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Ammonium Alum: A Harmless Compound

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It is no mystery that we should be using organic and natural products as often as we can. That being said, there is a lot of propaganda surrounding these products, as they are safer and more affordable than the synthetic, popular brands. Thus, this offers massive competition to the giants in the market, like Dove and Secret. Who wouldn’t be threatened by the little guy offering a better, cheaper product? People often believe the hype, but when examining the facts, studies, and evidence, it can paint a lot clearer picture on what truly is safe and effective.

We NEED to Sweat

One of the main ways we rid our bodies of toxins, is by sweating/perspiring. It also helps to maintain the body’s level of salt, and also control temperature. Sweating is caused by exertion, temperature, or anxiety. People generally lose one to two pints of fluid a day through their skin and it is important that this is allowed to occur. Perspiration is virtually odorless when fresh, but the bacteria on the skin are what cause the odor. Unnatural and synthetic materials interfere with the body’s ability to eliminate toxins. Therefore, Alum is a natural solution to this problem.

What is Ammonium Alum?

Simply put, Ammonium Alum is comprised of naturally occurring salt crystals that form in the mineral Tschermigite. It has never had any toxicity registered for humans or animals, and is actually found everywhere in nature. Humans ingest between 20 to 60 milligrams of Alum a day just in the air we breathe, the foods we eat, and the water we drink. In its natural form, it is one of the most abundant elements on the planet and one of the basic building blocks of our surroundings. It makes up about 8% of the Earth’s crust, and can be found in soil and clay. It has been part of the environment longer than humans have, and is labeled as non-toxic.

Alum is also inexpensive. This is one of the major reasons campaigns are launched against it. It poses a threat to the more expensive, synthetic materials used in many brand names. Due to the cost, it has many niche applications in society. Besides being used in our amazing Vitae Deodorant Spray, it is also utilized in vegetable glues, textiles, dyeing, even water purification!

A Brief History

It’s only been, oh say… 2,000 years since humans have been using Alum for its odor reducing effects, as well as many other purposes. First lauded in China and Egypt, England began full production in the 17th century. Roman historian Plinus actually documented the manufacturing of it through complete dissolution in water. Back then it was called Allumen Romanum, and the large crystals formed from this process were largely used to treat inflammations internally. 

 Mesopotamia was where the first standard production was launched in the 8th century, and the higher quality crystals were then called Afumen de Rocca. By the 1200’s, Italy caught on and a large factory was built in Naples. The crystals produced there were used for medicinal purposes, as well as one of the first commercial productions of paper. 

Many factories all over the world were soon to follow, and a French chemist in the 1700’s named A.L. Lavoisier was the first to give the compound a scientific description. Alum has been used as an ingredient in natural deodorant for over 20 years, and is recognized as effective in the health and nutrition industry. There’s no better evidence, than the true test of time.

For Your Health

Alum in deodorant wasn’t really an issue until 1999. That’s when an e-mail hoax was widely circulated claiming that shaving, along with deodorants and antiperspirants, caused tumors and cancer. The hysteria that ensued looped natural deodorant in with the rumor. It wasn’t until 2002, that the rumor was quashed. Scientist Dana Mirick’s team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle did a study comparing 800 women with breast cancer, against 800 random women of similar age. They found no evidence of any correlation between deodorant and cancer. The journal can be found in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI).

Doctors at revered facilities such as the Mayo Clinic even recommend using the natural deodorant with Alum. It can be used in conjunction with dermatitis, and is also effective for patients with lymphoma or breast cancer. This is because unlike antiperspirant, it does not contain metals and thus will not affect treatments like radiation.

Alum vs. Aluminum Chloride/Chlorohydrate/Zirconium

One of the first and foremost differences between these two is that aluminum is a metal, whereas Alum is a compound. Aluminum Chlorohydrate is a chemical neurotoxin that can be found in antiperspirant. It is referred to as one of the “toxic aluminums,” and has been known to cause anything from allergic reactions, to cancer.

