With the emergence of health issues, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recommended that people maintain hand hygiene to help combat the spread of disease or bacteria.
Properly cleaning your hands is one of the best ways to ensure you don’t get infected and that you also don’t spread the virus to other people. But what happens when you find yourself in a situation where you can’t access clean water or soap?
As you’re indubitably aware, hand sanitizer is used to clean and detoxify the hands off of germs and bacteria that you could have come in contact with. The CDC recommends that people use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content for the best results.
However, a lot of Canadians are not too fond of the idea of using hand sanitizer. One of the concerns behind their hesitance is that they’re not sure of the chemicals used in the manufacture of the product. Hence, they’re unwilling to use the sanitizer on their hands. Some people cite the difficulty in finding good hand sanitizer.
To counter these challenges, we’ve broken down how sanitizer is commercially manufactured to ease any potential fears Canadians may have regarding the ingredients. We have also outlined alternative ways in which people can make sanitizer from the comfort of your home.
How Commercial Hand Sanitizer Is Made
To make commercial hand sanitizers, manufacturers use various ingredients to make the final product that gets to the shelves of stores and drug stores across Canada.
The core ingredients include:
- 95-98% concentrated ethanol or isopropanol.
- Carbomer 940.
- Triethanolamine or Carbopol.
- Deionized sterile water.
These are the machines you’d expect to find used in the large-scale manufacture of hand sanitizer:
1. Chemical Reactor
A chemical reactor provides an enclosed space where chemical reactions occur. In this case, it’s used for mixing chemical ingredients used in the manufacture of hand sanitizer. It can be a powder-liquid disperser mixer, vacuum emulsifier, or a high shear mixer.
2. Filling Machine
Automated filling machines are used to inject the mixed liquid into its packaging container. The machine can either be suited for viscous or non-viscous liquids.
3. Water Deionizing System
No hand sanitizer can be fit for use without deionized water. Ionized or impure water, will have a degrading effect on the efficiency of hand sanitizer. It can even reduce the shelf life or the product or bring out certain unprecedented side effects.
4. Capping Machine
The work of the capping machine is to automatically put caps on bulk bottles or containers filled with the liquid product.
5. Labeling Machine
These machines are used to put or emboss the label of a brand on the container. Manufacturers use either inject printing machines, optical laser printing machines, or pressure-sensitive labelers.
The Manufacturing Process
The first step in the manufacturing process of hand sanitizer involves measuring and mixing water and Carbopol or triethanolamine in the chemical reactor. The mixing is done until a viscous gel is formed. The reactor mustn't be infiltrated by any impurities during this step so aeration is completely avoided.
After the viscous liquid has been formed, alcohol is then added and mixed until it becomes a uniform product. With the alcohol content having a concentration of 96%, mixing it should lower its concentration to between 70% and 75%. Mixing 1,000 liters of hand sanitizer content should take around 1 hour so a high-speed mixer should prove ideal during this step.
The final phase of this step involves testing the quality of the liquid. If the sterilization effect, viscosity, and alcohol percentage meet the desired standard, the manufacturer proceeds to the next step.
Automated filling machines are used to fill containers according to predetermined amounts. These machines use a servo-motor as well as other devices to accurately fill the containers. They also have piston-induced nozzles or gravity-filling nozzles because of the variance in viscosity of different hand sanitizer brands.
If a manufacturer is producing hand sanitizing gel, then they would have to use a machine with a piston-induced nozzle as it’s more viscous as compared to foams or sprays.
Capping and Labeling
Automatic capping machines are used to tighten the screw-capped bottles or containers. The machines usually use a program that is used to adjust certain parameters such as the size of the bottle as well as capping speed.
One machine usually has about four rollers that tighten threaded caps until the cap reaches the bottleneck. The rollers can be adjusted to suit different heights and diameters and can process anywhere between 50 to 100 bottles a minute.
As for labeling, no hand sanitizer brand is complete without a label embossed or wrapped around the bottle. A labeling machine is convenient for a manufacturing company if it is producing more than a thousand bottles each day. Alternatively, some companies outsource a label manufacturer to design and produce a customized label.
How to Make DIY Hand Sanitizer?
With hand sanitizer flying off the shelves of stores all across Canada, some people have been prompted to make DIY hand sanitizer from their homes. It’s not as complex as the commercial hand sanitizer manufacture process but it delivers effective results. This is what is needed:
- Glycerin or aloe vera gel.
- 91% isopropyl alcohol.
- Essential oil for fragrance.
- Clean and decontaminated containers for mixing.
- Spoon for mixing.
- Container bottle.
The first step is to mix the isopropyl alcohol with aloe vera gel or glycerin in a container. To get 250ml of hand sanitizer, mix 80ml of glycerin or the aloe vera gel with 160ml of alcohol. use the spoon to thoroughly mix the two so that the alcohol mixes evenly with the gel.
Put in a few drops of essential oil to give your sanitizer a good scent and store it in a container or bottle. Make sure the container is tightly sealed because alcohol evaporates quickly. Since the product is homemade, you don’t want anything to compromise the quality of your hand sanitizer.
Is There a Better Choice Between the Two?
As recent as a few months ago, very few people gave too much thought into hand sanitizer. Now hand sanitizer is conspicuously present at the entry points of various stores, offices, malls, and with people on the train or bus.
DIY sanitizer is better than nothing especially with the high demand for commercial sanitizer in Canada. However, unlike hand sanitizer, commercial sanitizer goes through rigorous quality testing. This makes the latter more appealing.
It’s also a bit difficult finding the right ingredients for hand sanitizer. But if the recipe is followed to the letter, DIY hand sanitizer is just as effective.