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Author Topic: Why was sulphur used as a sterilising agent in WW1?  (Read 4006 times)

Offline Bill.D.Katt.

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In WWI sulphur (S8) was used as a sterilizer. Why didn't they use salt? It would seem that salt (whether KCl or NaCl) would be easier to come across. Is it possible that salt on an open wound could imbalance electrolytes?
« Last Edit: 19/09/2010 22:53:26 by chris »


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Why was sulphur used as a sterilising agent in WW1?
« Reply #1 on: 19/09/2010 09:04:47 »
Have you ever got salt into a wound?
It stings a bit.
Having said that, sulphur isn't a very good bactericide so perhaps they were relying as much on the placebo effect as on anything else.
 

Offline Bill.D.Katt.

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Re: Why was sulphur used as a sterilising agent in WW1?
« Reply #2 on: 19/09/2010 18:02:04 »
I have. And when my great grandmother had blood poisoning (purple-red colored veins) she would cut along the coloring and pack it with salt. It must have worked, she lived to 104!

Wouldn't it seem odd that governments would deliver sulfur to hundreds of thousands if not millions of troops in WWI if it wasn't a very good bactericide. I think that if I had the choice of dying from an infection, or feeling the burn of salt, I would rather suffer the burn and the scar, because I didn't think that placebo effect would show any results on open wounds.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Why was sulphur used as a sterilising agent in WW1?
« Reply #3 on: 20/09/2010 08:42:38 »
"Wouldn't it seem odd that governments would deliver sulfur to hundreds of thousands if not millions of troops in WWI if it wasn't a very good bactericide."
That would depend on whether or not they knew any better.
 

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Why was sulphur used as a sterilising agent in WW1?
« Reply #3 on: 20/09/2010 08:42:38 »

 

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