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First posts[edit]

(Added header to first posts. They may need further headers yet.)--Canoe1967 (talk) 05:34, 11 July 2012 (UTC)

What about alum in popular culture? I think the way that most people hear about it is watching old Looney Tunes cartoons. The alum always puckered their mouths to an insane degree. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:33, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

A new deodorant product seems to be based on alum, is this noteworthy enough for the article? --Bobbagum 01:20, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

A scatalogical snippet of information on alum; not sure where this belongs:

The history of alum production in Britain is quite interesting. Alum was vital to the economically important wool and textiles trade. Britain used to import alum from mines on the continent, but this supply could be cut off by political disputes (e.g. as a result of Henry VIII's dispute with the Catholic church).

A process for producing alum was discovered in the 17th century, involving processing certain shales with ammonia. However it was not until the 19th century that ammonia could be manufactured. Until then - for a couple of hundred years - the ammonia was distilled from human urine. Demand for alum grew, especially with the start of the industrial revolution. This resulted in a healthy(?) trade in urine, which quite out-stripped supplies local to the manufacturing plants. Urine collectors (they probably preferred to be known as 'Alum Production Agents') bought the stuff from households across England, and it was shipped by piss-barges to the manufacturing plants.

I shit you not. c.f. [1] for more details.

I went along and added some stuff from that article in fel64 23:33, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

-Dan Winterstein

Another interesting fact that probably doesn't belong on the main page. Alum is also used in the manufacture of fake eggs in China. It is added with a variety of other ingredients such as gelatin, benzoic acid, and coagulating materials to form an 'egg white'. A fake 'yolk' is also made and the whole thing put in a parafin wax 'shell'. They turn out to be about half the price of real eggs.

I also am not shitting you.

-Captain Awesome

Weird-oh! I found pictures: [2] --Arteitle 08:31, Dec 20, 2004 (UTC)
but this may be alarming and may be a fact that needs to be added to the actual article.
"Not only do they not contain any nutrients, a Hong Kong Chinese University professor warned that long-term consumption of alum could cause dementia." [3] 23:49, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
Update: pics came back, but I found extensive information: 15:16, 15 February 2006 (UTC) evaluates this as a hoax --Stevemiller (talk) 05:11, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

Needs to be cleaned up?[edit]

I believe this article needs to be cleaned up, as there are no categories.

Seconded. This article needs headings so that one can find the relevant information quickly without reading the whole thing.

Added some headers - modify as needed. Still needs a rewrite of the archaic 1911 stuff. Vsmith 15:36, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

What was the use for Alum in the 1930s/1940s? My only experience with Alum is from the PorkyPig cartoons when Elmer Fudd put alum in milk. Sylvester drank it and his head shrunk.

Of course, it's funny in its own right to see Sylvester's head shrink, but I can't explain any part of alum's usage that would make that funny to somebody. Clearly the joke is dated.

--It would be because alum causes dimentia 14:47, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Actually, it's probably because alum is used to make shrunken heads. It's used in leather making and makes it shrink. Shrunken heads were topical due to a probably fake story about an explorer who was following African tribesmen. But something an everyday person in the 40's would know is that when you add alum to pickle brine, the pickles shrink. --King Starscream (talk) 17:30, 13 November 2019 (UTC)

Could somebody in the know put in a few words about why alum was a common household item in the early 20th century?

--Pietbarber 17:16, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

While I admire the exhaustive listing of alkali metals that could conceivably form alum-type compounds, I had thought that francium was far too short-lived (minutes), intensely radioactive, and difficult to produce (it's not found in nature) to actually be of much significance in chemistry. I doubt that any francium alums have ever existed.

-- a chemist

you need to calm down (talk)a reader —Preceding comment was added at 17:56, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

another thing- the part about indians. Does this refer to Native Americans or people from India? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:21, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

For a chemistry page the explanation under "Industrial Uses" is rather muddled. It should be fixed up. I can do it after some research or otherwise if anyone would recognize and rectify it prior to that would be great. — Preceding unsigned comment added by GKnomeThought (talkcontribs) 05:14, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Other uses?[edit]

I remember hearing once that if you mixed alum in with a dog's food, it would keep them from barking. Seeing as I know absolutely nothing about this kind of stuff, I have to assume that it does so either by

  • muting its vocal chords, or
  • killing the dog

What's the truth behind this homespun remedy? TKarrde 20:13, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

I'd say because it caused dementia =p (see above) 15:16, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

heals canker sores on the tongue[edit]

I have a piece of alum cyrstal that my grandmother always keep in her medicine cabinet for canker sores on the tongue or mouth. It really works my just rubbing it on the sore. The next day it will be gone or almost gone. Just repeat one more time and it should be gone in hours. My piece of cyrstal is almost gone. I want to know where I can buy another piece. She died in 1975 and I have protected this piece since then. 07:22, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

You can find it in almost every middle eastern store/market. It's known to them as Shabbeh rock. I was told that the Alum rock is also good for restoring hair loss if you rub it on your head over the places where you lost your hair. I'm still searching for any evidence to see if this is true.


