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Prepping essentials: 8 Survival uses for rubbing alcohol
By Zoey Sky // May 28, 2021

Rubbing alcohol is a sought-after product in stores because it's a convenient disinfectant for a variety of things. But did you know that rubbing alcohol also has several survival uses? This versatile item can even be used to make a liniment or to start a fire. (h/t to PrepSchoolDaily.blogspot.com)


Using rubbing alcohol correctly

Rubbing alcohol is usually sold in concentrations of 50 percent, 70 percent and 91 percent. It is a useful item, but there are some precautions when using it for first aid.

While you can use 50 percent, 70 percent and 91 percent rubbing alcohol interchangeably for firestarting, it's not the same when it's used for medicinal purposes. Remember that a 70 percent rubbing alcohol solution is more effective at disinfecting than a 91 percent solution. It may sound strange, but the water in 70 percent rubbing alcohol helps carry the alcohol past bacterial cell walls to kill them.

Meanwhile, a 91 percent solution of rubbing alcohol evaporates faster and contains less water.

Don't add rubbing alcohol to bathwater. Prolonged exposure to rubbing alcohol can make your skin absorb the alcohol, which may cause toxicity in both children and adults.

Never use rubbing alcohol to reduce a fever. While rubbing alcohol can help lower body temperature, inhaling large quantities can cause health problems like alcohol poisoning, cardiac problems, neurological problems and even a coma.

Survival uses of rubbing alcohol

Here are 10 survival uses of rubbing alcohol:

As a liniment

Apply small amounts of a 70 percent solution of rubbing alcohol to sore muscles and joints. Use it by itself or add it to various medicinal herbs make a tincture. The resulting liniment will provide relief from aches and pains.

Never use rubbing alcohol as a liniment for infants or children to avoid toxic overload.

As a skin disinfectant

Use a bit of rubbing alcohol squeezed onto a piece of cotton to disinfect the skin before getting an injection or cleaning around a wound. Don't use alcohol or other chemical disinfectants in a wound. While alcohol is used to kill bacteria, it will destroy living tissue and slow down wound healing.

Use clean water or sterile saline to clean a wound. (Related: Don’t forget these 53 items when stocking up for emergencies.)

To disinfect instruments

Use a 70 percent solution of rubbing alcohol to disinfect instruments. Let the instruments soak for at least twelve hours. Since rubbing alcohol can't kill all bacteria and viruses, it's not as effective for sterilization.

For treating an ear infection

Follow the steps below to use rubbing alcohol to manage an ear infection.

  1. Combine 1/4 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol and 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Make the patient lie on his side and carefully put three to four drops of the mixture in the affected ear.
  3. Instruct the patient to remain in this position for five minutes, then help them tilt their head to drain out the solution.
  4. Place a couple of drops of plain, warm olive oil in their ear. This does not need to be drained out.

A reusable ice pack

Instead of buying ice packs, make a reusable ice pack using rubbing alcohol. Combine three parts water with one part rubbing alcohol in a zippered bag or vacuum seal bag and seal. Freeze the mixture for three hours.

Never place the ice packs directly next to bare skin. Cover it with a cloth to protect the skin from frostbite. These reusable ice packs are flexible so you can shape them around the afflicted body part to reduce pain and swelling.

Hand sanitizer

To make your own hand sanitizer, you'll need rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel.


  • 2 Tablespoons of 91 percent rubbing alcohol
  • 1 Tablespoon of aloe vera gel


  1. Combine the rubbing alcohol and aloe vera in a small squeeze bottle. Apply as needed.
  2. To make larger quantities, follow the same 2:1 ratio.
  3. Keep the container sealed and replenish it often. Once the alcohol evaporates, the hand sanitizer won't be as effective at sanitizing.


Rubbing alcohol can also be used to make several kinds of homemade firestarters. The simplest one only requires cotton balls and rubbing alcohol. Dip the cotton balls in alcohol and store the soaked cotton balls in an air-tight container.

Alternatively, you can use rubbing alcohol and old wine corks. Fill a Mason jar with used wine corks and rubbing alcohol. It's best to use 91 percent rubbing alcohol for this use.

Let the corks soak for at least one week before using. If you're in a hurry, they should be ready after soaking for two days.


A 91 percent solution of rubbing alcohol can be used as cooking fuel when SHTF. Unlike other kinds of fuel, you can use rubbing alcohol without worrying about noxious fumes. The downside is, rubbing alcohol burns at a lower temperature than other fuels so it will take longer to cook your food.

Before SHTF, stock up on rubbing alcohol so you can have access to a handy firestarter and disinfectant.

Visit Survival.news to read more articles about other useful survival supplies.

Sources include:




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