Yes, That’s a Tampon in My Mouth: The Swiss Army Survival Tampon — 10 Survival Uses

by A Manly Guest Contributor on June 5, 2012 · 180 comments

in Manly Skills, Survival

Do me a favor for the next five minutes.  Try to forget everything you know about tampons.  I know, it’s hard.  But pretend that this is the first time you have ever seen or heard of the item below, and it is a new survival product on the market: the Tactical Adventure Medical Preparedness Outdoors Necessity (T.A.M.P.O.N.).

All kidding aside, a tampon really does have a ton of uses to a survivor.  One could even argue for including a couple in your survival kit.  Ultimately, I’ll let you be the judge.

Before I get into the details of this post, a brief history of the tampon might surprise you.

The tampon is actually regulated in the US by the Food & Drug Administration as a Class II Medical Device.  The word “tampon” is a derivative of the French word tapon which means “a little plug or stopper.” My research indicates that tampons were used as early as the 19th century as battle dressings to plug bullet holes.  There are even accounts of tampons being used as wound plugs in modern warfare.   A friend of mine told me that it’s not uncommon for Army Medics to carry tampons in their med kits.  They are also the perfect product for a bloody nose.  There seem to be mixed accounts of whether the tampon was used as a feminine product before or after its use on the battlefield.

Regardless of intended use, the common tampon has many practical survival uses.  I’ve highlighted a few survival uses below

TAMPON Survival Use #1: Medical Bandage

Tampons are sterile, come very well-packaged in their own waterproof sleeves,  and are designed to be ultra-absorbent — making them the perfect first aid bandage.  They can be opened and then taped or tied over a wound as an improvised dressing.  And, as I’ve already mentioned, they can be used to plug a bullet hole until more sophisticated medical attention can be administered.  Accounts of this use date back to World War I.  Many items in modern society were first developed as a facet of military research — tampons may very well be one of these products

TAMPON Survival Use #2: Crude Water Filter

Another excellent tampon survival use is as a crude water filter.  While it will not filter out biological, chemical, or heavy metal threats, it can certainly be used to filter out sediments and floating particulates.  This would be considered a 1st Phase Filter, which can drastically increase the life and efficacy of your main water filter.  You can also use a filter like this before boiling to filter out larger particulates.  In this example, I’ve pushed a tampon into the neck of an empty water bottle.  I poked a small hole in the cap and then poured in dirty water to filter through the tampon and into the container below.

The water dripped out nearly crystal clear.

TAMPON Survival Use #3: Fire Tinder

Nearly everyone knows that cotton makes excellent fire tinder.  When the dry cotton fibers of a tampon are pulled apart and hit with a spark or flame, they will burst into a nice steady fire.  If you’ve done the right amount of fire prep work, you can easily split 1 tampon into 3 or 4 fire-starting tinder bundles.  Add in some chapstick or petroleum jelly, and you’ve got an even better fire-starting tinder.

TAMPON Survival Use #4: Crude Survival Straw Filter

Yes, I have a tampon in my mouth — don’t laugh! As a last ditch water filter, you can make an improvised Survival Straw from the plastic housing and cotton from a tampon.  As you can see in the photos below, just tear off a bit of the cotton and stuff it into the plastic housing.  I find it better to leave a little bit sticking out to make the housing pieces wedge tightly together.

Again, this filter will not PURIFY your water by removing biological, chemical, or heavy metal threats, but it will filter out sediments and particulates.  This would be a last ditch effort if no methods of water purification were available.

TAMPON Survival Use #5: Wick for Improvised Candle

In the photo above I used the string on a tampon as a wick in an improvised candle which I made from rendered animal fat and a fresh water mussel shell I found down by the creek at Willow Haven.  After the string soaked up some of the fat, this candle burned solid for 20 minutes while I took the photos and still had plenty of wick left.  Pine sap would have also worked as a fuel.

TAMPON Survival Use #6: Cordage

The string attached to a tampon is a cotton twisted cord typically made up of several 4-6″ pieces of twine.  Though it’s not much, it is usable cordage.  This amount of cordage could easily be used to make a Paiute Deadfall Trap.

