Thursday, January 21, 2010

Aluminum in The Crystal Deodorants?

"Aluminum-Free" is probably the most visible phrase you'll see while walking down the natural deodorant aisle. And some of the most popular natural deodorants in that aisle are the "crystal" deodorant stones and sprays. But most people don't know that these crystal deodorant products do contain aluminum!

The crystal deodorant stones are made from alum. While there are different types of alums, the most widely used form of alum used in the personal care industry is potassium alum (aka, potash alum). The full chemical name of potassium alum is potassium aluminum sulfate.

The most common way to create potassium aluminum sulfate is through a process called hydrometallurgy. In this process, sulfuric acid is combined with bauxite ore (which is, by the way, not produced at all in the US). The reaction between the sulfuric acid and the ore creates aluminum oxide. This is then reacted with potassium sulfate to form potassium aluminunum sulfate.

While potash alum does naturally ocurr in mineral deposits such as alunite and kalinite, the deodorant stones are manufactured in this less-than-environmentally-friendly way, shipping ore from overseas and using toxic chemicals like sulfuric acid. The stone manufacturers claim that alum is a mineral salt, "similar to that found naturally in the earth's crust." Radioactive uranium is also found naturally in the earth's crust--but that doesn't mean you'd want to use it as a deodorant.

So, is the deodorant stone really a problem?

The reason that most people try to avoid aluminum in deodorant is because of its possible link to Alzheimer's disease. While experts have not come to a consensus that aluminum causes Alzheimer's, there is some strong evidence of a link. For instance, in 1988 a truck driver accidentally dumped 20 tons of aluminum sulfate in to a town's drinking water. Now, over 20 years later, they are finding a higher incidence of Alzheimers in the people of this town that were exposed to the aluminum in the drinking water. Many people point to the fact that aluminum is found in high concentration in brain matter affected by the disease. But while there is plenty of strong circumstantial evidence, researchers are still trying to find out if and how aluminum compounds work within the brain to create the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer's. Because not everyone exposed to aluminum develops Alzheimer's, many experts believe that some people who are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer's are particularly suseptible to aluminums. That it acts as a catalyst in the process that creates plaque in the brain. As a precautionary measure, many doctors such as popular web guru and natural health expert Dr. Mercola suggest avoiding aluminum as much as possible.

The common aluminum compounds in anti-perspirants have another risk. Chemicals like aluminum chlorohydrate are estrogen mimickers that can throw off the body's delicate hormonal balance. While no evidence suggests that alum carries this particular risk, it is a form of aluminum and would carry the same possible link to Alzheimer's. The toxicity of potassium alum is also quite high. There have been cases of people who have died from ingesting only 30 grams of alum...that's only one ounce of product. To give you an idea, an average deodorant stone is about 4 ounces---so if a larger chip off a deodorant stone were to break off and be ingested, it could be lethal (especially to a child).

The bottom line is, that while using a deodorant stone is probably better than using a conventional anti-perspirant, it's not aluminum-free and it still poses a possible Alzheimer's risk and contributes to background toxicy in the body.

81 comments:

Anonymous said...

Then what are we supposed to use to keep the odor away???? I'm so tired of this unending hunt for a good, pure, working deodorant!

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Look for a deodorant with the USDA organic seal. There are a number of brands:

Origins Organics
Dr. Hauschka
Erbaviva
Nourish

and of course our own sticks and Pit Puttys. All our deodorants come with a satisfaction replacement guarantee--so if what you try doesn't work, we'll send you out a new one until you find just the right one for your particular body chemistry. We'll even make you something custom just for you.

Ruby's Beauty said...

You can also use a mixture of baking soda and cornstarch as a deodorant.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

I recommend arrowroot powder over cornstarch. Most cornstarches, unless you buy organic, are made from GMO corn. And, more importantly, cornstarch is more prone to allowing bacterial growth than arrowroot.

S said...

I've tried Alvera and it works really well. The problem is I recently found it that's its a 3 or 4 on the cosmetic database. I've tried pit putty and while it works ok, it does crumble easily. The lemongrass spray is too strong smelling for me. But I have to say Stephanie that I love what your doing; keep up the good work.

Karen said...

Stephanie - I'm sorry but I have had terrible underarm rashes from your deodorants. I've tried three and really can't spend anymore money just to have to throw out the product. I need to find a deodorant without oils (rosemary, lemon, eucalyptus)in them. Are there any?

Anonymous said...

Those are bad news! I have been using both Bubble and Bees and also Crystal wet roll...... I guess Crystal stone and Crystal wet roll is same thing when it comes to ingredient, right, Stephanie?
PS offtopic: Stephanie, you all should really make bigger bottles of your spray deodorant! Love that stuff. Do you think you could make a spray deodorant that would smell just like Pit Putty original (clove etc.)

Anonymous said...

It seems there is a never ending stream of manufacturer's out there, trying to deceive us. Thank you for this information. I will be throwing my crystal out, and buying your deodorant!

