You are here:

First Aid/Cauterizing knife wound with bundle of matches


Hi Dave, I'm writing a story, and in it, a man out in the wilderness is stabbed in the shoulder with a hunting knife. The wound is about an inch deed and two inches long. The knife missed a major artery, but the wound continues to bleed. So, I was wondering if a bundle of about 10 to 15 matches, lit and then pressed into the wound would cauterize it. As you might surmise, the character performing the "operation" is quite deranged. My questions are as followed. Would it cauterize the wound? How much damage and/or infection would it cause? How much pain? And how long could someone survive after such a procedure?
Thanks so much, Michael

Hi Michael;

Sorry for the delay in responding as we have been underwater from the storm on the East Coast. In answer to your cauterization question, the heat from a bundle of matches is unlikely to do the job. A flat piece of metal, heated until it is red, would do the job. Cauterization with these types of tools works best only in situations like an amputation.   

In the situation you described, where the knife missed the artery, the bleeding can be controlled through packing the wound and keeping direct pressure on the site. Unless the deranged character was also using the matches as torture, the wound can be managed with less pain through the approach above. Provided the wound was keep clean and no major infection develops, the victim could survive and recover with few side effects.

Hope this helps.


First Aid

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Dave Hammond


What topics should a first aid kit cover? All aspects of keeping first aid skills and confidence current after training. New training and product technology.


US Navy Medic 1970-1974, Director of Medic training for US Navy, First aid instructor. 35 years in developing new first aid products. Multiple patent holder on new generation of first aid kits.

Compliance Magazine "Ask the experts"

B.A. Eastern New Mexico State, M.Ed George Washington University

Awards and Honors
2002 Inductee NJ Inventor's Hall of Fame, Receipent of Good Housekeeping Best Buy in first aid kits, IParenting Media Award, Family Review Organziation 5 Star product review.

Past/Present Clients
Fortune 500 companies both US and worldwide along with Federal Government and general consumres

©2017 All rights reserved.