Apparently, the bond between Americans and hand sanitizers is deeper, more passionate and more profound than I realized.
Recently a COVID-19 alarm caused a Purell shortage, which led to the discovery that folks can easily make their own sanitizer by combining aloe vera gel and rubbing alcohol.
But how easy is it, really?
To find out, I thought I’d mix up a batch at home and try a sampling of home brew, which physicians say works just as well as the manufactured brand. Those same physicians say that Purell actually doesn’t work as well as a vigorous wash with regular soap and water, but as I have discovered, because of its on-the-go convenience, people evidently want the sanitizer.
In fact, they will go to the ends of the earth, or at least to every pharmacy within a two-mile radius, to replicate it. The first thing to go was Purell. Now, many shelves have been emptied of rubbing alcohol and aloe, although you can still find aloe vera gel laced with lidocaine in the sunburn section.
Here’s where the rubbing alcohol should have been at the pharmacy.
I found some across at Rite Aid, and some aloe vera gel at Whole Foods, for $8. The employee who directed me to the aloe vera said they were out of rubbing alcohol.
“Everybody’s doing it,” she said.
Maybe that explains it. It’s a craze, like the Watusi. Or the Loco-Motion. Or the Dougie or the Stanky Leg.
In any event, mixing your own turns out to be as easy as billed. Two-thirds alcohol, one-third aloe, stirred vigorously with a Q-tip, poured carefully into an empty bottle with a squirt top of some kind.
You can add essential oils. It adds a little fragrance. I scored mine at Natures Nutrition on Haverford Avenue, where the manager said lots of people use essential oils to make their own hand soap/sanitizer, always have. Their own shampoo, as well.
The most important thing I learned in making hand sanitizer, though, is that I needn’t have driven around for an hour looking for supplies. And you probably don’t have to either. Chances are you have existing and undiscovered inventories, as my wife informed me when she saw me pull the fancy fair trade Whole Foods aloe vera out of a shopping bag, which of course led to the question of how much I paid for it, which of course led to the curt revelation, accompanied by eye roll, that we already have it in the house.
FYI: It’s in the garage in the beach bag, with the sandy Nerf football and Coppertone. Also, there are TWO bottles of rubbing alcohol under the sink, although one has expired.
An even more dismaying discovery: rummaging through my wife’s mystery nook of soaps and liquids in search of an empty dispenser of some kind, I found a bottle of …
That’s right, desperado, You probably already have it. So, before you go look for the hidden bottle in the chandelier, check the wicker basket in the guest bathroom.
It’s there. And it’s a good thing, too.
Because if you run out, and there’s a run on rubbing alcohol, they say you can use this instead.