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Karen--send me an e-mail; let's get this figured out for you.

sharon said...

i use therapeutic grade essential oils- make sure they are of highest quality- ingestible- higher than food grade, and meets the french medical standard. lavender oil is most often adulterated or not even lavender at all, but a cheaper hybrid called lavandin so you must really know about your organic supplier.

Eek-ers said...

Thank you so much for this info, Stephanie! I've forwarded it on to anyone I know that is using a crystal deodorant. I've yet to try the Bubble & Bee stuff (still waiting for the last stick of deodorant I bought to run down before I buy something different), but I am expecting to soon.
What's working for me right now is Arm & Hammer's Baking Soda deodorant. Not sure how environmentally friendly it is, but it's pretty good at putting the odor at bay!

Again, thank you so much. I'll be referring a lot more people to your products with this post.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Sharon--yes, we do know our organic suppliers very well. There is a problem with adulterated essential oils when you're using conventional oils. With certified organic products, however, there isn't as much of a concern because the producer has to account for every drop of oil with their organic certifier. Lavandin and other additives are not allowed in organic production, so if it bears the seal, you can be sure you're getting the real thing.

AnimalCracker said...

The pit putty was just a little flaky when I first stated using it but the dry itchy skin I used to have went away after about a week and I will never go back. So I found that if I put on just a pea size about of body butter under my arms before I use the pit putty it slides on smooth like a cream and then is very easy to rub in and doesn't flake off. I'd love to see the pit putty as a creamier formula, you could apply it like 'gel' antiperspirant in the stick form with the slit tops to apply just a little at a time. Just an idea.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Anonymous-- re: Crystal Stone vs. Roll On. Yes, most likely it's the same ingredient, just in a liquid form. And thanks for the suggestion regarding the sprays...we'll definitely keep that in mind. We have had other requests for larger sizes of the spray.

Others--re: Pit Putty crumbling. Check out our Pit Putty help page for some helpful tips: http://www.bubbleandbee.com/pitputtyfaqs.html#crumbling

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Oh--and there is a lemon & clove spray available...it's still a "custom" formula with only a plain label, but you can find it on a hidden page on our website here: http://www.bubbleandbee.com/servlet/the-147/Lemon-and-Clove-Deodorant/Detail

Stephanie Greenwood said...

AnimalCracker--thanks for the suggestion. We actually have tried the Pit Putty in one of those gel applicators--but it didn't quite work. It is something that we would consider doing further down the line. Those types of containers aren't widely available from our suppliers. We'd have to purchase them from the manufacturer at a minimum 25,000 at a time. However, I did just find a good supplier of roll-on tubes, so that may be in the future.

Pudic said...

S, Alvera contains Alcloxa - Aluminium salt of Allantoin.

Rachel M Holtrop said...

I love Bubble & Bee's spray deodorant! It's the perfect solution for me, but unfortunately, I've only bought it once, because I'm still going through my much longer-lasting stick and Pit Putty. I have actually always preferred a spray-on, and also own spray-on Crystals, which until this week, I had thought of as just as safe as Stephanie's deodorants.

I have three comments:

1. I must echo what one Anonymous said up there: make the spray-on bottle bigger!!! :) It would be infinitely more convenient as a product for me if it came in a bigger quantity than 2.8 oz!!! <:P That way, I could actually use it as a regular product, instead of having to replenish to a new bottle every 1.5 weeks.

2. Is there any way this product could be priced cheaper?? It's difficult for me to think of spending the same amount on a product that will last 2 weeks at best as the sticks and Puttys, which last me months.

3. *I* noticed, way before realizing that my beloved Crystals contained aluminum, that the Bubble & Bee spray came in an aluminum bottle. I understand that there appears to be a liner of another material inside, so that the product will not absorb the aluminum. However, just touching the aluminum bottle slightly discouraged me. It was also a factor in me not repurchasing that product right away, even though I thought it worked very well.

I'm thinking it would be great if you would consider that your bottle (and some lotion containers [the tins]) are made of aluminum, if you're going to post articles like this that make all us health nuts feel terrible about themselves for using the widely marketed and assumed-safe Crystal and it's variations. :(

If we're going to avoid aluminum, let's avoid it everywhere. I'm still mad my Mac computer is housed in it.

-Rachel Holtrop, Indiana, United States of America.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Hi Rachel--thanks for your comments.

We are actually in the middle of a package redesign and switching the sprays over to a glass or plastic bottle. The current bottles are coated with a non-leaching inert epoxy so there is no leaching of aluminum in to the product or on your hands when you touch the bottle. However, we too, think it's the right move to switch to glass (or plastic??--what do you guys thing?) It's good to hear the feedback that the sprays aren't lasting for you--I had no idea that people were going through them so quickly. I have so much product around here that I personally rotate for myself it's hard to gauge how long a product lasts. As far as the pricing is concerned, it is something we'll look in to. However, our costs on a spray of that size are actually the same as the Pit Puttys, so it may be difficult. But, maybe there are some things that we can do to adjust that with the packaging redesign.

