How To Cut A Pill Without A Pill Cutter

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Using a pill cutter is the most recommended way to split pills. But, sometimes, you might not need a pill cutter to break certain types of tablets. In this article, you will find answers to the following questions:

4 Ways To Split Pills without Pill cutter


What Precautions Should I Take Before Splitting Pills?

Before you decide to split your pills, you will have to get your doctor’s or pharmacist’s permission to do so. Not all medications should be separated, as doing so inappropriately might change the composition of the pill. You might not achieve the intended use of the drug if you cut certain tablets.

Additionally, if using tools with sharp edges or blades to split pills, handle the tool with care so as not to injure yourself.

Note as well that some pills can lose some potency after they are split as they lose their outer capsule and the interiors are exposed to the atmosphere. To be safe, it is advised to have the habit of pill splitting only when you use them, rather than pill cutting a whole set and storing them all in a pill organizer.

If you physical limitations (caused by conditions like arthritis or Parkinson’s disease) that may prevent you from conducting accurate cutting, do consult your pharmacist and physician about your concerns prior to receiving your prescription medication.


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Four Ways to Split Pills Without a Pill Cutter

Some medications on the market have a score on them. A score is a straight line indentation on the top of your tablet. If your pill has a score, it implies that you can cut the pill in half along the line. If your physician has determined that you can split a pill and it does not already have a score, you can create your score by marking with a sharp knife or scalpel. 

To manually score, move the knife or scalpel in a straight line across the tablet once or twice. You need not put much pressure on the tablet to get a deep score. 

This method is useful, but there are some things to note:

  • You might lose a small quantity of the pill when you score it. Using a scalpel that is very thin and sharp will keep the loss to a minimum.
  • You may risk losing more of the pill if the pill is a very small size.

The following are ways to split pills without the use of a dedicated pill cutter or tablet cutter:

By Hand

Once the score is outlined on the tablet, you can snap it with your hands along the score, splitting it in half. Hold the tablet with your two thumbs and press it outwards. Be careful not to grasp the pill too tightly so as not to crush the pill and lose portions of it.

Note that this method might not work for smaller tablets. The main reason is that you cannot grip them conveniently with your thumbs. It is tough to get the necessary leverage. The shape of the pill might also impact the efficacy of this method.

Cut Pills By Hand


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Pet Nail Scissors

Some people have successfully used stainless steel pet nail scissors to split pills, and this is possible because the blades of these scissors form a circular shape. This method might be useful when your medicines are small and round.

Razor Blade and Tweezers

Single edge razor blades that have a scraper-type holder can also help you split your pills. You can use tweezers that are rubber coated to hold the tablet firmly. The tweezer will also help in keeping the shattered parts from splattering.

Serrated Knife

You can use a sharp serrated knife to cut into the pill gently. It will make a groove on top of the tablet. Then you can apply even pressure on the tablet to cut it in half.

Serrated Knife to cut pills


Are There Dedicated Tools for Splitting Pills?

Certainly. There are convenient little tools available known as a pill cutter, pill splitter, or tablet cutter that typically consist of a small razor blade encased in a capsule. To split a pill using a pill splitter, simply align the pill correctly into the slot and close the capsule. Note that many of these pill cutters are sized to cut only a circular-shaped small pill and typically would not fit a large pill.


What Pills Should Not Be Split?

It is advised not to cut pills with delayed-release ingredients or long-lasting ones or containing a mixture of active ingredients. If your medications have an external coating that protects your stomach, they are usually unsafe to cut. It is also not advisable to be splitting chemotherapy drugs and blood thinners.

Small pills are generally more challenging to split as there is a greater risk of losing a larger fraction of active ingredients in each dose. If you have a tablet that can crumble and is not a vital medication, you can try to smash it into little pieces, mix it with applesauce or jam and eat them.


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