Can a titanium ring be cut in case of an emergency?

My fiance and I were looking at wedding bands the other day. Among my favorites were a couple of titanium bands. The saleswoman mentioned that, while emergency rooms and EMTs have equipment to cut through a gold or silver ring in case of an emergency, they have no way to cut through a titanium (or stainless steel, for that matter) ring.

Is this true? Is there any cutter out there that could remove a titanium wedding band from my finger in the case that an emergency worker needs to get to my finger? Or, if I go with the titanium ring, will I risk losing the finger in an emergency?

I’m going to take a wild stab here and guess that the gold rings were more expensive than the titanium ones. Can you think of a reason why the salesperson might want to steer you away from titanium?

That having been said, I imagine that cutting off a titanium ring would be more difficult than a gold or silver one, but I don’t think it would be impossible.


Seems like worst case scenario they could use a grinder or bolt cutter. Your finger might get cut, but you wouldn’t lose it.

Titanium isn’t some super-strong “Metal of the Gods.” It just has some nice properties: about as hard as steel, about as light as aluminum, doesn’t react with body tissues.

Anyway, here’s one answer on the emergency cut-off issue: Boone Rings FAQ:

I was married this past November and while my wife has a plain gold wedding band, I chose a titanium band - I liked the non-flashy look of it (though they are cheap!).

I heard an EMT on a radio show whosaid that he carries a needle and long thread withim in case of swollen and/or mangled fingers. I guess the idea is that he threads the needle and pushes it under the ring towards the knuckle. He then begins tightly winding the thread around the finger starting on the outside of the ring until the entire finger is wrapped (and compressed). The ring is supposed to slide off easily after that. So he says.

Upon preview you can cut titanium. Good news for my digit!

Yes, this trick works – and it works a lot better with dental tape than with thread. Slight correction: wrap the finger distal to the ring with dental tape (or floss), and tuck one end under the ring. Then unwinding the floss pushies the ring along the finger.

I’ve worked in a few places making titanium medical componants. It machines a little different than steel but cuts easy enough.

I’d like to reiterate the point, titanium is NOT stronger than steel. It’s remarkable that for its weight it’s nice and strong with a little flex. (Also most titanium golf clubs and bikes are a titanium aluminum alloy. You are not getting this pure wonder metal like you think you are.)

It should be noted that “strong as steel” is an almost meaningless statement. Mild steel is soft enough to easily cut with a hacksaw but high carbon or alloy steel can be hard enough that files and hacksaws will just bounce off the surface without the teeth digging in. The same is true of titanium where pure metal can be cut reasonably easily but some of the aerospace alloys with high vanadium content can be much more difficult to cut.

That said I have a titianium band. I really don’t know the alloy but it has a patina of fine scratches and scuffs since it wasn’t surface treated. I’ve got some pretty big sausages on my mitts so the jeweler had to get the largest size in the style I wanted and grind the inside to fit and he noted that it was very difficult to grind. I realize the risk so I always have my ring off when working with power tools but I don’t lose sleep over it.

As an emerg doc, I’ve removed my fair share of rings the hard way. Gold and silver are quite easy to cut using widely available ring cutters. I’ve never had to cut a titanium ring to my knowledge, but steel can be pretty hard to cut.

The wrap around the finger method works a little over half the time. I’ve had people come into my ER with metal cock rings far too thick to be removed with our ring cutters. We had to call in the fire department, who have better bolt cutters than we do. Said patient would have done better if he had come to our department seventy hours earlier when the problem began. Some rings should be made out of plastic.


In addition to “titanium rings can’t be cut in an emergency”, I’ve also heard “titanium rings can’t be resized”. Is that false as well?

Titanium rings can’t be resized by standard jewelers equipment, according to the jeweler where I got my band. The company will give you a free replacement, however.

Now THAT’s a story. Thanks for sharing…I think.


Its not meaningless, its a valuable marketing ploy. :slight_smile:

How likely in the real world would cutting off a titanium wedding band be an issue? I could run this by some surgeons I know, but in this case under real world scenarios losing a finger would likely not be a medically significant issue.

Exactly correct. FTR, I’ve also been told my platinum ring was “too hard” to be cut off by mere mortal EMTs as well…after all, the jeweler who sold it me said it was the “hardest metal known to science”. :rolleyes:

I’d like to meet this jeweller’s science teachers.

This ring-cutting tool appears to use a small, thin grinding wheel, powered by a hand lever. Titanium can certainly be ground through, although it would put up more of a fight than gold or silver, which are softer.

Not too likely, really. But when I heard that I immediately got a picture in my head of having some hand problem, and having to lose a finger just because they couldn’t get my ring off. The odds of that ever happening are low, but I thought I’d ask anyway.