Any prepper knows a good prep kit contains plenty of medical supplies, antibiotics and treatments included. The best preppers know that a good prep kit contains tools and supplies you can or have built yourself. Last week, we went over how to build a survival rifle using an 80 percent lower.
Today, we’re going to teach you how to make your own homemade penicillin from scratch. Penicillin is a powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotic. While many other antibiotics only target certain types of bacteria, Penicillin can treat dozens of infections and illnesses. Penicillin is also one of the most commonly prescribed and fast-acting antibiotics, making it an effective treatment for difficult infections.
Chances are, you’ve already made penicillin on accident and never even knew it. Before we put on our metaphorical lab coats, let’s learn a little about penicillin first. We’ll also go over other ways to legally get your hands on real, lab-made antibiotics at the end of this guide, so stick around.
What is penicillin?
Penicillin is technically a group of antibiotics that include intravenous, oral, and intramuscular forms of medication. Regardless of its form, approximately 0.03% of users experience serious allergies. Penicillin is classified as a beta-lactam antibiotic. This class of antibiotics is considered one of the most powerful and successful classes of medicine in modern science. Basically, penicillin is an Ace card in the apocalypse.
What can penicillin treat?
To be clear, penicillin will not treat any sort of viral infection. Penicillin can treat a broad range of common and serious bacterial infections:
- Ear, nose, throat infections
- Skin infections / Cellulitis
- S. Pneumoniae
- Rheumatic Fever
- Lyme Disease
Penicillin cannot treat all bacterial infections, including superbugs and antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. You should always first seek medical help if you experience an infection, if possible.
How was penicillin discovered?
Penicillin was originally discovered by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming in 1928. One morning, Fleming found a petri dish in his lab filled with a strange fungus which had killed the culture inside. The dish originally contained a culture of Staphylococcus (the common Staph infection). Fleming identified the fungus as being from the genus Penicillium. Fleming began learning more about this mysterious strain of fungus, identifying its properties and how to grow it and purify it, and the rest is history.
How to Make Your Own Homemade Penicillin
Penicillin is a hot topic among medically-minded preppers because it’s easy to grow accidentally. In fact, if you have a moldy piece of bread or rotting orange in the fridge, you’re probably growing penicillin already.
We want to stress that making any home-brewed medicine can be potentially dangerous. We only recommend creating your own penicillin if you’re willing to become an expert and already know the basics of chemistry. Always consult with a medical professional before taking any form of medication, whether it’s over the counter or made at home. Let’s begin!
Step 1: Growing raw, natural penicillin
Penicillin in its raw form is considered a fungal bacterium. Creating penicillin bacteria requires using bread, cantaloupe, or citrus fruit as a culture. We recommend not using bread, as most store-bought bread contains additives that prevent mold growth.
To “jump-start” the growth process, place your fruit culture in a closed (but not airtight) container. A large mason jar with one or two oranges works just fine. Cover the container but allow some airflow (we recommend aluminum foil). Place some drops of water inside the container to aid in growth. The container should be placed in a dark place with a consistent temperature of approximately 70 degrees.
It’ll take at least 2 to 4 weeks for your penicillin to begin growing. The growth will first appear as a gray mold. This mold will eventually turn a bluish-green color. This is the mold you need to make penicillin.
Related article: Top 12 Antibiotics You Will Need When SHTF
Step 2: Re-culture the growing penicillin
Once you’ve allowed bluish-green mold to grow, you’ve technically created penicillin. Some say this is “natural penicillin” which can be used in its current form, either by rubbing it into an infected wound or drinking it to kill internal infections. This is not true.
Using penicillin mold to treat a surface will not destroy all bacteria. Natural penicillin is also sensitive to stomach acid. If ingested, most of it will be destroyed before it has a chance to treat an internal infection. We need to make more of it (a lot more) by re-culturing it in some homemade petri dishes.
To do this, you’ll need the following:
- Unpeeled potatoes
- One-liter mason jar
- Small, wide sealable jars or petri dishes
- Distilled water
Follow these steps to begin large-scale penicillin production:
- Thinly slice 200 grams of potatoes.
- Place the slices into your mason jar.
- Fill the mason jar with distilled water.
- Seal the mason jar tightly.
- Place the jar in a pot of boiling water.
- Boil the jar in the water for 30 minutes.
- Allow the jar to cool slightly after boiling.
- Strain the water through a cheese cloth into a container.
- Add 20g of dextrose to the water. Plain sugar also works.
- Add 20g of agar to the water. Plain gelatin also works.
- Add more distilled water until you have 1 liter of liquid.
With this solution, you can now make some petri dishes. Grab your small, wide jars (or actual petri dishes if you bought some) and fill the bottom of each with a small amount of your boiled solution. There should only be enough liquid to just cover the base of your container. It’s important that you cover the dishes immediately to prevent other microbes from getting in and growing.