As far as the lotion bars go, yes, I think so too. When we designed that product three years ago we didn't know of the issues with aluminum, and, quite frankly, didn't know what the tins were made of. It was sold to us as a "tin" and we didn't even make a second thought. For those of you who would like to order the Sunflower Bar without the tin, we've set up a page on the website where you can do so (and save a little too) http://www.bubbleandbee.com/servlet/the-166/Sunflower-Bar-No-Tin/Detail

Rachel M Holtrop said...

Hi Stephanie!

I'm thrilled to hear that the aluminum bottle is coated on the outside, as well. I had never thought of that. It makes me feel much better. I used to use Burt's Bees spray-on regularly, and their aluminum bottle bugged me, too.

I personally love it when a company uses glass bottles; it's an extra benefit for me in making a purchase choice. It does tend to spike the shipping costs, but for all other purposes, especially since it's a deodorant and not a shampoo that would be used in a slippery situation near water.

I know plastic's not exactly safe for us, either, when we start talking hormone-disruption, but since I'm used to it, and most things are still sold in it, I'm not sure I would mind.

I understand that essential oils are expensive products, so I can see why the sprays are priced that way, I just wondered if you might consider changing it, since it's a factor for me to buy. I think I would buy more in the long run if the price were just a little lower, but to be fair, those are competitive prices for this market. ;)

I have a scientific question that came to me last night as I was reading the Nature's Brands catalog. They have a deodorant by Herbal Choice Mari that's part essential oils and herbals, and part potassium alum for bacteria-fighting. THEY claim that the molecule size for potassium alum is larger than that of the aluminum product used in antiperspirants, thereby not allowing it to pass through the skin and into the human body. Scientifically-speaking, do you have any thoughts or refutes regarding this claim? Since I'd just been participating in this discussion, it jumped at me, and made me wonder.

I'm happy to hear that the lotion bars can be bought unwrapped. That's awesome news! :) It would additionally help my clutter habits, too. LMAO.

-Rachel Holtrop

Anonymous said...

On the containers, I'd vote for glass over plastic any day. Glass is totally recyclable, not at all toxic...

Stephanie Greenwood said...

I've heard that claim before, that the alum isn't absorbed in to skin. According to everything that I've found, alum does get absorbed in to the skin. In fact, this study found that a vaccine combined with alum and applied to the skin was just as effective as injecting the vaccine. Alum works by shrinking the skin--in order for it to have an effect, it would have to be absorbed in some way in to the skin's cells. It's dissolved in the water, and anything in ionic form like that would be able to pass through the skin's cells. The companies claiming that the aluminum is not absorbed have not proven this assertation with any backup data or studies.

Rachel M Holtrop said...

Thanks for the backup information. That sounds reasonable. I tend to be suspicious when a company makes a claim of safety on their product, when it's the one questionable ingredient in their list. It makes it seem like they have something to hide or defend before it's even asked, which, in fact, it seems they do.

I am upset that I used crystal deodorants for this long assuming they were safe, but the ingredients did sound an awful lot like the aluminum we are supposed to avoid, and I guess there's no time like the present to stop. ;)

Thanks again for the science to back it up.

Tricha said...

My teenage son loves how the Truly herbal deodorant makes him smell. He says that girls at school think that he is wearing mens cologne.

Horton4u said...

the brand to use, is anything from Weleda Brand... in a glass bottle with a pump spray...

S said...

But doesn't weleda deodorant have vegetable glycerin and alcohol?

Anonymous said...

Changing from Aluminum packaging to glass will make your shipments even heavier. Heavier shipments equals more diesel/carbon output.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

I know--I was just discussing that in another thread somewhere. So, a non-leaching PET plastic may be the way to go.

Eek-ers said...

Maybe instead of the plastc bottles, you can sell the spray by oz. at your store in trolley square in varying sizes of refillable glass bottles? For the bottles for distribution to other stores you can use the non-leeching plastic bottles. Maybe also offer the option of glass bottles, which can be shipped back to you for refilling? Then you wouldn't have to worry as much about loads of plastic bottles just going to the recycling bins instead of getting reused?

AnimalCracker said...

I love the idea of refills for the bottles you already have, or a refill for a glass bottle. I'm always in for reusing items and cheaper costs! And and the roll on sounds great as well. I would most deffinetly try that.

Anonymous said...

does this include Thai crystal deodorant stones? what about Himalayan salt stones?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Yep, the Thai crystal specifies that it's made with potassium alum. The Himalayan stone doesn't specify which particular alum it uses, but it does say that it's made from bauxite ore, so it also does contain aluminum.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of using glass bottles rather than aluminum or even PETE plastic bottles. The fact that plastic is often thrown away and ultimately ends up in the ocean is a more urgent and realistic environmental concern than unverifiable speculation about the relationship between package weight and carbon footprints. Glass bottles should at least be an option for online customers too.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

I haven't decided either way which one we're going to use, but I thought this was an interesting insight in to the debate: http://wineenabler.com/comparing-the-carbon-footprint-of-plastic-and-glass-wine-bottles/

gilesgoatboy said...

