Hey, there! Log in / Register

Thank God we're a multi-newsroom town, coronavirus edition

WBZ shows how to make your own hand gel, WHDH says that's dangerous

The WTFDIC Hour noticed contrasting tweets from WBZ and WHDH on making your own alcohol-infused gel now that you can't buy the factory-made stuff at local stores any longer.

Topics: 
Free tagging: 

Ad:
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

Don't make your own.

You'll get sick or burn your hands or worse, you'll think your hands are sanitized and theyre not.

up
Voting closed 1

Making hand sanitizer isn't complicated as long as you can do basic math. Use isopropyl alcohol and keep it in the 70–90% concentration range, and you'll be fine. The gel just makes it easier to spread without having it drip everywhere.

You're not gonna burn your hands unless you set them on fire in the process. (Note: Alcohol is flammable. Don't mix or apply hand sanitizer near flame!) You can use isopropyl or ethyl alcohol.

I have a little keychain spray bottle filled with drugstore 70% isopropyl alcohol, no gel or other additives. Watered down Everclear would also work!

Just 1) make sure the concentration is high enough, 2) you wash your hands if they're visibly grimy, and 3) *keep rubbing* until it dries. That's it.

(Edit: Changed 65% lower bound 70%, since recommendations vary and I wanted to be conservative.)

(Edit 2: Here I'm playing fast and loose with concentration by volume vs. by weight. For 190 proof, it doesn't really matter. For middling concentrations, the percent weight can be up to about 10% lower than percent volume, so 140 proof = 70% by volume = 62% by weight. Hence erring on the side of caution...)

up
Voting closed 4

I bet methanol (methyl alcohol, wood alcohol) would work as a hand sanitizer, and you can probably get it at the hardware store... but it's much more toxic than ethanol or isopropanol, and I'd be somewhat concerned about absorption and fumes. But it's also something that people aren't going to accidentally buy at the drugstore after seeing a tweet.

up
Voting closed 13

I have read that it should be over 60%, but no more than 70% alcohol - apparently over 70% is actually less effective!

up
Voting closed 8

In a study on rhinovirus, handwashing, and hand sanitizer, there was no significant difference between 65% and 83% ethanol: https://aac.asm.org/content/54/3/1363.full

I too have heard it claimed that very high alcohol content might not work as well, due to the reduced water activity, but I haven't seen a citation for it. And I have no particular reason to believe that higher ethanol content would be worse for coronavirus disinfection than for rhinovirus.

Here's another one, a literature review on ethanol against a wide variety of viruses: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195670117304693 ("Efficacy of ethanol against viruses in hand disinfection", Journal of Hospital Infection, Volume 98, Issue 4, April 2018, Pages 331-338; current sci-hub link). In fact, this one even suggests that 95% gives the best coverage overall.

Edit: Even better, pages 4–5 of the second paper indicate that effectiveness of ethanol starts as low as 42.6% by weight for SARS and MERS coronaviruses, as well as a host of other enveloped viruses.

up
Voting closed 0

It is cheap, isn't taxed like booze, and a high enough percentage to blend.

I made my own sanitizer using 1/4 cup aloe gel, 1/2 cup isopropanol, and added a splash of vanilla and a tsp of avocado oil. It is actually really nice - dries fast, leaves skin soft. The only downside is that my son took some to work and now everyone wants some.

up
Voting closed 6

I haven't done much research yet on methanol absorption, but I'd be wary. One study showed that ethanol hand sanitizer could produce a false positive on an alcohol urine test, not by absorption but by inhalation. I don't know how sensitive that test is, though. And I don't know if methanol, being a smaller molecule, is a better candidate for the absorption route.

up
Voting closed 10

Since I have one of the big containers from Home Depot at home... Here is the SDS for it: http://www.kleanstrip.com/uploads/documents/GSL26_SDS-1625.6.pdf

Relevant information:

H311: Toxic in contact with skin.

and:

[CAS #] [Hazardous Components (Chemical Name)] [Concentration]
[64-17-5] [Ethyl alcohol {Ethanol}] [30.0 -60.0 %]
[67-56-1] [Methanol {Methyl alcohol; Carbinol; Wood alcohol}] [30.0 -60.0 %]
[108-10-1] [Methyl isobutyl ketone {Hexone; Isopropylacetone;
MIBK; 4-Methyl-2-pentanone}] [0.1 -1.0 %]

So, anywhere from 30% to 60% methanol, and listed as toxic for skin exposure. I think I'll pass on mixing it into a hand sanitizer. I can swipe some isopropanol from work for that, if I decide to do it at all.

up
Voting closed 9

It would be pretty stupid to get someone in trouble over a tiny concentration of alcohol that wouldn't actually cause impairment.

