Introduction: Make Your Own Chitosan Bandages

Picture of Make Your Own Chitosan Bandages

Why Make Some?
These specialty bandages are super easy to apply, easy to use, and could possibly save your life.  If this technology was around in the civil war it would have saved nearly 460,000 soldiers.  These are extreme days we live in and the next disaster could strike any time.  These bandages can replace suchers if a hospital is not around.  Hemophiliacs can use these bandages to easily stop external bleeds.

How It Works: 
Chitosan Is a positively charged polysaccharide that attracts blood cells which are negatively charged. This attraction causes an extreme adherence when in contact with blood.  The red blood cells form a very tight coherent seal over the wound as they are drawn into the bandage. 

If you suffer from hemophilia you can use these bandages to stop bleeding quickly.  
These bandages can be useful in many situations such as: hiking, biking, construction worksite, over seas missionary work, or any other dangerous activity.  

I am not responsible to any damage you may cause yourself or any other when use of any item in this instructable. Chitosan is a bio product from shell fish and I am not responsible if you have an allergic reaction to the substance. You must be 18 or older (or under adult supervision) to complete this instructable successfully

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

For this Instructable you will need:
Gauze pads (your choice in size)
Vinegar 4% acidity (its usually the cheaper stuff)
Small Containers such as Rubbermaid
Chitosan Tablets
Dry ice (3-5 lbs depending on amount of bandages)
Small Cooler or Medium Plastic Container
Food Plastic Wrap

You can get the Chitosan Tablets at a low price here:
I like this brand because it is in a gelatin capsule which makes for easy removal of the powder.
These tablets also contain chromium which is another benefit to the bandage

Cookie Cooling Rack or Chicken Fencing
Cooking Sheet
Latex Gloves
Dust Mask
Heavy leather Work Gloves
Deep Freezer
Needle Nose Pliers or Surgical Forceps
Drill or Sharp Knife

Step 2: Chitosan Extraction

Picture of Chitosan Extraction

Make sure your workbench has been sterilized
Spray your bench with a cleaning solution
Although the chitosan bandages actually kill bacteria, you don't want to contaminate them prior to use.
Put on a pair of latex gloves and your dust mask.

Why? Because particles from the chitosan capsules can filter into your nasal cavity and cause you to have increased sinus pressure.

To easily remove the chitosan powder:

Grasp the pill gently with both hands.
Give a quarter twist to the small end cap
Gently pull apart the capsule 
Empty the contents into your storage container.

I disassembled and stored 34 Tablets which covers around 15-20 1 inch square gauze pads.  You may want to do more or less depending on your need.

Step 3: Coating

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Pour your vinegar into a small container. 
Place your choice of gauze pads in the vinegar. The pads will sink to the bottom when they are fully soaked.
With your pliers or surgical forceps grasp a single gauze pad and place it into your chitosan powder.
Gently shake the chitosan container side to side to fully cover the bandage.  Now let the bandage soak in the chitosan for 30 seconds

Double Dip (Its OK This Time.. Honestly)
Repeat this process 1 more time by dipping the powdered gauze into the vinegar and then back into the chitosan powder. A quick dip in the chitosan is all that is necessary for the second dip.

After you have completed coating the pad, place it on your cookie cooling tray or sterilized chicken mesh.  Have a baking sheet or tray below to catch any excess powder or vinegar droppings. 

You should notice that the bandage will swell after coating.  This is normal so don't run out of your house like a mad man/woman

Step 4: Freezing

Picture of Freezing

Prior to sublimation you must freeze the bandages.
Place the cooling tray and baking sheet on the top rack of your deep freezer near the cooling element.
If you have a deep freezer that lays on the ground make a space near the cooling element and close to the bottom for the quickest freezing time.
If you don't have a deep freezer you can use a regular refrigerator freezer, but it will take more time to freeze.

The bandages will freeze after ~1.5 days
During this waiting period enjoy a soda or somthing
When they are finished freezing the bandages will be able to hold a firm shape.

Step 5: Lyophilization (Freeze Drying)

Picture of Lyophilization (Freeze Drying)

You can purchase dry ice at grocery and convenience stores. You will want around 3-5 lb.  For this you will have to do a little research yourself to find the best place to get dry ice.

