As most you know we love a bit of DIY here at Essence of Wellbeing. Blending your own products with essential oils can be a creative, fun and rewarding pastime. We have even seen some of you take this and create your own products and businesses from it!
We need always to bear in mind our own limitations, of knowledge, skill and experience. What we know, what we understand and the sheer limitations of what you can achieve in your own home.
And that leads me to the reason for this post.
Over the last couple of weeks, with the increasing spread of the COVID-19 virus, I have been getting increasingly concerned at the number of people attempting to make their own hand sanitiser or sharing recipes for making these.
And I have had a number of people contacting me about how to make hand sanitiser. Or asking me to make one for them (For the record I have refused to do this – I know my limitations!) Or looking to buy ingredients to make a hand sanitiser.
If this is you I just have one thing to say –
I get that this is a scary time. I completely understand that when there is no hand sanitiser in the shops, you might be tempted to come up with an alternative.
We are dealing with a virus that we cannot see, there is conflicting information circulating and it seems the numbers just keep going up.
But this means we must be even more careful about the information we are putting out there.
PLEASE don’t share recipes etc if you do not know for a fact that they are correct and safe. (And for the record, COVID-19 is called a “novel” virus because it is new. And that means we do not have natural immunity, and we are still learning about what works and what doesn’t. If anyone is claiming their product definitely kills COVID-19 Virus – they cannot know that. And if this is you – please stop!)
The reality is that in the recipes I am seeing, the ingredients being used will not work the same as a properly formulated and tested hand sanitiser that you can purchase. And they definitely will not work as well as simply washing your hands with soap and water.
Hand sanitisers work because of the alcohol content which needs to be between 60 and 95 % alcohol. Every other ingredient that you add on top of that one ingredient, can both reduce the alcohol percentage and potentially add an additional load of microorganisms to the mix, making it work even less effectively.
Commercial hand sanitisers are regulated in Australia by the TGA. They need to be properly formulated AND properly tested to ensure that they do what they are supposed to do. Even then even these products have their limitations – for example, if your hands are dirty or greasy, hand sanitisers won’t work effectively.
So to be clear –
- Aloe vera will not kill viruses (And if it does not already contain an appropriate preservative it may introduce more microorganisms to the mix)
- Witch hazel will not kill viruses
- Vodka will not kill viruses (Yes, it is alcohol, but not at sufficient concentration. Even 100 proof is only 50% alcohol.)
- Add water to any mix and you may be introducing more microorganisms and diluting any possibly effective ingredient.
- Adding essential oils at the concentrations I am seeing recommended, simply is not enough to have any appreciable effect on a virus. To use essential oils at any concentration that possibly may be effective (and we do not to date have any proven research as to the effect of any essential oils on the COVID-19 virus) would compromise skin safety – leading to damage, or sensitisation or worse. If you are thinking of using one of these mixes on children, remember that their skin is even more delicate!
And on top of all that, hand sanitiser is a second-best option anyway. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water is the most effective method of removing the virus. This is what the experts are saying and it is still the easiest and most effective method of dealing with this virus.
If you are wondering how this works – this article has a great explanation –
It may seem counterintuitive that a product called “sanitiser” with the safety implications that come with a name like that, wouldn’t be more effective that simple soap and water. But soap and water, simple as it is, we know, works. It simply works. You just need soap, water, and to use them to wash your hands regularly (several times a day) and for long enough each time you use it. (Plus keep your distance from others and don’t touch your face!)
And finally, for those of you who think this virus is not a big deal –
I know that most people who come into contact with this virus, even those who become ill, will have a mild illness. They will recover. But there are vulnerable people in our society who, if they become ill, may not recover. The elderly, those will chronic or long terms conditions, those with compromised immune systems, those with cancer undergoing chemotherapy. All these people need the rest of us to limit the spread of this virus as much as possible.
Our health system and the health workers who are in the front line at the moment, also need the help of all of us to help to slow the spread of this virus so as not to overwhelm the system with a larger number of cases than our hospitals can manage.
We are all in this together – it takes all of us to keep us all safe.
Now, for those interested, please know that I am not the only one writing about this issue. If you would like to do a little more reading, here are just a few of the best -
The Unicorn Chemist