The main difference between the two elements is how Alum reacts with the skin vs. Aluminum Chlorohydrate. The chemical compounds in Aluminum Chlorohydrate react to the chemicals in the body and produce a protective gel coating over the skin. This in turn blocks the sweat glands, and does not allow for natural perspiration. The harmful, processed aluminums of Aluminum Chlorohydrate contain molecules small enough to actually penetrate the skin and end up in the bloodstream. 
Alum, on the other hand, has much larger molecules, which are too large to cross the skin barrier, and thus cannot be absorbed by the body. They work through what is known as bacteriostatic action. This simply means the compound does not clog pores. It only sits on the surface of the skin and kills the bacteria that cause odor.

Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant

It is a timeless misconception that antiperspirant and deodorant are the same thing. They are very different; they contain dissimilar ingredients, and work in two separate ways. Antiperspirants need approval from the FDA because they are technically classified as a drug due to the affect they can have on the body. The FDA requires every antiperspirant be labeled with something along the lines of “Ask a doctor before use if you are a child, have kidney disease, or impaired renal function.” All of which are at risk for using the product. Our organic deodorant, on the other hand, is considered cosmetic, as well as a 100% natural. Since deodorant only neutralizes odor, and contains no harsh chemicals, there is no approval necessary, nor is there a reason to label the packaging with warnings.

Antiperspirants contain aluminum salts, like Aluminum Chlorohydrate, and thus work by blocking and constricting the sweat glands. They have been known to cause severe irritation to the skin, loss of body temperature, and greatly reduce the body’s ability to eliminate toxins. Deodorants, on the other hand, never enter the skin, and in fact, kill the bacteria that cause the actual odor.

Deodorant was first invented in 1888 but the market became so competitive, harsh chemicals were introduced into some of the products. Antiperspirants were developed off of this short-cut concept, and took it a step further by developing a formula to physically prevent sweating. In the past 20 years, natural deodorants have proven to be just as effective as anything on the market, yet safer and more cost efficient. They proved to be a truly healthy alternative.

NO Paraben Either

In addition to using Alum for a safe product, the Vitae natural deodorant spray does not contain paraben. It is a preservative used in antiperspirants and some deodorants that has been known to stimulate Estrogen in women, and thus cause cancer in some cases. The University of Reading in the Journal of Applied Toxicology discovered synthetic chemical parabens in breast tissue biopsied from several women with breast cancer. Although no direct links have been proven thus far, we steer clear of any harsh chemicals in our products, and feel perfectly comfortable advertising them as 100% safe and natural.


When Alum is applied to the skin it acts as a coagulant, which means it constricts the protein in the area (the food the bacteria feed on). Therefore, the bacteria die out, and the odor is reduced. Even though the natural deodorant does not prevent sweat, it is still effective. The salt molecules in the Alum provide a barrier on the skin, which keep bacteria from forming. This is because the salt deposits remain on your skin to reduce the moisture, as well as raise the PH levels. Bacteria hate high PH!

Our product is an invisible spray that is easily applied, made for all skin types, and leaves no trace of residue on your clothing. It can be used on the arms, feet, or hands and is quick drying. Usually sold in spas, our natural deodorant never contains alcohol, synthetic oils, emulsifiers, solvents, or any other chemical additive. It is formulated with a higher potency of active ingredients like: essential oils, algae, and botanical extracts, for faster and better results. Our deodorant has long lasting protection, and is just as effective in warm temperatures and active lifestyles, as any other synthetic brand.

Overall, I thank you for your comment as it has allowed me to fully explain what a great product we offer, and the natural materials we use in it. Alum has withstood the test of time, has a proven track record, and is an effective compound in our organically derived products. We pride ourselves on the continued health of our customers, and creating a synthetic free environment for all.


Dana Mirick's - Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle - 2002
Actual Journal
Further Education / links
Green People
New Scientist
The F Word – Natural Deodorants
Biznet – History of Alum
Matthew Guske – Simplifying Deodorant