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Image Embedded Iodine History: Iodize the Air
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Iodine History: Iodize the Air

I just could not resist sublimating iodine crystals as described in this old medical book. The fear of iodine vapors certainly didn't seem to bother them, if the concentration was too strong, fix it! Read an MSDS on iodine for current thinking...

It was amazingly beautiful, magical.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Iodize the Air


Here's an interesting idea! Iodize the air in order to protect the populace from contagious illnesses. 

Article Source: Sajou's Analytic Cyclopedia of Practical Medicine, Volume 10, published 1920.


iodine crystals
The article discusses various means of treating the flu available at the time but I found the discussion on prophylaxis most interesting:)So interesting, in fact, that I iodized the air in my home. The images here are of iodine subliming. It was amazingly beautiful, the color is just magnificent! I did not have the correct apparatus though... I used a ceramic essential oil diffuser and the heat was too close... the air became iodized quite quickly. My eyes stung. Other than that no untoward effects. My home still smells of iodine. I like it :) Nag Champa or iodine, hmmmm... It's a toss-up!

Do I recommend that you try this at home? No...I'll try this again with perhaps tincture or a few drops of lugol's in water. Sublimating crystals, although beautiful, create a very strong vapor.

There are some gentler methods suggested in this post: 

...At the present writing (Autumn. 1920) there are suggestive indications that another paudemic will occur during the fall or winter...

...The fact that the pandemic of 1918 cost the world at least ten million lives prompts the question: Are we now better prepared to meet the issue? ...

iodine sublimation
...Yet, a query which is at once suggested is: Why does not influenza annihilate humanity under these conditions when the air is contaminated with its germs? Further personal studies then showed that we were protected to a degree estimated at from 60 to 80 per cent., according to our state of health, local or general, by the nasopharyngeal defenses and the ciliated epithelium of the respiratory tract down to the terminal lobules. So perfect is this nasopharyngeal barrier that moderately contaminated air is found completely sterilized after passing through it. This explains the negative results obtained by practically all investigators who have attempted to provoke the disease by injecting B. influenza~ into the nasal cavities. The germs were destroyed by phagocytes (the cytoplasm of which can be found to contain them) and the mucus of the respiratory passages long before they could reach the alveoli, which alone in the whole tract afforded the conditions necessary for their growth...

Prophylaxis-—The foregoing remarks have pointedly indicated where protection against infection is paramount, i. e., in the respiratory tract. This is so well established that antiseptic sprays, gargles, fumes and douches are employed by most clinicians.
pink air!

But is it as antiseptics that these procedures act? The recent war has taught us that antiseptics, including the newer ones, in solutions sufficiently strong to kill bacteria, also kill tissue cells. In the nasopharyngeal passages, therefore, if antiseptic solutions are too weak they are useless; if strong enough to destroy bacteria they do harm by inhibiting the local protective functions. Other data showed, however, particularly Lambert's experiments, that while iodine was very active as a sterilizer in a 1 to 2000 solution, it promoted cellular activity. Pharmacology also teaches that iodine is the specific excitant of lymphoid tissues and therefore of phagocytosis.

amazing color, I'd never seen
 this color before...
It was also observed during the war that in toxic gas manufacturing plants, in which emanations of irritating gases, chlorine, sulphur dioxide, etc. (not phosgene), in hardly perceptible proportions permeated the air, immunity was conferred upon workers therein while influenza reigned unchecked in the neighborhood. Shuffelbotham (Brit. Med. ]our., Apr. 19, 1919), who investigated this report in twenty different and widely separated districts in England, found that workmen actually enjoyed a “very high degree of immunity from infection." A. Gregor (Brit. Med. ]our., Oct. 25, 1919) ascertained bacteriologically that workers so exposed showed a marked decrease in the pharyngeal flora even twenty-four hours after exposure to the fumes. Tweddell (letter to Med. Rec., Jan. 24, 1920) has observed similar protection at the Edgemont Arsenal in this country. Consular reports (Amer. Med., Apr., 1905) from Germany had also called attention to the protective influence of evaporating turpentine in the presence of the workmen during an epidemic.

