LivingWhy You Shouldn't Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer Gel

Why You Shouldn't Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer Gel

The fear of contagion by the new coronavirus has led the population to acquire hand sanitizer gel in an outrageous way . As a consequence of this, pharmacies and supermarkets have run out of stock and the stores that still have it, sell it at the price of gold (see Amazon).

This scenario of fear, shortages and high prices make the perfect breeding ground for recipes that tell you how to make disinfectant gel have begun to circulate on the Internet and on WhatsApp. On YouTube there are videos in which, with ethyl alcohol (the one from the wounds that we all have at home) and aloe vera gel they make supposed hydroalcoholic gels. Easier and cheaper impossible. Not?

Well, absolutely not and it is that, except for those who know how to formulate, such as chemists and pharmacists, the rest of us mortals do not have in our homes the raw materials, nor the necessary measuring instruments nor, very importantly, formulation knowledge to make a gel. hydroalcoholic.

As a preview of what comes next, we reveal that homemade disinfectant gels do not protect against the coronavirus. What’s more, they can lead to problems . Much better to follow the simple, but not ineffective measure recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) which consists of washing your hands properly with water and … soap! Yes, with the soap of a lifetime and we do have that at home.

About making hand sanitizer gel with the alcohol that we have in the home medicine cabinet, Esther Gallardo Pérez, doctor in Chemical Sciences and researcher at the Hospital Doce de Octubre in Madrid , tells us the following: “Ethanol is a disinfectant and is used to remove bacteria and what we want to remove are not bacteria but a virus, which is not effective. The gels sold in pharmacies are hydroalcoholic solutions. They carry alcohol above 60% and water, but they don’t just carry that. They carry a series of biocides and fungicides that ordinary people do not have access to ”.

In addition to the fact that at home we do not have the necessary substances to make a hydroalcoholic gel, we also do not have the tools for measuring and weighing that are used in laboratories and that provide accurate data. As Gallardo Pérez points out, in chemistry the measurements are exact and the measurements such as a tablespoon or a cup are not worth it, which are what we would use to make a sponge cake or a paella. It is not comparable to follow a kitchen recipe than one to make a disinfectant gel. “At home you can measure with meters to make recipes, but that is absolutely inaccurate and, in addition, there are things that sometimes have to go in a fixed amount because, even, it can be dangerous if you put more or less. You don’t have those instruments in a house, but in a laboratory ”.

Deborah García Bello, chemist and science communicator, says clearly on her Instagram account: “ Do not share homemade recipes to make disinfectant gels. It is dangerous to play formulator. Not even the WHO, because it is aimed at pharmacists, is not for anyone to do it without training or means. Responsibility, please. And I take this opportunity to remember that washing your hands well with soap and water is more effective than any hydrogel. The gels are a complement ”.

García Bello refers to a recipe that the WHO shared and that, as the pharmacist Gemma del Caño tells us: “It is for professionals and has things like isopropyl alcohol, glycerin… that we don’t have at home. And how much do you have to use isopropyl alcohol, how much do you have to use glycerin, how much do you have to use ethyl alcohol, how much hydrogen peroxide? They are chemical products that we must know in order to handle them correctly and not everyone knows them to be able to handle them ”.

The WHO published two recipes. The first contains 96% ethanol, 3% hydrogen peroxide, 98% glycerin and sterile distilled water or cold water previously boiled. The second is made up of 99.8% isopropyl alcohol, 3% hydrogen peroxide, 98% glycerin, and sterile distilled water or previously boiled cold water.

We should not make hydroalcoholic gels at home because in our homes we do not have the means to demonstrate that this hydroalcoholic gel has been made in the corresponding conditions, with the proportions we need, with the security that is required … It is absolute recklessness to play at being professionals in the pharmaceutical industry ”. The pharmacist refers to the imprecise measures that are given in home recipes that do not guarantee that the final concoction is neither effective nor safe.

He also makes a necessary reflection and it seems that we rely more on disinfectant gel than washing hands with soap and water when it comes to protecting ourselves from contagion. “We are focusing on hydroalcoholic gels when we would have to focus on proper hand washing. If we don’t have hydroalcoholic gel, we can take a bottle of soap and use any sink we can find. It is much cheaper and is just as effective ”.

Proper hand washing

The instructions for proper hand washing published by WHO are:

– Wet your hands with water.

– Put a sufficient quantity of soap in the palm of the hand to cover all the surfaces of the hands.

– Rub the palms of the hands together.

– Rub the palm of the right hand against the back of the left hand intertwining the fingers and vice versa.

– Rub the palms of the hands together, with the fingers intertwined.

– Rub the back of the fingers of one hand with the palm of the opposite hand, grasping the fingers.

– Rub the left thumb in a rotational motion, catching it with the palm of the right hand and vice versa.

– Rub the fingertips of the right hand against the palm of the left hand, making a rotational movement and vice versa.

– Rinse hands with water.

– Dry with a disposable towel.

– Use the towel to turn off the tap.

The washing process should take 40 to 60 seconds.

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