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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Tampon: The Swiss Army Wilderness Survival Tool

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…

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A Digest of Urban Survival Resources


The Tampon: The Swiss Army Wilderness Survival Tool


NOTE: If you’re like me, most men hated the dreaded wife request of “honey, would you mind picking up a package of tampons for me from the store?”  At the superstore of your choice there is an entire wall spanning the galaxy of various brands and choices from slim, wide, ultra, maxi, ultra-maxi and what seems like 1,000s of choices-enough to drive a sane man over to the sporting goods aisle in short order seeking some sanity…however, take heart guys, there are many positive uses for the tampon.  Stick with me [yeah, there are those too] on this!


The tampon is actually regulated in the US by the Food & Drug Administration as a Class II Medical Device. The word "tampon" is a derivative of the French word tapon which means "a little plug or stopper." My research indicates that tampons were used as early as the 19th century as battle dressings to plug bullet holes. There are even accounts of tampons being used as wound plugs in modern warfare. A friend of mine told me that it's not uncommon for Army Medics to carry tampons in their med kits. They are also the perfect product for a bloody nose. There seem to be mixed accounts of whether the tampon was used as a feminine product before or after its use on the battlefield.


Regardless of intended use, the common tampon has many practical survival uses. I've highlighted a few survival uses below.


TAMPON Survival Use #1: Medical Bandage


Tampons are sterile, come very well-packaged in their own waterproof sleeves, and are designed to be ultra-absorbent — making them the perfect first aid bandage. They can be opened and then taped or tied over a wound as an improvised dressing. And, as I've already mentioned, they can be used to plug a bullet hole until more sophisticated medical attention can be administered. Accounts of this use date back to World War I. Many items in modern society were first developed as a facet of military research - tampons may very well be one of these products.


TAMPON Survival Use #2: Crude Water Filter


Another excellent tampon survival use is as a crude water filter. While it will not filter out biological, chemical, or heavy metal threats, it can certainly be used to filter out sediments and floating particulates. This would be considered a 1st Phase Filter, which can drastically increase the life and efficacy of your main water filter. You can also use a filter like this before boiling to filter out larger particulates. In this example, I've pushed a tampon into the neck of an empty water bottle. I poked a small hole in the cap and then poured in dirty water to filter through the tampon and into the container below.


TAMPON Survival Use #3: Fire Tinder


Nearly everyone knows that cotton makes excellent fire tinder. When the dry cotton fibers of a tampon are pulled apart and hit with a spark or flame, they will burst into a nice steady fire. If you've done the right amount of fire prep work, you can easily split 1 tampon into 3 or 4 fire-starting tinder bundles. Add in some chapstick or petroleum jelly, and you've got an even better fire-starting tinder.


TAMPON Survival Use #4: Crude Survival Straw Filter


Yes, I have a tampon in my mouth — don't laugh! As a last ditch water filter, you can make an improvised Survival Straw from the plastic housing and cotton from a tampon. As you can see in the photos below, just tear off a bit of the cotton and stuff it into the plastic housing. I find it better to leave a little bit sticking out to make the housing pieces wedge tightly together.


Again, this filter will not PURIFY your water by removing biological, chemical, or heavy metal threats, but it will filter out sediments and particulates. This would be a last ditch effort if no methods of water purification were available.


TAMPON Survival Use #5: Wick for Improvised Candle


In the photo above I used the string on a tampon as a wick in an improvised candle which I made from rendered animal fat and a fresh water mussel shell I found down by the creek at Willow Haven. After the string soaked up some of the fat, this candle burned solid for 20 minutes while I took the photos and still had plenty of wick left. Pine sap would have also worked as a fuel.


Learn more here:


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A Final Note…

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DAR said...

Oh boy...that's too funny, the part about going to the store for your wife. All men have probably had that experience. More importantly, tampons have been included in our medical kits for years. They're excellent for stopping bleeding on the battlefield and EMTs use them too.

Ronnie said...

Love it!