All the practical phases of the question, clinical, experimental and industrial, unite, therefore, in pointing to the value of measures which: enhance the defensive efficiency 0f the respiratory tract as the foundation of our prophylactic procedure. Normally, as previously stated, it's tissues defend us to the extent perhaps of 80 per cent. It is the remaining 20 percent of defensive efficiency that we should aim to promote to obtain complete protection. How may we secure it?

iodine crystals depositing around edges after
candle snuffed

Iodine is superior to any of the antiseptics used because, while provoking a local defensive reaction, it favors the vital activity of the lymphoid and epithelial cells. Yet, it must be employed with due care. Indeed, personal tests showed that even as weak a solution of iodine as l to 2000 caused too much smarting when sprayed into the nasal cavities to be employed, but that when iodine crystals were slowly converted into fumes by the heat of a small alcohol lamp 15 centimeters below them, and mixed with air in the proportion of 0.33 Gm. of crystals to 16 cubic meters of air (the size of a very small room used as inhalatorium) the iodized air could be inhaled comfortably. Any stronger dilution caused a symptom which indicates that the proportion of iodine is too, great, viz., persistent smarting of the conjunctiva after the first slight pricking sensation experienced on entering the iodized air chamber. This affords a delicate test for the adjustment of the mixture to proper proportions by the admission of additional air into the room.

as the surface cools, the crystals grow
The duration of the slight pungency experienced in the upper respiratory tract and dryness, followed by a freer flow of mucus, obtained with 5 grains of crystals, was about one hour. It was found. however, that these effects could be perpetuated indefinitely by dropping tincture of iodine upon the small receptacle over the alcohol flame which had held the crystals. The fumes thus formed sufficed in the area specified, 16 cubic meters, and were inhaled hour after hour without difficulty or causing irritation.

The effects of a stay of but 3 hours in the inhalatorium so charged were unexpectedly noticeable. Although no deep breaths had been taken, the odor of iodine per se (diflerent somewhat from that of the tincture itself) was perceptible the whole of the following day, off and on, that is to say, about 36 hours. This accounts for the fact that Gregor (10e. cit.) had found that the naso-pharyngeal organisms of the workmen exposed to chlorine and other fumes were markedly decreased as much as 24 hours after leaving their plants.

When we consider the superiority of iodine fumes over those to which they were exposed, and also the relative vulnerability of the B. influenza,, there is every reason to believe that 3 hours of exposure to iodine fumes under the conditions mentioned would afford at least protection for an additional 5 hours, during an epidemic, by enhancing defensive efficiency of the whole respiratory tract.

The practical bearing of these observations is that all public places, schools, places of amusement, shops, hotels, churches, offices, factories, barracks, hospitals, etc., where many people spend much time either as pupils, employees, visitors, etc., and which are now foci of infection, could be converted into as many sterilizing and immunizing inhalatoria provided the air in them be kept iodized in the proportion above mentioned by multiplying as needed and distributing evenly throughout the area to be iodized, what apparatus-very simple and inexpensive as we shall see-may be needed for that area. Or, better, where a suitably situated adjourning room is available, fresh air from an open window may be strongly iodized, and driven by a turbine or rotary fans through an enclosed shaft to the occupied room, and in such proportions as to insure the dilution specified. The iodized air can thus be kept pure, escape vents being supplied through lowered upper sashes or transoms for the occupied quarters.

During the hours all such places would be used, all those exposed to the iodized air for 3 hours would be protected at least 5 hours besides, as we have seen, i.e., 8 hours, at least until bed-time, while in a place of amusement, church, etc., and other sterilizing inhalatoria, the protection would extend to the following morning. Yet, absolute safety imposes the need of an iodized air apparatus in every home, thus perpetuating its effects throughout the 24 hours.

To provide for out-of-doors workers, laborers, masons, bricklayers, drivers, street renders, etc., sterilising tents might be provided, but here again the need of an apparatus at home imposes itself, since workers would hardly consent to spend the time necessary during the day, even to protect themselves. Indeed, adequate protection demands that all residences, great and small, should, if legally possible, be made by the municipal authorities and under their watchful care, to be kept iodized, and if possible, at the expense of the commonwealth, to insure execution. This alone would cause complete protection.

