Yes, you read it right! To kill the suspense I will tell you right away, it works, and works like magic!
One night during a post dinner walk while I spoke on the phone with my college roommate Sai, the subject of my blog came up and she told me about this magical trick to curb that funky smell! She is from Mumbai and Mumbai weather makes people sweat and smell so I took this advice with utmost seriousness and went looking for Alum!
Ms. P: Bahiya, Alum hai kya?
Bhaiya: Alum matlab cigarette na?
Ms.P: Huh..Whaa..( Thoughts: Do I look like a smoker – I need to stop wearing Nude Lipstick!)
Nahi Nahi !! Arre usko Hindi mein kya bolte hai …..
Other Customer: Fitkari!
We learnt about Alum in school but nevertheless let me revise it for you. Alum, popularly known as Fitkari (In Hindi), is ‘the potassium double sulphate of aluminum’. It is derived from the oxidation of sulfide minerals and potassium-bearing minerals. It is also manufactured synthetically. In India we usually get it in blocks labelled Shaving Alum!
It works because it inhibits the growth of odour causing bacteria that are responsible for Body-Odour. I tried a store brought alum block as a deodorant and have been using it for sometime. It needs to be held under a faucet and then swiped over each armpit. Occasionally, I also rub it on my feet because I wear Crocs a lot! It works great for me and the rate at which the block is deteriorating it should last me forever.
Here are five reasons why you need to ditch your expensive deo and get hold of an alum block:
1: Natural: Regular deodorants are full of chemicals, use loads of packaging and there is simply no need to make FMCG companies richer!
2: Economical: Alum costs next to nothing and lasts way longer than other BO control products.
3: No Fragrance: It is unscented, for me this is the best part. I have a sensitive nose and can’t stand these overtly fresh smelling Deos. Moreover since alum covers the deodorising so perfume doesnt mix with the deo smell.
4: Lasts Forever: Unless you drop the block and shatter it (like I did) , it lasts for the longest time.
5: Effective: Most importantly it is effective because it retards the growth of BO causing bacteria rather than just masking the smell like body sprays/mists. For this reason one block can be shared by multiple people but I wont suggest you go that far!
It worked so well that I couldn’t believe that we spend so much on Deos when there is such a cheap and effective solution available. Paranoid that I am, I researched about its disadvantages. There are some unverified theories that say Aluminium in deodorants can cause Breast Cancer & Alzheimers.
Alum has been used for a very long time in reservoirs to clarify water, remember that experiment from school where alum is dropped in a glass of dirty water and suspended particles settle to the bottom so they can be removed. It has also been used as a remedy for canker sores and as an antiseptic after shaving. That said, there is no doubt that alum contains aluminum.
It will probably take many more years to resolve the controversy about any relationship between aluminum and breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. So people who want to avoid aluminum in their armpits should look beyond crystal-type natural deodorants.