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ausfire

A burning question

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One of the most common questions you would all get at demos is, "Do you ever burn yourself?"
What is your standard reply to that??
And speaking of burns, yesterday i was careless enough to sustain a very nasty burn. Not at the forge where I had been all morning, but as a result of a slip with an oxy torch.
All you experienced smiths would have undoubtedly have been burned in the past and I was wondering what your best recovery treatment is. First response is into the quench tub I guess, but after that ...

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Q: "Do you ever burn yourself?"
A: "Occasionally. But blacksmiths don't burn themselves very often. Know why?"

Q: "Why?"
A: "Because it hurts!"

I borrowed this response after hearings it once... And have repeated it many times since.

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Last time that I ran a rosebud across my palm I used "Silvadine" cream and was back working the next day, but that was just a quick pass across the palm ( with a huge blister). 

That was my personal worst burn in 30 plus years. Otherwise I keep a bottle of Aloe vera gel in the shop, Fist stop the burn - cold water as quick as possible, then aloe applied frequently

until I start to forget that I burned myself (usually the rest of the day).

 

As to the question "do you ever burn yourself? " I bought a Tee shirt at Quad state      post-1042-0-75211200-1397606509_thumb.jp

Mike

 

 

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Greetings Aus,

 

The short answer is YEP...   What I normally do is take the opportunity to demonstrate just how hot..  I calmly take a heat on a slightly tapered 1/2/x1/2 and take a nice red heat...  I than place a 1/2 in board in the vise and burn a square hole right through it..  After the smoke clears I say how do you think the early settlers drilled holes in boards...  What do you think that would do to my fingers???  Than wiggle all ten and go back to work..

 

Forge on and make beautiful things

Jim

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Oh, and in response to your question about dealing with burns - I *never* cool a burn in the slack tub. You never know what gunk is floating around in that water! Not good to subject a burn to unclean water. The only time I'd consider the slack tub is if A hit piece fell down my boot and needed dunk my foot.

I always keep a large bottle or jug of cool drinking water at hand for cooling a burn. I also keep medical burn gel and burn dressings in a first aid kit in case I ever get a bad burn. Never had to use it, knock on wood, but it's comforting knowing it's there.

First aid wise, the most important thing is to get the heat out to stop your flesh from cooking. After that, keep a burn clean.

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"Why yes I do sometimes burn myself---especially when I'm cooking bacon and it pops!"  and go on to explain that I get burned more often cooking than smithing.

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I would recomend taking a red cross First aid class,  I won't going to what to do here, or what I have as qualifications to comment, because the last time I offered advice on things outside of smithing,  I had so many self apoointed experts argue its not worth it.

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Two things to remember about skin, well one really for the purposes of this discussion. It's not only the largest organ in on or in the human body it's our first line against infection. Burns, even a bad 1st degree but anything 2nd. and above compromise your hide ad open your skin up to infection. "Even" tap water isn't clean enough to dunk a burn in safely. A good kit will have modern sterile burn jell cooling pads and even blankets. If you keep a plastic bag handy you can put a hand in it and THEN dunk it. Not perfect but worlds better.

 

No, ice water isn't better, it can and given a little time WILL do more damage, heat burned tissue is much more susceptible to further damage, even bruising. A good 1st aid kit is best, a list of the necessary supplies for folk who know what's needed is good and hopefully s/he won't be depending on someone else to administer aid.

 

Oh the demo question. Yes, are you joking? 10 minutes after lighting a fire I don't have any hair on my hands or a good way up my arms. Sometimes I'll lay a funny answer on them or occasionally a sarcastic sob will get a bit of vitriol. It all depends on the audience.

 

And, yes to the next question, when I burn myself my hand goes straight into the slack tub. Right or wrong there are some reflexes that are just too hard to break. Betadine, aloe vera, hand sanitizer, sterile compresses, bandages, etc. etc. Nothing fancy, I have my cell and 911 is always ready.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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And, yes to the next question, when I burn myself my hand goes straight into the slack tub. Right or wrong there are some reflexes that are just too hard to break. Betadine, aloe vera, hand sanitizer, sterile compresses, bandages, etc. etc. Nothing fancy, I have my cell and 911 is always ready.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Some would argue there's a reason it's a reflex.  Reflexes are nature's way of us protecting ourselves without our brains getting in the way. 