Hi Stephanie,
I found your comment about the errant truck driver dumping twenty tons of aluminum sulfate in a town's drinking water very interesting. I'd like to research this--can you give us the name of the town, or your source for the story?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Here's a link to the source: http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060417/full/news060417-10.html

Thanks for reading!

gilesgoatboy said...

Stephanie, thanks for the link to the Nature article on the town's contaminated water supply, which unfortunately requires a subscription for the full story. But I garnered enough details from the first couple of paragraphs to do a little research.

Perhaps your readers would be interested in the accounts from several British newspapers. The details are very incriminating for aluminum, although admittedly the dose the townspeople were exposed to was many orders of magnitude beyond what anyone might encounter with a deodorant or from the use of aluminum pots and pans. Here's a link to The Times of London's quite scientific story:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article707311.ece

And here's a link to slightly more of a human-interest account, in The Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/apr/20/health.healthandwellbeing

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Thanks for the info!

Rob said...

Great post, I had tried the crystal and did not like it and have been using a calendula deodorant fro Toms, but I would like to give yours a try.

Anonymous said...

I have a Thai crystal that says "no alum. chlorhydrate". Does this mean it could have another aluminum type in it? If so, there must be something that can be done if a co. is simply lying/misleading the public. right?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

There's no aluminum chlorohydrate, but there's aluminum in the product as potassium aluminum sulfate. They're getting away with it as a technicality on their label. They wouldn't be able to put "no aluminum", just "no aluminum chlorohydrate." The only thing we can do is spread the information by word of mouth! Also, if you haven't check out my follow up article here: http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/most-controversial/2010/3/8/exposing-more-truths-about-alum.html

Anonymous said...

"If an aluminum compound, such as aluminum chlorhydrate or aluminum zirconium, which is very soluble, is used as an antiperspirant, that compound is readily absorbed. Once in the body, the aluminum portion of the molecule ionizes, forming free or radical aluminum (Al+++). This passes freely across cell membranes, and forms a physical plug, that when dissolved is selectively absorbed by the liver, kidney, brain, cartilage and bone marrow. It is this concentration of aluminum that has been the source of concern in the medical community and has prompted the research being done on ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE and BREAST CANCER victims. Potassium alum molecules have a negative ionic charge, making it unable to pass through the cell wall. THEY ARE NOT ABSORBED. This is why our deodorants are safe to use and will not cause high levels of ALUMINUM in your system. ALUM and ALUMINUM are two different substances, with distinct chemical signatures. They possess different chemical properties which create different chemical attributes.

Deodorant Crystals contain the naturally occurring compound Alum (Potassium or Ammonium), not to be confused with harmful processed aluminum (Aluminum Zirconium or Aluminum Chlorohydrate). Technically speaking, aluminum is a metal while Alum is a compound. Many of these processed aluminum molecules can be absorbed into the skin and bloodstream. Alum molecules create a barrier against odor causing bacteria and contain a large molecule which does not penetrate the surface of the skin."

It says in different places...

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Oh I just have so much to say to this. First of all, I've pretty much already addressed this over on my Chemical of the Day blog, which I have linked to in my response. But, just for fun, I'll respond here too.

"If an aluminum compound, such as aluminum chlorhydrate or aluminum zirconium, which is very soluble, is used as an antiperspirant, that compound is readily absorbed. Once in the body, the aluminum portion of the molecule ionizes, forming free or radical aluminum (Al+++). This passes freely across cell membranes, and forms a physical plug, that when dissolved is selectively absorbed by the liver, kidney, brain, cartilage and bone marrow. It is this concentration of aluminum that has been the source of concern in the medical community and has prompted the research being done on ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE and BREAST CANCER victims. Potassium alum molecules have a negative ionic charge, making it unable to pass through the cell wall. THEY ARE NOT ABSORBED."

First of all, Alum is also an aluminum compound. Anything with the element aluminum in the molecular structure is an "aluminum compound." Alum is highly soluble--it has nearly the same solubility as table salt.

Second, your assertion that "potassium alum molecules have a negative ionic charge" is completely incorrect. A molecule forms when an equal number of positive and negative charges meet up. A potassium alum molecule as a whole is a neutral charge. When dissolved, alum (full name, potassium aluminum sulfate) is broken down into its basic elements, potassium, aluminum, sulfur, and oxygen as positively or negatively charged ions. When aluminum is an ion, it is always Al+++. In Alum or Aluminum Chlorohydrate. Wherever. The protons in the atom don't change. You can't have a negatively charged aluminum ion. It doesn't have the energy to hold the extra electrons in it orbit. Alum molecules are absorbed--in fact, they have been used to deliver dermal vaccines because of their absorbability. To read more about the evidence that alum is absorbed in to the body, read this article: http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/most-controversial/2010/5/13/confirmed-aluminum-in-crystal-deodorants-is-absorbed.html

"This is why our deodorants are safe to use and will not cause high levels of ALUMINUM in your system. ALUM and ALUMINUM are two different substances, with distinct chemical signatures. They possess different chemical properties which create different chemical attributes."