Always wear heavy gloves when working with Dry Ice.  Dry ice is ~(-100)F

Crush dry ice into a medium sized  plastic container. 
Drill holes at the highest point of the lid to allow oxygen and water vapor to escape
Now its time to sublimate the bandages.
Place your chitosan bandages on top of the dry ice.  
You may notice a small fog coming from the bandages. This is normal
NOTE: Do not pour water into any of the dry ice filled containers. You will disrupt the speed of lyophilization. (if not ruin the process)

Wait... Again
To fully lyophilize the bandages the dry ice will have to fully dissolve.  
This process takes ~1 day for 3lbs

How Does It Work.. What Is It Doing In There?
The CO2 from the dry ice acts like a pump to remove all water from the air surrounding the material.  If the water vapor decreases the bandage becomes dry while maintaining its chitosan constitution.  So, as long as any dry ice remains, it will continue to freeze the water out and the bandage will become lyophilized. 

The bandages are done when the dry ice has dissolved. The bandages will be mildly malleable

When Lyophilization Is Complete 
After all the dry ice has evaporated you will be able to collect your bandages for sterile packaging. Remember to wear latex gloves for the removal of the bandages.
The chitosan bandages will naturally kill bacteria but try to keep them sterile. 

Step 6: Completion and Packaging

Picture of Completion and Packaging

 The bandages will be dry to the touch and malleable when complete.  

To package you can use practically any method.  The perimeters are that the bandages must be kept in a moisture/air free environment. This method is a makeshift saran wrap version. 

Simply roll out ~1 foot of food wrap and place your bandage near but not on the corner. Fold as shown in the pictures. Press firmly to release all air  every time a fold is made.

Your done!

Step 7: Directions for Use

 Never use these bandages against someone"s will.  Simply place the bandage onto the bleeding wound and watch it work.  It should clot within minutes.  

To remove the bandage simply pour water in and around the bandage.  The water will break the bond and release the bandage.  It will not hurt the patient or victim to apply the bandage but it WILL hurt if you yank the bandage off without applying water.

PM me if you have any questions! Thanks!


fotofarie (author)2014-10-25

You don't want to place the powder or granules directly on a wound to stop bleeding. The problem that occurs is some of the substance can become loose and enter the bloodstream. This will cause clotts to occur anywhere including the lungs heart and brain, which most likely could prove deadly.

TSellers22 (author)2013-12-14

Instead of Dry Ice to displace the O2, what about purging the cavity with something like Falcon 'Computer Dust Off'. It is similar to Nitrogen and displaces oxygen, and easier to find than Dry Ice these days.

What would happen if you just sprinkled the chitosan from a gel cap driectly into the wound?

PatrickDonohue (author)2013-09-13

AllaQuix may be easier

ddalton4 (author)2013-08-16

So can we use the kaolin powder the same way?

mrguy19187 (author)2010-06-14

We used these in the Army and I just wanted to add a note. If you have a serious gash or really deep cut or puncture and blood loss is a serious issue to the point that life may be in danger, don't mess around putting these guys on the outside of the wound. Stuff them in there as far as you can without doing more damage. Break them or tear them or fold them to get the bandage in there deep, because if an artery is damaged, just clotting the surface won't immediately stop that bleeding and their life could still be in danger. The closer you get that chitosan to the source, the faster it will stop the bleeding.

DavidCDean (author)mrguy191872012-04-26

I think I might just get some Celox and sterile gauze off of Amazon for this kind of thing.

An interesting instructable though!

kage_no_mozaiku (author)2012-01-25

how about using a vacume sealer after sterilizing the bag in boiling water and treating it with alcohol afterwards. that will *definetly keep out moisture as well as providing a waterproof package.

*i know its spelled wrong but spell check gives me crap answers like definitively and defiantly so i said screw it and left it as it is.

illeagle (author)2010-06-14


ERCBIENG (author)illeagle2010-06-14

The bandages are only meant to be used on yourself and family/close friends. Unlike you, most people caught in an emergency don't know specific pressure points to stop bleeding. The bandages work just as well.

AK47sForAll (author)ERCBIENG2012-01-12

Absolutely no experience here, but strictly from what I've been reading, the consensus seems to be that using pressure points isn't terribly safe either if you are untrained, which is kind of the audience here.

AK47sForAll (author)2012-01-12

Thanks much for this; putting together a library of improvised medicine for personal use and this looks like it will be a useful addition; never seen this before which is surprising.

McMoogie (author)2010-06-02

 At the very least - being a vegetarian I also avoid products made from animals.
Why not just carry bandages.  And vinegar on an open wound?  I use vinegar a lot for cleaning & if I get it on cuts or cracked hands...YOUCH!

punkhead58 (author)McMoogie2010-06-02

Usually, avoiding animal products classifies as Veganism, and not Vegetarianism.

