As we know aluminum has bad review when it comes to cancer and illnesses. There was a report on TV the other night (I did not see it my friend did) saying thatthe ‘Crystal’ brand deodorant that everybody buys thinking it is a natural product contains aluminum that is bad for you. I was skeptical at first thinking it was a biased report for the traditional deodorant and antiperspirant companies.
I did a small research and it looks as if there are two types of rock deodorants (alum deodorants): the natural alum deodorant and the synthetic one. The natural one contains potassium alum and the synthetic contains ammonium alum. There is no way to tell the difference just by looking at it. The Crystal brand doesn’t make a difference between the two types threfore I assume it is ammonium alum otherwise they would be glad to say it is potassium alum. Has anybody came across this information. The ‘Crystal’ business is booming and may be misleading everybody??? They say there is no Aluminum Chlorohydrate that they use in regular deodorants which I believe is true. But do they sell the synthetic or natural rock? They don't say...
Thanks for your question, had been wondering about this for a while but had not taken the time to search. Here are a couple of excerpts with pretty good explanations.
“Body odor results from bacteria growing in nice warm water (i.e. sweat). You can control it by stopping the sweat and/or by restricting the bacteria. You might also not want the wetness itself.
Regular antiperspirant works by having an ingredient off a short FDA list, all of which are aluminum salts. When water from sweat mixes with one of these salts, their component chemicals break apart into “ions”, which are positively or negatively charged. The aluminum ions are positively charged and small, which apparently means that they can pass through skin cell membranes, where somehow they either cause the cell to puff up, or help form a physical plug, thereby squeezing off nearby sweat glands. No sweat also means no water for the bacteria, so no odor.
This effect is temporary, as capillaries serving the cell clean up the ions, making daily reapplication necessary for a continued effect. Theoretically the ions are eventually removed from the body in the urine, but research suggests that certain tissues (liver, kidney, brain, cartilage and bone marrow) selectively absorb it.
The FDA has recently required a new label on antiperspirants saying that people with impaired renal function (i.e. those who have trouble shedding environmental toxins) and children should not use these products. The industry is complaining due to lack of scientific evidence, but someone at the FDA seems to believe in “prudent avoidance”!
The crystal deodorants, on the other hand, typically contain potassium alum. This is the same alum that used to be used in pickles, and it is a powerful astringent. I believe it occurs naturally or can be manufactured. It has the chemical formula KAl(SO4)2•12(H2O), which includes potassium, aluminum, sulfur (as sulfate), and water.
Aluminum is apparently unusual in that it can be part of either a positively or a negatively charged clump of elements, and when alum reacts with water (“hydrolyzes”), it breaks up into its components, rearranges itself into different clumps, and the aluminum goes with a negatively charged (and large) clump. (Sorry about the hand-waving here, I haven't been able to find the actual chemical reaction.) Supposedly this means that the aluminum cannot pass through the skin cell wall, the apparent basis of the claim of safety.
Disturbingly, however, according to Material Data Safety sheets (MSDS's), when potassium alum hydrolyzes, another resulting chunk is a dilute solution of sulfuric acid (H2SO4). Sulfuric acid is, of course, corrosive, and is probably the reason for the “discontinue if rash forms” warning on the label. I wonder if it is this acid that provides an antibacterial action for these products.
I am still mystified as to why, if 30g of alum has been known to fatally poison adults, it is not more carefully labeled in its grocery store package (especially as it is reputed to be somewhat sweet to the taste.) You’d think people would also get ill from sulfuric acid if they ate too many pickles, although the residue after rinsing during the canning process is supposedly minute.
I am also suspicious of the unspecified “mineral salts” ingredients listed on the crystal deodorants. I speculate that there may be other salts similar in action to the approved aluminum ones, and that ions from these may similarly be absorbed through the skin cells. My own experience with the crystal deodorants has been that they do indeed control wetness, but perhaps they cannot call themselves "antiperspirants" because the active ingredient isn't on the FDA's list.
So what’s a person to do? My current guess is that if you must use something in addition to general hygiene and instead of odor-masking perfume, if you can use the crystal deodorant without noticeable skin reaction, it is probably safer than regular deodorant. Any trouble due to the sulfuric acid is likely to be external, immediate, and noticeable, rather than internal, cumulative, and undetectable. Now you just have to worry about those anonymous "mineral salts".
I did contact one of the crystal deodorant manufacturers, and the person who replied was friendly but not up on the chemistry.”
What I also learn since then is that there are two types of rock deodorants. One who is made of ammonium alun, which is a synthetic deodorant made from aluminium salts and those are dangerous for our health according to articles I read. The other one is made with potassium alun which is natural (found in nature like you explained). You can't tell the difference between the two just by looking at it, but the natural one works better and is safer. We have to carefully read the labels when we buy the rock deodorants so that they are made from potassium alun instead of ammonium alun.
Antiperspirants, even so-called "natural" ones contain aluminum that work to clog our pores and stop us from perspiring. Aluminum is a poison. It has been linked to Alzheimer's disease. There is new research which indicates that there may be a link between Breast Cancer and antiperspirants. In particular, studies are showing that it travels more freely into our lymphatic system when underarms are shaved. Look on your antiperspirant label for aluminum as:
• aluminum chlorohydrate
• ammonium aluminum sulfate
• potassium alum
• potassium aluminum sulfate
• mineral salts or crystal
Of less concern is aluminum chloride.
Ammonium alum is different. It is a prevalent natural compound. It cannot be absorbed into the skin and does not clog pores the way aluminum chloride does. It does not kill the bacteria and does not stop perspiration, however, ammonium alum works to inhibit the growth of bacteria and therefore those critters that cause bad odor. This is the primary ingredient in deodorant crystals which are found to be safe and effective.
Aluminum is the most abundant element on the planet Earth. It is in our food, water and the air we breath. It is impossible to avoid. These posts that claim that mineral salts deodorants are bad for you are just plain BS