Alum and aluminum ARE different. Aluminum is a single metallic element, while alum is a compound. But, alum contains the element aluminum. If it were one's choice to avoid aluminum, one would also avoid alum because it contains aluminum.

"Deodorant Crystals contain the naturally occurring compound Alum (Potassium or Ammonium), not to be confused with harmful processed aluminum (Aluminum Zirconium or Aluminum Chlorohydrate). Technically speaking, aluminum is a metal while Alum is a compound. Many of these processed aluminum molecules can be absorbed into the skin and bloodstream. Alum molecules create a barrier against odor causing bacteria and contain a large molecule which does not penetrate the surface of the skin."

Alum molecules are much smaller than Aluminum Zirconium or Aluminum Chlorohydrate. Visit this article for a detailed description: http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/most-controversial/2010/3/8/exposing-more-truths-about-alum.html

Anonymous said...

Amazing post. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

what do you think about the dr. hauschka roll-on deodorant?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Here's the ingredients list for Dr. Hauschka's deodorant:

Water/Aqua, Alcohol, Triethyl Citrate, Glycerin, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Fragrance/Parfum (Essential Oil),Zinc Ricinoleate, Bentonite, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Leaf Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Geraniol,Limonene, Citronellol, Citral, Linalool, Benzyl Benzoate,Eugenol, Benzyl Alcohol, Farnesol, Benzyl Salicylate,Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil (Jojoba Wax), Sucrose Laurate,Cetearyl Alcohol, Lecithin, Sodium Magnesium Silicate,Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil (Rose Essential Oil)


Benzyl Alcohol scores a 7 in the Cosmetics Database! http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/todays-chemical/2009/7/22/benzyl-alcohol.html

I also oppose the use of castor oil:
http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/qa/2009/8/14/castor-oil.html

Anonymous said...

The search for a "safe" deodorant never seems to end. Right now, I'm using the Thai crystal in both the spray and the stone. I have two bottles and one stone. It's money I already spent, so I'm going to use it. I figure, if the alum in it is bad, it won't hurt to use a couple of bottles. I'm always amazed at the paranoia surrounding aluminum, yet people continue to eat meat, in spite of all it's negative press and proven link to heart disease and stroke. To each his own.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

It's true--each of us has our own responsibility to choose for ourselves whether to eat meat or not, eat organic or not, avoid aluminum or not, use parabens or not. But the best way to make decisions is when they're informed decisions. That's my key--to educate and let everyone make their own choices about their health.

Thanks for reading!

Beth Terry @ Fake Plastic Fish said...

Hi Stephanie. I stumbled upon your site tonight looking for information on crystal deodorants and specifically looking for one that doesn't come in a plastic container. After reading your post, I'll have to look into it further to see if I even want to mention the crystal to my readers at all.

I write the blog Fake Plastic Fish (http://fakeplasticfish.com) which is about finding ways to get the plastic out of our lives. I noticed that you were considering switching your containers to plastic, and I want to strongly urge you not to. While the jury might be out about the toxicity of aluminum, there is no question that plastic is toxic... from manufacture to use and final disposal.

Even so-called "safe" plastics are not necessarily safe because manufacturers add a plethora of chemical additives to affect the qualities of the plastic. And guess what. They are not required to disclose any of those additives to the public. Recently, baby bottles labeled "BPA-free" have been found to contain estrogenic chemicals that are even worse than BPA.

Please stop by my site or email me directly beth [at] fakeplasticfish [dot] com if you want to learn more about why plastic is not a good choice.

Oh -- that coating on the aluminum containers? Most likely contains BPA, just so you know.

I believe the only safe packaging materials are paper/cardboard, glass, stainless steel, and possibly some of the bio-based materials being developed, but even some of them contain toxic chemicals.

I know glass is heavier, but it is the least likely to leach chemicals into your liquid products. One way to avoid all packaging (and save resources and waste) is to produce solid bars without excess packaging. I like the way Lush sells its deodorant bars without any packaging at all. But I don't buy Lush because of all the chemicals in the product itself. Have you thought about getting rid of the packaging altogether?

Beth Terry

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Thanks for your comments, Beth; I'll stop by your site and take a look. Do you have a plastics guide that talks about the different numbers of plastics? We are careful with the plastics that we choose, and only use PET, HDPE, and PP, none of which are known to leach endocrine distruptors. Also, the coating on the aluminum bottle that we use is verified to be BPA-free and inert.

We continue to look for opportunities for innovation and reduction of packaging and do have some great things in the works.

For more information about "the crystal" check out my follow up articles on my Chemical of the Day Blog:
http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/most-controversial/2010/1/21/aluminum-in-crystal-deodorant-stones.html

http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/most-controversial/2010/5/13/confirmed-aluminum-in-crystal-deodorants-is-absorbed.html

Ronin said...

Thank you for this informative blog. Great work.

I agree with you that it is about getting information out there. This is important information.