I’m sure there are also numerous other uses for small amounts of quality cordage.  For example, I also use this cordage in the next Survival Use below…

TAMPON Survival Use #7: Blow Dart Fletching

The blow gun certainly has its place in survival history.  From Native Americans to tribes in New Guinea, the Blow Gun and primitive darts have put food on the table for thousands of years.  They are silent and deadly hunting tools, especially for small game.  Oftentimes, especially here in the US, natural cotton was used as blow dart fletching.  Thus, the cotton from a tampon is a perfect candidate to make cotton-fletched blow darts.  I used the string on the tampon to lash it into place on this bamboo skewer.

Watch out birds and lizards — you may get shot by a tampon-fletched blow dart!

TAMPON Survival Use #8: Blow Tube for Coal Burning Containers

Yes, I have a tampon in my mouth — again.  This time, though, I’m blowing instead of sucking.  Wow…this section is off to a really weird start.  In a survival scenario, a simple container can make the difference between life and death.  A water-tight container can be used to carry water, boil water, and cook meals.  Natural water-tight containers aren’t easy to make or find.  A very practical and useful improvised container can be made by using hot coals to burn out a cavity in a log or stump.  A blow-tube (in this case the plastic tampon applicator) can be used to intensify the hot coals to burn the cavity.

Using the tampon applicator blow-tube, it took me about 30 minutes to coal burn a cavity large enough to hold 2 cups of water.  If necessary, I could then boil and purify this water by adding in several red hot stones that had been heated in a fire.

TAMPON Survival Use #9: Waterproof Match & Fire Tinder Case

In wet and damp conditions, keeping fire-starting tools such as matches and tinder dry can be a challenge.   The waterproof tampon package/sleeve makes an excellent improvised “dry-sack” for any items that are moisture sensitive.  Just fold over the top 2-3 times and tie it off with the tampon string and you’ve got a great waterproof match case.

TAMPON Survival Use #10: Survival Fishing Bobber

Fishing with hook and bobber is an incredibly effective method — especially when using live bait such as grubs and worms.  A thorn hook, some natural braided line, and a tampon bobber make the perfect combination for a survival fishing rig.  Watch out Blue-Gill!

Make the bobber with the tampon package/sleeve by folding over and tying off the top to create a little bubble that will float your bait.  If the package isn’t water-tight, just put some of the cotton inside and it will float just fine.  Then, simply tie it to your fishing line.

Conclusion

I am a huge fan of multi-functional products that can serve double or even triple survival duty.  For the size, weight, and cost, a tampon has an impressive list of survival functions.  If nothing else, this post is another lesson in the importance of looking at everyday products through the eyes of a survivalist.  Creativity and innovation are critical.

So what did you decide?  Are you manly enough to include a tampon or two in your survival kit?

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

____________________

Creek Stewart is a Senior Instructor at the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness & Bushcraft.  Creek’s passion is teaching, sharing, and preserving outdoor living and survival skills. Creek is also the author of the book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit. For more information, visit Willowhaven Outdoor.

 

{ 180 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Austin June 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Quite impressive. You found a manly use of tampons.

2 Mary June 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Seeing as I always carry tampons anyway, this is perfect–Otherwise I’d think I just had some useless item on hand WHEN I need to survive ;)

Seriously though, this is a hilarious post that is very informative and I’m really glad you wrote this.

3 Matthew Poertner June 5, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Still, I don’t think my wife will believe me.

4 Jon June 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Creek, you are one crazy man, genius. I wonder where you get your ideas from?

5 Mitch June 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I’ve heard of putting maxi pads in your first aid kit, they work just as good if not better than trauma pads for fast bleeding wounds and are way cheaper, but I’d never heard of this before. Very resourceful.

6 Ernie June 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm

When I worked for an outdoor guiding company, we always kept a stash of maxi-pads and tampons in our first aid kit. The pads more for trauma, but we used the tampons all the time for lowlanders that got nosebleeds in the mountains. Now I know even more uses!

