What is Bacteriostatic Water and Who Uses It?

Hospital patients receive numerous medicines and fluids during surgeries or when being treated for injuries. Many of these are in the form of intravenous solutions. Additional medications can be injected into the IV fluids to increase their healing capabilities.

These injections rely on a type of sterile and anti-bacterial fluid known as bacteriostatic water.

What is it?
Bacteriostatic water is the next level up from sterile water. Where this form of water contains no microorganisms, bacteriostatic water goes one step further. It was made to inhibit the growth of most common bacteria.

How is this done?
Sterile and filtered water are mixed with less than one percent of benzyl alcohol. It’s a colorless liquid also used in perfumes, lubricants, and as a pharmaceutical tool to remove head lice. In bacteriostatic water, the benzyl prevents bacterial growth.

In turn, the water’s composition does not change. Thus, it can dilute or dissolve medications for injection without fear of bacteria forming in the patient. In addition, it allows the medication to flow more easily for quicker activation.

Who uses it?
Hospitals and other medical facilities that are the major users of bacteriostatic water. Depending on its need, the water can be injected into a patient one of three ways.

  • Intravenously through a vein or into an IV bag
  • Intramuscular through a certain muscle
  • Under the skin via subcutaneous injection

In addition, bacteriostatic water is used to dilute pills or powders if a patient is unable to swallow those forms of medicine. Furthermore, it can be added to evaporative and cool mist humidifiers to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Does it last forever?
This type of water has a shelf-life of approximately one month when stored in its original packaging at room temperature. Once applied in another matter, such as the humidifier, it needs to be changed on a regular basis.

Can you drink bacteriostatic water?
It’s not okay to drink bacteriostatic water nor use it as a replacement for saline solution in IV drip bags. One reason for this is the use of the benzyl alcohol present in the solution. The other reason is pure bacteriostatic water can kill red blood cells. Hence, why it is combined with other medications or transformed into a mist.

Overall, bacteriostatic water is a powerful tool in the proper healing of patients. Thanks to its anti-bacterial properties it allows medicines to properly work in a person’s system without potential contamination. Not only does this set the patient up for a faster recovery but it also helps them secondary health issues later.

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