Yes, there is a difference: one is a political movement, the other is a radical diet.

sonywaluya (author)punkhead582011-07-01

vegan is not politic, it's considered religion. vegan people cannot shut up and keep their belief to themself, but they need to shout it and force people to join them too, like religion.

punkhead58 (author)sonywaluya2011-07-12

I suppose some people are Vegans for religious reasons, but Veganism in general is a practical concept, not spiritual; I don't see how it can be related to religion. By the way, strong supporters of certain political groups love spewing out their ideals like a broken Liberals! Ironically, most Vegans are Liberals. But, anyway, my point was that there is a severe line drawn between Vegetarianism and Veganism. Vegetarians choose their lifestyle for personal benefits; Vegans do it for the greater cause. (i.e. Someone who has a diet consisting of vegetables and nuts would be wrong in labeling themself as a Vegan if they go around wearing fur coats, wool sweaters, and leather shoes.)

generator (author)punkhead582010-10-23

political movement?

i'm vegan cause i dont want to cause any suffering in other animals.
(you know, not killing and not taking milk from any babies, not wearing dead animal skin or hair, etc. mine are buddhist reasons, important only to me, no biggie to others)

i never thought i'd be labelled 'political' for my choices! ha ha

mad magoo (author)McMoogie2010-06-02

              Not trying to start an argument here, but:

    These sound far better than normal bandages.  Normal bandages are really hit-or-miss--it's generally just an "apply direct pressure and pray" type of thing.  That usually works, but on big, deep cuts, the blood just keeps coming.  I had a really bad encounter with barbed wire when I was twelve--I received medical attention within ten minutes of being injured and even so it took several butterfly and ace bandages just to slow the bleeding down, and I had to wait another fifteen minutes or so for it to really stop. These definitely would have helped.  The only thing I can think of that seems to come close to these bandages in their (apparent, as I have not yet made them) ability to staunch bleeding is super glue, which works well for scratches but is impractical and dangerous on anything more than skin deep.

   And about the vinegar--it hurts, but it's very good at cleaning and disinfecting not only kitchens but cuts as well.  It will help with the sterility of the bandages and might help disinfect the cut they're used on.  It's also very good on fish and chips :)

                 I'm not a doctor, so feel free to dispute anything here, and don't treat it as extremely sound medical advice. 

Zimminger (author)mad magoo2010-06-03

Good observation about the super glue.  Researchers living in the Antarctic are plagued with deep non-healing cracks that form on their hands because of the extreme low humidity.  Super glue was a desperation move; nothing else worked.  Now it's being used for some surgical closures, at least externally.

EarlyGrayce (author)Zimminger2011-01-04

In 2009 I had an operation to remove a tumour in my pancreas which left me with a wound roughly half the length of my belt.
The funny thing is that it was covered with a type of thick rubbery sticky tape which came off after a couple of weeks to reveal that the doctors had somehow attached the sides of the wound together in a way that looks like it was stuck for an inch followed by an inch gap followed by being stuck together again for another inch all of the way across the wound.

McMoogie (author)mad magoo2010-06-02

 I;m sorry - I didn't read this carefully or thoroughly enough..  My son had a head wound once & the blood was non stop,,much like you report - this would prob'ly be good for that.

bettbee (author)Thundertydus2010-06-13

I'd like to see you leap upon the back of an elk and bring it down with those. We have nothing like the teeth of truly carnivorous animals. Also our intestines have more in common with herbivores than carnivores. That we are able to be omnivorous does not mean that we must be - we, at least in the more affluent societies, have the luxury to choose what we eat and use.

Thundertydus (author)bettbee2010-07-14

Our brain's have evolved to high intelligence, we may choose to be herbivores; but we're omnivores, from birth, we grow up omnivores by ourselves. We have canines, yes, but we also have knives, now don't get me wrong here, i'm attempting to state that we cant quite judge our diet nowadays, we've evolved past that, don't you think. However common sense itself dictates eating meat, the food chain revolves around us. Sure, we are able to live on beans, but it's not natural, like tofu, it's artificially, we're build to eat meat, sorry for ripping on your beliefs, but it's completely incorrect if your dragging human nature into the picture.

