Saline has a long and storied history in the treatment of wounds.
Saline is simply purified water mixed with the correct amount of salt. After years of study, scientists and doctors have determined that a 0.9% concentration of salt in the water works best because it best matches the salt content within a person's cells.
Throughout the history of the world, salt has been a prized product with many wars fought over its control and many fortunes made. There are 32 references to salt in the Bible and at one time it was treated much the same way we now treat oil. Salt was taxed from as far back as the 20th century BC in China and 12th century merchants in Timbuktu valued salt as highly as books and gold. The Roman Republic and Empire controlled the price of salt, increasing it to raise money for wars, or lowering it to be sure that the poorest citizens could easily afford this important part of a daily diet.
Salt's preservative ability was also a foundation of civilization. It eliminated dependency on the seasonal availability of food and allowed travel over long distances. By the Middle Ages, caravans consisting of as many as 40,000 camels traversed 400 miles of the Sahara bearing salt, sometimes trading it for slaves.
The use of saline for medicine first appeared during the 1831 blue cholera epidemic that swept over Europe. Experimentation with saline solutions was first attempted to treat those suffering from severe dehydration. Salt concentrations of saline solutions continued to vary through medical history from its initial synthesis and use in 1831. The clinical trials, chemical synthesis and resultant medical changes in practice continued for the next 175 years resulting in today's 0.9% saline standard.
Today, saline is used for numerous medical treatments from wound cleansing to ulcer treatment. Click here to read all about the modern uses of saline.