Coronavirus is upon us, as well as our regular everyday flu season. Many places are shutting down, the US is in a state of emergency, and everyone is stocking up on hand sanitizer and soap.
However, due to the lack of sanitizer, many people have taken to making (and perhaps selling) homemade recipes or at least sharing around homemade recipes, that may be more harmful than helpful. So why is this such an issue? And what can you do to make your own hand sanitizer?
Lack of active ingredients
Many recipes online showcase sanitizers that either does not have enough alcohol to kill off bacteria and germs, or do not have any alcohol at all. When it comes to killing viruses and bacteria, you need an alcohol solution that is at least 60% pure, with higher numbers often being better to a certain point.
For instance, Witch Hazel often has an alcohol content of up to 30%, which not high enough to kill off these germs. This is despite it being showcased in many recipes. Essential oils may also be an issue too, as many of these can cause skin irritation or reactions, so it is best to avoid these oils when it comes to anything touching your body.
Some people suggest whiskey, or rum, but in almost all cases, these fall far below the amount of alcohol needed to kill germs, which is a minimum of 60%. So when it comes to alcohol, maybe if you had Rectified Spirits or other very hard to find alcohol with very high alcohol content, otherwise it is not even worth it.
Plus, this alcohol can cost a ton of money, which you are just going to use for your hands.
Also, do not use bleach, or ammonia, or anything like that. Let's stay smart. Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide also will not kill the virus.
Dilution is a problem
Many people start out with good intentions. They have 70% isopropyl alcohol or similar, and then they dilute it with water or aloe vera. You may have a 99.8% alcohol solution, but if you add 1 part aloe to 1 part alcohol, that dilutes the overall mixture to only about 50%, which is far too low.
Adding water or aloe vera is good for keeping your hands from drying out too much, as they are prone to do when covered in alcohol. But adding too much can make the end product basically useless. Perhaps even tricking you or consumers into a false sense of security.
This is why buying from manufacturers is the best bet, as they tend to know what they are doing. Or, if push comes to shove, just splash your hands with 70% isopropyl alcohol straight, or some slightly watered down 99.8%, and if your hands get too dry, use some lotion.
A good recipe to follow
The best thing to do would be to wash your hands with soap and warm water in order to get rid of the most bacteria and viruses. But since we may be in a place where that is not possible, sanitizer would be the next best option. So the World Health Organization actually has some hand sanitizer recipes that we can follow.
But again, be careful, as adding too much non-alcohol solution may dilute it to the point of being ineffective. And with that, I will leave you with a fascinating video to watch on this very topic.