Ever wondered how women in the ancient times removed unwanted hair? They used a magical ingredient easily available to us (think: grocery shops) called “Phitkari/Alum.” You may have heard of Phitkari being used for water treatment where a pinch of alum is added to water to remove the solid impurities. This is perhaps the most ancient method of purifying water. But this powerhouse of an ingredient possesses infinite health and wellness benefits.
If you’ve Googled about concerns regarding its safety, you’re not alone. In our experience, a number of other questions that circle the user’s mind about using Alum include:
Q1. Where can I buy Alum powder?
Q2. Is Phitkari safe to use?
Q3. What is the Alum stone made of?
All valid questions if you ask us. So in this blog, we will provide a holistic overview of the Alum block and outline how you can integrate it into your daily lifestyle to leverage its diverse benefits and uses.
Phitkari by Formula:
A lot of people wonder whether this “chemical” compound is safe to ingest/apply, and rightly so. So here we will break down what this natural stone comprises. Simply, it’s a naturally occurring salt that’s a combination of Aluminium Sulphate and Potassium Sulphate with the chemical formula KAl(SO4)2·12H2O.
Typically, Alum is found in the crystalline and white powder form. It is considered safe to use and hence, often used in kitchen spices/pickling ingredients.
- Wet alum block is used as a “deodorant rock” for the underarms due to its anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties. Ideally, it should be used on alternate days instead of using it daily.
- It is also used in the styptic pencil to stop minor cut bleeding.
- It is one of the primary components in after-shave lotions and anti-septic creams.
- Alum is considered as potent as epinephrine – a drug which helps in cases of bleeding due to tooth extraction!
- It was also used in ancient Egypt to treat cataract and clear eye abscesses.
Phitkari By Appearance
This translucent, white crystal is a water-soluble compound. It is an astringent and has a sweet-and-sour taste.
Phitkari by other Names:
- Chinese: Bai Fan, Ming Fan Shi
- Sanskrit: Sphatikari, Surashtraja, Kamakshi, Venmali.
- English: Alum, Potash, Sulphate of Aluminium, Ammonium, Aluminous Sulphate
- Hindi: Phitkari, Fitkari
- Bengali: Phatphadi, Phatkiri
- Marathi: Phatki
- Sindhi: Patki
- Tamil: Patikaram, Padikharam, Shinacarum, Padikara Kal
- Telegu: Pattikaramu, Patika
- Kannada: Phatikara, Patika
- Malayalam: Fatakadi, Phatakadi
- Gujarati: Phatakadi
Phitkari by Multi-Purpose Uses
In its natural form, Alum has been in use for the last 2000 years which includes the household, industrial, and health domains. It was and is still used as:
- A pickling agent to help keep pickles from softening
- An effective flame retardant (used in fireproof textiles).
- A primary ingredient in hair removal waxes.
- A chemical component in baking powder
- As an effective salt for skin-whitening.
All in all, it is most widely used to save your skin (pun intended) and treat skin-related ailments.
All About Alum: Top-10 DIY Home Remedies
Phitkari for Teeth/Bleeding Gums
For toothache, combine powdered Phitkari and Reetha. Apply on teeth for immediate relief. Alternatively, mix Phitkari powder and coal powder of Jamun/Jambul wood, and massage affected areas. In case of bleeding gums, make a paste of 1gm Alum, a pinch of cinnamon, and rock salt. Massage your gums and wash your mouth.
Add 1 gm Alum and a pinch of rock salt to warm water. Rinse the mouth and be extra careful to not drink it or you may end up feeling nauseous.
For a blocked urinary system, dissolve Fitkari alum in water and drink it for a period of 4-5 days.
Head Lice / Dandruff
For treating lice, dissolve 10g of Alum crystal powder in 1ltr water and apply on the forehead to get rid of lice. Alternatively, you can also mix phitkari dissolved in water in your favourite oil and apply on your scalp. For treating dandruff, add a pinch of Phitkari powder and salt to your shampoo and wash your hair.
Cough (Wet / Dry)
Take 10gm Fitkari and 100gm sugar in the powdered form. Divide into 14 parts equally and store in a dry place. For a dry cough, take 1 part with 125gm hot milk every night before going to bed. For wet cough, take one part of the mixture with 125gm hot water.
