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Alum Blocks?

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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby brothers » Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:53 pm

ShadowsDad wrote:
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. )


I have occasionally wondered, in passing, just what the difference is. I always use the styptic pencil for stopping the bleeding; Alum block for the whole shaving area of the face when the shave has seemed a bit harsh. Yes, it does burn pretty good when it wants to.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby Rufus » Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:56 am

I've stopped using an alum block as it dries out the skin of my face. I prefer to use an alcohol-based aftershave, which can sting, not unpleasantly though, and is even better when it contains menthol, e.g. Alt Innsbruck, AV, Proraso, Royall Bay Rhum. Most alcohol-based aftershaves leave my face feeling clean and invigorated and menthol just accentuates and intensifies the feeling.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby Barry » Mon Jan 26, 2015 11:19 am

I use it as a deodorant but I need to wipe it under my arms for about 30 seconds for it to work well. A quick couple of swipes won't cut it.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby EL Alamein » Mon Jan 26, 2015 6:36 pm

brothers wrote:
ShadowsDad wrote:
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. )


I have occasionally wondered, in passing, just what the difference is. I always use the styptic pencil for stopping the bleeding; Alum block for the whole shaving area of the face when the shave has seemed a bit harsh. Yes, it does burn pretty good when it wants to.


Gary, the idea that Alum Blocs were used for aftershave treatments seems to have come later. I can't use it that way but for the guys that can use it for that purpose, good on them. You are essentially salting your skin from what I have read.

More than a decade ago on the old forums the Alum Bloc was always held as a means to staunch bleeding from a nick or a weeper. It was said that the Barbers of old used it for this purpose. It was also stated that they used one bloc for many customers in the old days for this purpose and had to stop because of health regulations regarding the potential spread of disease.

I've always used the Alum Bloc for the purpose of staunching and it has worked very well for that purpose on me. When wetted and run over the bleeding area it seems to staunch almost immediately (use it before any aftershave splash or balm). It's not for larger errors like cuts, mind you, but works quite well for the occasional spot (usually caused by a dulling blade).

My bloc is from that era, and using it for staunching only, I will be buried with it before it runs out.

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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby brothers » Mon Jan 26, 2015 7:03 pm

My blocks are slippery when wet, and I manage to drop them all too often. Sometimes they chip and other times they just crack.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby Squire » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:29 pm

I bought one of these things (the one in the pretty yellow box) years ago and suppose I still have it somewhere, don't recall having used it though.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby EL Alamein » Tue Jan 27, 2015 6:45 pm

Used mine today. I didn't shave yesterday and used entirely too much pressure today. Why I did that I don't know, it's like I forgot how to shave. I was in a rush so perhaps not paying enough attention. Lesson learned.

Got a few weepers as a result and the alum staunched them.

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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby jww » Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:04 am

I've been using alum blocks for many years --- and have found them to be an invaluable tool in my shaving kit. I am always diligent to ensure that I rinse thoroughly after I use it though. I like the slight tightness that comes afterwards. It helps me feel fresh.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby Squire » Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:06 am

Chris I wonder if the abrasions were caused by rushing or the slightly distracted state of mind that accompanies a sense of urgency.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby brothers » Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:09 pm

EL Alamein wrote:Used mine today. I didn't shave yesterday and used entirely too much pressure today. Why I did that I don't know, it's like I forgot how to shave. I was in a rush so perhaps not paying enough attention. Lesson learned.

Got a few weepers as a result and the alum staunched them.

Chris


This has happened to me for sure. It seems to happen on days when I'm preoccupied and focusing intently on the day's coming events.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby EL Alamein » Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:37 pm

brothers wrote:
EL Alamein wrote:Used mine today. I didn't shave yesterday and used entirely too much pressure today. Why I did that I don't know, it's like I forgot how to shave. I was in a rush so perhaps not paying enough attention. Lesson learned.

Got a few weepers as a result and the alum staunched them.

Chris


This has happened to me for sure. It seems to happen on days when I'm preoccupied and focusing intently on the day's coming events.


Gary, I entirely agree. Even after all these years of using a straight I still make a mistake like this every now and then.

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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby jww » Tue Feb 17, 2015 3:20 pm

The one thing that drives me mad about alum blocks is that I tend to purchase the larger sized blocks -- and find that after a few months, they split in half or crumble apart when they break. Makes me absolutely barmy I tell ya!
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby Barry » Wed Feb 18, 2015 3:47 am

Has anyone experimented with dissolving the alum pieces in water? I suppose you could also just smash up your already broken pieces and put them in a small bottle and use that as a spray for your face or underarms. I did that with some of my broken pieces. I also bought some alum chunks and dissolved them in water. For me it's an effective deodorant - better than anything I've used before.

There's also tawas powder which seems to be popular in the Philippines. It usually comes in tiny cups 50gr/1.7oz. You can take a pinch, wet it a bit, and put it under your arm.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby BiffBuff » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:28 am

I started using the alum block just because I read about it and wanted a try. I too have read that the alum block and the styptic pencil are two different compounds but they both seem to work at staunching nicks and weepers for me. I quit using mine after awhile until I read a post somewhere (B&B?) about it conditioning your face to improve your next shave. What?

This seemed quite odd and unlikely, but I've already got the alum block......might as well give the technique a try, right? Fast forward through several months of use after each shave -- it really does seem to have a positive effect! I began to notice that, after only a week or so, I was getting far fewer weepers, and the difficult bits on my beard were allowing me to take repeated passes without trouble. Before the alum regimen I would have paid dearly for those extra passes.

Naturally I'm surprised -- pleasantly so, but surprised all the same. I decide to discontinue use and see where that takes me. Well, after only a few days I began having reappearances of my old frustration. I don't know how much of this is simple "mind over matter", or a placebo effect, but I have reinstated my alum regimen and see no reason to stop. One post suggested that we alum users are just salting or "marinading" our skin to get a better shave. I don't know, but I plan to continue using the alum block after each shave at least until it needs to be replaced. What then? We'll see....
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby brothers » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:30 pm

Sounds like a logical decision Biff. If it's working for you, then it doesn't matter whether it's just a placebo effect, or the real deal. Maybe there's more than a grain of truth to the reports of benefits as a result of the regular use of the alum.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby mustang_john » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:47 am

Hi guys, been a while....

My styptic pencil thingy kinda went all mushy and dropped in bits a while ago, not got round to getting another as I don't cut myself that often anymore [-o< , but should it have done that. I used to leave it un-capped until it dried but it still turned mushy.

Any ideas ?

Hope everyone is fine and dandy :)


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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby brothers » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:31 am

John, maybe you could lay it on a tissue until it dries and then put it back in the container. If it was wet in the container it didn't dry like it should have, even with the cap off.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby EL Alamein » Thu Feb 19, 2015 6:52 pm

John, I don't know. But they're cheap so I suggest getting another AND an alum bloc. If the new pencil gives a repeat performance try the Alum bloc and let us know how it works out.

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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby Squire » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:40 pm

I think it's age John but they're cheap to replace so no worries.
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Re: Alum Blocks?

Postby mustang_john » Fri Feb 20, 2015 1:05 pm

EL Alamein wrote:John, I don't know. But they're cheap so I suggest getting another AND an alum bloc. If the new pencil gives a repeat performance try the Alum bloc and let us know how it works out.

Chris


I've already got an Alum block, which does not always stop the bleeding, hence this thread of course.
Will have to try another pencil then when I get some pennies, but that's another story!

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