EarlyGrayce (author)Thundertydus2011-01-04

"we're build to eat meat," you may mean we're built to eat meat
In other posts you have attacked other peoples spelling.

mad magoo (author)McMoogie2010-06-02

         Don't worry about it.  Hope these work if you try them!

wenpherd (author)McMoogie2010-06-02

Just curious but, whats your reason for being a vegetarian.

patrick258181 (author)2010-12-03

These do work great. I remember when the military stocked up and swore by them. Now they are used with extreme caution. They were found to cause lots of deadly blood clots. Been awhile since I last did any med. training I'm not a medic. I do know that there is a limit to these being used. They have a high enough risk that they only trust a medic to know when to use them. There are people alive now that wouldn't be if not for this. On the other hand there's people that are dead because of this. Do not use as a powder. They used to for extremely deep wounds. Only use as bandage and only if necessary. Please do thorough research on them. It's also called Quick clot. I love the instruction just want to express caution.

ERCBIENG (author)patrick2581812011-07-05

Thanks for the redundancy. I would hope that anyone with a deep wound or gash would be going to a hospital. In the Army they primarily use these when the wound is on an artery, not a vein, so the blood that may get clotted doesn't go to heart causing C.A or A-Fib. Hospitals, however, are starting to use Protein-13 sprays for heavy bleeding and such. The chitosan bandage itself is almost out of date now.

reinlar (author)2010-06-14

I'm trying to understand the conversation here between microz and the author, and a lot of other Instructables I'm reading. Is EVERYONE texting comments from their cell phones, using some new kid code I'm not aware of??? I'm hearing seemingly intelligent people using words like (wud ???, gud?, mkng?, etc) You took the time to show your scientific acumen, so how about not dumbing down your speech. That would go a long way towards reinforcing your credibility. Truly, I'm not trying to be provocative here, I just want to understand. Or am I just being a loathsome old toadie, totally out of the loop???

Saturn V (author)reinlar2010-08-04

Text... The murderer of the English language.

illeagle (author)reinlar2010-06-14


jessejwk (author)illeagle2010-06-14


ERCBIENG (author)reinlar2010-06-14

I agree. I think that its especially sad when someone uses poor language while claiming to be a biomaterial researcher. It makes a credible article look unbelievable.

microz (author)2010-06-02

 Good work !!

However I wud add few 'warnings' as the application is medical and will be coming in contact with body fluids and tissues. 

1) Use of vinegar. - Yea, acetic acid is commonly used component in mking of these bandages..however 4% vinegar cn be cytotoxic or mildly hypersensitive when in contact with tissues for a long duration. Hence donot keep this 'homemade' stuff on wound for long (more than 2 hours)

alternative - try using lactic acid 

2) As powder frm tablet is used in the making and a proper 'substrate adhesion' is not described, there is a good chance of it flaking out from the product while in use. Chitosan acetate has known hemostatic property and there is a risk of emboli formation (clot in undesired location in blood vessels), if the powder flakes out and mixes with blood stream. 

Companies take adequate precautionary binding measures, but not in homemade stuff.

3) Chitosan DOESNOT kill bacteria. It is bacteriostatic and not bacteriocidal. Proper sterilization is required to ensure product does not causes infection.

Overall good work on mking a cost effective way to produce this. But I would suggest using it for applications like 'Chelation of metals' and Flocculation. If to be used for medical applications, pls use only 'FDA approved products made from chitosan'. Dont take risks with safety.

if any doubts, u can mail me at : microstartz (at)

p.s: Am a biomaterial researcher.

ERCBIENG (author)microz2010-06-02

 Vinegar is the primary ingredient in the hem-con bandages. They use vinegar because it is acidic to kill the germs. (the chitosan doesn't kill bacteria) And your right, the bandage should not be left on for more than a couple hours.  If I could send you one of the bandages I would.  You would find that they aren't flakey or crusty in any matter.  

Thank you for your concern


microz (author)ERCBIENG2010-06-03


Standard lyophilization takes away most of the solvent from the product. In your process, am not sure of it remains. More the acid remains in the product, it degrades faster and becomes useless. Just try heating the bandage in an oven for 30 minutes or more. If it turns dark yellow, it indicates the presence of more quantity of acid. That cn be allergenic too. 

ERCBIENG (author)microz2010-06-03

 The acidity is gone yes, but have you ever seen what powdered vinegar does to bacteria?

microz (author)ERCBIENG2010-06-03

 Its combined action of acid & chitosan that mkes it gud candidate for infection control. Acid kills germs but need to be on higher concentration (which obviously is not gud for living tissues). Also there are germs tht cn survive in high acidic pH. 

