Hand Sanitizers have been available for over twenty years. As the gooey soap and water substitute has evolved some problems have become apparent with its most important ingredient, Ethyl alcohol. Alcohol has some inherent problems that have posed problems for the makers of Sanitizers. Cost, abuse potential, dryness to hands and time of efficacy are the biggest issues with Alcohol, Sanitizer’s main ingredient.
The high cost of the alcohol, the main ingredient in hand Sanitizer has prompted Manufacturers to try formulas with lesser concentrations of Alcohol. This led to decreased efficacy as the alcohol concentration is key to achieving proper hand Sanitation. A concentration of at least 60% seems to be needed to properly kill the germs on your hands during Sanitizer application. The level of alcohol in different brands of Sanitizer varies between 60% and 85%.
A big problem with the Alcohol based Hand Sanitizers is the potential for ingestion abuse to realize the effects of the alcohol in the Sanitizer. There’s an alarming teen trend: drinking hand sanitizer to get drunk. Videos on YouTube and the internet are readily available. Teenagers are using it this stuff to get high, according to health officials. Poison control centers nationwide say reports are plentiful.
Another important reason that manufacturers have been searching for a Alcohol-free formula of Hand Sanitizer is because of the volatile nature of alcohol. It evaporates very quickly and doesn’t have any lasting effects after the initial application. Hand sanitizers containing ethyl alcohol should remain wet on the skin for at least 15 seconds of rubbing before becoming completely dry for the most effective use of the product. Sanitizer manufacturer are trying to find formulas that could have potential sanitizing benefits that last for hours.
A final negative comment that Alcohol based Sanitizer manufacturers’ dispute is the potential drying flaking skin. Repeated use of alcohol on your hands has a drying effect. The makers of the Sanitizer say this problem is baseless and overblown. One Possible sequelae of dry skin is a loss of the skins natural oils that prevent transmission of substances through the skin.
Alcohol Free hand Sanitizers are now readily available and more are certainly on the way. Some Scientists have claimed that there is insufficient evidence to back up the claims of these new formulas that the manufacturer expounds. The companies that formulated these new products are making claims that their sanitizers might have effects hours after their initial application, whereas Alcohol based formulas last only seconds
Manufacturers of these new Alcohol free sanitizers point to studies they have commissioned proving the effectiveness of their formulas. At this point all studies have been funded by the Manufacturers themselves. In addition some of these Alcohol Free Sanitizers had to be recalled in 2012 due to bacterial growth in the Sanitizer bottle. Much caution should be taken until these studies can be repeated by an independent source. Until then the Alcohol based Sanitizers have a proven track record. More importantly thorough Hand washing with Soap and Water is still the Gold Standard when it comes to Hand Sanitation.