As concern over the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 has picked up pace, stocks of store-bought hand sanitisers are running very low. As a result, searches for DIY hand sanitiser recipes have increased, yet there's no scientific evidence that these concoctions will effectively protect us.
In a bid to find out if three of the most popular homemade hand sanitiser recipes are effective, the Telegraph has released a video asking pharmaceutical scientist Dr Alexander Edwards, from the University of Reading, his thoughts on whether we should all be whipping up our own alcohol solutions.
It doesn't sound good from the start, with Dr Edwards explaining: "I would like to say that pharmaceutical scientists and manufacturers of hand gels use very specific procedures to make them and to make sure that they're safe, so I'm not entirely convinced that we're going to be that successful."
The first recipe they try is a cocktail of two parts vodka plus one part aloe vera gel. "One of the most important things about hand sanitiser is the ethanol (alcohol), which kills the bugs," says Dr Edwards.
However, he goes on to point out that vodka only has a 37% alcohol level whereas hand sanitisers generally have 60%. The aloe vera dilutes this further so the conclusion was that it would not be strong enough.
The next recipe the pair look at is a concoction of surgical sprit and aloe vera gel.
The commentary explained that surgical sprit is stronger and a better antibacterial solution, with 85% ethanol, but that mixing it with aloe vera changes the consistency and means that it won't spread around the hands effectively. The mixture won't keep the alcohol on your hands for the recommended length of time. Dr Edwards recommends not trying this recipe at home.
For the third and final recipe, they look at a non-alcoholic solution consisting of a cup of aloe vera, five drops of tea tree oil and a teaspoon of distilled witch hazel.
Dr Edwards said that there was not enough information about the antimicrobial properties of the components. Ultimately, he said, it's not going to protect you against a "hazardous infection".
So the best thing to do? Follow the advice from the World Health Organisation. On washing hands, it says: "Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
The message here is that homemade solutions won't do us any harm but we should not rely on them and continue to wash our hands regularly, thoroughly and for 20 seconds at a time.
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