Monday, March 26, 2012

Aluminum Foil for burns...and other unusual remedies you might find in your home!

When I think of aluminum foil, I think of cooking, wrapping food, the occasional science project and the ever important "tin foil hats" to protect our precious brain waves from aliens.

cat in tinfoil hat

Well last night I found a new use for the shiny stuff.  I am not sure how or why it worked, but it took the pain out of my 2nd degree burn.

Let me back up and explain what happened.   I was attempting to make homemade chocolate sauce for my ice cream.  I turned away from it for a moment too long, and when I turned back I realized I had burnt the sauce.  I took it off the heat for a couple minutes and set it in the sink to let it cool down before I dumped it.  I pulled the spoon out of it, and decided I wanted to taste it, to see how badly it had burned (oh, and because I LOVE chocolate, and slightly burnt chocolate can't taste that bad, right?)  I waited a few seconds and dipped my finger into the sauce on the spoon (not my smartest move) and about 2 seconds later realized my finger was BURNT- ouchie mama!!

I immediately put my finger under cool water, and that helped a little, but I saw right away that the entire tip of my finger was a blister and bright bright red.  I remembered learning a while back about coating a burn in egg whites, so I had my daughter get me an egg, which I separated, and proceeded to dip my finger in for several minutes.  I don't know if I did it wrong, but it didn't help at all.  I think now, that I was supposed to dip it and let it dry, then dip it again.  But my finger hurt too much and egg white takes forever to dry on ones finger!  Then I tried vinegar, still no good.  Raw potato, didn't help either.  So then I went and found my first aid kit and put burn gel on it.  That helped for a couple minutes, then not at all.  My finger was on FIRE!!  I also tried that antiseptic numbing spray and it helped for a few seconds, and then NADA!

The only thing that felt good was cool water or an ice pack, so for the next couple of hours I kept either a cold rag or an ice pack wrapped in a towel on it.  If I stopped cooling it for more than a minute it was burning as bad as ever all over again.

It was getting close to bed time so I took some pain pills (which I HATE to do, and only take them in extreme cases) and hoped and prayed they would ease the pain enough for me to sleep.  No such luck.  My back quit hurting (herniated discs) but my finger kept on burning.

So now, 3 hours later it was getting LATE and I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep with my finger sizzling away.  I got on the computer (one handed, what a pain!) and googled "how to get rid of pain from burn" one of the first things suggested in the search was aluminum foil.  I chuckled to myself, yeah right, and nearly skipped it, but I was desperate and it couldn't hurt to try, right?  I ripped a piece of foil off, wrapped it around my finger and waited.  After about a minute, I noticed the pain had seriously dulled, and within a few more minutes, there was no more pain whatsoever.  I left it on for about a half hour longer, and when I took it off, the pain didn't return.

I really didn't think it was going to help me, but it did.  Some might suggest placebo or causal effect?  I had tried a bunch of other things previously and not one of them helped, so why did this work so amazingly well?

I did a little research and wasn't able to find much besides lots of people saying it worked for them.  Not what I was looking for, I want to know HOW and WHY it worked for me.

I did, however, find this little excerpt from an article published way back in 1948:

 The American Journal of Surgery
Volume 76, Issue 5, November 1948, Pages 594–604

1. Aluminum foil as a dry sterile initial covering for thermal burns under occlusive pressure dressings has been presented as a method of diminishing the maceration of a burn surface. The method appeared to influence favorably the local result by elimination of the use of ointments and by facilitating the dispersion of exudate to the periphery of the burn. No evidence of toxicity as a result of the treatment was found. The systemic reaction was, if anything, less obvious.

I also found someone suggesting that the pain is caused by air touching the burn, and so anything that would effectively seal off the burn would help stop the pain.  Others suggested using plastic wrap for this purpose and claiming it would have a similar effect.  I'm almost tempted to burn myself again to check this theory.  JUST KIDDING!! I am not a masochist by any stretch of the imagination, and one blistered finger is enough for this girl!

    I also stumbled across a few other interesting home remedies for minor burns, I have yet to try any of these, but will file them away for future use!  

  • Aluminum Foil.  Nuff said!
  • Plastic Wrap.
  • Mustard.  Good old mustard is apparently great for taking the pain out of minor burns.  Be warned however, your skin may be dyed yellow for a bit if you use this method.  You coat the burn with mustard and let it dry.
  • Honey.  This is supposed to help take the pain away and aid in healing.  Spread a thin layer over the burn and cover with gauze.
  • Lavender essential oil.  You want to dilute it with a carrier oil such as olive, jojoba or coconut oil.  Apply liberally several times a day.  Is said to take the sting out and speed up the healing.
  • Soy Sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos.   Make sure it's not low sodium soy sauce.  Something about the sodium content??  Wonder if salt water would work.
  • Whole Milk.  Soak the burned area in whole milk for 15 minutes.  Repeat every few hours, as needed, to relieve pain.  
  • Toothpaste.  The non gel type.
  • Vitamin E.  Aids in healing and helps prevent scarring.
  • Tea Bag.  Many have claimed relief from applying a cold, used tea bag to the burn.

I cannot guarantee the effectiveness of any of these remedies.  If you have a serious burn, seek medical attention ASAP!  Oh yeah, and I will just remind you all to be careful, and don't make stupid mistakes like me :)


P.S.   We'd love to hear what has worked for you!  Leave us some feedback, it would really make our day.


  1. Fascinating blog....and boy, did they really talk like that in was like it was another language! But it works!! Simply amazing!

  2. I tried the foil this week on a burn from my curling iron, and I was floored at how well it worked. At one point it was stinging a little bit and I thought it wasn't working so I took it off-- and then it REALLY hurt so I knew it had been working great! By the end of the night the pain was absolutely gone after I took the foil off, and my blister had more or less disappeared. Good stuff!