well.

      @soconfident-thanks for reading.

      @WND-thank you.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      Very interesting facts about alum that I didn't know about. Appreciate my always learning something here.

    • soconfident profile image

      Derrick Bennett 4 years ago

      Wow to be honest I never heard of Alum, how embarrassing

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Rajan, Happy Father's Day!

      This was most informative and very helpful. In a pinch, alum is a great way to purify drinking water that one might need to get from a stream. Also, it's good to know about its many practical uses. With all the walking that I do, I think it's great that alum can combat the bacteria that causes foot odor.

      Do have a wonderful day and a great week ahead, my friend!



    • pinto2011 profile image

      Subhas 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Hi rajan jolly! You have really brought out the real essence of this wonderful natural element. Your hub is really going to help out millions who are in need.

    • weavesandbraids profile image

      weavesandbraids 4 years ago from Africa

      You are so right about Alum. During the dry season in many parts of Africa, the water in wells becomes so concentrated with salts and impurities that Alum becomes a saviour.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I had absolutely no idea my friend. I have heard of it for sure, but was clueless regarding its properties or usefulness. Thanks once again for the enlightenment.

      I hope you had a wonderful Sunday.