7 Jason June 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Years ago my wife mentioned to me that we should include boxes of tampons in our preps. Sure, she was thinking of her own hygiene and comfort in an extended grid-down situation, however, she also suggested that tampons would make good barter fare.

She said, “You know how bitchy women get on their period. A man would move heaven and earth to give his wife some tampons just to shut her up during that time of the month, and what knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing prepper is going to think of stockpiling tampons?”

Needless to say, we’ve been stockpiling tampons ever since.

Cheers!

8 Harry June 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm

This still doesn’t solve the problem of how to not embarrass yourself to death while looking in That Aisle of the pharmacy to try to find “just a regular tampon” among the vast variety, or while standing in the checkout line, or with the cashier.

I suppose the alternative is an online drugstore, if you are willing to pay for shipping.

9 John Butler June 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Back in the day as a trainer for the basketball team, we carried tampons in our first aid kits. Cut in half, they make great plugs in busted noses to help staunch blood.

10 Anna June 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I’m not sure whether this is the bravest, most ingenious post AOM has ever published, or whether AOM has officially jumped the shark.

11 Matthew Vander Els June 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Usually, there is a contest at the end of each article to WIN the gadget/utility/tool blogged about.

PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEASE :)

12 Jeanne G. June 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm

As a woman, I think I should let you know if you want to do most of these things, you should get PLASTIC applicator tampons. The most popular brand and most store brands have cardboard applicators and useless paper wrappers.

13 Sam June 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Awesome; now there’s no need for us to feel embarrassed about going to the store to get some for our wives. I can see the conversation with the check-out person now…”Oh, these? I’m going fishing later. Might also need to field dress a wound.”

14 K June 5, 2012 at 1:54 pm

They also work great for cleaning shotgun barrels! Just fluff it up a bit and spray it with some cleaner, then push it through the barrell.

It does get you some strange looks from the wife though…

15 Jaron June 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm

For what it’s worth, tampon’s are NOT sterile. They aren’t intended to be used in a sterile environment (no part of ANY human body is sterile!) anyway.

While they -can- be used as very absorbent bandages in a pinch, don’t be fooled into thinking that they’ll have the same reduced chance of infection as a sterile bandage or gauze pad would.

16 Kendra June 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

They also work to “unflood” a car. Use the string to wick extra gas out of the carburator.

17 Ernesto June 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

This is really helpful. With the start of the Zombie apocalypse in FL, we need to get prepared. One never knows what could happen…

18 Jeffrey J. Stables June 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm

This is a great article: at the same time hilarious and awesome.

19 Jeana June 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I used to work for the Girl Scouts and we have always had maxi pads and tampons in our emergency kits and not just because of the obvious. Maxi pads are great for dressing wounds and for making torches. And we used tampons as fire starters so much a local group of GS started a band called the “Flaming Tampons”. Living in a wet climate we found that if you add a little propellent to it, it’ll stick to the wood and burn long enough to dry out a spot that will then catch. These are some uses I hadn’t thought about though. So awesome!

20 Chris R. June 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm

My Nissan Xterra first aid kit came with a feminine pad. I was rather shocked and disappointed that a first aid kit would come with something like that. Untill someone pointed out how good they are at absorbing blood, it is still there.

21 Mary June 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm

My boyfriend swears by the uses of pads and tampons other than the obvious. He is a hiker and always carries a few with him. I even got him carrying condoms in the woods, believe me there a few uses for those other than the obvious also.

22 Andrew June 5, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I have actually used a tampon to clean up spills when I couldn’t find any napkins or sponges.

I can see putting tampons in an emergency kit. But I couldn’t see myself using them in a survival mode.

23 Mike June 5, 2012 at 5:09 pm

What an awesome post. Talk about seeing am everyday item in a new light! I think you did convince me to pack a couple in my survival bag.

24 Michael T June 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm

My sister kept them on her boat. When I suggested that they might not belong in the toolbox, she pointed out that they’re *perfect* for plugging unforseen leaks in boats.

Go figger.