One medical use of Alum is that it is used to clean infections of the eyes. We've tried this before and it works majic.

Ehrab Hussain.

Why are some formulae doubled-up?[edit]

Why are some of the formulae 'doubled-up' (A2SO4·B2(SO4)3·24H2O, Na2SO4·Al2(SO4)3·24H2O) and some not (KAl(SO4)2.12H2O, NH4Al(SO4)2·12H2O)? Are the double ones a single molecule? - or two molecules in some sort of close association? Do the single ones have a different structure? - or just have a common factor of 2 taken out? Please excuse my extreme ignorance of chemistry. --catslash (talk) 12:02, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

Good question. The short answer is that there are no molecules for this (or most inorganic materials) - these species are almost always polymers. For such materials, chemists use formulas to both describe stoichiometry and highlight parentage (structural families).--Smokefoot (talk) 12:53, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the swift response! - OK: so KAl(SO4)2.12H2O gives me the ratio of the various species in solution or in an ionic crystal (not a molecule). But then K2SO4·Al2(SO4)3·24H2O suggests to me that Alum is little more than a mixture of K and Al sulphates. If I mix solutions of thes sulphates in the correct proportions (assuming Al2(SO4)3 is soluble) and crystallize, will the alum crystals have the Al and K ions arranged in some regular pattern? --catslash (talk) 13:39, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

  • Experiment A: The dissolution of KAl(SO4)2.12H2O will give a solution with the ratio 1"K+":2 SO42-:1"Al3+" and some water provided from the alumn. To cloud the situation somewhat, Al3+ really exists as [Al(H2O)6]3+ (and more complex things, depending on pH of the soln). Being 3+, the aluminium cations adhere tightly to oxygen in water (that is the reason that alums are hydrated). You'd think that they'd prefer to bind sulfate, but it's water that wins that competition.
  • Experiment B: "If I mix solutions of thes sulphates in the correct proportions (assuming Al2(SO4)3 is soluble) and crystallize, will the alum crystals have the Al and K ions arranged in some regular pattern" Yes again, usually (crystallization is freaky and slightly unpredictable). Crystals always feature regular patterns (they are megamolecules, in a sense).

Of course, these are only one chemist's views, others might see matters differently, but probably not too differently.--Smokefoot (talk) 13:57, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

WikiProject Food and drink Tagging[edit]

This article talk page was automatically added with {{WikiProject Food and drink}} banner as it falls under Category:Food or one of its subcategories. If you find this addition an error, Kindly undo the changes and update the inappropriate categories if needed. The bot was instructed to tagg these articles upon consenus from WikiProject Food and drink. You can find the related request for tagging here . Maximum and careful attention was done to avoid any wrongly tagging any categories , but mistakes may happen... If you have concerns , please inform on the project talk page -- TinucherianBot (talk) 06:44, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

needs more refs[edit]

This needs more refs, then it could be a GA or FA article eventually. Sticky Parkin 21:01, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Solubility Table Annoying Units[edit]

Having solubility in parts per 100 is very annoying when mass per volume (for example g/mL) are more useful in chemistry. Could whomever wrote the table include solubility in terms of g/mL or at least a citation of the reference used for the parts per hundred measurements? Also, is it right to have non-integer values for something like parts per hundred?-- (talk) 18:43, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

I concur. The use of the term "parts" is ambiguous -- mass or volume?. Please rewrite to use SI units of mass or of volume.Metricator (talk) 20:01, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


Alumths rutcgds —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:48, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

Is Alum used to stop bleeding from razor cuts? DGerman (talk) 21:26, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Just a suggestion, but the alum crystal image could be a lot better, perhaps one showing the full octahedral crystal habit. Periksson28 (talk) 17:42, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Alum in Comedy[edit]

I've added a section on the use of Alum in comedy. Trivial or not this is or was part of the common view of Alum and it's effects.Saxophobia (talk) 16:09, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Alum in other culture[edit]

Alum الشبه in Arabian world have another use where we used to eliminate body odor —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mewoone (talkcontribs) 11:42, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Alum toxicity[edit]

There needs to be a section re alum being a possible poison in large doses. There are internet reports that ingesting 1 ounce has resulted in death--although I can't find an MDS that lists the LD50.

