In researching an all natural hand sanitizer, I found a LOT of recipes out there.
Pretty much all of the recipes had some combination of Aloe and alcohol. Some used Isopropyl Alcohol, others used Ethyl Alcohol, and some others used Witch Hazel (a natural compound containing 14% alcohol). They had many varying percentages – some used a 1:1 ratio of alcohol to aloe, others a 2:1 ratio of alcohol to aloe, others had much lower ratios.
I wanted to make something that worked, but that was easy enough to do it at home, so I did a little research.
How much alcohol to use?
Commercial hand sanitizers generally use at least 62% alcohol as an active ingredient. The FDA states that hand sanitizers containing 70% alcohol will likely kill 99.9% of germs in 30 seconds and 99.99% to 99.999% (Source 1, Source 2). So – in order to have an effective hand sanitizer – 70% of whatever you create has to be alcohol.
What type of alcohol to use?
I always keep three kinds at my house: ethyl alcohol (grain alcohol), isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), and witch hazel.
What are the differences?
Ethyl Alcohol (grain alcohol) – derived from yeast (mostly corn), able to be eaten – usually around 75.5% alcohol
Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) – derived from propane, not able to be eaten – usually around 70% alcohol
Witch Hazel – derived from the Witch Hazel shrub with 14% added alcohol
Most commercial hand sanitizers use mainly ethyl alcohol. I’m guessing this is because it is not as harmful as Isopropyl alcohol when ingested.
I chose to do a mixture of all three (mainly ethyl and isopropyl alcohols due to their high volume of alcohol)
What types of essential oils to add?
I chose Tea Tree for its antiviral, anti fungal, and antibacterial properties. Tangerine I chose mainly for its citrus smell .
- 1/2 c. Aloe Vera Gel (watch out! Many types of Aloe Vera Gels contain other harmful ingredients. Try to find one with as few ingredients as possible)
- 1/2 c. Grain Alcohol (you can get this at any local state store)
- 1/2 c. Rubbing Alcohol (find it in the first aid isle)
- 1/4 c. Witch Hazel
- 30 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
- 20 drops Tangerine Essential Oil
- Measure out Aloe Vera and add to a large bowl
- Add in alcohol and Witch Hazel
- Whisk together until completely mixed (I ended up transferring everything to an air tight container that I could shake up. It worked MUCH better)
- Add in essential oils
- Bottle (I used a funnel to put my hand sanitizer into three 2oz. containers and one 3oz. container)