RISING SUN — You don't need me to tell you that supplies of the new essentials (household disinfectants, staple foods and paper products) are in short supply.
(Can somebody please explain the TP hoarding?)
While medical professionals and researchers have told us that the elderly are the most at risk, along with those with chronic health conditions, most of the cases in Maryland have been people from 18 to 64, many of whom are assumed to be healthy.
So what do you do if you cannot find one of those essentials: hand sanitizer?
You make it yourself.
Before I proceed, let me remind everyone that the Centers for Disease Control strongly states that hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds is better than using hand sanitizer. Using hand sanitizer is your "Plan B," unless you are in a job where constant hand washing is not possible.
I did the research to determine the best recipe for this stuff. It's surprisingly easy. There are just two ingredients. You need rubbing alcohol and aloe gel. If you don't have an aloe plant you can buy aloe gel online. In the absence of aloe gel, you can use glycerin.
As for the alcohol, the higher the percentage the better. That could be trickier because it's another item that's missing from many store shelves. I found a small bottle of 70% alcohol in my local grocery store and bought it because I was not sure how much I had at home.
Lo and behold, I found a larger bottle at home that was 91%.
I also had a brand new bottle of 100% aloe vera gel in my house because I am a knucklehead and will mow my lawn after forgetting to apply sunscreen.
Since I do a lot of crafting I also had a supply of clean flip cap 2.7 ounce bottles on hand. I got them at the dollar store months ago. (PS do not wash these in your dishwasher. They cannot handle the heat.)
Aside from buying bottles I bet you have a pump bottle in your house you can repurpose. This will be more liquid than gel so scrimp when dispensing the finished product.
Let's get mixing. I used a clean glass bowl, measuring cups, a silicone spatula, a small funnel and a small scoop. (I saved those scoops from powdered drink mix.)
There are two predominant recipes circulating. One recommends a 2-1 ratio, the other 1-1.
The recipe I used is so easy. It's 1-1 ratio. One cup of gel and one cup of alcohol filled 6 of my bottles. The gel is harder to measure than I expected. It was so gelatinous I had to work to get it out of the bottle to get the cup full.
Once you have both ingredients in the bowl stir it well. Mine got cloudy, and then suddenly became clear and all the gel was dissolved. I also added a few drops of food color to make it interesting. If I had it I would have added a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree.
Using my scoop and funnel I filled each bottle to just below the cap.
Labeling is strongly suggested. However, if you simply write on it with a Sharpie, other permanent marker or grease crayon the alcohol in the sanitizer will dissolve it. What I did was make small labels and cover it entirely with packing tape.
(By the way, the alcohol you drink is not recommended unless you happen to have something 180 proof on hand. CDC reports that 60-80 proof is, in reality, much less in coming up against a virus and is not reliable.)
There you have it. Homemade hand sanitizer. If you feel led, make a big batch and share. I did.
Stay at home. Don't roam!
Wash your hands, use your hand sanitizer and we will get through this.