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I still remember a gift a colleague gave me while on a business trip to Hong Kong - - an alum block. I didn't know about using an alum block or what it was at the time or even know how to use and alum block it but it proved to be one of the most useful gifts for traditional wet shaving I have ever gotten.

What is an Alum Block?

alum blocks

Historically used by the ancient Egyptians, alum blocks were used more than 4000 years ago for its antiseptic and healing properties and to cool and refresh the skin.

The Alum block, also known as an Alum Stone or Alum Crystal, is a mineral block made from potassium alum, a naturally occurring mineral, a composite known for its astringent properties.

An Alum block comes in different shapes and sizes, as an alum bar, convenient travel size alum sticks for precise application. A wet shave essential.

Used post-shave combined with water and gently rubbed over the shaved area to act as an antiseptic. It can combat a number of post-shaving-related skin problems such as cuts and nicks.

Due to its antiseptic properties, an alum block can soothe irritation, limit the appearance of razor bumps, tame nasty razor burn, and redness.

It also can also help to stop bleeding from small nicks and cuts and cool and refresh the skin after shaving. Alum blocks can even tighten pores, kill surface bacteria, and reduce pimples and acne.

Alum Block

THE BENEFITS OF ALUM BLOCKS IN SHAVING

An alum block "potassium alum" is the original antiseptic and astringent made of natural potassium alum which with antiseptic and astringent qualities has many benefits post-shaving. It can be used for the following:

  • Stop Bleeding and help with healing minor nicks and cuts by constricting blood vessels and tightening pores
  • Fight razor burn
  • Dry or Sensitive skin
  • Reduce razor bumps and burn
  • Improve skin tone
  • Prevent ache and kill germs. 
  • Antiseptic aftershave
  • Natural Deodorant

Simply an alum block should be part of every man's shaving kit whether shaving with a safety razor or straight razor.

THE ALTERNATIVES TO ALUM-Styptic Pencil

MUHLE STYPTIC PENCIL
The most popular alternative is the healing Styptic Pencil.
A styptic pencil is a medicated stick made from the same compounds as the block but with powdered crystals and a wax binder pressed into a handy lipstick size and shape.
The process is very much the same as with the alum block in which you apply the Styptic Pencil with a little pressure on nicks and cuts to stop bleeding, especially those caused during wet shaving. 

HOW TO USE AN ALUM BLOCK?

Step 1: After you finish shaving and wash your face from any remaining soap, shaving cream residue off your face, splash your face with cold water to help close pores, and allow the alum block to easily glide over your face.

Step 2: Wet the alum and use the alum block applying it to your face. Run the alum block under cold water as this will make it glide over your face more easily. Make sure the entire surface is wet. Some people actually soap the block in ice water before use to increase the tingling feeling you will feel during use. 

Step 3: Rub the block gently across the areas of your neck and face that you shaved. Due to its astringent qualities, you should expect to feel a bit of tightness and tingling. Not to worry, this is normal and just the alum doing what it is supposed to.

While most people use alum on their face and neck, you can use it wherever else you might have shaven. An alum block can also be used by women post-waxing sensitive areas to calm the skin.

Now you are ready to apply your aftershave or shave balm.

HOW TO STORE YOUR ALUM BLOCK? 

After use, rinse the alum block completely with water, dry with a towel, and store it in a dry place until the next shave.  If your alum came with a plastic case, use that for storage. If you allow the alum to remain wet it will start to dissolve and shorten its useful life.