I have used "Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal" with Aloe Vera from TCCD, Intl Thailand (www.tccd.com) for at least 3 or 4 years now. It is labelled with "No Harmful Aluminums" (plus a pink breast cancer ribbon) and was purchased at CVS. That stuff worked better than any other deodorant ever. No itching, no stink after 24 sweaty hours, no nothing. And it lasted about a year for each 5.99 spent. Great stuff. Unfortunately, while at the gym I dropped my stick and it caused the crystal to shatter.


I used the shards a few times before relenting and going to buy a new one. They didn't have the original stuff but something that looked exactly the same called "Crystal" from F/T ltd (www.thecrystal.com) packaged in the same dispenser and labelled "No aluminum chlorohydrate).This stuff looks exactly the same but left my pits irritated after the first use. After 3 weeks my arm pits have a serious rash and itch like hell. But it works just as well for the stink...

So that's how I found your site, looking up crystal rash. Obviously the second company uses more sulfuric acid in its blend or something, but the bigger problem is the aluminum I was avoiding in the first place! I can't even use baby powder anymore because of talc concerns. Corn starch doesn't work and other scent masks are useless.

I'll try some of the stuff mentioned here and hope it works, but I just had to write to say thanks for posting the links to studies. You are right, we need to be aware of what we are using. I'm definitely ditching the acid pit crystal (who knew it used acid? I thought it was all natural!?), and might mail order the original crystal blend that I now know is not as healthy as first thought. But at least I can use it while looking for something healthier that works for me. And of course I will try your products out, although they seem primarily aimed at women.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Here are some facts on Natural ALUM based Deodorants...

Please be aware there are two types of aluminums, processed or naturally occurring. Deodorants are made from either potassium or ammonium alum. These are natural mineral salts and are forms of naturally occurring aluminum. There is no research to suggest that alum poses a possible health risk as alum molecules are too large to penetrate the surface of the skin.

However, most conventional antiperspirants contain processed aluminums called aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium. Because processed aluminums have a very small molecular structure, the concern is that it will penetrate the skin and can be a potential problem for people who have kidney issues. For this reason the FDA requires antiperspirants to print the following warning on all antiperspirant product labels...."Ask a doctor before use if you have a kidney disease."

The possibility of absorbing alum through the skin is so small that it can be safely ignored. Ion transport through the skin is rather rare and it is not expected from the small amount that would rub off on your armpit or fingers while handling it. Since our bodies deal with significant quantities of aluminum on a daily basis through our food and drink, and since alum on the surface of the skin is not readily absorbed, the use of deodorant crystal products poses no legitimate health concern.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

While I do agree that compounds like aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum zirconium are more harmful (because in addition to the possible neurotoxic effects of the aluminum, they are estrogen mimickers), alum still does pose a risk.

First of all, to say that alum is not a processed aluminum is false. It is largely created through industrial means, combining bauxite or and sulfuric acid. Crystal deodorants are not harvested from naturally-occurring deposits in the earth.

Secondly, they ions are proven to be absorbed: http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/most-controversial/2010/5/13/confirmed-aluminum-in-crystal-deodorants-is-absorbed.html

Mice who were dosed with alum had significant memory loss. Alum is toxic to humans at a low dose of just 30 grams. For more information, read this article: http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/most-controversial/2010/3/8/exposing-more-truths-about-alum.html

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your information sharing. I had been very happy with Weleda Sage All natural Deodorant-a spray in a glass bottle. Thinking about trying a less expensive deodorant I was considering the Thai Crystals now I will go back to the Weleda as it has been the best I have found for my own needs.
I like your sincere and knowledgeable responses.

MonaVie said...

I'm glad to hear about this. When it comes to deodorants, I never bother to look at its contents until this. I didn't know that deodorants could contain harmful elements in it.

Anonymous said...

I am confused about the alum in my roll on Crystal deodorant. They state that it is a different form of alum and does not get absorbed in the body the same way as the hurtful aluminum does??? this is what they state on their site:

"Understanding the Difference Between Alum and Aluminum
Technically speaking, aluminum is a metal, whereas alum is a compound. While many aluminum molecules can be absorbed into the skin, alum molecules are too large to be absorbed.
Crystal deodorants are made of natural mineral salts (alum).

Aluminum Chlorhydrate and Why You Should Care.
Aluminum chlorohydrate is a neurotoxin that alters the function of the blood-brain barrier. It is a chemical used in most consumer deodorants and antiperspirants and may cause allergic reactions in some people.

Crystal deodorants do not use aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum zirconium, or any other harmful aluminum."

So I just want to know what to use, and thought I was using a safe product until I read your article. IDK what to believe now?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Yes, I've heard their argument of "alum is too large to be absorbed" plenty of times. I've written a follow-up article to respond to their claims: http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/most-controversial/2010/3/8/exposing-more-truths-about-alum.html

Laura said...

Stephanie,
So the himalayan salt deodorant rock is not the same himalayan salt as the himalayan salt that is sold as edible for kitchen use? It's the same color and burns when applied like salt would; compared with the crystal rock which does not burn like salt at all. How do you know it contains bauxite ore and is that in the table himalayan salt?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

There are all kinds of Himalayan Salt Deodorants which may or may not be made with true Himalayan salt like one would use for cooking. True Himalayan salt as used for cooking is just sodium chloride with some trace minerals. But the products marketed as deodorant stones/crystals/bars can vary in composition. Always ask for a complete ingredient list from the company--most of the time these crystals are types of alums.

