Thanks to a lot of panic buying early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, items like toilet paper, pasta, and hand sanitiser ran out for consumers. But while it’s not feasible to make your own toilet paper, there is a way you can make your own hand sanitiser with the right ingredients.
Before you start
The purpose of alcohol hand rub is to disinfect and that means a potent form of alcohol. With coronavirus, it needs to be very strong. Even a strong bottle of vodka only has 60% alcohol which wouldn’t be enough. So you’ll need something like isopropyl alcohol with an alcohol level of 75-99%.
DO NOT use alcohol lower than 75%.
You also need to make sure that everything you use to make your own hand sanitiser is sanitised itself or everything will be contaminated. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends letting your mixture sit for a minimum of 72 hours so it can kill any bacteria that was present during the process.
And a final important note is to use an emollient to counteract the harshness of the alcohol on your hands. Major health officials have shown concern that emollients aren’t being used in home-made sanitisers, causing further problems such as alcohol poisoning and skin problems.
Oh, and keep out of reach of children.
There are two sets of ingredients you’ll need to make your own makeshift Purell (both from WHO guidelines):
An easy gel formula
- Isopropyl alcohol (75-99% recommended)
- Aloe vera gel
- Tea tree oil
You need to mix 3 parts isopropyl alcohol to 1 part aloe vera gel. A few drops of tea tree oil gives it a nice smell and adds some antiseptic properties. Some aloe vera gels come with tea tree oil added (I have a bottle myself).
The recommended spray formula
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Glycerol or glycerin
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Distilled water (if you can’t get any, you can use boiled water – after it’s cooled, of course)
- A spray bottle to put it in
Aloe vera gel is replaced with glycerin to avoid stickiness.
Mix together 2 teaspoons of glycerol, 12 fluid ounces of IPA, a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide, and 3 fluid ounces of distilled/cooled boiled water. The lower-concentration of alcohol, the less water you use).
Put the concoction into a spray bottle and you’re done.
If in doubt, wash your hands and stay home
I can’t stress this enough – if you don’t feel comfortable doing any of this, don’t. Washing your hands is the best thing you can do as using a custom made hand sanitiser isn’t necessarily safer than soap outside industrial settings (or a better substitute for a vaccine, for example). The idea of making your own is primarily for areas without clean water or sanitary conditions.
Alongside that, here are some more tips to keep in mind during the pandemic:
- Stay at home when possible
- Wash your hands regularly
- Avoid touching your face
- When around other people, stay at least 6 feet away
- Wear a cloth face mask when outside (either a N95 mask or blue cloth surgical mask but don’t hoard them as there are medical shortages)
- Disinfect regularly used surfaces (but you should have been doing that anyway)