Andrewb
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Iodum - Potassium iodide - any information?

Mon Dec 26, 2011 07:11

IMG_1809.JPG
Hi all

I just found this packet for iodine-potassium iodine dated 1942.
It contains 10 vials of 1g iodine and 1.5g potassium iodine each designed to be added to 50ml of water or aqueous alcohol to make a solution.

I assume it would be used as a disinfectant or maybe a skin preparation solution to be used prior to surgery.

Has anyone got any information or suggestions about this item and its use?

I have not seen it previously listed or included in any medical kits, maybe it would have been a hospital store item.

I was also wondering if anyone would be interested if I made a PDF of this packet to reproduce.

Andrew

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Re: Iodum - Potassium iodide - any information?

Mon Dec 26, 2011 14:50

IMG_1810.jpg

Here is my attempt at a reproduction. Original on right.

Andrew

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Re: Iodum - Potassium iodide - any information?

Tue Dec 27, 2011 23:08

Repro looks good, but I'm not sure how it would be used.

From a medical reference: "Saturated solutions of potassium iodide can be an emergency treatment for hyperthyroidism, as high amounts of iodide temporarily suppress secretion of thyroxine from the thyroid gland. The dose typically begins with a loading dose, then 5 drops or 250 mg iodine as iodide, three times per day.

Iodide solutions made from a few drops of potassium iodide have also been used as expectorants to increase the water content of respiratory secretions and encourage effective coughing, although this has passed from common use.

Potassium iodide has been used for symptomatic treatment of erythema nodosum patients for persistent lesions whose cause remains unknown. It has been used in cases of erythema nodosum associated with Crohn's disease.

Today it is used to block radiation when doing radiation therapy, or when radiation exposure is suspected, as it blocks radioactive iodine from entering the system. But in 1942...?
David J. Little

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Andrewb
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Re: Iodum - Potassium iodide - any information?

Wed Dec 28, 2011 05:51

Hi David

Thanks for the information, your research inspired me to look a bit further into the used of potassium iodide and iodine solution and I now have a few more possible conclusions. I guess I was being lazy by posting before I made any significant attempt at research and was hoping this would be an item some one would already have information on. Having said that research is part of the fun. My initial gut feeling was that the item was an iodine based disinfectant but I was unaware of the multiple uses you have described.

Here are some of my thoughts based on some reading and a very small amount of chemistry knowledge.

Some details from the item:-
Each vial contains 1.5 grams of iodine (I2) and 1.0 grams of potassium iodine (KI).
The instructions on the box direct each vial to make up a 50ml solution of water or water/alcohol solution.

The text specifically reads ‘To make a two percent aqueous solution, add contents of one tube to not over 2ml of water. Mix thoroughly until dissolved and bring the amount up to 50ml by adding water. If alcohol is used, it should not be over 50% in strength and the entire 50ml may be added at once’.

In my search I found 2 common preparations of potassium iodide and iodine solution:-

• Lugol’s iodine or Lugol’s solution is a solution of elemental iodine and potassium iodide in water. It is commonly available in 1%, 2% or 5% iodine.

• Tincture of iodine is the solution of elemental iodine along with potassium iodide (or sodium iodide) dissolved in a mixture of water and ethanol. It is used as a disinfectant and usually has 2-7% elemental iodine.

It seems the instructions on the box describe making both of these solutions.

The role of iodine and water in both solutions is to increase the solubility of elemental iodine, by turning it into the soluble triiodide anion I3-.
KI(aq) + I2(S) → I3- (aq) + K+(aq)
Potassium iodide (in solution) + Iodine (solid) → triiodide ion (in solution) + Potassium ion (in solution)
The uses of both the solutions are as a source of aqueous iodide ion. Because of the alcohol in tincture of iodine, tincture of iodine also has dissolved free elemental iodine in solution (elemental iodine is moderately soluble in alcohol).

Lugol’s solution is commonly used as an antiseptic and disinfectant, or for emergency disinfection of drinking water and as a reagent for polysaccaride detection where it turns dark blue/black. There are many other described uses.

Tincture of iodine is commonly used as a disinfectant particularly for skin disinfection and is registered on the US National Drug Formulary. It can also be used in small amounts as a water disinfectant.

Note that mild tincture of iodine solution is what is contained in the iodine swabs for skin disinfection contained in many of the WW2 medical kits. Iodine acts as an oxidising germicide.

As you have said potassium iodide has may historical and current non medical and medical applications including manipulation of the thyroid gland and blocking radioactive iodine uptake. Although for ingestion for medical use pure potassium iodide (rather than the potassium iodide and iodine mixture contained in this item) seems to be preferred as it contains the relatively benign iodide ion without the more toxic elemental iodine. The lethal dose of free iodine for an adult human is 2 to 3 grams.

