Crystal deodorants sound about as safe and natural as they come – mineral salts originating from mineral crystals. Some even come in crystal or stone-like form.
But what exactly are mineral crystals, or mineral salts as they’re sometimes called?
That’s right. And if you think that Potassium Alum sounds a bit like aluminium, you’d be right.
What is potassium alum?
Potassium alum is a naturally occurring mineral salt, potassium aluminium sulfate. But just because it’s natural, it doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Crystal deodorants will often state that they’re free of aluminium chlorohydrate, aluminium chlorohydroxide and aluminium zirconium. Manufacturers will state that the difference is that difference is that potassium alum of which most crystal deodorants are made is a much larger molecule, and it’s understood not to be absorbed by human skin. See the explanation here.
This should be questioned, though, when pharmaceutical companies are exploring the use of alum based powders as an alternative to injectable vaccines due to its properties helping other ingredients absorb into the skin and become active in the body.
In addition, wetted crystals are actually broken down into ions, the smallest possible form of aluminium, which is easily dissolved in water. And considering crystal deodorants in stone form ask that water be applied before use, and that the first and largest ingredient in any roll-on or spray-on deodorant is water, and that our bodies are largely made up of water, the theory that any aluminium in a potassium alum based deodorant won’t be absorbed through the skin struggles to stand up to these findings.
And while manufacturers say that ‘it’s understood’ that potassium alum isn’t absorbed into the skin, what they really mean is that there has been no research done on this.
So is potassium alum safe? Potassium alum does contain aluminium, it could very well be absorbed into the skin, and we’re learning more every day about what the build-up of this extremely abundant element is doing to our health. It’s also worth noting that potassium alum has been used since Roman times for the purification of drinking water, so I’ll leave the verdict up to you. BUT, potassium alum can also be synthetically produced, often using aluminium hydroxide (a white cosmetic opacifying agent) mixed with potassium or ammonium sulphate in sulphuric acid. And there’s that little ‘gotcha’ moment – even knowing the right ingredients is not enough if they’ve been synthetically produced using the toxic chemicals you’re trying to avoid.
Potassium alum is also toxic to people, and is considered an environmental toxin.
And since there’s no doubt that potassium alum contains aluminium, if your switch to natural deodorants is in an effort to reduce the amount of aluminium build up in the body, you will want to look beyond crystal deodorants.
How do you avoid crystal deodorants if you’re looking for a natural deodorant?
You’ll need to look beyond the supermarket shelf to find it, but many people swear by milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide) as the active odour-reducing ingredient. Others prefer citrus or tea-tree based deodorants. There are some great alternatives and it really comes down to what works for the individual. It also pays to change it up every 6 months or so as odour-causing bacteria can become resistant to your usual deodorant when used day in and day out.
Check out our Safer Deodorants Cheat Sheet to find out what really is natural, and safe.
And can I just say – Crystal Deodorants in Sport formulations? What the hey? Read the ingredients: it’s exactly the same product. Manufacturers must think that we’re stupid!
Further reading and helpful links:
Have you made the switch to a natural deodorant? What’s your fave?
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