Take a cotton ball soaked in cold water and sprinkle 1 gm Alum powder. Apply on nose bleed one side at a time.
Acne / Pimples
Mix Alum powder in water and make a paste. Apply on the affected area, leave it for 20 mins, and wash off. Repeat this daily for long-lasting results. Alternatively, take a pinch of Phitkari, add a spoonful of Multani mitti, few drops of lemon juice, and rose water to make a paste, and apply on skin. Leave for 15-20 mins and rinse. Apply moisturizer/coconut oil post rinsing to avoid dry skin.
Important: Please do a small tester before applying on your face as different skin types may have a different reaction to it.
Take a solid piece of Phitkari and rub your face with it gently. Then wash your face with rose water and finally finish the routine with a moisturizer. Conversely, you can try this face pack: Take a pinch of alum, add 1 teaspoon of Multani mitti, one egg white, and few drops of almond oil. Apply on the face and wash off after 20 mins. Make sure to be gentle when using this face pack.
Dark Underarms And Dark Circles
Mix 1/2 teaspoon Phitkari and 1 teaspoon rose water and apply on the skin. Leave for 30 mins and wash off. In case you feel that the paste has become too dry, add more rose water to it. This paste can also be applied post-waxing as it reduces hair growth.
Heat Alum in a bowl till all the water has evaporated and you are left with a crumbly mixture. Mix this mixture with coconut oil and apply on your heels. Massage gently.
Heat alum with water until the crystals dissolve completely. Once it cools down, add your preferred essential oil (Lavender, Tea Tree, etc.) to it. Pour the solution in a clean, dry bottle that comes with a spray nozzle. Voila, you have your own low-cost deodorant!
For people suffering from a stye, take 1 teaspoon of alum powder, add 1 spoon of sandalwood powder, 2 spoons of rose water and make a paste. Apply on stye, keep for 10-15 mins, and wash off. Repeat for 3-4 days, once a day.
Important: Please make sure to consult your doctor before using Alum for any allergies, side-effects, or unknown complications.
Phitkari’s Fruitful Benefits: In a Nut Shell
Alum’s benefits are multi-purpose in nature and manifold in execution. Let’s take a closer look at its benefits:
Phitkari for Skin
Primarily, Phitkari is applied topically for skin whitening purposes and preventing infections. It comes with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and acts as a natural toner, lightens the skin colour, and delays wrinkles. It also aids in healing cuts/wounds, fights off acne by closing open pores and washing out bacteria from your skin, and adds a natural glow to the skin.
For people who are unable to pee and kidney stones, consuming Phitkari dissolved in water acts as a “Ram Baan.” Phitkari directly impacts the kidney and clears the urinary tract of excess water and toxins.
Inflammation Of Fingers
For people suffering from finger and toe inflammation – especially during the winters – Alum can be effective. Boil Alum in water. Let it cool to a lukewarm temperature. Then wash off your hands and toes and see the inflammation disappear.
One of the most difficult wounds to treat, Phitkari added to a glass of warm milk and turmeric works wonders in cases of internal wounds.
Alum constricts blood vessels in the gums and reduces bleeding – a side effect of tooth extraction or gum infection. Plus, using Potash Alum as a mouthwash is known to reduce dental plaque and mouth ulcers, whereas when it is used as fluoride toothpaste, it helps reduce the risk of dental caries in children.
Come monsoons and the mosquitoes start breeding left, right, and centre. This is where Alum can be used to get rid of mosquito larvae which are responsible for diseases like malaria, dengue, etc. Basically, potash alum combines all the salts in water and destroys larvae skin as soon they come in contact with it.
Increasing immune Response
As an adjuvant, Phitkari can be used along vaccines for developing a strong immune response against diseases. Simply, it offers enhanced immunity. Some of the vaccines in which it is used include DPT, Hepatitis A, and Pneumococcal, etc.
Phitkari’s Side-Effects & Precautionary Measures
- Pregnant and lactating mothers should consult their doctor before using it.
- Alum taken in excess to treat fever can become toxic and cause liver damage and reduce sperm mobility.
- Prolonged use of Alum in the Bhasma form can cause mouth dryness, gastritis, intestinal inflammation, ulcers, and nausea.
Important: As with all-natural ingredients, care must be taken to apply/consume the right dosage. Alum should only be taken for a shorter duration. Also, please consult your doctor before taking alum in any form.
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