Step 3: Add penicillin to your culture dishes
Grab a small metal wire (a paperclip works well). Sterilize the tip of your wire with an open flame. Dip the sterilized tip into your solution to cool it, so the heat doesn’t kill your penicillin spores.
Next, touch the tip of your wire to the mold on your fruit culture. This will transfer penicillin spores to the tip of the wire. Make three lines in your petri dishes’ solution with the wire. Repeat this for all your dishes with solution.
Step 4: Watch your penicillin grow
Now you’re starting to mass-produce natural penicillin. Your cultures will take about one week to show growth. Penicillin will grow as a large yellow spore. Once your cultures have sufficiently grown and filled with more penicillin, they can be collected for fermentation.
Step 5: Ferment your penicillin
There are numerous ways to ferment penicillin, but this method uses the most commonly-available ingredients. You’ll need the following tools to ferment your penicillin:
- Erlenmeyer flask
- Graduated cylinder
- Distilled water
- Yeast extract
- Citric acid
- Powdered milk
- Sea salt
- Sterilize your flask by placing it in the oven at 315 degrees for one hour.
- Place dextrose, yeast, citric acid, milk powder, and sea salt (1 tsp ea.) into your graduated cylinder.
- Fill the cylinder with distilled water until you have 100 ml of solution.
- Pour the solution into your flask and shake to dissolve any solids.
- Add your penicillin cultures to the flask using a sterile wire.
- Cover the flask with sterilized foil. This allows air in, but keeps microbes out.
- Let the flask sit for at least 7 days, but no longer than two weeks.
After approximately one week, your homemade penicillin will have fermented in the flask. You’ll need to isolate the penicillin in the liquid from all the other solids and ingredients. To do this, strain the flask’s liquid through a cheesecloth and capture the liquid in a container.
You need to ensure the solution has the right acidity for the next step. To do this, test the solution with some pH test strips. You want a pH of 2.2. You can add drops of hydrochloric acid to the solution to lower the pH until it reaches the desired level.
Suggested article: How To Make Antibiotic Garlic Tincture
Step 6: Extract the penicillin
Our homemade penicillin is now technically usable, but it’s unstable and will break down quickly. To make it stable and pure, we need a separator funnel, ethyl acetate, and potassium acetate. The penicillin will dissolve into ethyl acetate which can then be evaporated, leaving you with pure penicillin.
- Chill your ethyl acetate solution.
- Mix the chilled ethyl acetate with the penicillin solution.
- Shake the ethyl acetate and penicillin for 30 seconds.
- Allow the acetate and penicillin solution to separate.
- Open the separator funnel and allow the ethyl acetate in the bottom to drip into a sterile container.
Next, add potassium acetate to the ethyl acetate solution you just collected. You’ll need 1 gram of potassium acetate for every 100ml of liquid solution. You’ll need to leave the solution uncovered in a ventilated area. This will allow the ethyl acetate to evaporate, leaving behind pure penicillin.
Since we started with around 100 milliliters of fermented solution, you’ll end up with around 100mg of penicillin. Since most infections call for 100 to 200mg of penicillin every 6 to 8 hours for 10 days, you’ll need to make a lot of homemade penicillin to treat an infection.
Alternative to homemade penicillin
Making homemade penicillin is a time-consuming, laborious process. You can’t verify the integrity of your penicillin cultures, and it’s difficult to determine how long your homemade brew will maintain its “antibiotic potency”. Using homemade penicillin to treat an infection should only be attempted as a last resort.
Many preppers choose to invest in fish antibiotics. Yes, antibiotic pills marketed for treating pet fish. You can’t officially buy prescription antibiotics over the counter in the states, but many veterinary drug manufacturers package pill- and tablet-form antibiotics made for human consumption as fish antibiotics.
Brands like “Fish Mox” and “Fish Flox” are just re-labeled Amoxicillin and Ciprofloxacin pills. Many are even distributed with human doses – 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg options are typically available online.
To be clear, we are not advocating that you buy a bottle of random fish antibiotic pills and pop a few to treat a case of Strep Throat. Nonetheless, many of these pills can be verified for human consumption using a Pill Identifier like this one.
The markings on a pill labelled as a fish antibiotic can be fed to the Pill Identifier, and the program will identify whether that pill is produced for human consumption and is simply re-labeled to get around the prescription requirement.
These fish antibiotics don’t have to adhere to the same storage and manufacturing requirements as human antibiotics, so further research should be conducted before purchasing these types of antibiotics, even in a “SHTF” scenario, to ensure they’re safe to consume. Do a little digging yourself, and you’ll find plenty of other preppers that actively put this method to good use.
Nothing in this guide should be taken as medical advice. Making and using your own antibiotics can be dangerous. Some steps in this guide are written with the assumption that the reader has basic knowledge of chemicals and mixing solutions. This should not be attempted by an amateur. Consult with a medical professional before taking any form of antibiotics.
This article has been written by Travis Noonan for Prepper’s Will.