Looking for alum powder but don’t know where to find it?
You can purchase in one of two ways — online via marketplaces such as Amazon and Walmart, or you can go to the spice aisle in a supermarket near you, which is where you’re most likely to find it.
What is Alum?
Alum is essentially potassium aluminum sulfate that exists in hydrated form, though it can also be seen in crystallized and powdered form.
It can be used for several things — to purify drinking water, an adjuvant in vaccines, a flame retardant, as a deodorant, and even as a pickling agent to keep pickles crisp.
Some alums occur naturally as minerals, the most notable being alunite.
The most important alums — potassium, sodium, and ammonium — are produced industrially, and their recipes usually revolve around combining aluminum sulfate and the sulfate monovalent cation.
Alum comes in a variety of types, for example:
- Potassium Alum
Also referred to as potash alum or Tawas, potassium alum is the type of alum that you can find in grocery stores for pickling and baking powders. This type of alum is also used in aftershave, as a flocculant in water purification, as well as a treatment for fireproof textiles.
- Soda Alum
Soda alum is typically used in baking powder and as an acidulant in food.
- Ammonium Alum
Ammonium alum is used for many of the same purposes as potassium alum. It can be an ingredient in deodorants, used as a treatment for fireproof textiles, used in the manufacture of porcelain cement, vegetable glues, and more.
- Chrome Alum
Chrome alum or chromium alum is a violet-colored compound that can be used in tanning and added to other alum to create lavender crystals.
- Selenate Alums
Selenium-containing alums are strong oxidizing agents, so they can be used as antiseptics, among other uses.
- Aluminum Sulfate
Aluminum sulfate is not technically alum but is used as a coagulant agent in the purification of drinking water and wastewater treatment plants, and also in paper manufacturing. This type of alum is usually obtained by treating minerals like schist, bauxite, and cryolite with sulfuric acid.
What Stores Sell Alum Powder?
Considered the largest online marketplace in the world, Amazon is where you can find anything, including alum powder. It is also where you’re likely to find the most variety of alum powder brands. For example, Amazon lists brands such as Hoosier Hill Farm, MB Herbals, McCormick, and more.
Like Amazon, Walmart is also a huge marketplace filled with different varieties of alum powder. You’re able to find brands such as McCormick, Great Value (Walmart’s brand), Larissa Veronica, and others.
Nuts is an online grocery store that started by selling premium nuts and dried fruit but has grown over the years and now promotes an array of different plant-based products, including alum powder. They actually sell alum powder by the pound, which you can also get delivered to your doorstep.
A widely popular retail company that operates supermarkets and multi-department stores across the United States, Kroger is also the place to visit if you wish to find alum powder. They have their very own brand of Alum Powder, which is generally more affordable.
The second-largest supermarket chain after Kroger, Albertsons also has alum powder available, namely McCormick alum powder.
Another place where you’re likely to find alum powder is Safeway. They also have McCormick’s alum powder.
Vons also has McCormick’s alum powder, according to their online store.
While you’re most likely to find alum powder in a big retailer or supermarket, you can also try an old-fashioned mom-and-pop type of drugstore. They should have some.
Where Is Alum Powder Located In Stores?
Alum powder is not something common, so even if you ask around in supermarkets or grocery stores, you might get a blank stare as most people might not know what it is.
The best place to find it in a grocery store is next to regular spices like garlic powder, ground ginger, chili powder, nutmeg, smoked paprika, among others.
The reason for such is that alum powder is commonly used as a food additive that confers fruits and vegetables with crispness. It’s one of the main ingredients that manufacturers add to cucumbers to create pickles.
How Much Does Alum Powder Cost?
It is difficult to give you an exact number because the price of alum powder depends on the brand, and also the quantity that you’re purchasing.
However, based on the different brands we’ve assessed and their products, we’ve found that supermarket-owned brands are considerably more affordable. For example, Walmart’s Great Value alum powder costs $1.94 per 99 grams, whereas McCormick’s alum powder costs $3.49 per 54 grams of the same product.
If you intend to buy in bulk, you’re able to fetch alum powder for a more reduced price. Hoosier Hill Farm (on Amazon) sells one pound of alum powder for $9.99.
How Long Does Alum Powder Last?
Again, it’s not possible to give you a short and sweet answer because that depends to a large extent on storage conditions. If you want to maximize shelf life, it’s best to store alum powder in a cool, dark place, away from direct heat or sunlight.
Assuming that you properly store alum powder, it should be able to last between two and three years.
Also, if you’re someone that intends to buy alum powder in bulk, you should store it in containers with tight-fitting lids to prevent air intrusion. It’s not that the powder will get spoiled, but it loses quality.
Does Alum Powder Go Bad?
Alum powder is merely another name for potassium aluminum sulfate which doesn’t decompose in normal circumstances and does not get spoiled.
It does lose effectiveness beyond the best-by-date but it won’t make you sick.
In fact, the “Best By,” “Best if Used By,” “Best Before,” or “Best When Used By” date is not an indicator of safety but it allows the manufacturer to estimate how long the alum powder remains at peak quality.
Alum powder isn’t something we hear about often but it has various applications across different industries — one of the most common uses is as a picking agent to help keep pickles crisp.
Because of that, a lot of supermarkets and grocery stores will have alum powder in the food section— namely in the spice aisle, next to other common spices like nutmeg, garlic powder, and others.
An easier (yet more expensive way) to get alum powder is by purchasing it online via marketplaces such as Amazon or Walmart, where you also have access to a wider variety of brands.