As a survival substance, potassium permanganate is arguably one of the most beneficial.
The 4 oxygen atoms in the compound are the key to its action and its applicability in survival. Potassium permanganate contains a lot of oxygen which makes the chemical an oxidant. It is this ability to oxygenate which is one of the reasons why potassium permanganate is such a useful survival chemical.
As a slight side note, potassium permanganate is good at getting stains out of things. For example, you can remove ‘foxing’ from an old book using a potassium permanganate solution. But at the same time, if you get it on your skin, you end up with brown stains that are very hard to get off — as I once found out.
Use #1: As Water Purifier
Studies, from “The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics”, have shown that at a dilution of 1:10,000 (potassium permanganate to water) kills most bacteria within an hour.
You may be asking the question, can I sterilize drinking water with potassium permanganate? Not only that you can, but you can also do it at the source. For example, if you have a well, you can control bacterial growth by feeding the well a solution of around 4-7 g permanganate per gallon.
Use #2: As Wound Disinfectant
Potassium permanganate is more readily used externally. As mentioned earlier, the oxidizing nature of the chemical means it is a very good disinfectant.
A dilute solution of potassium permanganate can be used to treat anything from trench foot to cleaning wounds to sterilizing infected water. It can even be used to treat bacterial infections in fish.
Related: Emergency Care For Gunshot Wounds
Use #3: To start a fire
Potassium permanganate is a great fire starter. All you need to start a fire with potassium permanganate is about 10 g (1/3 oz) of it and some glycerin (about 1 ml or 1/4 teaspoon). It can also work with sugar and water. Place your potassium permanganate in a small ceramic dish, or on a tile (as shown below). Next, drop the glycerol onto the potassium permanganate and stand back. Within a few seconds to a minute, the dish will start to smoke, and then a sudden purplish flame will appear. You can use the flame to light a larger fire.
Use #4: Improvised munitions
Using the same principle as in use #3 you can also use potassium permanganate as an improvised munition. As a simple munition, you can use a mix of sugar and potassium permanganate. To do this, finely grind sugar and