Survival Guide: How to Cauterize a Wound with Black Powder

Awareness guides now have hunters, extreme hikers and others being a little more concerned about safety while out in the wild. So many different things can happen that no hunter or other outdoorsman should ever be without certain things, like food and water, a first aid kit and some type of signaling device. Undoubtedly, many lives have been saved because of those who instruct others about precautionary measures while being in the great outdoors. Even with those measures in place a hunter, for instance, can be hurt severely with no way to get help. Hunting alone can be a huge risk should the hunter be critically injured. A deep cut can spell death to someone who can’t reach help quickly. Or, you can cauterize it. Yep, that’s going to hurt but it will likely save your life.

For some hunters, that black powder gun was the best decision they ever made. Black powder is extremely flammable and can be used to cauterize a gaping wound and seal it before bleeding to death. Hopefully, you have someone along with you who can help. If not, the task is yours alone. To start, get a small fire going.

Wipe the wound as you pour the black powder on, if someone is helping you. The would should be wiped from one end to the other, slowly, at the same time the wiped area is covered with black powder. Keep the black powder around the very edges of the wound but no further out on the skin. Cover the entire wound so that there’s a thin but ample layer of the powder. If you use too much you can end up with quite a fire – that’s not what you want. If you don’t use enough it could mean that you’ll have to cauterize it a second time. If you’re working alone wipe the wound quickly then sprinkle on the black powder as fast as possible.

If possible, find a patch of moss, uproot it, and use it as a fire guard around the wound. This will prevent you from getting powder burns outside of the wound. Cut a hole in the middle of the moss patch so that the injury is centered inside the hole. If there is no moss you can use wet cloth around the wound but no water can get into the wound or on the black powder.

Light a stick to use for lighting the black powder. It’s quite painful to set the severe wound on fire, so prepare yourself mentally. Touch the fire to the black powder, allow it to flame up for a couple of seconds, then put it out with a damp cloth.

If the cauterization went as planned the wound will stop bleeding immediately. The skin, veins and arteries are burned closed and the wound should no longer be life-threatening. Infection is still a huge possibility so bandage the wound and get help as soon as possible.

Source: Discovery Channel “Dual Survival”