The ongoing pandemic has taught all of us the importance of hygiene. Hand Sanitizers have become a crucial part of our lives now and we’re guessing that there won’t be any stepping outside the house without it anymore. While doctors still suggest that the best way to keep your hands clean is by washing it thoroughly with soap and water, we all know it’s not always possible to have access to them when outdoors. This is when hand sanitizers come to the rescue. Hand sanitizers are available in various sizes and their compact versions are extremely travel-friendly. They are also pretty inexpensive. With supermarket racks running out of hand sanitizers, a lot of people think that making their own hand sanitizer is a smart thing to do. Even though the internet is full of DIY videos of how to make hand sanitizers at home, none of them are completely correct. Many health agencies and experts highly disagree with home-made hand sanitizers as a slight mistake in the quantity of any ingredient can prove to be highly dangerous and downright harmful.
Reason to not make your own hand sanitizer
According to health professions and big pharmaceutical companies, the original formulas of hand sanitizers are very different from the ones available online. FDA has also stated that they aren’t sure about the methods being shown online for the preparation of an effective hand sanitizer so they cannot guarantee that these homemade hand sanitizers won’t have any adverse affect on your skin such as burn or infection. Also, making a sanitizer is tougher than it looks. It comprises multiple ingredients, all of which are not commonly available in the market. Ratio is the key to making an effective Alcohol hand sanitizer.
Most sanitizers available in the market have 60% alcohol present in them. Anything less than that makes the hand sanitizer useless. On the other hand, adding too much of any ingredient will not strengthen its power but instead has the reverse effects. Due to excessive demand of sanitizers marketplaces, both online as well as offline have started to face a shortage of hand sanitizers. To meet the requirement of consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have released guidelines for making your hand sanitizer at home. But that is for the professionals who have medical knowledge and not amateurs who have no information on how various alcohol and other ingredients work. It becomes increasingly dangerous if someone with no knowledge of chemicals tries to make a hand sanitizer at home. Providing children with homemade sanitizers is all the more risky as a sanitizer with improper concentrations of ingredients can cause more than usual damage when consumed. Kids can be a tad bit careless with things so you have to be sure what you’re handing over to them.
The real recipe of a hand sanitizer
The ideal hand rub components that WHO agree upon are denatured alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, glycerol (also known as glycerin), hydrogen peroxide and sterile water. A lot of hand sanitizers have Methanol in them which is harmful for your body. Methanol gives a good fragrance and even makes your hands feel fresh but its effects are severe such as blindness, seizures, or damage to the nervous system etc. You will also require an alcoholometer, an instrument for finding the percentage of alcohol in a liquid, to judge the final product. Not everyone has an alcoholometer lying around in the house and using a homemade hand sanitizer without checking the total amount of alcohol in it can prove to be extremely risky. A lot of videos circulating online also show addition of essential oils and colouring to their homemade sanitizers. Not only is that wrong but also harmful!
Formulas of homemade hand sanitizers
According to most of the videos circulating online on YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, the two ingredients required to make hand sanitizers at home are aloe vera gel and Isopropyl alcohol which is also known as rubbing alcohol. Both these ingredients are easily available in the market and almost everyone has access to them as they can be bought over the counters. Aloe Vera gel is used to restore the lost moisture from the hand. It has nourishing qualities and so aloe vera works best as a moisturizer. Most people have an aloe vera plant at home and its gel-like consistency also makes it easily spreadable. In homemade hand sanitizers almost 91% or 99% isopropyl alcohol is used to kill the germs. While both the products seem to blend properly, one can still mess it up if the quantity used is not proper. The alcohol can get diluted too much and in that case, the sanitizer will be of no use. Too little aloe vera can leave your skin dry like sandpaper. Ideally, a good homemade hand sanitizer has two thirds rubbing alcohol to one third of a cup of aloe vera gel. The ratio of both the ingredients needs to be perfect otherwise quality and potency of the product will degrade.
What is an alternative?
Doctors have repeatedly mentioned that the best ways to avoid being infected with the Coronavirus is by maintaining social distance, wearing a mask when outside or around too many people and regularly washing hands with soap and water. Since soap and water is not always available, sanitizers are our only option as rubbing them on our palms can kill the germs present in them. Hand sanitizers are only effective when they are applied on non greasy hands. Too much sanitizer can dry out the skin your hands so only a coin-size amount works. They are also highly flammable in nature so carelessness with it can cause accidents on large scale. Hand sanitizers are our best friend in these times of need, but they can also cause damage. Therefore, one needs to be responsible when using it.