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A Glass Blower’s Companion with Jason Michael -Helping Today's Glass Artist Think Like an Artistic Entrepreneur

Jun 10, 2019

WyzGuy Minute Ep.7: Hot Glass and Cold Glass Look the Same  

Whether you're a novice or a seasoned glass artist I can guarantee you've burned yourself once or twice and hopefully just from hot glass.  Those of us unlucky ones who have been kissed by the flame have a clear understanding of what a 3rd degree burn entails.  Don’t get me wrong, 1st and 2nd degree burn are no fun either but having your hand turned into the Sahara desert in a matter of seconds has been the worse injury I've sustained in the 2-decades behind the torch. Today I'm going to share the various degree of burns along with proven methods to care for and manage severe burns. 


 The best piece of advice I can give you is to avoid working with hot glass in any other mind set then  alert and focused while making every move  behind the torch intentional. Hot glass and cold glass look very similar as soon as the hot glow goes away. 






Types of Burns and how to care for them 

First-degree (superficial) burns. First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of skin, the epidermis. The burn site is red, painful, dry, and with no blisters. Mild sunburn is an example. Long-term tissue damage is rare and often consists of an increase or decrease in the skin color.  


First-degree burns are usually treated with home care. Healing time may be quicker the sooner you treat the burn. Treatments for a first-degree burn include: 

  • soaking the wound in cool water for five minutes or longer 
  • taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief 
  • applying lidocaine (an an 
  • esthetic) with aloe vera gel or cream to soothe the skin 
  • using an antibiotic ointment and loose gauze to protect the affected area 

Make sure you don’t use ice, as this may make the damage worse. Never apply cotton balls to a burn because the small fibers can stick to the injury and increase the risk of infection. Also, avoid home remedies like butter and eggs as these are not proven to be effective. 



Second-degree burns are more serious because the damage extends beyond the top layer of skin. This type burn causes the skin to blister and become extremely red and sore. 

Some blisters pop open, giving the burn a wet or weeping appearance. Over time, thick, soft, scab-like tissue called fibrinous exudate may develop over the wound. 

Due to the delicate nature of these wounds, keeping the area clean and bandaging it properly is required to prevent infection. This also helps the burn heal quicker. 

Some second-degree burns take longer than three weeks to heal, but most heal within two to three weeks without scarring, but often with pigment changes to the skin. 

The worse the blisters are, the longer the burn will take to heal. In some severe cases, skin grafting is required to fix the damage. Skin grafting takes healthy skin from another area of the body and moves it to the site of the burned skin. 

As with first-degree burns, avoid cotton balls and questionable home remedies.  

Treatments for a mild second-degree burn generally include: 

  • running the skin under cool water for 15 minutes or longer 
  • taking over-the-counter pain medication (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) 
  • applying antibiotic cream to blisters 

However, seek emergency medical treatment if the burn affects a widespread area, such as any of the following: 

  • face 
  • hands 
  • buttocks 
  • groin 
  • feet 

 Third-degree (full thickness) burns. Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis. They may go into the innermost layer of skin, the subcutaneous tissue. The burn site may look white or blackened and charred.  



Excluding fourth-degree burns, third-degree burns are the most severe. They cause the most damage, extending through every layer of skin. 

There is a misconception that third-degree burns are the most painful. However, with this type of burn the damage is so extensive that there may not be any pain because of nerve damage. 

Depending on the cause, the symptoms third-degree burns can exhibit include: 

  • waxy and white color 
  • char 
  • dark brown color 
  • raised and leathery texture 
  • blisters that do not develop 

Without surgery, these wounds heal with severe scarring and contracture. There is no set timeline for complete spontaneous healing for third-degree burns. 

Never attempt to self-treat a third-degree burn. Call 911 immediately. While you’re waiting for medical treatment, raise the injury above your heart. Don’t get undressed, but make sure no clothing is stuck to the burn. 



Compared with first- and second-degree burns, third-degree burns carry the most risk for complications, such as infections, blood loss, and shock, which is often what could lead to death. At the same time, all burns carry the risk of infections because bacteria can enter broken skin. 

Tetanus is another possible complication with burns of all levels. Like sepsis, tetanus is a bacterial infection. It affects the nervous system, eventually leading to problems with muscle contractions. As a rule of thumb, every member of your household should receive updated tetanus shots every 10 years to prevent this type of infection. 

Severe burns also carry the risk of hypothermia and hypovolemia. Dangerously low body temperatures characterize hypothermia. While this may seem like an unexpected complication of a burn, the condition is actually prompted by excessive loss of body heat from an injury. Hypovolemia, or low blood volume, occurs when your body loses too much blood from a burn. 


  • Fourth-degree burns. Fourth-degree burns go through both layers of the skin and underlying tissue as well as deeper tissue, possibly involving muscle and bone. There is no feeling in the area since the nerve endings are destroyed. 



Hope we never experince the 4th degree but if you have had a direct shot from the mottest part of the torch you may have experienced a 4th degree  this is why it is crucial when working on a torch with tempuratures reaching as high as 4000 degress you must be alert and focused during every work session. 


now lets discuus some items you should never use to help a burn whether for pain or heal 

Remedies to avoid 


While coconut oil is a popular remedy for a range of skin conditions, it should not be used to treat burns. 

Many so-called burn treatment have been passed down through generations. 

Some of these are not only ineffective, but they could also make a burn worse. 

The following should not be used: 


Many people have claimed that essential oils and some common cooking oils, such as coconut and olive oil, are helpful for burns. However, oils trap heat, preventing the heat from the burn escaping. Trapping the heat can cause the burn to get worse instead of better. 

Essential oils are often boasted to heal all kinds of skin and other conditions. Some research supports their use, but this comes from small-scale studies. No large-scale human studies have been carried out to examine the association between essential oil use and sunburn healing. 


Many people think that rubbing butter over a burn will help a burn heal. Despite its popularity, butter acts in a similar way to other oils in that it keeps heat in and may cause the burn to get worse. 

No evidence supports the use of butter as a burn treatment. 

Egg whites 

Some people believe spreading an uncooked egg white on a burn will help relieve the pain. However, there is no evidence that uncooked egg helps. In fact, it is more likely that the egg will aide in spreading bacteria to the burn. 


Many people turn to ice before cool water to help with a burn, thinking that the cold temperature of the ice will do a more effective job in cooling the burned skin. 

However, ice can cause more harm than good and can irritate the burned skin further. In some extreme cases, a person may experience a cold burn from exposure to the ice. 


Some people believe applying toothpaste to a burn site can help. In fact, the unsterile toothpaste may actually help spread bacteria into the burn. 

When to see a doctor 

Although first-degree and second-degree burns do not typically require medical attention, there are a few signs to look out for. It is important to monitor first-degree burns as they may be second-degree with more damage showing up after a few hours. 

If a person experiences a second-degree burn or higher, they should seek medical attention for the burn. 

Things to look out for include: 

  • a burn that covers an area of skin larger than 3 inches 
  • burns around joints such as knees and elbows 
  • a burn that affects the face, groin, feet, hands, or buttocks 

Third-degree and fourth-degree burns require immediate medical attention. These burns are typically considered life-threatening. A person should not try home remedies when the burn is that severe.