What is an Alum Block and what are its benefits?
An Alum block is a crystal-like stone moistened with water to help you stop bleeding from small cuts and nicks. It is made of potassium alum, which is a naturally occurring mineral.
Barbers use it as antiseptic as they gently rubbed over a person’s shaved area. It also helps to combats various post-shaving related skin problems, which include but are not limited to redness, razor bumps and razor burns. Barbers and the shaving community have used it for hundreds of years as a crucial step in post-shave process.
It is available in different forms and sizes, as an alum bar, for easily covering bigger areas. Or more convenient travel size alum sticks for precise application.
Historical use of Alum Bar
Alum block is the original antiseptic after-shave that contains mineral salts. The ancient Egyptians used it more than 4000 years ago for its antiseptic and healing properties and to cool and refresh the skin.
Which one should I use – Alum Block or Styptic Pencil?
If you are a wet shaver, you are likely to get a few cuts and nicks occasionally. Whether you are careful or experienced in using a safety razor, it is bound to happen. The two commonly used after-shave products to help soothe the skin are the alum block and the styptic pencil.
Below are some of the major differences between the two products:
- Alum block helps stop the blood from minor nicks and cuts, while styptic pencil is generally required for outright cuts and nicks that are more serious;
- Alum block has astringent and antiseptic qualities and helps tone your face, while styptic pencil does not have astringent properties;
- Styptic pencil leaves a white powdery residue on your face after drying while alum bar does not;
- Alum block can also be used to help bug bites;
- It is quicker and easier to apply alum block on your face and neck as compared to styptic pencil;
- Alum block is more economical as it lasts a long time as compared to styptic pencil;
- Alum tones the skin and heals the damaged areas very quickly;
- The alum blocks helps calm the skin after waxing;
- You can use it as a natural deodorant. It is one of the great natural antiperspirant;
- If you have oily skin, use alum block;
- You should not leave alum block on a sensitive skin for more than 20 seconds. Rinse it off and apply one of the light moisturisers.
How Use an Alum block during and after shaving in 4 easy steps
Step 1: Prepare You Face with Cold Water
After you have shaved, rinse your face with cold water in order to remove any soap or shaving cream. Using cold water helps close your pores, thereby soothing your skin and combating the post shave irritations.
Step 2: Apply the Block
Wet the alum stone and glide it across your face targeting the saved areas. In fact, pay close attention on areas that you might have irritated your skin or cut yourself. This process will enable you to soothe your skin and prevent razor inflammation or burn. It also helps minimize bleeding by closing cuts.
It is normal to feel a burning or stinging and you can also learn a lot from this process to help you apply less pressure with your razor in those areas in your next shave.
PRO TIP: Apply it between passes if needed. Simply, rub the alum bar over the nicked area and re-apply a shaving cream or soap for next pass.
Doing several passes is a common practice when using traditional shaving methods. If you are not familiar with traditional shaving methods perhaps you are interested in reading more about traditional wet shaving methods.
Step 3: Let It Sit
Once you have applied the alum block, allow the residue to sit on your face for up to 20 seconds. By 20 seconds, it will have infiltrated any abrasion, working the healing magic.
Step 4: Wash It Off
You should wash your face using cold water again to remove any residue. Tap your face dry and finish off by applying your favourite moisturising balm.
Using natural moisturisers after the shave is crucial part especially during the more harsh winter months.
Important: as alum potassium is water soluble always dry it off after you have finished using it.
Other Uses of Alum Blocks
Oily, Greasy, Spotty Skin
If you have an oily skin, you can use alum block as an all-natural treatment for acne and oily complexions. It is a great natural product that helps combat greasy skin, acne and spots.
After you have showered or washed your face, you should gently apply the alum block on the affected parts. It will help dry your skin and spots, making you have a better appearance. You can also apply it on pimples and spots before you sleep at night.
You should not use alum block more than two times on your face since it can result in skin over-compensating by secreting more oil.
Using an Alum Block as a Natural Deodorant
People around the world have applied alum block to their underarms for centuries to for its antibacterial properties to prevent odours. If you wish to use a natural deodorant, alum block is the perfect choice for you. Apply it to your underarms to get a reliable, alcohol-free deodorant.
It is non-scented; therefore, you may opt to use it together with your favourite scented deodorant.
Alum stone after Waxing Treatment (Especially for Women)
It is not only used by men. Women can benefit its healing magic too, to calm their skin after waxing. It is highly suitable for sensitive areas, including the bikini area and your face.
PRO TIP: Some men and women alike use alum bar to rub it over their fingertips before starting to shave. It helps to get a better grip of the razor. This is especially useful if you like to shave in bath or while showering where your hands are wet and covered with soap.
Recap and wrapping it up
Alum block is one of the first post-shave treatments to be introduced. It has been used to heal burns and minor razor cuts. You should moisten and run alum block gently on your shaved skin to allow it to cool, sooth and heal. People use alum block for constricting properties. Even though it is not a perfect alternative to balm, you can use it for after-shave for its antiseptic properties.
I hope you found the overview on how to use alum bar useful and do let me know if you have any questions
Are there any other uses of alum bar that we did not cover? Leave them into comments below.
Some of the frequent question we have seen about alum stone
One of the questions I have seen popping up when reading alum stone reviews or shaving forums, is this;
Is there difference between the two alum stones where one costs dimes and the other dollars?
At first glance it might look as if there is no difference beside a price tag and their appearance. They might even look exactly the same.
But like with every naturally occurring stone/mineral there are micro cracks in alum bars that are not visible. Meaning a lot of the quality of it depends on the craftsmanship and how the stone is acquired and cut during the manufacturing process.
Badly cut alum stones will start falling apart bit by bit; whereas finely made one can be used for years.
My personal suggestion is to always choose a reputable manufacturer. The ones I can recommend are OSMA alum block stone that comes with a convenient container or travel sized MÜHLE alum stick.
Both manufacturers have been around for very long and I personally use both the above mentioned products daily. OSMA is solely focused on manufacturing alum based products, including after shave products and alum bars.
See all alum products available online from Blake’n Blade Shave Shop