25 Jared June 5, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Indeed… I have friends in both security services and the armed forces that swear by tampons as a quick and easy way to plug a bullet wound or use as bandaging. I had also heard of hikers using it as a cheap-o fire starting material. The other uses were new to me though… good read!

26 Richard June 5, 2012 at 7:45 pm

The Royal Marines issue each soldier a tampon in their survival kits. These are some of the many uses one can find for them.

27 Jared June 5, 2012 at 7:47 pm

@Jaron; Are you certain? They are a Class II medical device in the FDA rating… elastic bandages and surgical gloves are Class I. I would think ensuring they are sterile is a requirement of a Class II device.

28 StanFlouride June 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I was taught their efficacy as sterile bandages in Army medic training back in ’72. I always keep some (3 varieties) on hand, as both a gracious host and for other emergencies as needed.

29 Brainplay June 5, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Ok, the tampon as a bandage has been going around for a while. But it’s a BAD IDEA. It’s a misconception and you do not want a bandage to be absorbent. The entire point of a bandage is to provide a sterile environment that will promote clotting and staunch the flow of blood. Tampons only absorb and keep absorbing. Unfortunately this also means that blood will flow through it easily. While fine for minor cuts where coagulation will do it’s job eventually (although you’ll lose more blood than a regular bandage), it won’t do much for heavy bleeders. It will fill to the limit and then allow the blood to spill out thus defeating the purpose. If that’s all you have at your disposal then they’re fine for keeping the area sterile but you will have to rely entirely on direct pressure. Otherwise there is no excuse to carry a tampon as a substitute for a proper bandage/dressing.

30 Greatcomet June 6, 2012 at 12:26 am

Tampons should never be used for bandages. This is a very common misconception. Read BrainPlay’s message, it is exactly right.

31 Lydia June 6, 2012 at 12:27 am

No, they aren’t sterile. I saw a story on the internet of a woman who opened one and it was moldy and the manufacturer acted like it wasn’t that unusual of a problem. Some really good ideas here… I never would have thought about these uses. I heard a guy on Survior took them and used them to substitute for toilet paper…I guess it was better than leaves. I guess they provided them for the women, but he sneaked them…so I heard.

32 Andre June 6, 2012 at 1:07 am

Hey, what ever happened to the iPad case give-away results. Anyone ever figure out the results.

33 Andrey June 6, 2012 at 1:27 am

I think I agree with Brainplay and Greatcomet. I thought that the bandage is not supposed to keep absorbing, bit stop the bleeding. I read this article somewhere else, and I think it is great. The hardest part is explaining to the cashier why you were looking for and buying tampons…

34 Yoann June 6, 2012 at 3:00 am

Wouldn’t have thought about that personally but if it’s efficient, why not? Great guide!
Oh and it comes from the French word “tampon” directly, not “tapon”.

35 Brad June 6, 2012 at 4:17 am

“For the size, weight, and cost, a tampon has an impressive list of survival functions”.

Green Beret and Special Forces soldier Mykel Hawke says the same thing. In fact, on his survival show Man, Woman, Wild, he used tampons on various shows, mostly as tinder.

36 Britt June 6, 2012 at 6:44 am

I developed a sudden nose bleed during this year’s Boston Marathon and the Red Cross volunteers used a tampon to help get it to stop.

37 Cary June 6, 2012 at 8:43 am

…and if you drop a pinch of gunpowder in the applicator and duct tape a twig to one it’s make a great red-neck bottle rocket. “Air’ yee’ go kidz. Enjoy! Ah hell. Baby, call them paramedics…again”.

38 Over the River June 6, 2012 at 8:48 am

Excellent article.

39 phil June 6, 2012 at 9:09 am

We used to keep these in our survival kits in when I was in the Army.

40 Rachel June 6, 2012 at 9:43 am

Good to know carrying them around isn’t a complete waste of space. I particularly like the crude water filter use – it’s something I could see myself using!

