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Anticipating that hand sanitizers are going to be in short supply, I've done some research on making my own. There are a variety of recipes, but the easiest and most straight forward one uses isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel.


I'm wondering if some of our gardeners and holistic members have ever made their own sanitizers, what recipe(s) you've used, %alcohol, and any problems or suggestions you might have.

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Plain old soap and water - any kind of soap - is you best defence, antibacterial cleansers are just a big marketing scam, if you don't believe me just check out the advice from the USFDA

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/antibacterial-soap-you-can-skip-it-use-plain-soap-and-water

Hand sanitizers are meant to be a stop gap until you can wash properly, they were never intended to be a total replacement for soap and water. And STOP TOUCHING YOUR FACE - that's probably the most effective way to protect yourself from germs but it is also the really difficult part (this is where masks can be helpful).
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I use a small spray bottle with straight 91% alcohol. Dries quickly and does not leave a sticky residue like some hand sanitizers. You can spray it on items that you touch coming from a public place, like keys and door handles.

The very best solution is to wash your hands as often as you can. I never use antibacterial soap, it messes up your natural defenses because it kills all bacteria good and bad.

Anyone that has never used melaleuca oil aka tea tree oil, please be advised that it is incredibly drying and should not be used straight. It can cause skin irritation and that could lead to other concerns.

Garden Artist, there are lots of essential oil blends that are intended to help us stay healthy. It originated with a blend called Thieves. It has orange, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary. The name Thieves is copyrighted so you will find it under different cleansing formulas with added or exchanged oils, like oregano (which is wonderful for sinus issues) or clove, ginger, thyme. As a gardener you can see the similarities in the oils and it is easy to Google the health benefits of each ingredient. So you can make your own blend if you want to utilize it for an added layer of confidence.

Ps: I would not wash my hands in expensive oils. I would diffuse it or I would put a drop or two in a capsule daily to ingest or put on the bottom of your feet to absorb. It is intended for strengthening the body not washing away germs.
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Hand Sanitizer can kill a lot of germs, but it does not remove them from your hands.

Washing your hands (minimum 20 sec.) does kill germs and removes them from your hands.

I think that killing the Covid-19 Coronavirus with anything for your hands will remain an unknown.
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Sanitize and disinfect are different than sterilizing.
Most people might already know that one cannot sterilize our hands.

"All surgical hand preparation using different kinds of antibacterial soaps and scrubbing one's hand with it for 3, 5 or even 10 minutes only lowers the bacterial count on one's hand, which after some time will slowly rise again. That's why surgeons wear sterile operating gloves."

That is what I learned in nursing school.

Keep washing hands, and frequently.
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DO NOT USE VODKA! That doesn't work. I thought Beatty was joking. Right?

Vodka doesn't come close to being high enough in alcohol to be effective. You need at least 60% alcohol. Use ethanol if you can get it. DO NOT use denatured ethanol. Use isopropyl cautiously if you cannot.

If you are trying to make your own hand sanitizer with aloe and isopropyl, use more than 70%. Since after you mix it with the aloe, 70% alcohol will be down to under 50% if you follow the common 2 parts isopropyl to 1 part aloe recipe. Use at least 91% isopropyl. The end product will have 61% alcohol.

Here in the US, aloe vera is widely available at dollar stores.
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There are still supplies of baby wipes. If you are not using them for a baby you can add alcohol to them. There is no aloe vera gel anymore,at least for now. We bought antibacterial hand/dish soap to use in lieu of antibacterial body wash which is also gone. Everything is gone although I see a lot of people loading up on wine which I don't drink. Melatonin is also becoming short in supply and I live in an area with one infected case as of now. At least stores are limiting supplies per customer. I can take all this news. I lived in NY during 9/11 but I am sad for my children and grandchildren.
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Send, thanks for the information; I've just tried to learn more about OnGuard but there's a problem with the website, and the sanitizing version of the product is sold out.   I guess that's to be expected.

