Tampon Survival Use: 10 Ways to Multipurpose a Tampon in a Survival Situation

Multipurpose a Tampon in a Survival Situation
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How to Turn a Tampon into a Survival Tool

You may not have thought of a tampon as survival gear but survival situations bring out the creativity in each of us … well, at least most of us anyway. Knowing how to multipurpose ordinary items is a survival skill that could give you the upper edge and mean the difference between life and death in a real life survival scenario.

You may already know how to manipulate a variety of items and turn them into survival tools but one thing you may not have given much thought about is a tampon. Survival expert Creek Stewart explains below just how useful a tampon can be if you ever find yourself trapped in the wilderness.

Do me a favor for the next five minutes. Try to forget everything you know about tampons. I know, it's hard. But pretend that this is the first time you have ever seen or heard of the item below, and it is a new survival product on the market: the Tactical Adventure Medical Preparedness Outdoors Necessity (T.A.M.P.O.N.).

All kidding aside, a tampon really does have a ton of uses to a survivor. One could even argue for including a couple in your survival kit. Ultimately, I'll let you be the judge.

Before I get into the details of this post, a brief history of the tampon might surprise you.

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

Tampon Survival Use: Multipurpose a Tampon in a Survival Situation

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

Multipurpose a Tampon in a Survival Situation

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. The water dripped out nearly crystal clear.

TAMPON Survival Use #3: Fire Tinder

Tampon Survival Use: Multipurpose a Tampon in a Survival Situation

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

Multipurpose a Tampon in a Survival Situation

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

Tampon Survival Use: Multipurpose a Tampon in a Survival Situation

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.

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