As far as using it for bloody noses – “She’s the Man,” anyone? I’ll not link the scene for fear of being marked as spam, but there’s a hilarious joke in that film about using tampons on bloody noses. Ah, the humour of cross-dressing in modernized Shakespeare.

41 J.James June 6, 2012 at 10:49 am

Very nice. I am an avid camper/survivalist and like the author, I love multi use items. Lots of great uses here. As for the sterility, yea you should have proper bandages on hand but, if you are in dire straits and all you have is filthy clothes, rotten underwear and leaves, I’ll take a semi-sterile cotton wad.
Lets not forget too, that having a few of these around for any companions of the feminine persuasion will earn you some serious points.

42 steve June 6, 2012 at 11:08 am

Another excellent article by Creek. Thanks. Will be adding some to a few different “kits”.

43 Brad June 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Another great way to start fire is by combining Potassium Permanganate + Glycerine over some kindling.

Rubber, as in a bicycle tube, is also great as a fire starter since it can burn in rain.

44 Adventure Travel Editor June 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Brilliant ideas – who knew tampons were so versatile!

45 navy_chic13 June 6, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I have heard of tampons being used on the battlefield, one medic was named terry something and the lady that sent him a care package thought it was a female soldier so sent him a pack of tampons. Ended up saving another soldiers life that had a bullet wound because he was able to plug it with a tampon and slow the flow of the bleed.

46 Alan Hope June 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm

The French word is tampon, so there’s no derivation involved. It means anything from buffer to swab to pad to wad of cloth.

47 Terri D June 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm

They also make good torches. Soak in kerosene then tie to a green cut branch. Maxipads can also be used.

48 Beth June 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Great article! As a nurse, I have plenty of bandage options available at work. But have used tampons and sanitary pads at home or at friends’ homes for the unexpected medical mishap. Loved the tips for using while camping/boating. And guys, when you are purchasing these the cashier will not expect an explanation from you. They would assume you are an awesome guy making a purchase for your lady!

49 Daniel Kim June 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Just FYI: If you’re using them for water filtration, I’d suggest the unscented kind.

50 Dave June 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I cannot seem to get it to work for anything in the article! The scented water goes everywhere……er….wait, never mind that’s a different feminine product. :)

51 Alex June 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I keep two in my car’s first aid kit.

52 Coley June 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Besides, buying them will be a great way to pick up chicks. Girls love a man who is totally cool with buying tampons

53 Blaze June 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm

When I was a paramedic we joked about using tampons for GSW. Now I have a CELOX applicator for the treatment of penetrating wounds that looks surprising like a tampon applicator. Go figure.

54 John Hosie June 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm

When I saw the title of this article I nearly split my sides laughing. But the article is actually pretty good. So I took a chance and forwarded it on to half a dozen men and women I went to college with in the 1970′s… One of the ladies had this to say…

“I’d really like to see a sequel for the use of tampons in the Zombie Apocalypse link below it!”

There was a link at the bottom of the email to an article on how to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse…

So this is a challenge to all of you manly gentlemen… How can the tampon be used to prepare for, or even to help the defense of your household, in the Zombie Apocalypse?

55 Mifkin June 6, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Classic for me.

Solid Tie – Herringbone Red.

56 FrugalCat June 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Some tampons are made out of rayon, not cotton. And some have cardboard, not plastic housings. Best to think about that beforehand.

57 lizw June 6, 2012 at 11:02 pm

unscented panty liners work equally well for bandages and they don’t have to be pulled apart or have a separate adhesive.

58 Mark June 7, 2012 at 1:33 am

It’s a credit to your site that I’m spending this time on this article.

59 H June 7, 2012 at 9:10 am

Tampons aren’t sterile.
Nice article

60 Nathan June 7, 2012 at 9:53 am

Great article! Always good to add tools to your mental toolbox, even if you don’t ever see yourself in these situations.

Haven’t tried it, but I’ve read that tampons have also been used as wicks on Molotov cocktails. (Vaguely remember the article saying that the IRA used them that way, but it’s been a while.) They absorb gasoline and swell inside the neck of the bottle, forming a handy plug to prevent fuel from sloshing out during transport. Hope nobody ever needs that bit of tampon trivia, but there you go.