I hadn't thought about tea tree oil, but I do have 2 herbal suppliers who might be selling it, if it's not all sold out.   I also have 70% isopropyl alcohol with wintergreen, a nice fragrant scent.    If I can find aloe vera gel, probably from an herbal supplier or someplace like the Henry Ford Hospital pharmacy or VITA, I could make my own.    I just wanted back ups for everything.

Just checked my inventory; I have 64 oz. of hand sanitizer, plus numerous little handouts which I get from senior expos.   That should last for a few or more months, but I'm still backing up supplies of everything, just in case.  

NeedtoWashHair, I'm still sorting out your advice.    I've used Isopropyl Alcohol w/Wintergreen and Glycerin, noting the caution against inhalation of fumes.    So far I've not had any problems, but your warnings are good as sometimes using something for a while w/o problems dictates a review of the potential downsides.

Thanks for the caution on eating after using isopropyl.    I've always washed after using it, and before eating, so I should be okay.

Checked the sanitizer I have now; it contains ethyl alcohol.  

Beatty and Edith - Vodka?    Never thought of that; if I used it, I'd have to make sure I wasn't stopped by police and mistaken for an inebriated driver (even though I wouldn't breathe on an officer!).   

If you haven't read of some folks who tragically succumbed to alcohol, 44 very unfortunate people died in Iran from drinking bootleg alcohol, which they thought would protect them against the CV.  

 https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/health-news/bootleg-alcohol-kills-44-people-trying-to-ward-off-coronavirus/ar-BB10ZD7S?ocid=spartanntp

Thanks for your suggestions.   I appreciate the time you took to offer them.
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Vodka doesn't have a high enough alcohol content. Tito's has been putting out info for people who thought they could use vodka in hand sanitizer -- it's 40% alcohol, and what's used in sanitizer needs to be 60%.
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Vodka?
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Which might be a plan if she was only concerned about the flu. Since Melaleuca Oil has been shown by some to have some effect on influenza. Unfortunately, it's been shown by those same people to have no effect on many other viruses.

There's a reason that hand sanitizer isn't made with Melaleuca Oil. Alcohol works. It works very well. It is effective against a wide variety of viruses and bacteria. Why not stick with what works?
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Or. skip the alcohol and aloe, just use a very few drops of Melaleuca Oil or OnGuard oil right on hands.

An easy, tiny take-along.
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Yes, isopropyl and aloe vera is the easiest to find ingredients for. Make sure you get the highest concentration of isopropyl you can get since you need at least 60% alcohol in the final mixture. 50-70% is thus not good. 91% is OK. 99% anhydrous is best.

Note the differences between isopropyl and ethanol. The latter being consumable. So if you use hand sanitizer and it's not full dry when you eat something with your hands, it's not a problem. You don't want to do that with isopropyl. Also beware of the fumes from isopropyl, you don't want to inhale those. Real hand sanitizer uses ethanol.

You could also use liquid 70% isopropyl and skip the gel.
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GardenArtist,
I am washing my hands. While supply gifted to us lasts, I am washing my hands with foaming Doterra OnGuard soap. Using hot water, and friction with the soap.

Here is a recipe found online for an essential oil sanitizer:

"Best diy natural hand sanitizer with DoTERRA On Guard essential oil. In a 2 oz spray bottle combine 2 tsp pure, clear aloe with 10 drops On Guard essential oil. Top off with water. Shake well to combine.".
Smells nice and clean, like Clove, Cinnamon, Oregano, etc.

We used to have 75% alcohol on hand, but now 91% is sold more readily in markets. I have not kept up. But I would feel secure putting 10 gtts. (drops) of Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Oil) in with 2 teaspoons of alcohol, and aloe gel. Just guessing, but others who do holistic will know. Just wanted to mention how I trust tea tree oil for it's antiseptic properties.
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