I did find reference (Wikipedia article on Lugol’s solution) to Lugol’s solution being used as an emergency source of iodide to block radioactive iodine uptake after the Chernobyl disaster, simply because it was widely available as a drinking water decontaminant, and that pure potassium iodide without iodine (the preferred agent) was unavailable.

Given that the vials contained in this item are designed to produce 50ml of 2% solution per vial (and the box contains 10 vials) it seems unlikely that these vials are intended to produce solution for ingestion as a medication. From my reading ingested doses are much smaller volumes and as you stated of higher concentration potassium iodide solution without elemental iodine (generally super saturated potassium iodide of 1 gram per ml or 100% solution and using only a number of drops added to drinks).

It would seem to me most likely (this being based on my assumptions from the above) that the potassium iodide–iodine vials in this item are either intended for dilution to be used either as a topical disinfectant (skin preparation prior to surgery (able to cover a much larger area than the iodine swabs), wound disinfectant, or hand cleansing) or as a disinfectant for large volumes of water.

From memory Ben had a US Med Department water testing and disinfection kit in his collection and may be able to spread some light on the subject of water purification.

It would seem potassium iodide has been used for multiple purposes and to use a popular culture reference would be at home in an old episode of McGuyver.

Andrew

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Re: Iodum - Potassium iodide - any information?

Wed Dec 28, 2011 06:02

Skin prep Epidural.jpg
Skin prep Epidural.jpg (9.31 KiB) Viewed 7916 times


Here is a photo of tincture of iodine being used as a skin prep.

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Re: Iodum - Potassium iodide - any information?

Thu Dec 29, 2011 01:46

Was told by a US Navy Oral Surgeon--currently serving--thatTincture of Iodine was commonly used for skin prep and as an antiseptic during WW2, but that because of a significant number of allergic-type reactions, it had eventually been replaced by other substances.

Tincture of Iodine used to be in most US home medicine cabinets for disinfecting minor injuries during WW2 and for quite a few years after. The small bottle cover had an attached glass rod dipping into the tincture and, if you could catch your child--you'd dip the rod into the iodine and rub it over scratches and scrapes. It burned so much that children would suffer in silence rather than let Mom know there'd been a fall.
See http://www.polyvore.com/unopened_old_ti ... d=34498934

In the"Handbook of the Hospital Corps US Navy 1939", with 1944 Addendum, there are instructions for making Tincture of Iodine.

Lois

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Re: Iodum - Potassium iodide - any information?

Sun Jan 01, 2012 18:02

Hi Lois

Thanks for the new information.

You have convinced me further that the most likely useof this particular item was as a antiseptic/disinfectant.

It makes sense that use would decrease as a wound disinfectant as apparently iodide is toxic to mucosal surfaces such as the tissue lining the mouth and gut etc. I don't think this is an allergic reaction but rather a local toxic reaction. I wonder how common allergic type reaction was? I know provodine iodine solution is now in common use as a skin disinfectant in surgery.

I wonder if the pain caused (to the generation of children) you mentioned was from the iodine or the alcohol in the solution of tincture of iodine. Pouring alcohol onto a wound does sound painful! I do like the skull and cross bone poison label (to inspire confidence?) on the photo you linked to.

Andrew

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Re: Iodum - Potassium iodide - any information?

Tue Apr 30, 2019 04:06

Andrewb wrote:I wonder if the pain caused (to the generation of children) you mentioned was from the iodine or the alcohol in the solution of tincture of iodine. Pouring alcohol onto a wound does sound painful! I do like the skull and cross bone poison label (to inspire confidence?) on the photo you linked to.

I suspect the local pain/burning sensation was due to the alcohol, not the effect of the iodine salt dissolved therein. I recall feeling the same sensation from ordinary rubbing alcohol, from Merthiolate (a differring tincture, but similarly alcohol-suspended), and an old product called Bactine. Looking back, I have to question whether any of those products really did all that much good.

TenthA86 wrote:Today it is used to block radiation when doing radiation therapy, or when radiation exposure is suspected, as it blocks radioactive iodine from entering the system. But in 1942...?


Potassium iodide's use as a thyroid blocker against radiation is indeed intended to saturate the thyroid with iodine to prevent uptake of the radioactive isotope of iodine: a major radioactive component of the fallout of most nuclear weapons. These were first fielded by the Soviets back in the 1960s; when their issuance to Warsaw Pact forces became well known to the West after a large inventory of Soviet-issued individual NBC kits were captured from the Syrians during the Yom Kippur War of late 1973, the first assumption had been that these tablets -- at the time simply labelled "anti-radiation pills" -- were simply placebos and not effective in any way. Only later did the West understand their true purpose.

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