-- not mking this a scientific debate.....jus pointing out certain concerns :)

On another note,  Potato peels can also be an excellent quick hemostat (rub it on wounds, cellulose in it cn easily stop minor bleeds)

ERCBIENG (author)microz2010-06-04

All that is released in the dry freezing is water. So when water is added (via blood) the vinegar reacts and creates an acidic solution killing bacteria that could be around the wound. The research done on the army chitosan bandages showed that 99% of bacteria died. I am using the exact same ingredients provided by my research that hemcon uses. Obviously these bandages are not as good as the manufactured ones but they could still save your life. Thank you for you questions

ChristianMick (author)ERCBIENG2010-07-23

1. Concentrated acetic acid has some anti-bacterial properties, but it will not eliminate all strains.

2. The acetic acid is ONLY used because Chitosan is INSOLUBLE at neutral pH in water. It has absolutely nothing to do with any bacteriocidal properties.

3. Acetic acid MUST, to some degree, come off as vapor during the freeze drying process (if you want to know why, look up the vapor pressure properties of acetic acid or just open up a bottle of vinegar and realize that you smell something beside water for a reason...)

4. When we lyophilize our bandages - using an actual freeze dryer - the condenser is filled with ice that is laced with acetic acid due to the sublimation of that constiuent. If you have a power outage and the condenser warms up to allow the flow of these condensed fluids in to your vacuum pump, you will not have a good looking vacuum pump for long (not that we know from experience...).

Just wanted to clear up some misguided perceptions that have come about during this discussion

bruce.desertrat (author)ERCBIENG2010-06-13

'Powdered vinegar'?? Vinegar is an aqueous solution of acetic acid, which is a *liquid*. It's boiking point is just above that of water, and it is less polar than water so it will also sublime away in the dry ice treatment. There will be remnant acetic acid in the bandages, but these are first aid items, designed to keep you from bleeding to death on the way to the hospital, they're not to be used as band-aids to keep wounds clean.

ERCBIENG (author)bruce.desertrat2010-06-14

I agree. These bandages are for emergency uses only and they are meant to get you to the hospital. What I meant by vinegar powder was the remnants of the solution left after sublimation. The vinegar is what is said to kill bacteria in HemCon Bandages (the military brand)

m3harri (author)2010-07-11

If I can figure out how to make Chitosan I will be ready for Armageddon

tabi (author)2010-06-28

Now we just need an instructable on making the chitosan from shrimp shells! That´s something I´d love to be able to do... Who knows if civilization, as we know, ends tomorrow that´s knowlledge that would be very handy-

slowcooked (author)2010-06-01

WARNING:  those of us allergic to shellfish should avoid Chitosan.  It has been claimed to be hypoallergenic, but such is not the case.  This allergy can also be found with the use of Triclosan (an anti-bacterial substance).

Despite what they say, the meat of shellfish is not the source of this material, but the shell *is*.  I can (almost) eat a raw, shelled, de-veined shrimp, but not a cooked one as the proteins in the shell denature into the flesh.

Just be careful, O.K.?!

ERCBIENG (author)slowcooked2010-06-02

 For a substitute I have heard (but not sure) that you can use equal amounts of cayenne pepper, crushed black pepper, and cream of tartar for similar results.

Audiyoda (author)ERCBIENG2010-06-13

I certainly hope that was a joke. slowcooked is very much correct - Chitosan is not hypoallergenic. I almost died when a Chitosan wrap was applied to a deep gash I received working on our house. Thankfully it was applied at the hospital and they were able to work quickly once the reaction was noticed. Unfortunately the medical 'professionals' did not heed my warning in the first place that I was allergic to Chitosan before applying the wrap simply giving me the line that it's hypoallergenic. So instead of a few hours in the emergency room I spend two days in ICU.

dumbluck13 (author)Audiyoda2010-06-14

Yeesh! Sounds like a malpractice suit to me! Hope you're doing ok these days.

keng (author)Audiyoda2010-06-14 what you're saying is a medical professional almost killed you giving you a medical device that you expressely forbade them to use? Sounds like a pretty strong case for 'home-made' remedies to me.

ERCBIENG (author)Audiyoda2010-06-14

Do not make them if you allergic. You can use substitutes such as cayenne pepper and cream of tartar. The measurements would such: 1 tablespoon Cayenne, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar. You can make larger batches based of that mixture ratio. The cayenne will not sting when you place it on your skin. Not to be a doubter but general public hospitals are not allowed to carry chitosan bandages because of the military's cap on hemcon. They might have used another type of shell based bandage. (I have insiders in a couple hospitals)

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a Biomedical Engineer going to be an ICU doctor. I love DIY and conversing ideas with intellectual people. I am a Seventh-Day Adventist ... More »
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