To begin understanding natural crystal deodorants, first it is necessary to explain why I say ‘natural crystal deodorants,’ versus just ‘crystal deodorants.’ Due to the rising demand of crystal deodorants, companies have been searching for ways to produce more with as little cost as possible. This has led to the creation of synthetic crystal deodorant, because it is cheaper to chemically manufacture synthetic crystal deodorant than it is to extract the natural potassium alum crystal from the Earth.
For all tense and purposes this post will only focus on natural crystal deodorants. If you would like more information regarding the difference of natural crystal deodorants and synthetic crystal deodorants, you can read the post: What Everyone Ought to Know About Crystal Deodorant Stones.
Lets begin by explaining the raw material of natural crystal deodorants. Natural crystal deodorants are made from potassium alum, which is a naturally occurring 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 crystal deodorant manufacturers, where the blocks are then cut, shaped, polished and packaged to form what we know as crystal deodorant.
As the name implies, the potassium alum stone, otherwise known as crystal deodorant, looks like a crystal, such that it is translucent, colorless and contains small fracture lines, or veins. Below you can see a picture of a natural crystal deodorant stone made from potassium alum:
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 sole ingredient of natural crystal deodorants. Potassium alum is originally extracted from the Earth as large blocks, but it is also sold in a small crystal forms and powder to be used in a variety of commercial applications and cosmetics. 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 distinctive smell of its own. The smell associated with sweat is actually caused by bacteria on the skin that eats sweat and excretes waste; and it is the bacteria waste that produces a foul 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 produce an increasing amount of odor.
Potassium alum is a natural anti-microbial that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. As an anti-microbial potassium alum adjusts the pH of the skins surface and creates an environment where bacteria cannot grow. Therefore, odor is prevented, and the body is able to maintain its proper course of eliminating toxins through sweat, as well as controlling body temperature, all without odor.
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:
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.