Men's health medication said...
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Anonymous said...

I have a question Stephanie about this article on crystal stones that you say contain aluminum. On my Thai crystal deodorant, it clearly states "Contain no Aluminum Chlorhydrate". So why would you say these crystal stones contain aluminum? Have you personally tested them or sent these deodorants to a lab for testing of aluminum? Thanks!

Stephanie Greenwood said...

@Anonymous--Exactly. The label says "no aluminum CLOROHYDRATE." Not "no aluminum." Why would I say these crystal stones contain aluminum? Because they are made out of alum. Usually potassium alum. The full chemical name of potassium alum is potassium ALUMINUM sulfate. By simply looking at the name of the chemical, we know that the product contains aluminum.

Trav said...

Research the raw food diet. The reason you people smell is because you are eating toxic foods, the toxins are escaping from your body via sweat (among other things).

Pineapple makes you smell great, as does the juice of fennel. Try fresh apple, pineapple, fennel and cucumber juice.

If you don't like that a natural deoderant that I find works is aloe vera. Get a leaf of the plant and apply the flesh to your underarm. Aloe vera being anti bacterial, anti fungal and anti viral kills the bacteria making you smell.

A great promoter of the raw food diet is the youtube account "liferegerator". Check his stuff out and get inspired!

Natural Deodorant said...

Aluminium deodorant are very harmful for skin.. its better to use aluminium free natural deodorants .

Anonymous said...

Would it be still harmful if I use pure Potassium Alum as a deodorant?

In my country we powdered the rock alum ourselves and dab it on armpit after shower. Its been use in the family for many generations. Also if we are out of alum supply we use lemon instead. Both works great.

Indie said...

The aluminium in the crystal deodorant is in a different form than the aluminum in the antiperspirant. And the aluminium sulfate you reference in regards to the accident is also a different form to the one in the crystals.

You can't just make a sweeping statement like "aluminium is bad". For example look at sodium. It's very dangerous on it's own, it will cause explosions when mixed with water, and if it comes into contact with the skin it will burn. However when it is in a salt, ie table salt which is sodium and chlorine, then it's fine! So fine in fact that we need it to live!

Stephanie Greenwood said...

@Indie--Indeed the aluminum was a different form than the crystal, however, it is a related chemical, also a form of alum.

Indeed elemental sodium can be explosive but is an essential electrolyte in the body. Aluminum, however, is not sodium.

Aluminum has been shown to induce impairment of bone formation, possibly leading to osteoporosis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22575536

"Once absorbed, Al accumulates in bone, brain, liver and kidney, with bone as the major site for Al deposition in humans."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22512666
"Signs of chronic Al toxicity in the musculoskeletal system include a vitamin D-resistant osteomalacia (deranged membranous bone formation characterized by accumulation of the osteoid matrix and reduced mineralization, reduced numbers of osteoblasts and osteoclasts, decreased lamellar and osteoid bands with elevated Al concentrations) presenting as bone pain and proximal myopathy."

These things cannot be said of sodium. Aluminum, whether it's from aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum sulfate, or potassium aluminum sulfate, accumulates in the body once absorbed.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22330830 "Trace aluminum levels cross the blood-brain barrier and progressively accumulate in large pyramidal neurons of the hippocampus, cortex, and other brain regions vulnerable in Alzheimer's disease. More aluminum enters the brain than leaves, resulting in a net increase in intraneuronal aluminum with advancing age. Aluminum is responsible for two main types of toxic damage in cells. As a pro-oxidant, aluminum causes oxidative damage both on its own and in synergy with iron. Aluminum also competes with, and substitutes for, essential metals-primarily Mg2+, iron and Ca2+ ions-in or on proteins and their co-factors."

Aluminum is NOT an essential electrolyte that our body needs like sodium, calcium, potassium, etc. You never see aluminum supplement pills being sold--that's because it is toxic to our body, depleting us nutritionally, interfering with mineral balance, and accumulating in our bones and brain tissue.

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Coralie said...

For everyone using Baking Soda (bi carbonate soda in Australia!), it has the potassium alum in it!!

The Dreiers said...

Baking SODA does not contain alum. Baking POWDER does, if it doesn't say alum free.

Anonymous said...

Spple Cider Vinegar works great....
Use it once every once to four days.
Apple Cider Vinegar ... Vinegar in general kills bacteria.

David Starr said...

Vinegar works very well as a deodorant. Vodka is said to work well also.

Anonymous said...

First, try to go without any deodorant, at least give it a chance! Use only loose clothes of natural fibers like cotton, linen and wool.

Give it some time! It might take time for your body's natural mechanisms to get working again. Good luck!

Matthew Gustke said...

The aluminum in most crystal deodorants is a form that cannot cross the skin/blood barrier and is actually very safe.

Source: http://matthewgustke.com/2013/04/14/simplifying-deodorant/

Stephanie Greenwood said...

