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lightarrow, thanks for responding.So, if I understand you correctly, you are saying that I have aluminum hydroxide powder in my beaker instead of alum crystals because the sulfates left when I heated the crystals in the crucible. If I wanted to make alum again could I add KOH to make [Al(OH)4]- ions and then add sulfuric acid to make alum? I would then have to heat the solution up and cool it overnight again to make crystals appear, right? I think I will try this this week.
As for if I have aluminum oxide, I think I'll just throw away the solution and live with the crystals I have left (which is a good amount so it wouldn't be a big deal if I couldn't recover the lost ones).
I'm not much good at inorganic chemistry but wouldn't anything less reactive than potassium be able to contain KOH? Or because it's hot, does the activity series not apply anymore?