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Ethyl or Isopropyl Alcohol: What to Look for When Buying Hand Sanitiser

Representative Image

Representative Image

Hand sanitizers should include 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol. Apart from alcohol, it includes sterile distilled water, hydrogen peroxide, and glycerin.

Pick one that contains mostly alcohol, and has few other ingredients.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hand sanitizers should be at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol. Other approved ingredients may include sterile distilled water, hydrogen peroxide, and glycerin, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

You should avoid anything with methanol or 1-propanol, both of which can be highly toxic. The FDA also warns people to watch out for hand sanitizers packaged in food and drink containers, since accidentally ingesting them could be dangerous.

Health officials also say to avoid hand sanitizers that replace alcohol with benzalkonium chloride, which is less effective at killing certain bacteria and viruses. Making your own sanitizers isn’t encouraged either; the wrong mix of chemicals can be ineffective or cause skin burns.

And you should only use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, says Barun Mathema, an infectious disease researcher at Columbia University. Hand washing is better at removing more germs.

Recently markets in Lucknow now have sanitizer pens which can be used for writing as well as cleaning the hands.

On March 14, India listed hand sanitizers, and face masks, as 'essential commodities' when there was a crisis owing to people panic-buying and supply running out. However, those items were removed from the Essential Commodity Act earlier in July.

The Essential Commodities Act allowed the government to fix price and cap on the stock of essential consumer items, though it was not applicable to face masks and sanitizers.