Can you imagine dying from a cut on your finger or a scrape on your knee? How about a respiratory infection or a toothache?
Before the invention of penicillin, the first antibiotic, that could have been your cause of death. If SHTF, access to antibiotics may become limited or impossible. If that happens, it’s important to know how to make antibiotics at home.
To understand the importance of antibiotics, think of it in larger terms. They would have cured the bubonic plague, which was a bacterial infection that took 100 million lives in the 14th century. It was originally caused by infected rats and the fleas that had bitten them, and then bitten a person. Since it was highly contagious, after a person was infected by the rat or flea, the infection then spread from them to other people.
Antibiotics also cure tuberculosis, a highly contagious bacterial disease that still exists today. As a matter of fact, in 2014 alone, more than 9 million people were reported to have it.
All bacterial infections are contagious to some degree, though for some, such as ones that cause an infected tooth or cut, the risk of infection is low because it’s mostly blood born. With other infections, such as tuberculosis, all you have to do is breathe the same air to become infected.
Though we think of the plague as something long behind us, we’re only protected from it because of access to antibiotics. If society collapses, pandemics like it could wreak the same havoc on humanity as they did then.
For thousands of years, Chinese medicine has used fungi to treat skin infections. World-wide, a common treatment for any skin lesion was a poultice made of dirt, which likely contained fungi. For thousands of years, people may not have known WHY something worked; they just knew that it did. Fortunately, we don’t have to depend on such blind faith anymore, so let’s get on with it.
Making penicillin at home is difficult, but possible if you have the right equipment and ingredients. First things first, though: don’t do it unless it’s truly a survival situation.
First, commercial antibiotics have been made by the pros, and they’re a known quantity. Second, making drugs at home, whether they’re legal or illegal, is frowned upon, and distributing them is illegal in most places.
How to Make Your Own Penicillin
The strains that we have are from the mold grown on a cantaloupe in the 1940s, so you can grab some cantaloupe if you’re feeling like a traditionalist. Otherwise, a leftover crust of bread or the peel of some citrus fruit will do fine. The mold will start out gray, but as it develops will turn a bright blue-green. Once it gets started, cut the bread up into pieces and put it in a sterilized flask. (You can sterilize a flask by putting it in an oven at 315 degrees for an hour.) Incubate it in the flask for about a week at around seventy degrees.
Some people just stop there. Folk recipes for “penicillin tea” or “penicillin soup” abound, with people just boiling up the molded bread or adding the citrus to tea with honey, and serving it to sick people. (Note: Do not do this.)
If you want to get more involved, you can extract the penicillin by sterilizing yet another jar and, according to the experts, adding the following:
Into 500ml of cold tap water put 44.0 grams Lactose Monohydrate, 25.0 grams cornstarch, 3.0 grams sodium nitrate, 0.25 grams magnesium sulfate, 0.50 grams potassium phosphate mono, 2.75 grams glucose monohydrate, 0.044 grams zinc sulfate, 0.044 grams manganese sulfate. Then add enough cold tap water to make one liter. Use hydrochloric acid to adjust the pH to between 5.0 and 5.5.
Then you add the spores from the moldy bread. Another seven days incubation will leave the penicillin floating in the liquid portion of the results. A quick filter and you have penicillin.
Urgent Medical Disclaimer!
In theory, at least, you have penicillin. I must stress at this point that you should not use this homemade penicillin on any limb that you want to keep. Although you did probably get a lot of penicillium mold growing on the bread, you also got other molds. Even with the right kind of fungi growing, filtering out everything but the penicillin is difficult, and best left to the professionals. Molds make a lot of different things to kill bacteria, and many of them are harmful to humans. While there are plenty of survivalist websites that recommend clapping whatever grows on bread or citrus to your wound, and while that might even be an option sometimes after the world ends, there are better options right now, and you should take advantage of them. If you want to see how well you’ve done making penicillin, try growing a tray of bacteria and using the penicillin on that.