61 geoff June 7, 2012 at 10:45 am

In the military almost all combat medics will carry one in their bag because it’s sterile and works perfect for helping clot puncture wounds and gun shot wounds.

62 Isabel June 7, 2012 at 10:51 am

I’m literally imagining a situation where you have to choose between soiled pants & all those uses.

Nevertheless, cool list.

63 Annie June 7, 2012 at 11:35 am

I used to bowl. I was always poking my finger with a thin cloth around it into the holes of the ball to try to get clean them out a bit. One time I stuck a tampon in there and it worked great. Cleaned out the moisture or grease from my fingers. I always kept on in my bowling bag after that. Cracked my friends up.

64 Shepherd June 7, 2012 at 11:54 am

Now I want to see the article on 12 uses for a Capon.

65 tmjoint June 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm

For the aspiring dentists out there: Very specific use… Note that when in technique lab (in the 70′s anyway!) you have to build up and carve wax teeth to fabricate your gold restorations… done via the lost wax method. The initial polish on the wax teeth would be made by gently rubbing with a nylon – preworn or not made no difference! How you acquired the nylons made for fun stories though!
(nylons? just tells you when this dentist when to school!)

The final polish is best attained by rubbing briskly with a wet cotton tampon. That presented many humorous situations… imagine 100 dental students in lab polishing their finely crafted wax teeth with wet tampons… well… that’s how it went way back when in the early 70′s in dental school!

(Today’s dental students probably use computer generated restorations and so miss out on the base humor of yesteryear…)

66 Nicky June 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Since I started eating a mostly raw and mostly vegan diet I’ve stopped hemmorhaging at the start of each cycle (while maintaining my fertility, I chart so I know) and thought I no longer had any possible use for tampons. Guess I was wrong.

67 Sylviamzz June 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Bravo! I’ll never leave home without tampons again! Even though I’m now menopausal. You’ve made me extra proud to be a woman!

68 E. B. Van Arsdale June 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Not only is this post informative, but it is an EXCELLENT lesson on how one should be prepared to open their minds and be creative in difficult times. Look around you.
What every day items can be modified to help you flourish in an emergency?
Have you ever considered how much usable cordage can be obtained from a mini-blind or drapery rod?
How many uses could you imagine for a hefty bag?

69 Mike Mahoney June 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Take a third of a tampon Encase it in some cheesecloth or nylon. Soak in critter blood of any type or fish oil/guts. Put on a fish hook. Catch catfish. If its not encased it will swell and disintegrate. When the bait washes out, squeeze the encasement dry and rebait.

70 Bruce West June 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I love it! I carried tampons in my medic bag overseas. Other than the obvious application (which I handed them out for on occasion), there are a multitude of uses for these versatile feminine gadgets.
They’re great for bleeding control – ie: bullet and puncture wounds, nose bleeds (though not technically the proper way to handle a nose bleed), using as cotton balls to pack a wound in your mouth, etc… and there’s a myriad of applications for the plastic applicator as well.
When it comes to improvising for emergency (make-shift) medical gear, the mind’s the limit. Having a few of these on hand can really open up possibilities.

71 Brendann June 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Alot of great uses listed but they can also be used too take hunting too put animal scent on so u arent covering urself….

72 M June 7, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Jesus Christ I hope you used unscented.

73 jerry June 8, 2012 at 12:04 am

carried them in iraq for bullet wounds and such

74 P.M.Lawrence June 8, 2012 at 12:50 am

About the other uses for condoms May mentioned – during the Second World War the Royal Marine Commandoes used them to keep batteries dry. One unit regularly got through a large amount and got them from a nearby U.S. Army post, without telling them why so they would draw the wrong conclusion.

75 CF June 8, 2012 at 1:54 am

I too am an combat medic and I’ve carried tampons with me on both of my tours. I find it’s best to use the unscented ones, otherwise they can irritate wound edges (and they’ll make your aid beg smell like flowers, which will get you teased). You can pop them in small-entry chest wounds, plug a bloody nose or use them to bind up amputated fingers / toes.

