With the COVID-19 coronavirus continuing its spread across the globe, consumer demand for hand sanitizer has spiked a three-fold in the last few weeks. This has led to unprecedented price hikes and the shortage of this vital commodity.
According to health experts, using hand sanitizer helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus. That sure sounds hopeful and is indeed a boost to the ongoing public awareness campaign against the virus.
If you’ve visited a drug store lately, you probably noticed the empty shelves where hand sanitizers normally sit. Not to mention the fact that some commercial hand sanitizers contain ingredients as scary as the germs they seek to protect you from.
But, you need not worry. Making hand sanitizer is remarkably easy. You only need a few key ingredients (which are readily available), plus follow a few steps (which I have outlined below).
Making your hand sanitizer will save you some money, and also protect you from germs and disease outbreaks. You can also customize its scent to be more appealing other than the usual ‘medicinal’ smell.
Perhaps, you might even go as far as properly packaging your product, kickstarting your own brand and rolling it out in the market.
TYPES OF HAND SANITIZERS
There are many different types of hand sanitizers but all are classified into two main groups.
a). Alcohol-based sanitizers, and
b). Alcohol-free sanitizers
Alcohol-based sanitizers (which we would be learning how to make) contain between 60 to 95% alcohol usually in the form of ethanol, isopropanol, and n-propanol. At those concentrations, alcohol immediately denatures proteins, effectively neutralizing certain types of microorganisms.
Alcohol-free sanitizers are mostly disinfectants, such as benzalkonium chloride (BAC), or on antimicrobial agents, such as triclosan. The activity of disinfectants and antimicrobial agents is both immediate and persistent.
Many hand sanitizers also contain emollients (e.g., glycerin) that soothe the skin, thickening agents, and fragrance.
The active ingredient in this hand sanitizer recipe is alcohol. For an alcohol-based sanitizer to be an effective disinfectant, it must contain at least 60% of the product.
Hence, this recipe calls for 99% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) or ethanol (grain alcohol, most commonly available at 90%-95%).
You are advised not to use any other types of alcohol (e.g., methanol, butanol), as they are highly toxic.
If you use a product that contains a lower percentage of alcohol (e.g., 70% alcohol) then you need to increase the amount of alcohol in the recipe or your end product won’t be as effective.
OTHER ESSENTIALS IN THE RECIPE
You might want to customize your hand sanitizer with a fragrance to make it more enticing.
The oil you choose may also add to how effective and durable your sanitizer will be. For example, thyme and clove oil have antimicrobial properties. If you are using antimicrobial oils, only use a drop or two, since these oils tend to be very powerful and might irritate your skin. Other oils, such as lavender or chamomile, may help soothe your skin.
OTHER THINGS YOU’LL NEED
Equipment / Tools
Bowl and spoon
Bottle with a pump dispense
2/3 cup 99 percent rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) or ethanol.
1/3 cup aloe vera gel
8 to 10 drops essential oil, optional
STEPS TO MAKING ALCOHOL BASED HAND SANITIZER
Gather Your Ingredients.
Make sure you have your rubbing alcohol, aloe vera gel, and optional essential oils ready and measured out.
Mix The Ingredients
Add all ingredients together in your bowl and mix thoroughly with a spoon.
Pour Into Your Bottle
Using the funnel, carefully pour your DIY hand sanitizer into the bottle of your choice, screw the top of your bottle on tight, and begin using.
As earlier highlighted, a hand sanitizer needs to have a strength of at least 60 percent alcohol. Since you’re going to have to mix your sanitizer with aloe vera gel to stabilize it and protect your hands, most recipes suggest that the mixture contains at least two-thirds 99 percent isopropyl alcohol and one-third gel.
Do not use vodkas as many contain just a little above 40 percent alcohol. But that’s not to say the ethanol in distilled beverages isn’t effective. Rather, it’s considered more effective against some types of infectious diseases than isopropyl alcohol. But to get the proper strength, you’d have to go for the ethanol that is higher in concentration.
Hand Sanitizers are only effective if you cover your hands thoroughly before you let them dry. Getting a few drops into your palms and then wiping your hands almost immediately will do no good.
The center for disease control and prevention (CDC) also suggests that you wash your hands at regular intervals and keep them away from your face.