From London's Ghost Acres

Used during the tanning process for hides and skins. Can be used in the purification of drinking water. Can also be used to dissolve steel while ignoring aluminum and other base metals.

Database name: Alum Roach

Alum is the common name for the chemical compound of Potassium alum, the potassium double sulphate of aluminium. It has a wide range of uses, including water purification, leather tanning, dyeing, fireproofing textiles, baking powders, deodorants, and aftershave treatments. (

Alum is reference little in the Pharmacopeia, with only one preparation being mentioned. Its uses are more extensively discussed in the Compendium. These uses include: treating haemorrhages by stopping the bleeding, an eye wash, gargles, and to stop any other bodily discharges. Alums can also be included in the treatments of fevers, hooping-cough, lead poisoning, and chilblains.

Immediate exposure to high doses of Alum can cause serious irritation to the skin and mucous membranes. Longer exposure to Alum, in smaller doses, can cause damage to the nervous system tissues, and increase the risk of certain cancers and Alzheimer’s. (

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Alum Alumen

“A sulphate of ammonia and alumina, crystallised from solution in water”

Characteristics and Tests

“In colourless transparent crystalline masses, exhibiting the faces of the regular octahedron, and having an acid sweetish astringent taste. Its aqueous solution gives with caustic potash or soda a white precipitate soluble in an excess of the reagent, and the mixture evolves ammonia especially when heated. The aqueous solution gives an immediate precipitate with chlorine of barium; it does not acquire a blue colour from the addition of yellow or red prussiate of potash.” It is given in a dosage of 10-20 grains.[1]

Preparations of Alum

  • Dried alum: alum[2]

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Astringent used in the treatment of internal and external haemorrhages. It can be administered during fevers, hooping-cough, for lead colic, a styptic (stops bleeding), chilblains, collyriums (eye wash), and added to gargles to treat sore throat.[3]

Remedies Containing or to be used with Alum

  • Alum Electuary: contains powdered alum, used to treat haemorrhages, immoderate flow of urine, and fluor albus (infection/swelling of genitals)[4]
  • Alum Collyrium: contains powdered alum[5]
  • Alum Gargle, for relaxed uvula and tonsils: powdered alum[6]
  • Alum Pills for spitting blood: Four different versions, two specifically mention uses in treating hooping-cough. First contains powdered alum, the second contains alum (can treat hooping-cough), third contains alum (treats hooping-cough in second stage), fourth contains powdered alum[7]
  • Alum, Burnt: Astringent, can be applied by use of gargles and/or lotions. Can also be applied as an escharotic (corrosive slave) to "destroy fungus in ulcers"[8]
  • Oak Bark: One mixture contains powdered alum[9]
  • Gum Kino Astringent Electuary: contains powdered alum, treats diarrhoea[10]
  • Zinc, Acetate of: when combined with Alum "forms an excellent styptic for checking haemorrhage form the lungs, nose, &c."[11]
  • Zinc, Sulphate of: when combined with Alum, "forms a very styptic liquor, which may be used for stopping haemorrhage and checking increased discharges, externally applied."[12]

Diseases Treated with Alum

  • Bleeding from the Nose: a strong solution of alum can be used, having lint dipped in it and inserted into the nose (a solution of sulphate or acetate of zinc can also be used.)[13]
  • Spitting of Blood: Powdered dried alum is part of an astringent recommended by Savory, used to treat considerate amounts of bleeding.[14]
  • Whites, or Fluor Albus: "a combination of calumbo and alum has been employed by Mr. Pettigrew in many cases with the greatest advantage." Powdered alum can also be used to make an injection that can be administered "by means of a female syringe."[15]

Medical Articles Containing Alum

  • Dr. Blake's Remedy for Toothache: alum in powder[16]
  • To Promote the Growth of Hair: contains burnt alum[17]

Prescriptions Containing Alum


  • Astringent Gargle: alum[18]
  • Mr. Pettigrew's Astringent Powder for Leucorrhoea, Gonorrhoea, and other Muco-Purulent Discharges: powdered alum[19]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 32
  2. GMCGB, 32
  3. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 35.
  4. Savory, 35
  5. Savory, 35
  6. Savory, 35
  7. Savory, 36
  8. Savory, 36
  9. Savory, 51
  10. Savory, 96
  11. Savory, 193
  12. Savory, 194
  13. Savory, 232
  14. Savory, 281
  15. Savory, 284
  16. Savory, 323
  17. Savory, 324
  18. Savory, 339
  19. Savory, 341

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