Recommended formulations for hand sanitizer – Formulation 1 (Ethyl Alcohol Formulation)

For this first formulation, you will need the following reagents:

–          Ethyl alcohol 96 percent 

–          Hydrogen peroxide 3 percent 

–          Glycerol 98 percent 

–          Either sterile distilled water or boiled cold water 

You will also need some materials other than the chemicals for preparing the hand sanitizer.

You will need one of the following items, depending on the quantity of hand sanitizer you intend to make. These containers will allow for the solution to be mixed without your needing to worry that it will overflow:

–          500 mL plastic or glass bottles with stoppers or tops that have screw threading, or 

–          1 L plastic or glass bottles with stoppers that have screw threading, or 

–          5 L plastic or glass bottles with stoppers that have screw threading, or 

–          10 L plastic or glass bottles with stoppers that have screw threading, or 

–          50 L tanks made from plastic (preferably in high-density polyethylene or polypropylene and translucent so that you can see the level of the liquid contained within), or 

–          Tanks made from stainless steel with a capacity of 80 to 100 L 

You may also need the following items:

–          Wooden, metal, or plastic paddles which will be used to mix the hand sanitizer solution 

–          Measuring jugs and measuring cylinders 

–          Metal or plastic funnel 

–          100 mL plastic bottles with tops that are leakproof 

–          500 mL plastic or glass bottles with tops that screw on 

–          An alcoholometer in which the temperature scale resides at the bottom of the meter and the ethyl alcohol concentration is at the top of the meter 

Please take note of the following useful information provided by the WHO about this formulation:

The 98 percent glycerol in the formulation functions as a humectant (a substance which serves to retain or preserve moisture), but other emollients (substances which serve to soothe or soften the skin) may be utilized in the formulation for skincare, as long as these emollients are widely available, cheap, and able to be mixed with both alcohol and water. Such emollients also should not make the solution toxic or cause an allergic reaction.

The 3 percent hydrogen peroxide in the formulation functions to inactivate any bacterial spores in the solution, which may be contaminating it. The hydrogen peroxide itself should not be considered as an active ingredient in terms of sanitizing your hands.

Any further additive to the formulation ought to be labeled clearly, and it should also be non-toxic in case the hand sanitizer solution is accidentally ingested.

If you wish, you can add a colorant to the hand sanitizer solution in order to allow it to be easily differentiated from other colorless fluids. However, any such colorant ought not to make the solution toxic, promote an allergic reaction, or hinder, and otherwise interfere with the antimicrobial properties of the hand sanitizer solution. The WHO does not recommend that any dyes or perfumes be added to the solution because of the increased risk of allergic reactions to those dyes and perfumes.

Method for the Preparation of 1 L of Ethyl Alcohol Hand Sanitizer

Here are the amounts of the reagents which you will need in order to make 1 L of the first formulation:

–          You will need 833.3 mL of the 96 percent ethyl alcohol. 

–          You will need 41.7 mL of the 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. 

–          You will need 14.5 mL of the 98 percent glycerol. 

–          You will need enough sterile distilled water or boiled cold water in order to fill the remainder of the bottle to the 1 L mark (approximately 110.5 mL of water). 

Step by Step Guide to the Preparation of 1 L of Formulation 1

Step 1

You will first need to pour the 96 percent ethyl alcohol into the 1 L plastic or glass bottle with the stopper that has screw threading. Do this by placing the metal or plastic funnel on top of the bottle to ensure that none of the ingredients spill or splash out of the mixing container.

Step 2

You will then need to add the 3 percent hydrogen peroxide into the 1 L bottle by using the measuring cylinder. Again, use the funnel to ensure that the addition of this product does not get messy.

Step 3

Next, you will need to add the 98 percent glycerol into the 1 L bottle with the use of a measuring cylinder. Because glycerol is very sticky and viscous and will stick to the glass wall of the measuring cylinder, the cylinder ought to be rinsed with some of that sterile distilled water or cold boiled water and emptied again into the 1 L bottle.

Step 4

You will then top up the 1 L bottle with the sterile distilled water or the cold boiled water to the 1 L mark.

Step 5

Now, place the stopper with screw threading on the 1 L bottle to close it as soon after preparation as possible, in order to prevent the solution from evaporating.

Step 6

You will then mix the solution within your closed 1 L bottle by either shaking it gently (if this is appropriate) or by using a metal, wooden, or plastic paddle to mix it. Do not use an electric mixer, because this may cause the mixture to explode.

Step 7

You should then divide the solution up into the final containers in which it will reside. For instance, if you intend to carry some hand sanitizer around with you, make sure that you have appropriately sized bottles for travel use.

Note: (This is where the 100 mL plastic bottles and the 500 mL plastic or glass bottles with tops that are leak-proof and which screw on securely are supposed to come into play.) However, remember that the WHO guidelines for hand rub formulation are designed for local production and distribution to a full number of people. It is understandable if you do not have a ton of 100 ml plastic bottles with leak-proof tops readily at your disposal. However, if you intend to use the hand sanitizer in public to protect yourself from the novel coronavirus, then you will need one or several practical, leak-proof containers (preferably made of plastic) into which the hand sanitizer can be dispensed and which you can carry around in public.

Step 8

Place the bottles which are serving as the final containers of your hand sanitizer in quarantine for 72 hours before you plan to use them. This period will allow for any bacterial spores which are present in either the alcohol or the bottles to be destroyed by the hydrogen peroxide. Whenever you distribute the hand sanitizer into its final containers, those containers should be placed in quarantine for 72 hours before you use the hand sanitizer contained within them.

Note 1: If you are anything like me, you probably do not have several travel-size leak-proof plastic containers just lying around the house. You might have a few empty bottles of store-bought hand sanitizer. It is perfectly fine to reuse those hand sanitizer bottles. Just clean them and pour in your homemade hand sanitizer. Then wait 72 hours before you use the hand sanitizer from those bottles so that any bacterial spores will be killed in that time frame.

Note 2: Even if you made a 1 L bottle of hand sanitizer solution and thus have a lot leftover (since you do not have enough final containers to contain it all), you need not fear if you are unable to divide up the solution into the final containers immediately. Perhaps you only have one or two tiny travel bottles. Simply fill up those bottles, wait 72 hours, and use them. When you are done with one small bottle, you can go back to the source, refill it, wait another 72 hours, and use it again. The point is that whenever you fill a final container with the hand sanitizer, you should wait 72 hours before using it to give ample opportunity for any spores in the bottle to be killed first, according to these guidelines set forth by the WHO.


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