At risk of opening myself to Steve's plight, I'd argue that unless there's massive deep tissue damage (third degree burns which are through the dermal layers and into the fatty, subcutaneous tissue) use the slack tub or whatever's close enough to take the heat away from your tissues as fast as possible. If it's a burn that's going to blister, that's nothing more than inflammation/swelling trapped under the skin and that's still intact skin, so there's no risk of infection anymoreso than when you quench a piece.  The risk of infection comes when the blister pops.

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Some would argue there's a reason it's a reflex.  Reflexes are nature's way of us protecting ourselves without our brains getting in the way. 

At risk of opening myself to Steve's plight, I'd argue that unless there's massive deep tissue damage (third degree burns which are through the dermal layers and into the fatty, subcutaneous tissue) use the slack tub or whatever's close enough to take the heat away from your tissues as fast as possible. If it's a burn that's going to blister, that's nothing more than inflammation/swelling trapped under the skin and that's still intact skin, so there's no risk of infection anymoreso than when you quench a piece.  The risk of infection comes when the blister pops.

 

While what you say makes logical sense but I've never taken a first aid class that agreed. There's a difference between a cut getting infected and skin infections. Don't ask me to explain, I'm taking the word of instructors since the early 60's my last class was 2006, just before I shattered my arm and I had to talk the other guys at work through my first aid. Shock is very good to me, it just shuts off the pain and fear, no fooling. The EMTs and I swapped jokes and laughed all the way to the ER.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks for all the replies/opinions. I like Jim's demo idea.

I have had quite a few burns over the years but nothing you would call serious. Perhaps bad enough to stop you holding a hammer for a day or two.

One of the worst I can remember was when I stood on a piece of hot steel I had cut off with oxy. Foolishly (and I would NEVER do this today) I was not wearing shoes at the time and the steel stuck to the sole of my foot, leaving a u-shaped blister. I immediately wrapped in in a wet bandage with an opened aloe vera leaf against the skin. This was repeated a couple of times and by the following morning there was no sign of the blister.  I have been a convert to aloe vera ever since and always have a healthy plant growing near the forge.

This oxy burn was a bit different in that it did not blister at all. It just made the skin white and wrinkly and very painful. Anyway, I gave it the aloe treatment and today there is no pain or blister - just a numbness and stiffness that makes it hard to bend the thumb. I think I got off lightly. 

I have gained new respect for the oxy torch and will be much more careful in my future dealings with it.

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Once grabbed the wrong end of a piece of metal as it fell out of the vise during a demo. Quick plunge of the hand into the slack tub prevented serious damage, and I was able to continue the demo with a glove on my left hand, albeit in some discomfort.

 

Not sure what was worse, the pain of the burn, or clenching my teeth, not being able to cuss whilst surrounded by a dozen young Scouts. :lol:

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I was a certified Red Cross First Aid instructor in another life back several years ago, and we were taught and taught others that plunging a burn in cold water was the very first thing that should be done with a burn, with cold running water being the best.  I've heard old wives tales about plunging into an iron-rich tub of water (aka, your quenching bucket) was actually even better for a burn, something about the iron helping the healing process, but I don't know that I'd do that unless I was desperate, 'cause you just don't know what all has made it's way in there.  Cold running water is considered best first treatment, it equalizes the temperature of the skin and keeps the burn from doing more damage.  

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Rubbing, or denatured alcohol is cooling and sanitary. (Just keep it away form open flames of things may get hotter). Then alo vera in whatever form.

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Tran,

 

I've never found rubbing alcohol to be particularly cooling on an open wound.  I could maybe see where it's useful to clean stuff out but it sure stings for a bit.  