76 Bradley Currah June 8, 2012 at 3:17 am

Nothing to add to its uses, but a good friend of mine smoked one once, just to try it out – wasn’t good. Toxic shock syndrome… broke out with hives all over his mouth.

77 disrespectful dissenter June 8, 2012 at 4:18 am

Nosebleeds, nothing more. It’s healthier for females to flow au naturale.

78 Judge Roy Bean June 8, 2012 at 8:27 am

Okay! I am a man and have bought numerous feminine hygiene products living in a house full of women. Guys, the people at your local shopping store realize you will not use them in the way you think. They realize you do not need them for YOUR period, or visit from Aunt Flo.

79 marie June 8, 2012 at 9:59 am

jaron maxipads and tampons are both sterile and women are told to not use them if the wrapper is damaged to avoide potentialy life threatening infections

80 GB Wireman June 8, 2012 at 10:32 am

Oh man up boys! Can’t believe how many are still embarrassed at the thought of purchasing tampons. Instead of feeling emasculated try thinking of yourself as a caring partner. Don’t have a girlfriend/wife and wonder what your ‘regular’ checkout clerk will think? How about “Hey that loser finally got a woman!”. All else fails just tell them about this wonderful post.

81 Katie June 8, 2012 at 11:20 am

Minor correction: tampons may be packed in plastic, but are NOT sterile. They are relatively clean, but should be considered as non-sterile gauze for the purposes of water treatment and bandaging. They’re good for puncture wounds and bloody noses, too.

82 mcmom June 9, 2012 at 12:25 am

I think you all are confusing “sterile” with “sanitary”. They are clean, but they are not microorganism free.

Fantastic otherwise.

83 Jake June 9, 2012 at 12:59 am

I noticed some comments on using tampons as dressings. As a trauma surgeon in Afghanistan, a tampon makes an excellent dressing for deep, puncture wounds. They do well to tamponade the bleeding by swelling and putting internal pressure on the wound. I have seen them used in many bullet holes, and I have used them many times to stabilize midface fractures by putting them in peoples nostrils. I do agree that they do not make great dressing. In fact, I would rarely place a dressing on a bleeding wound, Put your fingers on the bleeder and push, HARD. You can stop any bleeding with your fingers and I mean any bleeding. Putting any dressing on a bleeding wound just hides the problem. If you can’t hold pressure because of evacuation needs, put a tourniquet on, they will buy you 6-8 hours of time before you start having issues with muscle ischemia.

84 Brad June 9, 2012 at 9:44 am

No we present The Manlypon!!!!

85 Annette June 9, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Are you aware that most tampons actually contain little to no cotton? Most are a combination of rayon and other man-made fibers.

86 Liz June 10, 2012 at 1:28 am

First, if you really want cotton tampons, be sure to buy organic cotton ones, otherwise you’ll have some mix of rayon, poly, and other fibers. Secondly, note that a lot of these uses rely on tampons with plastic applicators, which seem to be an increasingly rare commodity. Many companies are moving to recyclable paper products (or already use them) so be sure to READ the box. It won’t kill you to spend a few minutes choosing the right product. We chicks do it all the time! ;-)

87 Bradley June 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm

As a rugby player i keep tampons in my kit bag great for nose bleeds. Now i will keep them in my pack for trips in the canyons.

88 JOe Spencer June 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm

They are great for cleaning shotguns and rifles

89 Phil June 10, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I had to stop and read this one the second I saw the Tampon in that guys mouth! lol GREAT Article!

90 paula June 11, 2012 at 1:49 am

all I know is growing up, my dad always referred to my mom’s ‘commodity’ (which is how she listed it on the shopping list) as ‘battle dressings, which is how he listed it on the shopping list. He was a Seabee in the Pacific during WWII, and that’s what they used for battle dressings. Sanitary and absorbent. No lie.

91 Arle June 11, 2012 at 2:23 am

My ex is an eagle scout, when we backpacked he always had tampons in the packs; they are versatile & light weight so they are ideal.

