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Charcoal for snakebites?

Does activated charcoal help remove venom from a snakebite? If so, should you put it directly on the wound or swallow it?

Question:

Could activated charcoal be part of a venomous-bite kit ? I’ve heard that cutting and sucking isn’t very effective at removing venom. Is this true? I wonder if cutting and putting a little charcoal in the wound would work. Or would drinking the charcoal be better?

Submitted by - Sam, Lansing, MI

Answer:

Activated charcoal does work well (really well, sometimes) to adsorb (not absorb) ingested poisons from the gastrointestinal tract. But since there will be no snake venom in your GI tract, it would be useless to swallow charcoal. I have never heard of it being tested as an adsorbent for snakebite
wounds, but my guess is that it would be useless there as well. Venom near the surface of snakebite wounds is easily washed off. The venom that does the bad stuff is deep inside where the charcoal can’t reach. And, yes, cutting and sucking do NOT work.

1 Comment

  1. chris

    being big in history and a living history actor, I have heard of mountain men using gun powder on snake bites. they would pack the powder extremely tight in the fang punctures and replace it a few times a day. It was painful but kept them alive most of the time. gun powder has mostly charcoal but also salt peter and sulfur.

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