Friday, May 4, 2012

Hand Sanitizer

I am a tiny bit of a germ-a-phobe and I love hand sanitizer.  I know that there's a lot of different views on this stuff and I've read articles from both ends of the spectrum.  This post is just about MY personal preferences and what we do for our family.  I'm by no means an expert.  Ask your doctor if you have questions.

It's an old article but I recently came across this one that was published in the NY Times.  Something that really stuck with me was the amount of alcohol both the CDC and the FDA says needs to be in alcohol based hand sanitizers to be effective.  That number is at least 60%.  I checked the fancy schmancy bottle I carry in my purse.  It has 40%.  The no-nonsense jumbo sized bottle next to my kitchen sink?  Sixty percent.

The smart thing would be to refill my tiny purse bottle with the jumbo stuff but I like how the fancy stuff smells so I got out the calculator and a few supplies and came up with this.

It's easy and you might have the supplies you need on hand.

91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol (in the first aid section at your pharmacy)
aloe vera gel
essential oils in any scent you want

The 91% rubbing alcohol is essential to get your ratio right if you are using my method.  I will explain the math and you can substitute as you see fit if you can get the numbers to come out.

You need to decide how much you want and how strong you want your sanitizer to smell.

You will mix ONE PART aloe vera gel AND oils with TWO PARTS alcohol.

For this batch, I made a "part" equal to 1/4 cup.  This means I filled 1/4 cup with aloe vera gel and essential oils (about thirty drops. . . I like it strong!) I put it into a bowl and mixed it with 1/2 cup alcohol.  Use a funnel to fill containers.  This is a little runny, not thick like Germ-X or like brand, but it isn't completely watery.  It will smell like rubbing alcohol for a few seconds but the alcohol evaporates off and the smell of the oils (I used orange) remains on your hands.

You can use any measurement to equal the part.  The key is how many parts you use.  You can use a measuring cup, a tablespoon or a mayonnaise jar lid.  Doesn't matter what you use to measure as long as its you use the same thing to measure each part.

Here's the math and why you need to use the 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol:

One part will have ZERO % alcohol.  This is your aloe vera gel and essential oil mix.
Two parts will have 91% alcohol (remember 91% = 0.91)

Add the percentage of alcohol in all the parts together (0+0.91+0.91=1.82)
Divide your total by the number of parts (three).

1.82 divided by 3 = 0.6067 (60.67%)

This is why the regular 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol won't work with this recipe.  Your percentage would only be 47% and that's not enough to be effective.

The math is kind of fun and knowing what is actually in my hand sanitizer is very nice.  I will be replacing my fancy store bought hand sanitizer with my equally fancy homemade hand sanitizer.

*** This shouldn't have to be said but there are a lot of people out there who don't use common sense so I'm adding it.  I'm not a chemist.  I'm not a mathematician.   I'm not a doctor.  Contact one of the above if you have questions about this stuff.   Don't eat it.  You shouldn't slather it all over your body. . . that's not good for you.  If it's a caution on the commercial bottles of hand sanitizer, you should assume it applies to this stuff.  And, for crying out loud, don't let your kids play with it.  

If I do it again:

I would love to use my aloe vera plant to get the gel versus purchasing it.  However, I accidentally froze my plant and I'm currently nursing it back to health.  Next time, though, I will use the aloe from my plant as a base.

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