Photo: Elena Elisseeva/David Tonelson/Shutterstock

No, You Can’t Make Hand Sanitizer With Vodka

by Nickolaus Hines Mar 5, 2020

Governments and experts are still working on a way to contain the spread of the coronavirus, but one directive is clear: Stop touching your face and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. If you’re not able to wash your hands (a dilemma many travelers face every day, virus or not), then hand sanitizer is the next best thing.

There’s just one problem: a hand sanitizer shortage. Stores and suppliers on Amazon are running out of supply, and the hand sanitizer that is available is going for ridiculous prices — like $59.99 for a two-pack of 8-ounce containers. This has led people to get crafty and make their own with aloe gel and the alcohol they have on hand. What’s on hand often happens to be Tito’s Vodka, and people have been showing off their homemade Tito’s hand sanitizer on Twitter for the world to see.

Which is where problem number two comes in: Tito’s, along with most commercial vodkas in the United States, is not strong enough to make hand sanitizer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol or higher. Vodka is more often than not just 40 percent. All you’ll get by making your own “hand sanitizer” with a mix of vodka and aloe is a watery concoction that leaves your hands smelling vaguely of a lightly cleaned frat house floor.

Tito’s is putting in the good work and reaching out to people who tweet about using the vodka as a hand cleaner. For each person who tweets about Tito’s and hand sanitizer, the company’s account sends a reply of, “Per the CDC, hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is 40% alcohol, and therefore does not meet the current recommendation of the CDC. Please see attached for more information.”

The attached photo reads:

“Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ‘washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is 40 percent alcohol, and therefore does not meet the current recommendation of the CDC.”

It should be noted that Tito’s has no problem with keeping its vodka on your desk, as long as its used for other purposes. You can make your own little plane-sized hand sanitizer before your travels, just use 99 percent isopropyl alcohol and keep the vodka for drinking.

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