Q:

What are styptic pencils made of?

A:

Quick Answer

Styptic pencils are made of powdered alum crystals and a waxy binder. The pencils are used to stop bleeding from small cuts and nicks on the skin by constricting the capillaries.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

An antihemorrhagic agent is defined as a substance that stops bleeding. While alum is often used in cooking, certain types of alum compounds are also antihemorrhagic agents. Anhydrous aluminum sulfate and potassium alum are two of these compounds, both of which are used to make styptic pencils.

To make a pencil, crystals from one of these compounds are combined with a neutral waxy binder to form the stick. When a person nicks the skin while shaving or suffers a minor cut, the pencil can be used to almost instantly stop the bleeding. The alum in the styptic pencil causes vasoconstriction, which simply means the blood vessels constrict and therefore halt the blood loss.

To use the pencil, one touches the pencil to the abrasion on the skin. There may be a slight stinging sensation, indicating the blood vessels are constricting in reaction to the alum. In addition to using the pencil on nicks received when shaving, it can be used for other simple abrasions such as paper cuts or scraped knees. Styptic pencils are also used to stop dogs' nails from bleeding when they are cut too close. To ensure there is no transfer of germs, one should clean the pencil with a bit of water after each use.

Learn more about Skin Care

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do I describe the leaves of the trees in Taiga?

    A:

    The leaves of trees in a taiga are described as being needle-like with a dark coloring and waxy coating. Taiga is a coniferous forest filled with spruces, evergreens, pines and fir trees. Unlike deciduous trees, coniferous trees do not drop their leaves.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What color are mistletoe berries?

    A:

    Most species of mistletoe have waxy, white berries. Some of the approximately 1,300 species have red, pink or transparent berries. These berries gain their colors between October and January.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are new potatoes?

    A:

    New potatoes are small, freshly harvested young potatoes with thin skins and a waxy texture. They have a higher moisture content than older potatoes, so they tend to be sweeter. They keep their original shape during the cooking process, making them ideal for use in potato salads.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the white bugs on plants?

    A:

    The white bugs on plants are generally aphids or mealybugs — two distinct species that are closely related; mealybugs appear as tiny white fluffy spots, while aphids have a waxy or wooly coating. Lady beetles and parasitic wasps can both be used to rid plants of aphids and mealybugs.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore