In order to understand how crystal deodorants work as an effective deodorant it is important to understand the raw material of crystal deodorants. Natural crystal deodorants are made from potassium alum, which is a naturally occurring mineral salt (sulfate mineral) which typically occurs as encrustations on rocks. It is derived from the oxidation of sulfide minerals and potassium-bearing minerals; and appears as a white to colorless translucent crystalline stone. When it is extracted from the Earth large blocks of potassium alum crystal are shipped to deodorant manufacturers where the blocks are then cut, shaped, polished and packaged to form what we know as crystal deodorants. As the name implies, the potassium alum , otherwise known as crystal deodorant, looks like a crystal, such that it is translucent, colorless and contains small fracture lines, or veins.
Potassium alum has a variety of commercial applications, such as for the use of oral care products used in dental hygiene, water purification, food preservation, and as the active ingredient in natural deodorants. Since all forms of potassium alum are soluble in water, when the stone is wet or applied to wet skin, an invisible, fine layer of the mineral is rubbed off the stone and applied to the skins surface. The mineral layer quickly dries, and rests on the skin as a completely topical layer.
When the human body sweats it is basically just releasing salt and water through sweat glands in the skin. Contrary to popular belief, sweat does not have a distinct smell of its own. The smell associated with sweat is actually caused by bacteria on our skin that eats sweat and excretes waste that has a strong odor. And, yes, everyone has bacteria on their skin, and it is perfectly normal. The bacteria on our skin ordinarily does not produce a noticeable smell, but when sweat is present the bacteria begins to rapidly grow and then produce an unpleasant odor.
Potassium alum is a natural anti-microbial, which means that when it comes in contact with bacteria, such as bacteria in sweat that is responsible for body odor, it inhibits its growth. Therefore, when bacteria is prevented from growing odor is also prevented, all while the body is able to maintain its proper course of eliminating toxins through sweat, as well as controlling body temperature.
How it differs from traditional deodorants and antiperspirants?
Firstly, natural crystal deodorants are just that, natural. And that is the main difference. There are no added chemicals or fragrances. And, as previously mentioned, natural crystal deodorants allow the body to sweat, but without odor. Traditional deodorants use chemical rich fragrances to mask odor and cover up the bad bacteria smell. Antiperspirants block the skin from releasing sweat, thereby inhibiting the bacteria growth process. All antiperspirants have an aluminum-based compound as their main ingredient, such as:
- Aluminum chloride
- Aluminum zirconium tricholorohydrex glycine
- Aluminum chlorohydrate
- Aluminum hydroxybromide
- Aluminum hydroxide (ATH)
The aluminum ions are drawn into the cells that line the sweat gland at the top layer of skin. When the aluminum ions enter into the cells, water passes in with them. As more water flows in, the cells begin to swell, squeezing the sweat ducts closed and preventing sweat from escaping.