A possible SOLUTION for sweaty hands

February 12, 2019, 10:55 AM · I recently made a trip to the pharmacy and found a dab-on aluminium chloride solution intended to reduce sweating. I tried it for the first time last night, and it most certainly did—in fact, almost too much. It hurt to stretch my fingers this morning. Dry as bone. A few hours later, they're moist as always, but noticeably less so.

I guess it works. Just gotta be carful not tl put it on my hands when they're wet, because then I'll get horrible chemical burns.

Replies (12)

Edited: February 12, 2019, 11:39 AM · Remember that when aluminum chloride reacts with water, it forms aluminum hydroxide and hydrochloric acid. I don't know if it's such a good idea to apply that to your hands immediately before touching your violin, even if they're "dry" already. On the other hand, you're buying a solution so the hydrolysis has already taken place and the solution may be buffered somehow. I would have to read the ingredients list to speculate on that. The soluble forms of aluminum that seem most likely to be acting here are prevalent in aqueous solution only below neutral pH. I've linked a speciation diagram below. The most likely actor seems to be [Al(OH)2]+.


I confess that I don't know how antiperspirants work. If the aluminum (or zirconium) compounds make their way in to your sweat glands and function as some kind of inhibitor (i.e., as a topical drug, which I surmise they do), then you should be able to apply it well in advance of when you have to practice (hours), such that any acidic residue will have dissipated.

Edited: February 12, 2019, 12:12 PM · No experience here with dab-on aluminium chloride; but, from the side effects you described -- skin-drying, chemical burns on wet hands -- I'd stay away from such remedies.

I don't know what area of the world you live in or the climate you have. I'm in the American Southeast, where it's warm enough to play violin in the garage about 8 months a year. Summer heat takes hold early here and hangs on a long time.

Three things that help me:

1) I'm the type who can take summer heat that would make plenty of other people uncomfortable -- even make some feel like passing out.

2) I walk about 1 mile per day -- about 3.5 mph. According to my research, consistent daily doses of low-intensity aerobics, like sustained walking, can help people sweat less during the day. My personal experience strongly suggests, at least to me, that this is so. Side benefit for cold winter months: Just a 20-minute indoor walk before music practice gets my feet and hands very warm -- and they stay warm a long time afterward. So I have ready grip and reliable traction.

3) In warm seasons, I turn on a compact floor fan at low speed, 10-15 feet away from me. The light air current wicks away excessive moisture -- so that it doesn't build up on the fingers.

February 12, 2019, 12:25 PM · Maybe a sparing amount of weight-lifting chalk? I don't think my hands have ever been too warm, so I have the opposite problem.
Edited: February 12, 2019, 12:33 PM · My problem isn't temperature or physiology. It's just hyperactive sweat glands. I can be freezing cold and still have soaked hands and feet. This stuff is really nasty, but nothing else works.

To be exact, it's 20% aluminium chloride hexahydrate by mass, dissolved in ethanol.

Edited: February 12, 2019, 12:46 PM · I'd expect that mixture to be quite acidic, so you want to make sure it's not on your skin when you handle your instrument. And don't get it in your eyes, that would really sting.

This website has a description of how aluminum chloride is thought to function as an antiperspirant. I can't evaluate the veracity of the underlying science -- it's too far outside my field.


The antiperspirant effects of aluminum-containing minerals were known to ancient civilizations. There are a variety of soluble aluminum mineral compositions, but potassium alum (potassium aluminum sulfate hydrate) is typical among them. Potassium alum is known for its exceptionally bitter taste (nowadays chemists do not taste things), and it has uses in tanning and textiles. I teach a lab course in which potassium alum is synthesized, starting from aluminum metal (ordinary foil).

Edited: February 13, 2019, 11:36 PM · Do your home work and talk to a physician, Aluminum has the ability to produce neurotoxicity, which can have severe life consequences in the long term.
Edited: February 14, 2019, 12:47 AM · Now, I would definately not recommend it. You can get oversensitive to aluminium cloride and given the side effeects you described, you are very likely to do so.

There are many people that cannot use the normal antiperspirants because they have become oversensitive to the aluminium in them. Instead they have to use aluminium free deodorants which are about 4 times more expensive and at least in my country sold only in the pharmacy and not in the normal shops.

If you continue to use the solution I will predict that your hands will over time become over-dry and sore more quickly and the soreness takes more and more time to vanish until it one day just does not go away and you will have oversensitive hands to many compounds not just the aluminium chloride. And then you will be in very big problems, no violin playing then at all as it will take months for the skin to heal and even after that you may have problems with other compounds as well.

February 14, 2019, 10:58 AM · Have you found a solution Cotton? I guess the aluminum oxide isn't the best. I tend to sweat a lot when I'm hot.Great for natural weight loss in the summer.Not so good for violin playing. Are you in a humid space?

Side note. I came across the name Cotton Mather the other day. I thought you made it up. Interesting person. Your reference caused me to read a book he wrote out of curiosity.A small adjustment reading old English though."Divels". Never knew what they were.

Edited: February 14, 2019, 1:05 PM · Although I do not know about the long-term effects of aluminum compounds, they are irritants and what Maria has written does indeed seem like quite a likely outcome. The issue of neurotoxicity is not to be minimized, necessarily, but here is a credible source that may allay some of those concerns:


@Tim, I fail to see how sweating has anything to do with weight loss. If you lose an entire quart of fluid to sweating, that's two pounds. Then when you drink water to rehydrate you gain it all back. So unless you're fasting and dehydrating yourself for a wresting weigh-in, I'm calling that out as nonsense. On the other hand if sweating is a proxy for how much calorie-burning physical activity one is doing, then fine. But the act of sweating alone is not a weight-loss strategy.

I had a course in high school called "Early American Literature." We read Cotton Mather. Some of his "Essays to Do Good." The literary style and historical context were emphasized, not the dogmatic content.

February 14, 2019, 12:58 PM · @David You are right. I guess it's hard to tell when someone isn't entirely serious here.From my limited knowledge of this, one main benefit to working out is that your body gets rid of some bad things through sweat. Someone else might call that nonsense too. I know when I work out I feel like my lungs are getting a good cleaning through expiration.Seems good exercise helps to flush the body out including skin pores.I'm no doctor. Only going from my own experiences.

I hope Cotton can get some help with this.

February 17, 2019, 7:23 PM · There's actually a really good solution, one which I had done. It's a microwave therapy that is used to treat people with hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). I wasn't diagnosed with hyperhidrosis, but when I was 12 my teacher felt that it would give me more confidence in competitions if I could trust that my hands wouldn't sweat. He found a clinic that would perform the procedure so I had it done. It's a permanent fix where they use microwaves to permanently destroy the sweat glands. It's been 15 years since I had the treatment and my hands have literally not sweated since.
February 17, 2019, 8:55 PM · That's fascinating, but also sounds dangerous. Microwaves are not nice to flesh (nerve damage?). I'll look that up.

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