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Recipes and WHO-recommended guides for homemade hand sanitizers

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Alcohol and sanitizers are flying off the shelves at the speed of lightning. Even resellers and online retailers are not much help in obtaining a hand sanitiser because they’re either sold out or selling for unbelievable, ridiculous prices.

While I have faith in my good old bar of soap, it doesn’t really help while I’m out on errands or shopping for supplies. So I jumped on the idea of concocting my own sanitizer at home. Aside from it help keep you safe, it also saves a lot of alcohol. One 500 ml bottle used is equivalent to more than one litre of sanitizer!

After hours of searching and reading, I have collated all the legit information to come up with the best guide to making homemade hand sanitizer. Keeping true to the World Health Organization’s Guide to Local Production of Handrubs (their term for hand sanitizers), you need not worry about silly fragrance ingredients and essential oils.

Debunking DIY Hand Sanitizer Myths

All the recipes and guides gathered below were sourced from credible global groups, organizations, and websites.

I would never want to recommend anything that’s not scientifically approved or not tested safe for general use. I also don’t want to give you false hope that your homemade hand sanitizer is fighting off viruses for you.

One important point to remember is that alcohol and sanitizers are only second best to wash your hands. Since we’re all locked up in our houses, there is absolutely no reason to not wash your hands!

Lastly, while we won’t be needing unnecessary ingredients like oils and gels, we will need an alcoholometer (alcohol hydrometer) for these recipes to live up to the hand sanitizer name. It’s a measuring instrument cheaper than a bottle of essential oil.

The key here is to make sure to follow the exact amounts and formulas for the sanitizers to work. Keep in mind it takes at least 60% of alcohol concentration to fight off the coronavirus. And that’s what matters in our disinfectants.

Let’s get on with this scientific experiment. And mind you, I think it’s a great educational activity to do with the kids as well. Better prep up, gather the family and spend the quarantine period having fun and even better, staying safe!

Materials and Ingredients You Need

The WHO put out 2 recipes or formulas for our use. The one found on their official link makes over 2 gallons of sanitizer. Below are the ingredients that will make you just enough out of the alcohol that you already have in stock!

Ingredients

Formula 1:

1 cup (236.6 mL) of 99% isopropyl alcohol

1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide

1 teaspoon of 98% glycerin

¼ cup (or 65 millilitres) of sterile distilled or cooled, boiled water

Formula 2:

1 ⅛ cup (266.16177) of 96% ethanol alcohol

1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide

1 teaspoon of 98% glycerin

¼ cup (or 65 millilitres) of sterile distilled or cooled, boiled water

As you can see, both formulas are the same, save for the kind of alcohol you can use.

Recommended and Essential Equipment

The following are what WHO specified to use in our little science experiment. But I’ve listed alternatives for each item for those of us who’s not quite running a meth lab in our garages.

The most important thing is to use clean, disinfected equipment so the sanitizers have a clean start!

Equipment:

• 10-litre glass or plastic bottles with screw-threaded stoppers, or

• 50-litre plastic tanks (preferably in polypropylene or high-density polyethene, translucent so as to see the liquid level), or

• Stainless steel tanks with a capacity of 80–100 litres

(for mixing without overflowing)

The bottom line is, you can opt for a sanitized plastic or stainless steel 3-litre container.

• Wooden, plastic or metal paddles for mixing

• Measuring cylinders and measuring jugs

• Plastic or metal funnel

These are self-explanatory.

• 100 ml plastic bottles with leak-proof tops

• 500 ml glass or plastic bottles with screw tops

These are basically containers for our finished product.

• An alcoholometer: the temperature scale is at the bottom

and the ethanol concentration (percentage v/v) at the top 

Rundown:

• Plastic or stainless steel 3-litre capacity (or more) container

• Wooden, plastic or metal paddles for mixing

• Measuring cylinders and measuring jugs

• Plastic or metal funnel

• Containers and bottles for our finished product

• An Alcoholometer

Step By Step Instructions

measure
  1. Disinfect and measure!

Before we start, it is absolutely vital that you get the measurements right so that the sanitizers come out with more than 60% alcohol concentration.

Air-dry the materials after cleaning them before use.

  1. Using the plastic or metal funnels, pour the alcohol into the 3-litre capacity container
  2. Pour in 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide
  3. Add in 1 teaspoon of glycerin

Stir well with the paddle or spoon because the glycerin will need more effort to mix and combine with the solution.

  1. Boil 1 cup of water and set it aside to cool. This can be done beforehand. We’ll be left with more than ¼ cup so make sure to measure it exactly.
  2. Pour in the water to the solution and stir
  3. Measure the solution with our alcoholometers and see to it that it passes the 60% benchmark to give yourself proper protection and peace of mind

In the case that the 2 recommended alcohols aren’t really what you have in stock, experiment with the ones that you do have and keep testing the solution with the alcoholometer.

You’ll generally need more alcohol if you’re going to use 91% or 70% alcohols, and so on.

That’s it, you’re good to go! Transfer the solution with your funnel to the spray bottles or containers that you’ve prepared.

Again, this will be an amazing activity to do at home with the family, not only is it a bit of homeschooling- but it’s also practical and helpful!

What Not To Use In Making Homemade Hand Sanitizers

  • Aloe vera gel
  • Essential oils
  • Herbal Extracts

I get it why people think it’s okay to add in these ingredients but authorities highly advise against doing so.

Mostly because these additives can dilute the solution which means you’ll need more alcohol than what’s actually necessary. That’s contrary to saving and maximizing your resources by making homemade hand sanitizers. You have to agree with me on this one.

If you’re worried that the bare solution is going to dry and chap your skin or that it will smell of alcohol, then I recommend letting the sanitizer dry completely after rubbing, and then you can lather on some aloe veras or a different scented moisturizing product of your choice.

My Thoughts

I hope you have found this article of making homemade hand sanitizers useful, especially during these uncertain times. While they don’t replace good old fashioned soap, they are the next best solution for when you’re out and about. Keep one in your car and one in your handbag for the ultimate safety.

Did you try making a hand sanitizer? How did it come out and do you have any other recommendations? Let me know in the comment section below!

References:

https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Guide_to_Local_Production.pdf

Hollie xx

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