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Alum Blocks?

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Alum Blocks?

Postby mustang_john » Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:30 pm

Hi guys,

Hope this is in the correct area.

Is there any particular way to use an alum block, other than wetting it and gently rubbing it over the cut?

Sometimes when I get a few cuts, apart from stinging like buggery, it seems to do nothing to stem the flow of blood.

Am I missing something?

Cheers,

John.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby ShadowsDad » Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:51 pm

The alum you want to stop bleeding is a styptic pencil. It's still called "alum" but is chemically different. It also comes in other forms, styptic swabs and styptic matches being 2 that I know of. But you want the pencil it's far less expensive and lasts for years. My first one I still have and it's over 40 years old. It'll last another 160 years at least. But I keep swabs and matches available if guests need them.

The alum block is more to point out areas where you went overboard in shaving and as a bacteriocide (and whatever else it "cides"). I find it works best as a deodorant for the underarms. The block is a salt and will dry out the skin if left in place.
Brian

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Or find it here: Italian Barber, West Coast Shaving, Barclay Crocker, The Old Town Shaving Company at Stats, Maggard Razors; Leavitt & Peirce, Harvard Square
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby mustang_john » Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:48 am

Hmmm, that's interesting!

I did notice when I bought it that it was the same chemically as the wife's deodorant, and that lasts her for years too!

Guess I'll buy a pencil then.

Cheers buddy :)
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby bernards66 » Sun Jul 06, 2014 8:55 pm

Yep, the pencil's the thing....or, what I've done on those very rare occasions when this sort of thing was called for, I simply dabbed a cotton ball or piece of tissue with alcohol and pressed on the nick for a few seconds and that seemed to do the trick. Thankfully, I haven't had to do that for many years now.
Regards,
Gordon
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby mustang_john » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:20 pm

Still learning the ropes yet :roll:
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby jww » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:11 am

Other than alum, a good lipstick balm also helps with weepers ..... I use Dermatone, but know people who have had success with Chapstick and others.

FWIW, I use an alum block after every shave, and keep a tube of My Nik is Sealed for major lacerations. Haven't used a styptic pencil in a few years, but usually have one in my supplies somewhere in case neither of the afore-mentioned products work.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby ShadowsDad » Wed Jul 09, 2014 1:23 pm

mustang_john wrote:Still learning the ropes yet :roll:


We've all been there and we're glad to help.
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Or find it here: Italian Barber, West Coast Shaving, Barclay Crocker, The Old Town Shaving Company at Stats, Maggard Razors; Leavitt & Peirce, Harvard Square
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby brothers » Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:43 pm

The good thing about the styptic pencils is that they are available almost everywhere shaving supplies are sold. Cheap and long lasting as has already been pointed out.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby Squire » Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:48 am

I remember those things, bought one while I was in college, probably still have it around here somewhere.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby Rufus » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:08 am

I find an alum block really dries out my skin no matter how well I rinse after use. I gave up using one several years ago as there was no discernible net benefit from its use.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby brothers » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:39 pm

Bryan, I think I read a post a few years ago about benefits of alum blocks. Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten what it was. Now I think maybe I should google that issue one of these days to refresh my memory. If I find out something, I'll try to remember to post about it. I'm sure there are good reasons, maybe one is that if I use it instead of my trusty antiperspirant, it might be a good substitute. But that doesn't really seem to go with rubbing it on my face after I shave. Hmmm. . .
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby 95% » Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:43 am

Gary, one of the benefits of the alum block is that it tells you how well you have shaved. For me at least, It does a better job than my bare hands of highlighting any areas that I may have missed - information that is useful for tomorrow's shave. It can also indicate when it's time to change blades.

I think the original purpose in barbershops was to seal the skin and close any cuts or weepers, as well as to kill any bacteria that may have migrated from another customer on the same razor. While these factors won't affect many of us, the alum block for me is a nice feature of a luxury shave. I use the Shavex block ($10) which lasts more than a year.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby brothers » Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:42 am

Porter, I have one and rarely use it. It seems that I've used it primarily after those unusual shaves that seem to have been a bit harsh. It burns like fire if there happen to be certain areas that might have been abused by a poor blade or my technique.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby JRTASTER » Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:12 pm

I have had difficulty accepting that the alum block "lets me know" how "good" my shave was. If "good" is strictly restricted
to how much irritation I managed to generate, yes the sting of alum will signal it. So will an application of an alcohol-
based aftershave, which many of us use as part of our daily shave routine anyway.
To me, a "good shave" encompasses more than "irritation" (though that surely is important); closeness, post shave feel, and
how long my skin feels smooth are other components defining the quality of a shave.
Having said that, though, my alum block is used after every shave to seal any tiny nicks or scrapes inflicted. And it serves me
well as an astringent. I rub the moistened block over a well-rinsed face, let it sit while the razor and brush are rinsed, then
rinse it off. I can't remember when the alum block became part of my routine, or for what specific reason, but it seems likely
it will remain in my regimen.
As for the use of the alum as a deodorant, I tried it and was rewarded with a horrendous underarm rash and irritation which
took months to heal. Nasty and painful! Many will proclaim alum makes for an effective deodorant but I am not in that group!
Enjoying wet shaving, again.
jr/John
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby jww » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:53 am

For me -- the use of an alum block is purely for astringent reasons post-shave. The existence or non-existence of sting is irrelevant to me.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby mitesh » Fri Jul 18, 2014 5:35 am

I personally prefer a styptic match, it's quick and easy when compared to a Alum Block.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby jww » Fri Jul 18, 2014 5:41 am

Interesting you mention styptic matches -- I keep a book of them in both my kit bags for traveling.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby ShadowsDad » Fri Jul 18, 2014 11:49 am

mitesh wrote:I personally prefer a styptic match, it's quick and easy when compared to a Alum Block.


They can't be compared since they have 2 very different uses despite both going by the name "alum". A styptic match is to stop bleeding in a tiny area, an alum block is a large area biocide (basically) and isn't designed to stop bleeding. I believe they are also chemically different. One being an aluminum salt, the block being a potassium salt. (Is there another option for the block? I think maybe. )
Brian

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Or find it here: Italian Barber, West Coast Shaving, Barclay Crocker, The Old Town Shaving Company at Stats, Maggard Razors; Leavitt & Peirce, Harvard Square
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby numerouno » Sun Dec 28, 2014 10:19 pm

Rub it after washing with cold water. Press for few seconds if needed. Don't shave that area again :) Cold water helps stopping the blood.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby Brutus » Mon Dec 29, 2014 3:53 am

ShadowsDad wrote:
mustang_john wrote:Still learning the ropes yet :roll:


We've all been there and we're glad to help.


Just allow me to say this once:
This is precisely the spirit that makes me feel so much at home here. O:)
Big on help - small on posturing.


Thank you all.

(Sometimes I do wish for some more traffic though.)
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