Monday, May 3, 2010

101 Uses: Potassium permanganate

Maybe not 101 uses but it has several important ones and it has been a very popular item in many survival kits for a long time, typically a small vial with potassium permanganate crystals in it.
Before going any further: 1) Its can be dangerous in many ways when misused 2) It does stain with a red/purple tint that is hard or impossible to remove.
What’s it good for?

Water purification: 3 or 4 crystals per liter of water. You want to have a very light tint of pink. Stir and leave it for 30 minutes.

Fungal and wount cleaning:
Another common use. As a matter of fact, its commonly used for fishtank cleaning and killing fungus in fish. Add a few more crystals until you have a darker tint of pink.

Hand sanitizing: This same solution can be used to wash hands.

Dissolve some in water to get a bright pink/purple solution for coloring white or clear colored fabric. You can also spread it on snow to make a visible signal.

Fire starter: 1 part sugar , 2 parts potassium permanganate, grind into a thin powder and it will light with a spark from a ferrocerium rod (fire steel).

I ordered a pack on line but you can also buy it from some aquariums or veterinarians since its used for fish tanks.



parabarbarian said...

Potassium permanganate and powdered sugar will ignite within a few seconds after adding a drop of water.

FerFAL said...

just water? sure? I thought you had to add glicerin or sulfuric acid to ignite.


Shyssirixus said...

Glycerin & potassium permanganate will ignite on contact. You can find more information on

Anonymous said...

You can buy this stuff from water treatment / softener salt stores in the US. I used to use this in my iron filter. It really likes moisture - so don't breath the fumes, it is nasty, voice of experience.


parabarbarian said...

Yes, powdered sugar and KMnO4 will make fire when mixed with a drop or two of water. Ammonium Nitrate (found in many cold packs) and table salt will do the same but not as dramatically. As Shyssirixus notes, KMnO4 is hypergolic with glycerin. Sulfuric acid reacts with KMnO4 to give KMn2O7, which is explosive.

Let me add that potassium permanganate (KMnO4) is a potent oxidizer so anyone using it to start a fire does so at his own risk. You have been warned.

Anonymous said...

This is a neat idea. There are many videos on YouTube on it. Gycercin apparently can be replaced with an automotive anti-freeze, ethylene glycol. Adding sodium may help. Like the fact that it can start on it's own and seems to burn hot. That's important in sub zero temperatures. Trioxane is currently my favorite.