Apparatus.—Expensive apparatus is unnecessary. Among the poor whose living quarters are small, what lighting, heating or cooking facilities they possess may be utilized with the aid of slight ingenuity. Or a small open fume box—a 100 cigar box, for instance—may be used, by removing one of its ends and replacing the latter by a piece of wire netting. This netting is used, the box standing on its other end, to support a small metallic cover or saucer, in which are placed the iodine crystals. These, in turn—or the drops of tincture of iodine—are gradually evaporated by the flame of a small alcohol lamp placed on the floor of the upright box, the three walls of which prevent side draughts from disturbing the flame, while forming a chamber of warmed air which propels the iodine upward and disseminates them. The same box can be used for the evaporation of the tincture of iodine drops by nailing to it an elbow support for a glass funnel the beak of which contains a stopper provided with a small hole, so regulated as to allow the tincture of iodine it holds to drop on the evaporating plate as needed.

Where such comprehensive measures cannot be carried out, a small inhaler calculated to permit the inhalation of cold iodine emanations, which are far less dense than the fumes evolved by heat, can be used. It consists merely of a glass tube one end of which is enlarged into a bulb calculated to fit into either nostril. Each end is packed, though not tightly, with a wad of cotton wool. 3 grains of iodine crystals being placed between the two wads, i.e., in the middle of the inhaler. One end of the latter being enlarged and bulb-shaped, the bulb is introduced into each nostril in turn. On inhaling slowly but steadily through it, the iodine emanation will he felt to penetrate far down. To insure filling of the entire bronchial tree down to the alveoli, after removing the inhaler, the nose is closed with the fingers, and efforts to blow the iodine out through the nose, the mouth being shut, are made. The slight warmth and pricking sensation experienced in the nose and throat disappears in a few minutes. Not more than two inhalations from the inhaler should be taken. These suffice, after clearing the nose, to excite a defensive reaction which may be sustained if the procedure is repeated several times a day. Various pocket inhalers available in the shops may be used for the same purpose, but, in an emergency, I found that discarded bacterial vaccine tubes served the purpose very well.

A small inhaler is particularly useful where the air is likely to be contaminated, in tramways. places of amusement, shops, etc. It should be used before leaving home and every 3 hours to keep the nasal mucosa on the defensive. At present, coughing and sneezing individuals are urged to cover their faces, nose, and mouth with their handkerchiefs; but everyone exposed should likewise protect himself with his handkerchief. A small inhaler hidden in it and used materially reduces the danger of infection. A few whiffs suffice. Again, many bacteria inhaled are present at first in the anterior nasal cavities; if the inhaler is used again on reaching home and the nose freely blown additional protection is afforded. Although the January-February, 1920, epidemic afforded ground for the belief that this measure affords protection, thousands of cases can alone determine its value. A priori, it is obvious, however, that the general public measures advocated offer a far greater opportunity for adequate protection than the desultory use of any inhaler.


 The small iodine inhaler should be used every 2 hours during waking hours, taking only a couple of whiffs through each nostril and inhaling slowly though deeply. The room, preferably a small one, should, by means of the apparatus described, be filled with iodized air (though not sufficiently so to prove irritating to the eyes), iodine fumes being generated near the patient's bed. The aim should be to check the formation of colonies in the alveoli and to destroy the influenza bacilli in the respiratory tract at the earliest possible moment, the bacilli from the alveolar colonies serving to infect other alveoli. The iodine fumes would also protect the nurse, as they readily penetrate into the mask. The latter should always be worn by her in the patient's room, not only to protect her but also to prevent her becoming a carrier.

If the room is large a bed-tent, the upper part of which would reach above a window, the upper sash of which would be somewhat lowered, would serve to concentrate the iodized air evaporated under it in a small area and increase its efficiency. The patient, however, should be kept warm, though well supplied with fresh air.



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