Washing hands well with good old fashioned soap and water is the best preventative there is against infection. But hand washing is not always convenient. Enter hand sanitizers. They are available in stores everywhere and just about everybody has some of the handy little bottles. When SHTF, water may be scarce for some time, so folks are stocking up. Have you ever considered making your own?
Besides cost savings, you will have control over ingredients when you make it yourself. Most commercially manufactured hand sanitizers are alcohol based. Some are 99.9% alcohol. For killing germs, alcohol is great. However, applying it frequently can irritate the skin and can cause drying and cracking. Those little cracks are a great portal for germs to enter directly into your body, possibly resulting in illness. Some sanitizers are available with moisturizer which can help alleviate dryness. You can also apply moisturizer regularly. Or you can make your own!
You will need a bottle for your sanitizer. If you prefer to make gel, reusing the little plastic containers the commercial stuff comes in will work well. For the spray type, you can re-purpose any small bottle with a non-aerosol pump. A fantastic recommendation is to recycle the 2 ounce bottles of “trial size” hairsprays and the like.
Next, you will need a base. If you want an alcohol base, you can use rubbing alcohol or grain alcohol. Even liquor such as vodka will work. Witch Hazel makes for a wonderful natural antiseptic base. To make gel hand sanitizer, purchase pure aloe vera gel. Not the stuff that is sold for sunburns; make sure you have the type that is 100% natural.
To increase the effectiveness of your base, use essential oils. Many essential oils have scientifically proven antiseptic properties. As a bonus, most smell wonderful. Consequently, you also get a little aromatherapy! Tea tree oil can be used “straight,” but it has a strong smell which some may find unpleasant. Tea tree oil has antiseptic and anti-bacterial as well as anti-fungal properties. Add about a teaspoon ( 5 ml) to a 2 ounce bottle then use other oils to cover the smell. A popular favorite is lavender oil. Use about 10 to 20 drops. Other antiseptic essential oil choices are eucalyptus, pine, thyme, peppermint, lemon and rose. You can add one or more of these a few drops at a time to achieve a desirable fragrance. Be sure you purchase 100% pure essential oils, not fragrance oils. Fragrance oils do not have the healthful properties that essential oils do.
You may add water to a witch hazel or alcohol base to conserve or to mellow it a bit. With witch hazel, as much as 50% water is fine as long as you have the added essential oils to boost the antiseptic action. With alcohol solutions, you must have at least 60% alcohol for best results. If using vodka or other liquor, remember that “proof” is two times the percentage of alcohol. So 100 proof equals 50% alcohol content. If you use aloe vera gel, you can thin the consistency with witch hazel.
Be careful that children don’t ingest your hand sanitizer. This can happen by children putting fingers or hands in the mouth or by thumb sucking. This is also true of commercially made products. Non-alcohol based mixtures may freeze, so store indoors.