Crystals for Natural Health

by Julie Gibbons on March 29, 2011

volcanic alum crystals

What have you got there then, I hear you ask? Pretty crystals and flowers, can you see?… can you guess what I’m up to?

The chrysanthemums are a red herring – my wee plant just looked so very sunny on the windowsill, I thought it’d be nice to add in it’s spring vibe into proceedings :)

As for the crystals – well these, dearest friends, are not for meditating on or for any other ceremonies. They are in fact beautiful natural volanic alum crystals and we use them to make natural deodorant sprays.

You may have seen natural crystal deodorant sticks in your health food stores. You may also have heard that aluminium based deodorants are dangerous.

I recently discovered some answers to these issues when I discovered Natural Spa Supplies, run by Sally Mittuch. Sally imports and retails a small selection of completely natural personal care products and has become something of an expert in this field.

Her research on natural crystal deodorants led her to distinguish between byproducts of the aluminium industry and natural volcanic crystals, pure and unprocessed. As always pop-pickers – be careful what you buy and don’t fall for misleading labels…

I’ve tested out both the crystals and some alum powder to make my own low-strength deodorant spray. I followed Sally’s instructions and diluted with water into a spray mister bottle. I love the crystals – they’re so pretty and make such a beautiful noise when I shake the bottle, but I’ve found the powder creates less instances of blockages with my pump spray. I guess it really is just a question of personal preference.

alum crystals and powder

Sally has a fantastic range of natural spa products for sale and I’m very excited about all of them. I know Mrs Green at My Zero Waste is also a fan, so I know I’m in good company. It’s all based on natural personal care and in addition to following the lead of wild mammals, I am reminded again that our prehistoric ancestors made not a bad job of looking after themselves, so I asked Sally the following question …

Why do you feel it is important for today’s peoples to revert to prehistoric ingredients for self care?

When it comes to washing, people have become more and more removed from nature. Most bathroom cabinets are brimming with a multitude of chemical products with unpronounceable names. Advertising dazzles consumers with scientific jargon and the glory of the latest formula. As a result consumers are loosing their natural reasoning on how to care for their body.

However did people manage before modern cosmetics?

Well the answer is simple – they took clues from wild animals – and used the raw or minimally processed products of nature. For example, clay does all the washing of the hair, face and body; cold pressed plant oils do all the moisturizing, and volcanically formed alum crystal does all the deodorizing.

While simple plant soaps can be made by infusing saponin rich plants such as soapnuts or soapwort, for shaving, a true soap is necessary. This can be made over the campfire with ashes, water and oil or rendered fat.

The closest analog today is the ‘savon noir’ or black soap which is made from olive oil and lye. It is used for shaving and exfoliating. We use an ultra fine green clay for cleaning the teeth because if its high mineralization properties and because it absorbs the bacteria which contribute to tooth decay and reduces inflamation. These are the key products – just five of them!

When people revert to the simplest of resources, not only will they find that the products are less irritating to the skin, that they really do work, they are more economic, fully traceable and much lower in transport miles than any highly formulated product with multiple ingredients.

What is more, everything can be modified and personalized by consumers at home. People can add powdered ingredients such as sea salt, kelp, essential oils and floral waters to the clay mix to suit their mood or skin type. A cold pressed plant oil can be modified with essential oils. People either use a deodorant crystal (with no fragrance), or make their own deodorant with alum powder or pebbles and floral water.

A drop of essential oil can be added to the savon noir and finely ground sea salt or herbs, powdered resins such as myrrh can be added to the green clay for tooth brushing. Again, buying or even gathering the base ingredients and making your own modifications is far cheaper than a luxury brand and everything is made with your own love and your own needs in mind.

As far as accessories, we need a comb (brushes are relatively recent inventions!), an exfoliating glove/loofah, a toothbrush (people used to gather a fresh stick and chew the end to fray it, making their own disposable brush), a nail care tool, maybe dental floss, a pumice and a razor. That’s it.

When it dawned on me that I had become this minimalist or prehsitoric, I finally emptied my bathroom cabinet or four carrier bags of plastic bottled chemicals, most half used, well past their expiry dates! Now with only a few products I have become an expert on them and really anyone who uses skin care products should know everything about them too! Luckily when you use ‘prehistoic products’ you will not need a degree in chemistry, but just some good old fashioned common sense!

I’m convinced that going natural minimalist in the personal care department is a must for this natural woman and am getting ready to embrace my wild mammal as I write this.

You can join me in this revolution – head over to Natural Spa Supplies and see what takes your fancy …

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

mrs green @myzerowaste.com March 29, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Wonderful write up – I never knew you could make a liquid spray; I’d love to hear more about how you do that. So glad you are loving Sally’s products too!

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Julie Gibbons March 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Thanks Mrs G – the spray is so very easy. Just add 1 part alum powder to 9 parts water – can add some floral essence if you like and pop it into a spray mister bottle and Bob’s yer Uncle!

The water dilutes the alum, so it isn’t as strong, but I find it works perfectly well for me…

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