One of the marvels of modern medicine came with the discovery of antiseptics, like Dakin’s solution, to treat wounds and eliminate pathogens. This has greatly reduced the rates of mortality, especially from infected open wounds. For the bulk of human history, we have been at the mercy of bacteria and viruses, and this has meant that expected lifespans were always historically quite low.
If you’re preparing your shelter or your survival kit bag, you need to have medical supplies. The fact is that you just never know when they might be needed and even the smallest cut can become septic and infected without the proper care. As much as we might take our first aid kits for granted these days, it would not be hard to imagine a living situation where these things were either inaccessible or in short supply.
Ideally, one would always have easy access to medical supplies, but this may not always be the case. Furthermore, medical supplies do not last long when they are being used, even to dress small cuts and wounds.
Even if you don’t have access to bandages and so on, the one thing that you should always pack is some kind of antiseptic. But, what happens when you don’t have any antiseptic at all? Is it possible to make one out of common household items?
This Dakin’s solution is available if you’d rather not make it yourself.
It was not until 1820 that sodium hypochlorite was widely used as an antiseptic. It’s a strong chemical and kills most pathogens, but it is not kind to human and animal tissues.
It can damage healthy skin and create more problems in the wound. That said, the widespread use of this chemical improved conditions in workplaces immensely.
It was actually during the first world war that a suitable antiseptic was created that replaced sodium hypochlorite in widespread use.
Wounded soldiers needed a reliable and inexpensive antiseptic for field use, and Henry Drysdale Dakin and Alexis Carrel jointly developed Dakin’s solution.
Dakin’s solution is a mix of sodium carbonate and sodium hypochlorite. This combination is an effective antiseptic, and it is also non-toxic and does not irritate or damage healthy skin and other tissues.
Though there are other antiseptics available these days, Dakin’s solution is still used in some areas due to the fact that it’s affordable, easy to make, and effective.
Just imagine that you and your loved ones are in a situation where you have run out of medical supplies and a wound needs to be treated so that it doesn’t become infected. This is not a tough situation to imagine happening, and an effective antiseptic is the one thing that every medical kit should have as a fundamental. So, what do you do in this situation?
The good news is that making Dakin’s solution from common household chemicals is not that difficult. In the absence of any official antiseptics, this can be used to effectively clean and manage open wounds without toxic effects and damage to healthy tissues.
Here’s an easy way to make your own Dakin’s solution:
1. Get Prepared
You’ll need a clean (preferably sterile) jar or another airtight container for storing your Dakin’s solution and a container you can boil water in. You’ll also need baking soda and traditional household liquid bleach.
Use unscented bleach such as standard Chlorox bleach.
Make sure you wash your hands before making it as you want the solution to be as clean and sterile as possible.
2. Measuring and Mixing
To get the solution ready, bring four cups of water to a boil for 15 minutes. and then remove it from the heat.
Measure out half a teaspoon of baking soda and add it to the water.
Once you’ve added the baking soda all you need to do is add 3 oz of bleach and you have a full-strength Dakin’s Solution.
If you’re worried about irritation you can make a half-strength solution by adding 3 1/2 teaspoons of bleach to the four cups of water.
Once you’ve made the Dakin’s Solution, you can simply store it in the jar for up to a month. Wrap the jar in a material that will keep out light in order to keep it as effective as possible.
After opening the jar, you can keep it for 48 hours before you should throw it out and make more.
Only use a homemade antiseptic like Dakin’s solution if it is an emergency and you don’t have access to any form of modern medical assistance. Always consult a doctor prior to using any form of medicine.
- Keep out of the reach of children.
- If the solution is used as a mouth wash, do not swallow it.
- Do not use longer than one week, unless directed by your doctor.
- Do not use if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.
- Stop use of the solution if your condition worsens, or a rash or any other
Call Your Doctor If You Have:
- Pain or burning sensation
- Rash or itching
- Redness of skin
- Swelling, hives or blisters
- Signs or symptoms of wound infection
You can pour, apply or spray the solution directly onto the injured area. When used on wounds, Dakin’s solution can be poured onto the affected area as an irrigation or as a way to clean the wound. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly.
It is also used to wet certain types of wound dressings. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly.
The body’s own fluids can decrease the antibacterial effect of Dakin’s solution. Therefore, this solution is often used only once daily for minor wounds and twice daily for heavily draining or contaminated wounds. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly.
If you are worried about irritation to the surrounding area. protect the surrounding healthy skin with a moisture barrier ointment (e.g., petroleum jelly) or skin sealant as needed to prevent irritation. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly.
Inform your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.