The chemical cocktails used to make store-bought hand sanitizers can be concerning for more writers than just this one. In recent times even the American Food and Drug Administration has investigated concerns with active ingredients commonly used in hand sanitizers such as triclosan (or triclocarban) and benzethonium chloride. Next up they will be looking at isopropyl and ethyl alcohol, two other commonly used ingredients.
The FDA ended up banning its use in soaps, but not in hand sanitizers and other products that are used without water.
According to Choice Australia
“Neither triclosan nor triclocarban are banned for use in Australia and can still be found in a number of personal care products, from soaps to toothpaste and even cutting boards and cleaning cloths. This is despite concerns they may contribute to antibiotic resistance and disrupt hormones”
Triclosan may also be found in other products with the words ‘antibacterial’, ‘antimicrobial’ or ‘antiseptic’ on the label like soaps, or even toothpaste. Major retailers in Australia stated intentions to phase out products containing the contentious chemical back in 2016 but at the time of writing, I could not find evidence of a ban in place. Pretty concerning right?
Quite frankly my vote goes to nature in terms of designing antibacterial substances (she’s been at it a lot longer than us) and this has led me to want to make my own less toxic hand sanitizers myself at home. We must be realistic however that a homemade hand sanitizer will not be up to the task of a medical-grade one and their efficacy cannot be compared to those recommended by the World Health Organisation in helping to prevent the spread of serious diseases (like Covid-19 for example). For that, washing hands with soap and water would be the best measure to take.
For anti-viral oomph, you’d have to up the alcohol component to 60-70% according to the research I have read however I’m not sure if that takes into account the naturally occurring anti-viral properties of essential oils like Tea Tree.
I was also unable to find research around the combining of the two and what effects this maybe have. For that reason, I’d say this is a ‘better than nothing’ option when you’re out and about and not able to wash hands with soap and water, but by no means a sure-fire answer to eliminating germs or serious viruses.
I do know that essential oils help to boost the body’s own immune response, so that is positive.
Links below will take you to online suppliers of some products or ingredients.
Small Hand Sanitizer Recipe
30ml glass pump bottle or 30ml glass spray bottle
10 drops essential oils of choice
8ml aloe vera gel (for pump) or aloe vera juice concentrate (for spray) OR you can use Witch hazel acting as a preservative (replaces Vitamin E)
20ml Isopropyl Alcohol
A few drops of vitamin E oil
Add all ingredients and leave a little space at the top so you can shake it all together. Before use give it a shake to disperse the essential oils.
Essential oils to try
Combo 1: Tea Tree + On Guard Blend
Combo 2: Lavender + Tea Tree + Lemon
Combo 3: Eucalyptus + Wild Orange + Clove
Note: Aloe vera juice concentrate acts as a moisturiser and is a great carrier oil for the essential oils added. Adding a few drop’s of vitamin E will prolong the life of your hand sanitizer by acting as a preservative and is also great for your skin.
Here is an alternative recipe shared by the local supplier of my bottles, Aromabottles. The essential oils have excellent anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties whilst the witch hazel and alcohol are general germicides. I have modified it slightly to up the alcohol content by suggesting Isopropyl instead of Vodka (which is only around 36% alcohol usually).
Strong Hand Sanitizer Recipe
– 8 drops of pure tea tree essential oil
– 6 drops of pure peppermint essential oil
– 3 drops of pure cinnamon essential oil.
– 25ml of Aloe Vera gel.
– 15ml Witch Hazel
– 10ml Isopropyl Alcohol
– 50ml amber glass bottle with serum pump
– Large syringe.
1. In a small cup, add the aloe, witch hazel and alcohol and stir until combined.
2. Add the essential oils to the mix and stir.
3. Use the syringe to transfer the mix to the 50ml Amber glass bottle.
4. If the mix thickens over time through heat or evaporation, it can be thinned by adding a little extra alcohol.
The 50ml bottle is a great size for carrying with you whilst you’re out and about.
How did you go trying these recipes? Have you got another one to share? I’d love to read your comments below.
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Click here and let us send you a bonus PDF, “Soulful Parenting: Three Simple Ways to Help You Raise Thriving Resilient Kids”. Alena Turley/Soul Mamma is a writer, educator, ethical digital creator and mum of three based in Freshwater Beach, Sydney.