Potassium permanganate has been getting a lot of coverage lately on some popular survival forums, and for good reason. This cheap, readily available chemical has a few amazing survival applications, and once you’ve learned about everything these purple crystals can do you’ll be rushing to try it out for yourself.
As a note, many people are justifiably worried about buying chemicals in the United States. While the government does pay attention to some chemical purchases, potassium permanganate is not among them. It’s also available online from a huge variety of survival stores that aren’t interested in who you are or what you’ve decided to purchase from them. While this is a very safe chemical, care should be taken to not accidentally eat potassium permanganate, and any large spills that get on your skin or in your eyes should be rinsed with water right away.
The primary use of potassium permanganate is water purification. In fact, the easiest way to buy this incredible useful chemical is to walk into any pool supply or water treatment shop and buy it off of the shelf. Pure potassium permanganate is used in very small amounts in order to kill bacteria, parasites, and even viruses in any source of water and render it entirely safe for drinking.
One of the most helpful things about purifying your water with potassium permanganate is the fact that the manganese found in this chemical turns your purified water a very light shade of pink. This serves as a simple visual guide telling you which water has been rendered safe and which water still needs to be treated before use.
When mixed with sugars, potassium permanganate acts as an oxidizer. Most people know that oxidation creates rust, but it’s also responsible for the heat and light in every camp fire. Potassium permanganate can be used to create an intensely hot flame that’s perfect for lighting wet fuel.
One of the easiest ways to use this chemical to start a fire is to mix it in with a liquid sugar, like anti-freeze, brake fluid, or even e-cigarette juice. This reaction proceeds all by itself, creating a strong flame a few seconds after the two ingredients are mixed together with no need to strike a spark.
Every survivalist that spends time in the winter woods should consider carrying a small amount of potassium permanganate in their pack. Since the chemical turns pink when dissolved in water, it can be mixed with melted snow and broadcast across a large area to create a pink patch of ground that’s visible for hundreds of feet from above. Rather than spending precious energy moving snow to create a marker, you can get the same results with a tiny fraction of the effort.
For much the same reasons that permanganate is such a good water purifier, it’s also a good medicine. A weak solution of potassium permanganate in water works as an effective cure for athlete’s foot, mouth infections, and topically as an anti-bacterial sanitizer. It’s an absolutely effective addition to any first-aid kit, and before the latest crackdowns on personal liberty it was routinely included in medical kits.
One unexpected use of potassium permanganate is for food preservation. In the same way that silica gel packets will suck excess moisture out of a sealed container, a small satchel of potassium permanganate will degrade ethylene gas. Ethylene is responsible for the ripening process in fruit, so storing apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries or other produce along with permanganate will extend their shelf-life dramatically even without refrigeration. This same trick is used to ship bananas and apples commercially, and so it’s been shown to be incredibly safe and effective, preventing spoilage for two or more weeks.