Canker Sore – No More

It’s Tuesday and I’m back with a Tuesday Tip for your reading pleasure.  Enjoy!

It seems that the canker uglies have struck again.  If you have kids, and even if you don’t, you can’t help but have canker sores ever now and again.  There’s not really a consensus on what causes them but I know what will cure them and I’m going to let you in on the secret….in a minute.

So here’s how it goes at my house:

Kid:  Ow, ow ow…Mom, my mouth hurts

Mom: Did you bonk it?

Kid: No

Mom:  Sorry your mouth hurts honey, Here, let me kiss it, now you can go play.

(20 minutes later)

Kid:  Ow, ow OW.  Dad, my mouth hurts

Dad:  Did you get hit?

Kid: No it just hurts right here (points to canker sore area)

Dad looks then says:  Let’s go put some stuff on it. (stuff=baby teething gel left over from when we had babies…does this stuff ever expire?)

(repeat every 20 minutes for a while)

Dad says to mom:  Mom, kid has a canker sore.

Mom: Ouch, we should take care of that….  ONCE AND FOR ALL (had kid been more specific he’d be fixed by now )

This is when mom goes to the spice cabinet and pulls out the ….drum roll please…..Powdered Alum!  That is the secret.

Alum is a chemical compound that has astringent properties and dries things up.  The powdered version is found in the spice aisle of every grocery store (they also sell a granulated version, you don’t want that kind, find the powdered).  Alum used in styptic pencils that stop bleeding from razor nicks, and in styptic powder used to stop the bleeding from doggie toenail clipping gone awry.  Those things can sure bleed…what’s up with no clotting factor in doggie toenails anyway? It’s also used to pickle things.

Back to the alum, so here’s the procedure:

  1. Tie the child down Gather suffering child into your arms and tell them you are going to fix their owie.
  2. Wet the tip of a Q-tip
  3. Dip wet end of Q-tip into the powdered alum
  4. Dab business end of Q-tip directly onto the offending canker sore
  5. Realize that this stuff is not strawberry or bubble gum flavored….nope it’s NASTY and said child will want to remove it from their mouths as quickly as possible,  lucky for us it works fast.
  6. Let them swish and spit after about 20 or 30 seconds
  7. Done!

I think that Alum cauterizes the exposed nerve endings in the canker sore so there should be no more pain after an application or two.  The most I’ve ever needed on my canker sores is two applications.   Alum is relatively cheap (one small bottle will last you and your extended family and your whole neighborhood until the end of time) and it’s easy to use. I trust that you’ll go get a package of it next time you make a grocery run and add it to your family first-aid kit

So what do you use on your cankers?


  1. Pam says:

    My alum container is probably over 25 years old and still looks almost full mainly because that is about all I use it for!

    • Andrea says:

      Mine seems about that old too, probably not quite though.

  2. C.L. Beck says:

    Great tip. To prevent canker sores, I use a lip protectant (in a tube, looks similar to Chapstick) called “Herpecin HL 30.” Available at Walmart, and probably elsewhere. It has a sunscreen in it, too. Don’t know why it works, but it does! Greatly reduced my incidence of owies, and reduces the amount of time they last. Not quite as fast acting as alum, though, so will definitely try that the next time.

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks for the tip, I’ll have to look for some.

  3. CThomas says:

    We have always used baking soda in much the same way, it stings for a second and then seems to heal.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi There, From my research it seems that Alum is a component in Baking soda so it would follow that B.Soda would be effective too…seems like it might be a bit salty, is it?…I guess in either case we’d spit it out so fast that it wouldn’t matter much. Thanks for sharing

  4. Kathryn Wood says:

    Thanks for a great tip! I will be adding alum to my collection. I just subscribed.

    • Andrea says:

      Kathryn, It’s great to have you here. May you never have a canker of your own 🙂

What do you think?