Dealing with open wounds, especially deep wounds or wounds that are very dirty, is never an easy thing, yet proper wound irrigation is critical to preventing infection and promoting healing.
For disaster situations the question becomes one of supply. What can you use to irrigate a wound? Few of us keep large amounts of sterile solution on hand, but luckily, it is easily and quickly made. This recipe for normal saline will allow you to quickly make saline solution as you need it, or you can make it in advance and store it for up to one month. Saline is used as a disinfectant, a sterile rinse for cleaning wounds, suctioning, cleaning medical supplies/equipment or for labwork. The salt in saline discourages bacterial growth while rinsing away contaminants. Because the salt composition is similar to that of the body, it causes less tissue damage than you would get from normal water.
- Table Salt (not iodized, no anti-caking agent). Commonly sold as ‘canning’ salt.
- Sterile glass jar w/lid (boil for 15 minutes to sterilize)
Mason jars with the two part canning lids are excellent choices.
- Measuring cup
- Pan with lid
- Wash your hands with hot water and soap. Rinse and dry with sterile towel, or allow to air dry. Do not dry with non-sterile cloths.
- Wash the pan and lid with soap and water, rinse well.
- Measure 4 cups of tap water and pour into the pan.
- Add 2 level teaspoons of table salt to the water.
- Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil.
- Boil for 15 minutes. Keep the pan covered.
- Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool. Keep covered while cooling. If time critical, you can aid the cooling process by partially submerging the pan in cool water. Be careful not to contaminate the contents!
- Remove the lid and pour the contents into the sterile jar. Close tightly with sterile lid.
The above recipe makes one quart of normal saline solution, suitable for wound irrigation and cleaning.
To keep the saline around for use later, label the jar with the date and time it was made. The unopened jar should be stored for no more than one month. If opened, do not store for more than 48 hours.