A number of individuals on the web are recommending the use of vodka, rum or gin to make your own hand sanitizer. The key is ensuring the final percentage of ethanol in your hand sanitizer is at least 80% ethanol according to the World Health Organization and FDA. If you use Rum with an alcohol base of 40%, there is no way you can increase the alcohol content up to 80%. The same is true with vodka or gin. If you don’t have adequate alcohol in your home-made mixture you are not killing the germs that can kill you. Calculations are critical to ensure you have the proper percentage of alcohol to do the job.
If you use isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) the final percentage of alcohol must be at least 70% to be effective. The WHO and FDA recommend 75% alcohol.
Mesa Lavender Farms® starts with isopropanol alcohol with a known alcohol percentage. We test the alcohol prior to starting the formulation process with an alcoholmeter. The percentage of alcohol (or proof) is dependent on the temperature of the alcohol when it is tested with degrees added or subtracted to the percentage of alcohol-based on the temperature of the alcohol tested. Once we know the percentage of alcohol we are starting with, we can adjust the formulation to ensure the addition of the inert ingredients such as glycerin, hydrogen peroxide and water result in a final alcohol percentage of 75%. This is the WHO and FDA recommended level of alcohol that will effectively kill those germs.
Using an alcoholmeter after the formulation is recommended by some websites. Alcohol percentage varies based on the viscosity of the product being tested. Adding water, aloe, hydrogen peroxide, or glycerin to alcohol changes the viscosity of the fluid and will result in an inaccurate reading of the alcohol in the mixture. For that reason, the alcohol must be tested prior to the addition of the inactive ingredients.
Adding aloe gel is a common recommendation on online Do-it-yourself formulations. However, research shows the use of gel can reduce the effectiveness of alcohol. The same has been found with the use of glycerin in an isopropyl alcohol formulation. Consequently, the amount of glycerin recommended when using isopropyl alcohol needs to be half what is recommended for use when formulating a hand sanitizer with isopropyl alcohol.
So the common recommendation of 60% to 70% alcohol, and 30% to 40% moisturizer, (something like aloe or glycerine), is not accurate. The incorrect formulation will not provide adequate protection from virus-causing germs and may leave you vulnerable to life-threatening infection. This recommended blend of 70% alcohol and 30% moisturizer may result in an alcohol content of only 50%, far less than the percentage necessary to kill germs.
Mesa Lavender Farms® has taken the guesswork out of formulating an FDA, WHO and CDC approved hand sanitizer and at a very reasonable price. You can find our hand sanitizer at https://mesalavenderfarms.com/product-category/hand-sanitizer/.
Why doesn’t Mesa Lavender Farms add gel to their hand sanitizer?
The W.H.O. (World Health Organization) does not recommend the use of either gels or gelling agents in hand sanitizers. Their reasoning, “No data are available to assess the suitability of adding gelling agents to WHO-recommended liquid formulations, but this could increase potentially both production difficulties and costs, and may compromise antimicrobial efficacy.” — WHO Guide to Local Production (pg. 6). Simply put, gelling agents could make your hand sanitizers less efficient at killing germs. We at Mesa Lavender Farms are committed to bring you the best products at the best price. To that end, we do not use gelling agents in our hand sanitizers.
WHO Guide to Local Production: