How Is Hand Sanitizer Made? The Entire Process From Start to Finish

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 made hand sanitizer famous. Never before had this gel-based disinfectant been more in demand than after it sold out worldwide. 

You can avoid the hand sanitizer frenzy by making your own at home. How is hand sanitizer made?

Take a look at this guide to creating your very own hand sanitizer recipe. 

How is Hand Sanitizer Made?

Brands create hand sanitizer recipes according to their core values. For example, if a company believes in providing the best options for sensitive skin, it might avoid heavy alcohol content in each recipe.

But do all these different recipes mean people aren’t getting the same levels of protection? Yes and no.

Most blends of hand sanitizer need a certain set of ingredients in order to be effective. Any hand sanitizer recipe you come across that includes these ingredients works well to protect you from pathogens.

Here are the most important ingredients in hand sanitizers.

Alcohol or Ethanol

According to the World Health Organization, all hand sanitizer recipes need alcohol or ethanol. If a hand sanitizer doesn’t contain alcohol, it’s not offering the maximum level of protection against viruses.

The alcohol eats away at the outer layer of the cell of a virus. Viruses can still live without the outer layer of its cells but for only a shorter period of time.

Your skin might dry out because of the high alcohol content in hand sanitizer but it’s worth reducing exposure to harmful germs. There are other ingredients included in hand sanitizer to help offset the impact of alcohol or ethanol on your skin.  

Distilled Water

The next ingredient in many hand sanitizers is purified water. The water is a great way to stretch your recipe further and minimize the impact the harsh ingredients have on your skin. 

You can get purified water at most grocery stores or drug stores. You’ll find purified water in hand sanitizer spray recipes more often than gel recipes.

Adding water to a hand sanitizer gel recipe makes it more difficult to apply to the skin. 

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide isn’t just a filler in a hand sanitizer recipe. It’s a great supplement to the alcohol because it gets rid of harmful bacteria inside the solution.

Hydrogen peroxide works by making the spores in the bacteria inactive. Unfortunately, adding hydrogen peroxide to your hands won’t do anything to get rid of bacteria on your skin. 

Making Hand Sanitizer at Home

It’s possible to make a great blend of hand sanitizer at home as long as you’re careful. It’s possible to misuse ingredients like ethanol leading to a fire or skin irritation.

If you want to avoid potentially dangerous consequences, make sure you’re using the ingredients according to the directions and safety protocols. 

Protective eyewear is the minimum you need to handle the strong ingredients in hand sanitizers. Here is a great hand sanitizer recipe to try once you’ve got the right safety equipment in place: 

  • Isopropyl alcohol 99.8%
  • Hydrogen peroxide 
  • Glycerin
  • Sterile distilled or boiled cold water

You want to use at least 99 percent isopropyl alcohol in your hand sanitizer recipe. This is the amount of alcohol needed to kill off dangerous pathogens in your skin.

The main reason the amount is so high is that hand sanitizers contain more than just alcohol. Once it is diluted with glycerin or aloe vera gel, the concentration of the alcohol goes down making it less effective on germs.

You’ll notice when shopping for alcohol that most contain an isopropyl alcohol content of around 70 percent. Finding a 99 percent alcohol solution might take time and more than one trip to the store.

Your alcohol should make up around 60 percent of your final hand sanitizer recipe. Anything less and you aren’t getting the right levels of protection.

There are hand sanitizer gels on the market that are alcohol-free. These products usually target children or people with highly sensitive skin.

It’s easy to reject these gels as pointless but they do more harm when they contain alcohol. Children have a higher risk of misusing hand sanitizers with alcohol so experts recommend that they avoid alcohol-based sanitizers altogether.

Next, add in your hydrogen peroxide to keep your solution clear of any bacteria. If you were only using alcohol alone, this step wouldn’t be necessary.

But since other parts of your solution might have been exposed to germs, you need hydrogen peroxide to kill them off. The glycerin helps dilute the alcohol so it’s not as harsh on our skin.

Water gets added at the end to top off your recipe. You don’t want to add more than 25 percent water to the mixture.

If it becomes too watered down, it won’t be helpful against germs.

Should You Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer?

Hand sanitizer recipes seem simple enough. A little bit of alcohol and a few other household ingredients, and like magic, you’re hands are properly sanitized.

But experts now warn against the use of DIY hand sanitizers for many reasons. One of the newest reasons is quality control.

At home, even with the right safety equipment in place and proper handling of your ingredients, the environment will never be as sterile as a lab. Labs are the ideal environment for avoiding contamination in a hand sanitizer.

If your mixture does end up contaminated, you’ll end up with a solution that’s likely more harmful than good for you. The next reason is that people often mistake using sanitizer as a replacement for hand washing.

In a global pandemic, this is a dangerous idea. Hand sanitizer gels aren’t nearly as effective at killing off viruses as hand washing.

Add to that the possibility of your recipe falling short because of a mistake or not having the right measuring tools and you’re defenseless against germs.

Hand Sanitizers vs Soap

Hand sanitizer gels are the next best thing when you can’t get access to soap and water. How is hand sanitizer made? 

In sterile laboratories where protective gear and precise measuring tools reign supreme. It’s almost impossible to recreate this environment at home, but if you do, you’ll get a great backup option to use while away from home.

For more information and tips, visit our blog for updates. 

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