92 Jamie June 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I feel confident that everyone who has complained that tampons are not sterile and should never be used as bandages or to plug wounds has never been in a genuine life-or-death situation and has never known anyone who has. My husband is a former U.S. Navy Corpsman (FMF) who deployed with the marines. When I sent him o.b. tampons in a care package, not only was he ecstatic, but his other corpsman buddies were jealous. Needless to say, when you have a marine dying in the middle of a firefight of a sucking chest wound, you’re not too worried whether the bandages you’re using are sterile. And there are many men who wouldn’t be alive today without my husband’s use of tampons to plug wounds. So in practice (though maybe not in theory), tampons ARE one of the best first aid tools for heavy bleeding.

93 Daniel June 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Not sure if this was mentioned already in the comments but tampons also work great for cleaning shotgun barrels. I purchase a large economy (store brand) pack from walmart and have plenty for cleaning all my shotguns. Cheap and easy!

94 Hannah June 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

@paula your “commodity” / “battle dressings” anecdote made me lol pretty hard. That is freaking hilarious. I normally just call them “lady things” but now that I’m aware of all these other practical uses for either sex I’ll have to come up with something else!

95 Christopher Battles June 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Thank you, this is great and funny.
I had heard about your sight via Cliff Ravenscraft a year or so ago and could not find it when I was looking for it a month ago, but I was spell checking “manliness” with Mister Google and find you. Woop woop.
I will not pass on manly articles I like which are surrounded with advertisements of semi naked people.
Thanks again.

*bookmark*

K, bye

96 Rachel June 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm

As a Girl Scout, I’m proud to say I already knew some of these uses and have an addition to your list: when I was twelve, I went on a 25-mile, three-day canoe trip down the Allegheny River with my camp. We camped out on little islands in the middle of the river and, unbeknownst to us, all of our tents had holes in them. We got caught in a thunderstorm the first night and when your tent is flooding with water through holes in the floor, sides, AND roof, four people’s sleeping bags and dirty clothes just don’t cut it when you need something dry and warm for the next two days. We used my supply of tampons to plug the quarter-sized hole in the middle of the tent and sop up water that leaked in from other smaller tears. The next day, we used more to start our fire for breakfast and help with injuries. Feminine hygiene products saved our trip :)
One drawback, though–not all tampons are packaged in waterproof wrappers. When purchasing for trips, make sure you get the ones that are wrapped in plastic instead of paper.

97 RazzorRay June 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm

In 2rd grade my neighbor Joyce told me they sold bandages in the girls bathroom. I gave her a dime to buy me one. My mother was very surprised to find this in my backpack. Who knew?

98 Joe June 12, 2012 at 10:10 am

A other use for a tampon in a survivalist mind-set is this: When you find yourself alone and you are married, notice if the female breed is bringing new packages of tampons into the house. This takes no more effort than a slight glance into her purse as you give her the obligatory kiss hello. To survive, make a mental note (or written note) of approximately how long it has been since her last cycle and if you recognize that tampons are being brought home yet there are no signs that any have been “used” yet – go out on a ‘business trip’ for about 3 days or so. This way you will avoid the heavy stress and trauma of enduring the wrath of PMS and you can come home and be the loving caring man that you are and feed her Midol for her cramps. She will love you and she will “take care of you” in return. A symbiotic relationship is necessary to survival. :)

99 Beckie June 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Yes to every single tampon and maxipad idea listed above as well as…instant wee pads for bad dogs.
My sister has a male puppy who’s still learning the “ins and outs” of where to go potty when visiting friends. When he comes to my house I simply wrapped a maxipad around his waist and held it in place with an ace bandage. Obviously this is only intended to help keep him from “marking” his territory and we’d remove it when he’d go outside for full bathroom breaks but in a pinch, a maxipad makes a great boy dog belly band.
I’ve also used them for mopping up spills in the car. Yay for multitaskers!

100 Sam June 12, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Henry Gold Stripe. Wife says it’s “gorgeous.”
Come on!!!!

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