Rubbing Alcohol vs Hand Sanitizer

What is rubbing alcohol?

Rubbing alcohol is made by distilling either isopropyl alcohol or ethanol. It comes in different strengths, but most commonly either 70, 90, or 99%. There is also a distinction of "absolute alcohol", meaning that it is pure alcohol, a very powerful disinfectant.

Some companies also offer a variety of multi-purpose alcohols, such as pure, natural alcohol for beauty uses. Certain brands are now refining their rubbing alcohol to remove the ethanol and add in natural herbs and extracts added for their healing properties.

Rubbing Alcohol vs Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol are two different things, but they can do extremely similar things despite their differences.

Some people may think rubbing alcohol is an option against viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. Although rubbing alcohol may have an adequate concentration to achieve disinfection, applying it to the skin repeatedly will dry it out by removing oils and may cause inflammation and irritation. Hand sanitizer is alcohol-based and usually contains alcohol, along with a few added ingredients to make it a bit more gel-like.

Rubbing alcohol is a flammable substance, and while it's important to review safety instructions if you are going to use it, it's mainly a case of common sense. Take care not to drip it onto a hot surface, or a flame, as the alcohol could ignite. There have also been cases in the past where bottles fell, leaking alcohol onto wax-based candles and causing fire. Hand sanitizer is less flammable.

Most hand sanitizers are effective against viruses, including COVID-19, but they must be used appropriately to ensure their effectiveness. People should follow the product instructions carefully. They must also respect the contact time. This refers to how long the product should stay on the skin.

The FDA do not recommend that people make sanitizers at home. There are a lot of potential hazards in making your own sanitizer. It is best to use a commercially made one that is safe to use.