alum uses benefits side effects

Alum: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Potassium Aluminum Sulfate

Alum, or Phitkari, is an acceptable white-colored salt-like substance. It is a combination of aluminum sulfate and potassium sulfateAlum (aluminum sulfate) is a nontoxic liquid mainly used in water purification treatment to clarify drinking water crystalline in nature.

Ayurveda is known as ‘shubhra’/sphatika that has been used for various health benefits over the years. Alum is water-soluble and insoluble in alcohol. When Alum is heated in a pan, the collected white powder is called Sphatika bhasma (alum ash) in Ayurveda alum. It is mainly used in bhasma form at the ending after evaporation to cure various illnesses. 

Types of Alum

  • Potassium Alum (KAl (SO4)2)

Potassium alum is also called potash alum/tawas. It is aluminium potassium sulfate which can be readily available in the grocery shop. Mainly potash alum is used for longer food life, enhancing food taste, flavor & texture. It is also used in water purification treatment to improve the sedimentation of drinking water. It is also used in leather tanning, aftershave.

  • Soda Alum: (NaAl (SO4)2·12H2O)

It is used in baking powder, and it acts as an acidulant which means it controls the acidity or alkalinity of the food system.

  • Ammonium Alum: N4Al (SO4)2·12H2O

Ammonium alum is also used for the same purposes as potash and soda alum. 

  • Chrome Alum: (KCr (SO4)2·12H2O)

The chrome alum is also known as chromium alum; it has a violet color that can give violet color to other Alum.

  • Selenium alum: (SeO42-)

Selenate alums contain selenium, so it is called selenium alum; it plays a significant role as antiseptic because they have potent oxidizing agents.

  • Aluminum Sulfate: This compound is also known as papermaker’s Alum. However, it is not technically an alum.

Other Names for Alum

  • Sanskrit – Sphatika.
  • Telugu – Patika.
  • Hindi – Fitkari.
  • Tamil – Padikaram.
  • Kannada – Alum.
  • Marathi – Turti.

Uses of Alum

  • Alum mainly uses as a water purifier in water treatment by flocculation method; it is the process in which colloidal particle separates and sediments under the form of flakes; once the sediment is thrown away, the water is boiled to kill bacteria, it is due to the adding clarifying agent. Alum is an old-fashioned and antique method to clean drinking water.
  • Alum is used as a mouth freshener/wash in a lousy oral breath. Take one glass of water, add 1 gm of Alum with a pinch of rock salt, and gargle mouth using this solution.
  • Alum as a skin whitener. Alum is a useful component that is used in skin tightening and whitening. Alum helps to remove dead tissue and excessive oil on the skin.
  • Alum is used in the preparation of topical formulations like gel or creams forms. These types of topical formulations are more effective in treating acne scars and pigmentation marks.
  • Women mainly use Alum along with warm water to remove unwanted/facial hairs.
  • In saloons, Alum is used on bruises or scratches during shaving.
  • Alum has excellent antiseptic properties, and it kills dental bacteria, strengthens gums. Alum helps to treat dental problems like tooth decay, toothache, sore gums, cavities. 
  • Alum is used to retain crispiness in bakery products, and thus it is used in baking.

Health Benefits of Alum

  • The Sphatika Bhasma and honey are used to manage whooping cough, reducing the accumulation of mucus in the lungs.
  • Alum Bhasma is used to treat dysentery and diarrhea due to its drying property.
  • The topical application of Alum is found to be beneficial for mouth ulcers due to its potent healing activity.
  • Alum due to its Kashaya (astringent) property, it reduces the mucus in the lungs and thereby controls vomiting.
  • Alum (Sphatika bhama) has coagulating property, which helps control anal bleeding during piles-like situations.
  • Alum (Sphatika bhasma) balances an aggravated Pitta and controls heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Alum (Sphatika bhasma) helps to control bleeding and accelerates the healing process.
  • Mouth ulcers usually appear on the tongue, lips, inside the cheeks, inside the bottom lip, or on the gums. Alum helps in the quick healing of mouth ulcers.
  • Alum helps in the quick healing of the wound, decreases swelling, and brings back the skin’s normal texture. 
  • Alum water is used in pickles and to maintain the freshness of fruits and vegetables.

Alum and dental health

Alum paste is prepared by mixing alum powder, a pinch of cinnamon, and some rock salt. The paste is then gently applied to the gums, followed by mouth washing. 

Alum For nasal bleeding

Alum is an excellent remedy for treating nose bleeds. Take cotton balls, soak them into Alum water, and then apply them in the nose during the bleeding time. It will allow stopping the excessive nose bleeding in a few seconds.

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Recommended Dosage of Alum

The dosage of Alum varies according to its variants.

FormPreparationRecommended dosage/ day
Sphatika/BhasmaTake 1-2 pinch of bhasma with one teaspoon honey after a meal. It is used in treating piles and cough.Twice
PowderTake ½ teaspoon alum powder and mix it with one teaspoon lukewarm water. It is used to remove unwanted hair from the skin (rub & apply for 20 min). 
Block/Astyptic pencilTake ½-1 Alum block. Rub it over the face/wet skin after shaving.                                                 

Side effects of Alum

The excessive amount of alum intake may cause breathing difficulty, facial puffiness, pricking sensation & small ulcers on the skin, chest/throat tightness, and burns rarely seen in some cases.

Precautions of Alum

Pregnancy and lactationthe clinical studies showed that Alum is entirely safe for humans, but it advisable to consult your doctor before its use.

FAQs

How can I use Alum?

Alum is safe, and it is used both externally and internally. As per Ayurveda, Alum is used for preparing Bhasma, and it is taken orally to manage various diseases.

Can I use Alum in Spice?

No, Alum is not a spice. It is a crystalline form of minerals. It is used as a preservative in making some cuisines and pickles. Excess use of Alum is not safe in food preparations.

Can I use Alum for treating mouth ulcers?

Yes, it is used in treating mouth ulcer problems. Alum has hemostatic and astringent properties. Alum controls tissue contraction and reduces the size of the wound. 

Summary

Alum is a natural coagulator, astringent and antiseptic. Due to the coagulation property, it is used in the filtration process of raw water. In the water treatment process, Alum reacts with the impurities in water and forms an aggregate to settle out of the water or be easily trapped by a filter.

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Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.