A colorless to white crystalline substance which occurs naturally as the mineral kalunite and is a constituent of the mineral alunite. Alum is produced as aluminum sulfate by treating bauxite with sulfuric acid to yield alum cake or by treating the bauxite with caustic soda to yield papermaker salum. Other industrial alums are potash alum, ammonium alum, sodium alum, and chrome alum (potassium chromium sulfate). Major uses of alum are as an astringent, styptic, and emetic. For water purification alum is dissolved. It then crystallizes out into positively charged crystals that attract negatively charged organic impurities to form an aggregate sufficiently heavy to settle out. Alum is also used in sizing paper, dyeing fabrics, and tanning leather. With sodium bicarbonate it is used in baking powder and in some fire extinguishers.
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