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Name: Sally
Status: Student
Grade:  4-5
Location: OR
Country: USA
Date: May 2005


Question:
Dear Scientist,
I have been given a question to answer. Many deodorants are now called Natural Crystal Deodorants, they are made from ammonium alum. Can ammonium alum be called natural and how is it made.



Replies:
Beware the term "natural" regardless of the context. There are no rules, regulations, or laws that specify what the term "natural" means. The inference a product labeled "natural" wishes to convey is that "natural" is equivalent to "safe" or "pure". "Alum" is the common name for aluminum sulfate used in cooking. One could guess that ammonium alum is a mixed salt of aluminum sulfate and ammonium sulfate, but that is only a guess without specifying the relative amount of aluminum ion and ammonium ion present. It could be made by dissolving certain amounts of Al2(SO4)3 and (NH4)2(SO4) together and evaporating off the water. But that does not mean it is (or isn't) "natural". The term "natural" is advertising hype. Ultimately everything is "natural".

Similar disinformation is labeling a product loaded with fat "cholesterol free" or "no carbohydrates".

Vince Calder



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