It’s been a while since I wrote about deodorant here. I think that’s a pretty good sign, as it speaks to the longevity of the products I’ve been trying out. However, with travel fast approaching and my supplies running low once more, I have finally turned away from Lush to try out something a little different, an alum bar. (If you haven’t read anything about my deodorant adventures thus far, make sure to catch up zero waste adventures)

So what’s an alum bar? It’s a crystal like stone made of mineral salts that is normally used in mens shaving, dating back to the ancient Egyptians who used it for its healing and antiseptic properties. When you shave you can wet an alum bar with cold water and rub it in on the shaved area to combat razor burn, stop bleeding from small cuts, and to cool the skin. Recommendations to try one of these have been coming my way for months, as you can use the same principal of wetting the bar and rubbing it on your ~sweaty areas~ as a natural deodorant, and apparently it lasts forever.

Firstly, lets clarify. I got a natural alum bar, not a crystal deodorant. I went for the kind that you could also buy for shaving, not something that’s deliberately being marketed as just a crystal deodorant. It comes as a block in a small cardboard packet (easily recyclable) and nothing else; no plastic, no bottle. Zero waste box, checked.

Also worth noting – and the clue is in the title here – that aluminium is present in this. However it’s a very different type, an alum bar is a lump of mined mineral salt, as opposed to a synthetically made substance such as aluminium chlorohydrate which is present in most commercial deodorants. Up to you to decide how you feel on this one, some are for it and some against. I did a lot of reading before I decided myself to still go ahead and try it, as I haven’t personally seen enough concrete evidence speaking out against the alum bar. There’s a big difference between a naturally occurring substance and a synthetically manufactured one, and I want to try and maintain a balance of making good choices with not buying into a culture of unfounded fears. So I’m trying with a pinch of salt, shall we say.

So how does it work? Alum bars do tighten pores (it’s how they help with small cuts), but they don’t clog them like an anti-perspirant and stop you sweating altogether. They work mainly because of their antibacterial properties, eliminating smell but not stopping you sweating altogether. They’re also completely unscented, so no artificial deodorant smells lingering around. Same a shaving: wet with cold water, rub on armpits, good to go.

I’ve got to say, this has really been working for me. I’ve never needed to reapply this in the same day, and when I’m in a situation where I should be sweating (exercise for instance) I am. But I definitely can’t smell it. I feel clean, protected and scent free when I use this, and it has worked in the weird rollercoaster of hot and cold weather that has been the last month. The bar cost around £5 and thus far I have seen no noticeable difference in its shape or size. I don’t think people were kidding when they talk about the lifespan of this product, so if you’re looking for cost effectiveness in your zero waste life this may be the solution for you. I feel fresh through the whole day, I don’t smell, it doesn’t mark clothes, and it’s pretty easy. Thus far, the alum bar has a thumbs up from me. Let’s see how it lasts in Singapore’s jungle weather and the Australian summer, but my hopes are high thus far.

Have you used an alum bar? How did you find it? Let me know!

Until next time, stay magic y’all.