"They also have a small molecular mass (typically 250-350 Daltons) meaning that they can readily cross right through the skin/blood barrier and enter your body (not good). Ammonium Alum (in the crystal deodorant) has a much larger molecule (around 650 Daltons) which is too large to be absorbed through the skin (less than 500 Daltons can be absorbed). Instead of forming a pore-blocking gel, Ammonium Alum stays on the surface of the skin where it prevents the bacteria (responsible for causing B.O.) from multiplying."

Um...once you wet the crystal it becomes ions in solution...the molecular weight of aluminum is 27...much smaller than even aluminum chlorohydrate. Alum has been used for years as a styptic to stop bleeding--it works by drying out the skin as the aluminum ions displace water in the skin's collagen. It most definitely is absorbed. You can read more about it here: http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/most-controversial/2010/3/8/exposing-more-truths-about-alum.html

Anonymous said...

I just read these exact words on mercola.com by Joseph Mercola. Whose research is this? One repeated source of information isn't helpful.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Thanks for your question, Anonymous! Dr. Mercola actually re-published my article. If you look, the article on Mercola was published in February 2010, while my article was published in January 2010. Also, at the bottom of the page on mercola's site, click, "sources and references" and you'll see it say "Bubble and Bee January 21"
:)

Anonymous said...

This is a very irresponsible post to try and increase the sales of your product. You say to stop using mineral salts deodorant, potassium alum because it contains aluminum. Did you know that aluminum is the 3rd most abundant element on earth. Aluminum is in everything. It is in the dust we breath, the water we drink, the food we eat it is even in the dirt, it is everywhere. So I suppose we should stop breathing, drinking water and eating food. The average person will absorb many times more aluminum on a daily basis than one could ever get from a deodorant. Because aluminum is so abundant on earth, plants and animals have become very good at eliminating aluminum through our urine and feces. New science is pointing that some diseases like Alzheimers causes the body to store aluminum rather than aluminum being the cause. Stephanie this is a very confusing subject and should be approached very carefully. Also,your statement that all deodorant stones are made of synthetic salts is just a lie. I work with a mine in China that sells deodorant stones that are 100% potassium alum mined from the ground. Also,the skin deep data base rates potassium alum a 1 on a scale of 0-10 with zero being the safest. Stephanie I recommend you take this post down as you come off as someone who is just trying to sell your product.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

@Anonymous--

What I think is irresponsible is selling a toxic product and branding it as "natural." And because you don't disclose that the full name of potassium alum is potassium ALUMINUM sulfate, most people don't know they're applying aluminum salts to their skin with these stones. Don't you think people have the right to know exactly what they're putting on their skin?

Aluminum is an abundant mineral, and we are exposed to it every day. So why expose yourself to more aluminum, especially in a concentrated form, when you don't have to?

Aluminum has absolutely NO place in the body. And no, it's not easily flushed out. In fact, it accumulates in our fatty tissues, in our bones (leading to osteoporosis), in our kidneys, and in our brain matter. It robs our bodies of calcium, magnesium, and other beneficial elements. It creates oxidative stress within the body. You can read more about it here: http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/most-controversial/2012/9/11/dangers-of-aluminum.html

I feel very sorry for the workers in your mine, having to be exposed to aluminum dust. It's downright shameful.

Anonymous said...

Hey Stephanie...

I could use your advice after reading your nice and informative article... thanks for that.

The only thing that has been helping my smelly stinky armpits, is antiperspirant. It works for 2-3 days. I apply it when I know I need to leave my house.

The smell is horrible. It's like I have put on old ointment, metallic sometimes, and have not showered for days. But I don't sweat at all. I never wear shirts when I'm at home and I have been at home for a few months now, because I've been sick. No idea what I should do now... I will not leave my house smelling like that.

It's so bad that after showering the smell comes back in 30-60 minutes. So that doesn't help...

Will baking soda help me?

Thanks,
Marvin, a desperate person... darn!

elnoren said...

I am SO cross to find out about the crystal deodorants... after switching to them over a year ago because I believed that they were better. I should have done the research on that 'natural' ingredient, shouldn't I? It is so discouraging- I feel manipulated and deceived.

My parents both had to go into care October 2012 due to dementia, and my Mum died this last November... the cause of death was listed as 'dementia'. Did she use anti-antiperspirants all of her life? Of course she did.

Yet the manufacturers still get away with being coy about their ingredients, despite the fact that we try our best to avoid things we know are TOXIC... they duck and dive and conceal- it makes me SO angry.

Oh, and to the 'Anonymous' poster from Oct. 2013 who works with a mine in China that sells deodorant stones... potassium alum is mined from Bauxite Ore... go and read this report before you spout any more nonsense.

Here's a quote from that study-
"During bauxite mining due to chronic, long-lasting exposure,
aluminum accumulates in various tissues, bones, spleen, heart and liver which lead to adverse health effects. Damage
to the central nervous system, Loss of memory, Severe trembling symptoms have been reported in employees of
aluminium industries [7]"