Updated: Mar 29, 2020
By: Robin Pyatt Bellamy, Mountaineer News Contributor
Posted: March 19, 2020 | 03:11AM EST
With folks freaking out and buying up enough hand sanitizer to bathe in (not to mention the toilet paper) you may not be able to find any. Never fear, I have a somewhat ok solution. Literally.
I was in Dollarama and I sighed over the empty shelf. They ALWAYS have hand sanitizer, in wonderful little purse-sized bottles. It’s Purell I think. Not today-not a bottle on the shelf. I considered going to the pharmacy, but the idea of paying $6 for one bottle didn’t appeal to me. I’m speaking at an event next week in Ohio and I thought it would be a bonus if I had some on my author table.
There happened to be another shopper there who heard my disappointment. She told me she had read on the internet how to make your own sanitizer. I usually laugh when someone says the “read it on the internet” but I was polite, thanked her, and moved on.
They did have alcohol, which is better than nothing. So I picked up two bottles, then some small bottles to put it in. Unless you have a still, Dollarama is probably the cheapest place to get alcohol. Just don’t drink it. It wasn’t the best kind. It wasn’t 100%, but since I am definitely not the expert on what kind can be sold, I put two bottles in the buggy and moved on.
After unpacking my treasures at home, I fired up Google to see if she was nuts. I can’t speak to her mental health, but there definitely is a recipe for hand sanitizer and it’s not difficult or expensive.
All you do is mix one third cup of aloe and two third cups of alcohol. That’s it.
Now, mind you it’s much thinner than regular hand sanitizer. It’s the high liquid alcohol content. Manufacturers use magic to make it the more slimy.
There are several recipes online. There are also plenty of how-to videos. I would imagine Pinterest has an abundance as well. I guess it won’t hurt to add my own. It really doesn’t matter about the ratio of aloe to alcohol so long as it is at least 60% alcohol. The aloe is just there to thicken it up and make it better for your skin. One recipe (or more) says to add a dozen drops of tea tree oil or other essential oils. I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep that around the house. I do, however, have oils that I use to make hard tack candy at Christmas (my sister sends it to me since I can’t find it up here in Toronto)..
I did some checking, and those flavor oils are just fine. It also doesn’t take a dozen drops to make it smell good. Two or there should be fine, but it’s really a personal choice. I’m using cinnamon. No food coloring though, as that will stain your skin and add no benefit to your sanitizer.
So I tried this. My recipe was 1and 1/3c of 50% rubbing alcohol. That 50% was all they had so I had to adjust the recipe. Remember it needs to be at least 60% when it’s done. I don’t know if doubling mine will work (chemistry and math, ugh) but it was the only kind they had.
It was really easy to make and this one recipe made all four of these little bottles (2.7 ounces each, according to the packaging). I would definitely suggest going with the spray bottle as it is very watery. I put it on my hands and it felt fine. It left a light cinnamon smell too.
Does it actually work? Not as well as the manufactured stuff, but it is definitely better than nothing, and I was working with nothing. Aline Holmes, associate professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing, says regular hand washing with soap works better. What if you don’t have access to hand washing?
Pharmacist Elisa Shipley in Charlotte, NC recommends you don’t make and use your own concoction. She says some people get the ration wrong. Under 60% alcohol won’t do any good, and too high of a ratio will dry out and hurt your hands. She also cautions about use when kids are around, or against using it with bleach. Obviously Elisa thinks everyone is stupid. Who adds rubbing alcohol to bleach?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a list of disinfectant products that have qualified for use against the Coronavirus. It’s quite an extensive list so I had to scroll through a bunch of stuff I didn’t understand, then saw things like Clorox Wipes and Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner. I’m not putting toilet bowl cleaner on my hands, no matter how well it works. Handing out Clorox Wipes to my attendees is out too-have you priced those things?
Robin Pyatt Bellamy was born in Point Pleasant, WV in 1961 and grew up in Ravenswood. She is a professional paranormal researcher, family history researcher, and author. Currently living in Toronto, Canada she is the mother of three adult children, grandma to two littles, and a modern day “southern belle”.