 

I like to point out to onlookers that even black metal skips that whole smoldering thing and goes right for setting things on fire.  It's subtle like a bullhorn at a chess match.

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The lady at the Red Cross I spoke with said the current instruction from the Red Cross for burns is running water (cold if available), NO ICE, for 10 minutes. If there are blisters or severe damage seek, medical assistance. Do not put anything on the burn that the doctors have to remove.

 

The Red Cross has information on many things at http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-redcross.

They also have an app through the apple store or google Red Cross free app.

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I also was a Red Cross First aid instructor. working in big comercial forge shops I got some experience with burns and first aid.

1. Cool first. Cool running water is best.

2. "watergel" a burn trteatment is really good. Has a soft non sticking pad soaked in a jel that has a pain number and also evaporates to provide cooling.

3. Silvadiene is the bomb for later, promotes healing and is a strong infection fighter but is a prescription med

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Normally blacksmiths get a lot of 1st and 2nd degree burns than 3rd and 4th degree burns mostly because blacksmiths have been burnt and learned what not to do. 1st and 2nd degree burns usually do not cause open skin wounds at the time of the boo-boo.

 

The desire is to cool the burn rapidly as possibly without causing more damage.

 

Alcohol evaporates rapidly and will cool burns if the skin is broken then there will be some smarting. This (to me) is better than the burn progressing to a higher degree of burn. Alcohol is in most first aid kits and will work in emergencies. Mixed with alo vera juice, pulp or salve will sooth along with cooling the burn and preventing even more damage. With moving air alcohol cools even faster.

 

If running water feel free to use it, as long as it is clean water.

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I understand how water cools the skin and removes heat from the meat of the hand, full contact, and the heat transfers.  I also understand how evaporation works to cool the skin, and cools faster with a little air added. Think about a sweaty t-shirt and a breeze while at the forge, and with more air added to explain the rapid evaporation of the alcohol in this example. 

 

What I do not understand is how a sweaty t-shirt and air added (evaporation), cools faster than being drenched with a water hose. If the intent is to quickly remove heat, my experience is the water hose is the winner, no questions, and a *wow that is cold* added for emphases.  

 

If I am missing something here, please let me know.

 

Flammable liquids (alcohol) near a fire is NOT a good idea. If the flammable liquids (alcohol) were to catch fire . . . . . well let us not even go there.

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After me saying it didn't blister, well today it did. I think it must have been a deeper burn than I first thought. That oxy cuts hard. The blister leaked and then the skin came away so it's not too pleasant right now. Gave it a good clean and got the healing gel on.

Easter time and I have four days of demos. Not easy to hold a hammer, so light duties only I think. I only do light stuff at demos anyway.

I'll put it down to experience. Gloves on for the next oxy session.

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Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-burns/basics/art-20056649 recommends running water. Mayo Clinic also recommends removing oneself from the heat source when burnt.

 

I have the opinion that anyone that builds fires hot enough to make steel sparkle, plays with sharp objects, and swings heavy iron on a stick has some (at least a small amount) of common sense. Common sense dictates that one should not hold a burn of an open flame and pour anything flammable on the burn.

 

At times there is no running water available but I usually have a first aid box or bag. In it there is alcohol.

 

I take none of the comments personal.

 

Ausfire, sorry about your predicament.

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I find it difficult to understand how people choose to do this craft (as a a hobby or profession), without having a source of water readily available.

'Running' water isn't difficult to obtain, and I'm not just talking about having it piped in. My shop has no plumbing.... But what I do have, is a camping type water jug with a spout. Fill it up with cool, clean drinking water before leaving home in the morning. When you get to your shop, pop it up on a shelf, workbench, or whatever.

A couple of gallons is plenty for cooling a burn, not to mention keeping yourself hydrated while working.

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One aspect I've learned is keep cooling the burn for at least 15 minutes.  It does make a difference to how it propagates.  Getting it cooling *fast* and keeping cooling it really seems to downgrade the final rating of a burn for 1st and second.  Third is Dr time!

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