Today there are serious concerns among health care practitioners about crystal deodorant products, and whether or not they can truly be referred to as natural deodorants, when most all of them contain alum salts. There have been numerous studies showing a direct connection between aluminum and breast cancer as well as Alzheimer’s disease. One such study conducted in 1998 stated the use of aluminium-containing antiperspirants has been linked with the systemic accumulation of aluminium thought to increase the risk of the disease.
Historically, when natural deodorants flooded the marketplace they were basically just covering up odors. But soon, as manufacturers sought improvements they added other ingredients such as parabens, propylene glycol and synthetic fragrances.
Next was the introduction of the crystal rock deodorants which have been referred to by many people as organic, natural deodorants that are aluminum-free. But the issue is that they still contain either potassium alum or ammonium alum. Alum salts are considered part of the aluminum family if they respond to the element AL (aluminum). So they are, in fact, not aluminum-free. There has been so much confusion about the products, that due to market demand, manufacturers began making the alum crystals in laboratories – another reason they should not even be classified as “natural.”
Classified as a neurotoxin by the National Institute of Health, aluminum comes in a variety of types including: aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum hydroxybromide and aluminum zirconium. Those most often used in deodorants and cosmetics are potassium alum and ammonium alum. And note that even the aluminum suppliers state that aluminium ammonium sulfate, also known as ammonium alum, responds to tests for aluminum and for sulfate. The bottom line: these salts of aluminum sulfate should all be treated with caution as aluminum, period.
It appears as if most suppliers are listing “respond to aluminum” in their material safety data sheet (MSDS). Alum salts are considered part of the aluminum family if they respond to the element AL (aluminum). The most common form, potassium aluminum, also known as potash alum, is the specific compound, hydrated potassium aluminum sulfate -KAl(SO4)212H2O. Potassium alum does contain aluminum. Alum is aluminum sulfate – Al2(SO4)3. Potassium alum is potassium aluminum sulfate – AlK(SO4)2.
Ammonium alum is a white crystalline double sulfate of aluminum: the ammonium double sulfate of aluminum; (NH4)Al(SO4)2•12H2O. Potassium alum and ammonium alum are salts of aluminium sulphate. They are also used in the tanning of leather and dye making, and as ingredients for baking powders and fire extinguishers. What’s more, these two aluminum salts are also commonly used as adjuvants in vaccines – yet an entirely separate health topic and controversy today.
The FDA banned the aluminum zirconium chemicals in aerosols due to safety concerns over inhalation but today you can still find roll-on deodorants and antiperspirants containing this ingredient.
You may want to think twice before applying an alum salt mix under the arm; the same salt used in tanning leather. Another reason is this study, “Rapid Communications: Antiperspirant Induced DNA Damage in Canine Cells” by Comet Assay, Gloria Yiu, Pomona College, Claremont, CA; Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods; 15-25-28, 2005. It compared three antiperspirants and a crystal stone deodorant. Using cells from canine kidney, the study found crystal deodorant caused more DNA damage than the three antiperspirants.
According to Dr. Philippa Darbre, who studies links between antiperspirants and breast cancer, the alum salts are absorbed into the sweat ducts and the surrounding skin. She also has found the alum leeches down beyond the arm pit area leaving dead cells. (Source: Aluminum In Breast Tissue: A Possible Factor In The Cause of Breast Cancer).
According to the FDA, antiperspirants and crystal deodorants are listed as containing active ingredients. What does this mean for the general public? On the FDA website an active ingredient is any component that “affects the structure or any function of the body of man or animals.”
During the 1970’s the equipment used to test antiperspirants and ammonium alums was not sophisticated enough to measure effectively, and as a result these ingredients were given “prior” sanctions by the FDA to be used and were categorized as “Cosmetics.” With the use of today’s equipment such as the mass spectrometer, tests have revealed the effects from using these ingredients.
Ultimately, today on our shelves, we have unabated “drugs” in antiperspirants and crystal deodorants, making cosmetic claims. We only have to wonder – does a suppressant deodorant prevent the fluids in the sweat glands from draining to the armpit? Or we can ask, where does the alum in the deodorant go and how long does it sit in our skin when we stop using it?
If you have been misled and believe your natural, aluminum-free crystal deodorant safe, you may want to think about using a detox cleansing deodorant to cleanse the aluminums and metal ions residing under your arms.
One company, in fact the only company, has formulated a product to cleanse your body of aluminum and other unwanted debris. A better alternative to crystal rock and crystal body deodorant type products, because it is aluminum-free, Herbalix Restoratives™ (www.herbalix.com) is now marketing the first Cleansing Detox Deodorant™ for nighttime use. Clinically tested, this is truly an organic natural deodorant with all natural ingredients including coriander, seaweed and coconut oil, all of which help to attract and absorb bacteria.