Using Honey for Wounds in a Survival Situation: Storage & Uses

Honey has been used for thousands of years to heal wounds. Although there are many medicines out there, honey is an excellent alternative remedy that may be good to know if you run out or find yourself in an emergency.

Several studies show honey has antibacterial properties and is good for everything from cuts and scrapes to burns and wounds. Using honey as an emergency survival backup is something you should look into, especially since antibiotics have a short shelf life.

Honey For Preppers – How Long Does Raw Honey Last?

Raw honey may be kept for years and can keep in an emergency food kit for a very long time if properly stored. However, “if kept correctly” is the keyword here. Honey should always be kept in an airtight container away from heat and light.

Honey is a fantastic survival food since it’s nutrient-dense, calorie-dense, and has an exceptionally long shelf life. Honey also has antibacterial properties, which are of course beneficial in a survival scenario.

The anti-bacterial properties of honey are not just for healing wounds but also help prolong the shelf life.

How Honey Works as an Antibiotic

  • The high sugar concentration or osmotic effect on bacteria dries the bacteria out.
  • Honey has a pH balance of 3.3 to 6.5 which prevents bacterial growth.
  • Honey has an enzyme that produces a small amount of hydrogen peroxide that kills bacteria.
  • Researchers are finding a number of ways honey works as an antibiotic. For example, it may stimulate the body’s natural bacteria-fighting white blood cells to get to work.
  • Increases the release of oxygen from hemoglobin
  • Reduces the spread of harmful proteases

Some honey is more antibacterial than others. The New Zealand manuka honey is highly regarded in the medical community as some of the best out there.

Caution: There have been reports of babies dying from eating honey because of Botulism spores found in raw honey. The spores that can be found in honey do not hurt adults as they are low in quantity. To be safe, don’t use honey on children under two years old unless it’s sterilized. Sterilized honey such as Medihoney clean of bacteria and can be found at pharmacies.

How to Use Honey as an Antibiotic

If you do not have any access to antibiotics, if they have expired or you find your self in an emergency scenario, honey an be used as an antibiotic. To use:

  1. Apply liberally to the wound
  2. Cover the wound with gauze and seal with tape
  3. Change the dressing every day

What can honey be used on

Honey can be used as an antibiotic treatment for any number of ailments such as:

  • Cuts or scrapes
  • Any type of boils
  • First or Second degree burns on the skin
  • Open wounds
  • Ulcers

Tips for applying honey on wounds

If you’re applying honey to wounds at your home, here are a few basic guidelines:

  • Start with clean hands and applicators, such as sterile gauze and cotton tips.
  • Apply the honey to a dressing to reduce the messiness of honey on the skin.
  • Honey-impregnated dressings, such as MediHoney can be used.
  • The honey should fill the wound bed before a dressing is applied.

The dressing and the area around the wound should be monitored to notice if there is any increased pain, swelling or redness around the wound, which could mean the body is rejecting it. In such a case remove it immediately.

If you are having a reaction due to the honey, stop using it and talk with your doctor. 


Using honey as an alternative can be a great option if you do not have any antiseptic on hand or you are on a backcountry trip and are short on medical supplies.

Be sure that the dressing and area around the wound is monitored so that signs of rejection are noticed early enough to prevent further complications from developing. Have you used honey for a wound?


[1] Honey as an effective antimicrobial treatment for chronic wounds: is there a place for it in modern medicine.

[2] Evidence for Clinical Use of Honey in Wound Healing as an Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory Anti-oxidant and Anti-viral Agent: A Review.

[3] Honey as a topical antibacterial agent for treatment of infected wounds.

[4] Honey Combination Therapies for Skin and Wound Infections: A Systematic Review of the Literature.

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