Mylar Blankets – 10 Tips on What to Use Them For

You’ve seen them at the end of marathon races, with athletes at the finish line draping themselves with thin sheets of what appears to be aluminum foil. Have you witnessed a disaster’s results and have noticed that rescue workers use them to shield victims from the elements? But what are Mylar blankets, and how exactly are you supposed to use them?

NASA developed mylar blankets in the early 70s in response to an emergency on board the Skylab space station. Also called thermal or shock blankets, these reflective metal sheets can be a lifesaver against hot or extremely cold scenarios.

Besides the ability to retain over 90% of your body heat, Mylar blankets have various other applications. They are inexpensive, light to carry, and take up the space of at least 4.5 inches when folded up. This article covers the common and the not-so-familiar in the 10 tips for using them.

What Are Mylar Blankets, and How Do They Work?

Mylar rescue blankets are emergency heat reflective sheets of plastic lined with a metallic agent either in silver or gold color. The cheap blanket helps you to buy time in a situation where you need protection from the cold, sun, rain, snow, or wind. These covering will keep you from losing body heat if you’re injured, but there’s no insulation capacity.

The blanket will help maintain body temperatures by not losing heat but without any warmth generation. There is also zero breathability in Mylar blankets, and as such, it’ll also retain moisture. Condensation from sweat can cause chills leading to hypothermia if you’ve not added a layer in between.

Mylar blankets are popular with emergency workers and outdoor, and survival enthusiasts, also called apocalypse preppers. When unfolded, the blanket covers an area of four by seven feet, sufficient for protecting your extremities from the elements. Their threefold operational design for first aid facilitates;

  • Convection reduction by the airtight foil
  • Reduced evaporation of body sweat
  • Thermal radiation inhibited by the reflective surface

You can use Mylar blankets in a hot environment for protection against radiated thermal or for shade. It’ll be counterproductive to wrap yourself with the blanket as the airtight foil traps body heat. Other than helping you to cool slowly cooling, you can use the filmed sheets for different applications.

What Else Can You Use Mylar Blankets For?

Using a Mylar space blanket the proper way will help you retain body heat in an emergency. Avoid lying down on the cold ground but instead, sit up to offset hypothermic reactions. You can squat while wrapping it around yourself to minimize losing warmth from the bottom.

Since Mylar offers no insulation, using it as a groundsheet in the cold can end up sapping you of body heat. You can sleep under two blankets, one on the floor while another covers you but always with a layer of insulating clothing or even dry leaves in between.

In an emergency involving freezing temperatures, it’s also vital not to put a Mylar blanket over your head. These space blankets are made of airtight plastic and, as such, will cause your breath to condense, increasing your chances of freezing.

Ten tips on what to use Mylar blankets for include;

Send an SOS

You can signal for help using your Mylar blanket in an emergency due to the chrome-like gold or silver finish. If you get lost, for instance, or you’re flooded in, you can make light bounce off the reflective surface and signal for help.

When you notice a plane flying by or from a high vantage point, you can leave markers that flutter in the wind or reflect light towards your position. Tying emergency blankets up trees in forested areas has also resulted in rescuers finding and saving stranded people. Spread your blanket on a piece of cardboard when signaling planes or faraway vehicles.

Harvest and Purify Water

A Mylar blanket is essential to a non-porous sheet of airtight material, which makes it perfect for collecting groundwater or catching rainwater. If you’re blessed, in disguise, with a bit of rainfall, dig a hole and line it up with one of these blankets. You can ensure that dirty runoff doesn’t affect your clean pool of collected water by raising the edges.

You can also tie up your blanket’s four corners to the trunks of trees, weighing it down in the middle with a rock. At the bottom of the funnel, rainwater will collect, which you can then place into a container for drinking. Place snow into your Mylar blanket and arrange it into a cone, putting it in a way that catches sunlight for it to melt.

Water that you’re unsure of its purity can also be pasteurized using a bowled-out Mylar blanket and letting the sun kill bacteria. You’ll need at least six hours of maintained sunshine to kill parasites and other harmful coliforms.

Build a Shelter

Using your Mylar emergency blanket as a tarp, you can improvise to build a shelter. However, making a tent using these blankets requires that you don’t puncture them as they’ll lose their waterproof capacity. You can use duct tape or a Paracord to tie and fashion a tent-like structure for protection against the elements.

Reflect Heat

Mylar emergency blankets have a melting point of 500° F and can withstand very high temperatures. It’s safe to use the blanket in the proximity of the fire. You can reflect the heat to your body or shelter instead of going to waste.

Use a sheet placed at the backside of a campfire to deflect most of the otherwise wasted heat. Even a tiny heating source can be sufficient to reflect into the cover of another blanket that keeps you warm. You can use this heat source to dry out your clothes on these blankets; something made easier by the availability of some sunshine.

Cover Insulation

You can use Mylar blankets to insulate your sleeping bag or survival hammock layers to improve warmth in inclement weather. Place a blanket on top of your sleeping arrangement before crawling under, or cut it up into bits that you can stuff into shoes and gloves.

When cardboard and old newspapers aren’t available, homeless people have used these space-age sheets to keep warm.

As Medical Aid

Use a Mylar blanket as a first-aid tool when you’ve got no alternative. With an emergency blanket, you can fashion a makeshift slink that helps immobilize a sprained arm or other broken limb.

Desperate situations will see you using your Mylar blankets as a compression bandage. Similar dire scenarios demand that you use pieces of your blanket as a tourniquet, especially when dealing with a bleeding wound.


With a Mylar blanket, you don’t need specialized gear to whip up a survival meal for yourself. You can save the day by cooking slithers of meat on a concave sheet and then facing it to the sun. Improvise a bowl and other utensils from space blankets, which can also help to start a parabolic fire.

You can also use Mylar blankets to wrap food that you can cook over or near a fire. The blanket has a high melting point and can withstand boiling food within it until it’s palatable.

Start a Fire

The reflective surface of your Mylar blankets can act as a mirror, and you’ll start a fire with proper kindling, sunlight, and patience. Use a concave object to wrap your blanket and concentrate the beam of reflected sunshine into dry leaves or twigs, and you’ll soon have a campfire going.


Strips from a Mylar blanket can be fashioned into lures with which you can have varying levels of strike successes. Fish love shiny things, and the reflective surface of these blankets attracts aquatic critters of all sizes.

Once you’ve snagged a trout or whatever fishes, cleaning or gutting them is easier on your blanket’s surface. You’ll also wrap your fish with pieces of a Mylar blanket to cook or preserve your catch.

Waterproof Gear

Your Mylar blanket is entirely waterproof and can be used ideally to shield your gear or equipment from rain and other water sources. For instance, when crossing a torrential river, you can wrap your backpack with emergency blankets to keep contents dry.

If you leave a campsite unattended, wrap food and valuables in a blanket’s moisture-resistant interior before burying or hanging up a tree. That way, you can protect these items from animals or any ill-meaning wanderer that may come along.


Even if you don’t venture into the outdoors much, Mylar space blankets are multi-use tools that will come in handy in unexpected ways. It’s up to you and how far your imagination can wander. Besides what to use these blankets for, they’re better having in any situation than without.  

With Mylar blankets in your carry, it’s one extra step to ensuring your preparedness. In an emergency, you’ll need space blankets to create a cool shade, protect your body from heat loss, signaling for help to catching and cooking food. In any case, you can cut the blanket into three strips that you can braid to use as cordage.