Irv —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:46, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

This data sheet also says that there are reports of 30g (pretty near 1 ounce) being a lethal dose, but doesn't give citations. Lavateraguy (talk) 17:19, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Sources of alunite[edit]

The sources of alunite given in this article (upper Bavaria, Bohemia, Belgium, and Scotland) seem to be quite different from those given in the alunite article (Tuscany, Hungary, Australia, United States). Or are the "alum schists" referred to here in fact different from alunite? (in which case perhaps they should have their own subsection) I'm sorry I do not have anywhere near the necessary expertise to fix this myself. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 12:38, 3 August 2011 (UTC)


Are there any realiable sources that could verfiy this?

Alum's antibacterial properties contribute to its traditional use as an underarm deodorant.

Paucabot (talk) 07:21, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

Cultural/literary references[edit]

I have just created a new subheading to include the fact that alum and its production, social, ecological and economic effects is the subject of a well-researched historical novel. It was previously listed under Uses. My edit was reverted after a second item was added to that section, concerning a reference to alum in a book by Lennie Bruce. It has now been reverted twice (in neither case restored by me). I accept that listing this information under Uses was inappropriate, but I think it's information of general interest and that it's now listed in an appropriate section. If there is no consensus for that point of view, I will remove it myself. Rather than get into an edit war, perhaps the point could be discussed here? Robocon1 (talk) 09:11, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

Seems the problem is that it is only referenced to the book itself and that is a WP:primary source. As it is a novel published in 2013, the reference to it appears promotional. A secondary source discussing the book's content/scholarship would be required. Vsmith (talk) 13:35, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
Additionally the publisher listed (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform) is a problem. Removed again. Vsmith (talk) 13:44, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

Duplicate with Potassium alum page?[edit]

This page refers to the same compond as Potassium alum. It would be less confusing to merge both.

This page covers both the specific compound potassium alum and the broader class of alums. Rather than merge the two pages a more appropriate action would be to add a hatnote at the top, and transfer the stuff specific to potassium alum. Lavateraguy (talk) 09:11, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
Good idea, go ahead and merge these two articles. --Smokefoot (talk) 14:17, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

The Alum gag[edit]

There really ought to be some mention/explanation/history of "alum" as it appears in numerous cartoons, a remarkable substance that somehow shrinks the head and voice.

It is probably the only way most people have ever heard of alum.

-- (talk) 04:45, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

This is completely new to me. Can you supply some references to reliable sources? --Slashme (talk) 07:43, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

Reliable? You be the judge

Bugs pulls him out and takes him backstage. Next Bugs sprays Giovanni's throat with "liquid alum" which shrinks his head as well as his voice. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:24, 4 September 2016 (UTC)

Agreed!!! I was well into adulthood before I encountered alum outside of Warner Bros cartoons. Since then I've seen it in a few pickling recipes, and some play dough recipes, but my first though will always be cartoon characters' heads shrinking because of alum.... PurpleChez (talk) 16:58, 16 November 2016 (UTC)

The gag also appears in "Birds Anonymous". Sylvester tries to eat Tweety, but another cat pours powdered alum into his mouth (from a box), making Sylvester's lips too tight for Tweety to fit: — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:440:C500:36E4:4108:BA1A:4046:B700 (talk) 16:38, 14 September 2019 (UTC)

What are the products of the chemical reaction between alum and steel?[edit]

Can someone please tell me? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:33, 30 October 2016 (UTC)


There seems to be confusion between the notions of astringent and coagulant. I find particularly questionable this sentence in the Uses / Cosmetic section: "Alum in block form (usually potassium alum) can be used as a blood coagulant." Its reference is a 1914 personal diary which, as interesting as it may be, is not in the least scientific. I propose deleting it. Any objections? (talk) 22:45, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

(The silence is deafening.) I deleted the objectionable sentence. (talk) 00:35, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

not for coloring bread[edit]

I was just watching James Townsends YouTube videos. That's how I got to looking at this page. It turns out alum wasn't added to bread tochange the color, since it doesn't actually do so. On the video they demonstrated this empirically. This needs to be updated on the page EdwinAmi (talk) 04:03, 4 August 2017 (UTC)

Possible references[edit]

To add to article[edit]

To add to this article: the effects of alum (ingestion) on health, as it is sometimes a food ingredient. (talk) 10:14, 28 July 2020 (UTC)