Is Your Hand Sanitizer Making You Sick?

- By: Joshua Onysko

Is Your Hand Sanitizer Making You Sick?

Last March, along with toilet paper, hand sanitizers became one of the most sought after items on store shelves. Seemingly out of nowhere, brands began making hand sanitizers in an attempt to ride the wave of demand. As in everything, not all of them are created equal.

Some of the sanitizers that were released onto the market are great… and some of them use non USP-grade ethanol and are riddled with harmful chemicals. Some of them do not contain enough of the active ingredient to be effective. And some of them were labeled with misleading claims.

In a terrible irony, the very product people turn to for illness prevention can sometimes be, at best, ineffectual, and, at worst, cause health-devastating side effects, such as blindness.


When Should You Use Hand Sanitizer?
When soap and water aren’t available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) will help prevent the spread of germs.

This means that when you leave your house to get groceries or run other errands, it’s wise to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer available so you can de-germ your hands after touching surfaces such as public door handles, grocery cart handles, debit card machines, and gas pumps.

Actually, we loved hand sanitizer pre-pandemic and will likely continue to use them post-pandemic because, well… have you observed the hygiene practices of other people?


The FDA’s Warning About Use of Hand Sanitizer
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates hand sanitizer as an over-the-counter drug. Because they regulate hand sanitizers, they regularly test them. In their testing process, they discovered serious safety concerns such as:

- Contamination with potentially toxic types of alcohol.

- Not enough active ingredient (ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol).

- Labels with false, misleading, or unproven claims. 

The FDA has recalled some of these hand sanitizers, and there are more than 150 sanitizers the FDA recommends you stop using right away.  


Is Your Hand Sanitizer Causing You to Go Blind?
Certainly not all hand sanitizers contain harmful chemicals (ours do not!). Unfortunately, not all the ingredients are fully disclosed on many hand sanitizer labels. You can cross-reference your hand sanitizer through this link to the FDA's website, to see if yours is on the list of products to avoid. Here are the two chemicals to absolutely steer clear of when choosing a hand sanitizer (or any other product):

Methanol or methyl alcohol, also known as wood alcohol, is used to make rocket fuel and antifreeze and is very toxic. Methanol should never be rubbed on your skin or swallowed, as doing so can cause serious health problems, including permanent blindness, and death.

1-Propanol or 1-propyl alcohol is used to make industrial solvents and is toxic to humans. Swallowing or drinking a hand sanitizer with 1-propanol can result in decreased breathing and heart rate, among other serious symptoms, and can lead to death. Hand sanitizer with 1-propanol contamination is known to irritate skin and eyes.

Other ingredients, such as synthetic fragrances and colorings are also advisable to avoid when using hand sanitizer. Synthetic fragrance is a known hormone and immune system disruptor and can cause allergic reactions and headaches, and synthetic coloring is potentially carcinogenic.


Hand Sanitizers’ False or Misleading Label Claims
There are a couple of red flags to watch for when considering whether your hand sanitizer is legit. First of all, no hand sanitizer is actually FDA-approved (only regulated), so any claim of actual approval is not trustworthy. Before you buy hand sanitizer you should also know that none of them have been clinically proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or protect you from viruses or bacteria for a certain period of time, such as 24 hours.


“What Kind of Hand Sanitizer Should I Buy?”
The simplest way to answer that is: Buy a Hand Sanitizer that works and that won’t make you sick.

But what does that even mean, given that many labels don’t disclose their full list of ingredients, and there’s no clinical proof that Hand Sanitizer protects you from COVID-19?

Here’s what we can tell you:

- A hand sanitizer with 60% ethyl alcohol is scientifically proven to help prevent the spread of germs. While that’s no guarantee it will keep you from getting sick (building a strong immune system with a good diet, plenty of rest, exercise, and time in nature will help with that), it’s certainly better than not using a hand sanitizer at all.

- Buying a sanitizer from a trusted brand will go a long way in making sure you’re not getting anything you don’t want in your bottle.


About Alpine Provisions Hand Sanitizers
The three different Essential Oil blends we use to imbue our Hand Sanitizers with pure, nature vibes are designed to support your excellent emotional and physical health. The active ingredient in our Hand Sanitizer formula is non-GMO, plant-derived Ethyl Alcohol, which is antibacterial. Our potent Sanitizers kill germs while softening and conditioning hands, thanks to skin-loving, organic Aloe Vera. They also come with a travel-ready atomizer, which means you can bring it everywhere. After all, they only work if you use them!

We hope this helps you make good choices when it comes to your hand sanitizer. After all, why shouldn’t the product you use to purify your hands be held to the same high standards as what you use to cleanse your skin, face, body, and hair? 


image credit: Jeremy Perkins