But drug testing is indeed pretty stupid.

up
Voting closed 5

I was shocked when I learned that "denatured" meant "mixed with poison". The word implies they modify it slightly so it doesn't get you drunk, not that they add something that makes you violently ill and go blind.

up
Voting closed 7

I went back and tracked down where I saw that assertion, and it was pretty anecdotal:

70% isopropyl alcohol has a higher efficacy than higher percentages...If you go much beyond the 70% threshold there won't be enough water in the solution and alcohol is hygroscopic (it absorbs water) [and] you need a certain percentage of water to help penetrate the [lipid] membrane.

Useful to know that effectiveness starts at such a low percentage, as well - I've seen (and been promulgating myself) a lot of warnings that hand sanitizer has to be at least 60% to be effective. Presumably at lower concentrations one does need to be more lavish in application?

up
Voting closed 10

I have a little keychain spray bottle...

Where did you get that?

I used to have tiny plastic bottles with Purell in them, and I'd carry one in an inner pocket of my backpack, but it invariably got squooshed by the other stuff in the pack, and made a mess. I'm almost out of Purell, and can't find more, but I still have some alcohol. Can't figure out how to carry around a small amount, however. Suggestions welcome.

up
Voting closed 2

Dollar store, supermarket, not just pharmacy.

You can get these little soft plastic thong sort-of thing to hold a 1.5 oz bottle - fasten to bag, keychain, whatever...

up
Voting closed 8

Just meant that it was small. I'd prefer if it had the little silicone case with a ring for keychain or strap attachment, but I just keep it in my pocket.

up
Voting closed 1

The self-storage place I have a unit in gave me several pen-shaped sanitizer dispensers with their logo on them when I rented the unit. I carry one around in my purse. Check local stores; they might have something similar. Bonus; free!

up
Voting closed 9

Sometimes in the travel size area. At least that's where I found it last August.

up
Voting closed 1

Was there yesterday - the one in Boston. I can't remember if they were at the first or 2nd floor Customer Service/Checkout registers. They've added little last minute impulse purchase stands and they had a bunch of little L+T branded sanitizers in the rubber slings.

up
Voting closed 2

won't buy Corona beer.

I stand by my original comment.

up
Voting closed 8

Can I just wash my hands in vodka?

up
Voting closed 22

I've been washing my insides with vodka for years.

up
Voting closed 70

But that's generally hard to find. Everclear is 190 proof (95% alcohol), though, and you can dilute that to 70% or so by mixing 3 parts Everclear with 1 part tap water.

(Personally, I suspect a 40% vodka would still work, as long as you use more of it or give it more time to work, but that would not comply with the recommendations I've seen.)

up
Voting closed 4

So you're saying that I can give my hands a Bacardi 151 bath.

Ok

up
Voting closed 13

Unless the cited "expert" is personally experienced in brewing their own hand-sanitizer, then it's a stretch to call them an expert.

In any case, on the subject of compounding medicines, it's probably wiser to trust a pharmacist over a professor of public health, or even over a physician.

up
Voting closed 10

I'd say no, it's a disinfectant.

up
Voting closed 5

The most compounding 99% of pharmacists do these days is to mix up some simple syrup for an occasional customer who has had direction from a doctor.
Other than that... well, it's been a couple of years, but the state is mostly over the specialty compounding pharmacy snafu.

up
Voting closed 14

I keep a spray bottle with my kid's diapers that I use to clean my hands post change. Neither 70% nor 90% isopropyl burn at all.

up
Voting closed 0