Tincture of iodine is a transparent, reddish liquid that is commonly used for medicinal purposes. It is used as a skin antiseptic for infection prevention and infection control in wounds, and also as a radiation home remedy. The tincture strength varies for different solutions, and this is indicated on the label. To choose the best preparation, you will need to know what strength is suitable for your purpose; it is best to consult your pharmacist or doctor on this matter.
It is also a good idea to use a commercial preparation of this tincture only as indicated by the directions on the label. A stronger preparation than what is required for a minor wound, for instance, may need to be diluted before it is applied; otherwise it may cause skin burns. When buying tincture of iodine, always make sure it is suitable for home use. As with all medical preparations, particularly if you happen to have any existing health problems, it is advisable, as mentioned, to consult your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to use that particular preparation, without the possibility of any adverse reactions.
Tincture of iodine is made up of iodine, sodium or potassium iodide, alcohol and water. The U.S. National Formulary (NF) has specified the amounts of these ingredients needed to produce normal and strong solutions. While these iodine tinctures are available commercially available, it is also possible to prepare them at home.
To prepare this tincture, you will need iodine crystals, ethyl alcohol, sodium iodide or potassium iodide, and distilled water. Instead of ethyl alcohol and distilled water, clear liquor can also be used. The purpose of the alcohol is to give chemical stability to the mixture of iodine crystals and sodium iodide or potassium iodide. Distilled water is used to dilute the solution to the required concentration; normal iodine tincture solutions, for instance, will contain about 50 percent water while strong solutions will contain 50 percent alcohol.
It is necessary to be very cautious when preparing tincture of iodine at home, as the ingredients can cause toxic reactions. They are known to adversely affect the mucous membranes and cause breathing difficulties. Some of the ingredients are also known to irritate the skin and may exacerbate skin conditions like dermatitis. They can also pose a potential risk to the eyes. Inhaling the fumes can also cause serious health problems.