Clumpy DIY hand sanitizer

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82Tank

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I recently purchased NaturSense Organic Aloe Vera Gel from Amazon to make DIY hand sanitizer as it is impossible to find any locally. Also, I hate the smell and taste (I sometimes lick my fingers when eating) of the rubbing alcohol in the store-bought kind. I decided to make it with Everclear. I used a 3/1 ratio: 3/4 cup alcohol to 1/4 cup Aloe gel + 10 or so drops of lemon juice. I put it in a blender and mixed until I thought it was done. It came out fairly thin, as I expected, but looked like the gel was in very small clumps. I thought this might be normal, so I put it in my pump bottle. About a week later the pump on the bottle is completely clogged with what looks and feels like wet cotton. Any constructive advice and/or thoughts greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
 

atiz

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Hm, it must be the aloe -- it should have dissolved in the alcohol. Maybe there was some additive in it? Or plant bits?
Glycerin seems to be easier to manage if you can get hold of it. You don't even need a blender, just stir it together with the alcohol and it dissolves.
 

DeeAnna

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Is there a reason why you added the acid? I don't know if I'd do that without testing a sample first.
 

atiz

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Oh I glossed over the lemon juice part... That could also be a problem, esp. if it has bits in it.
 

82Tank

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Thanks for the quick replies. The recipe I found one line (most of them) say you can add a few drops of an essential oil, or lemon juice.
 

DeeAnna

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Essential oils can do some odd things too.

If you're reading these recipes on a "mommy blog" be careful -- I get the feeling many of these bloggers don't always make what they write about. Or they make one quick batch, take pretty pictures, and get the blog post written. Many don't try to really understand what they're doing.

I guess I'd make a small size recipe without any non-essential ingredients -- no EO, no lemon juice -- and see what that is like. There's no way to say for sure what the problem is, at this point. This would be the way I'd start the troubleshooting process.
 

IrishLass

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You're not alone, 82Tank. I've read the comments section under a good handful of some of these DIY hand sanitizer videos that include some kind of store-bought aloe in the recipe, and many complain of it turning out clumpy.

I agree with Atiz- in my experience in making my own hand sanitizer with my Everclear, vegetable glycerin is much easier to use/manage. It won't turn out as thick/viscous as store-bought sanitizers, but it stirs right in easy-peasy and does not clump or separate, and it's nicely conditioning to boot.

If it were me, I would leave the lemon juice out, but that's just me.


IrishLass :)
 

justjacqui

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Aloe vera "gel" can be gelled with any number of polymers (carbomers/ acrylates etc) and gums and some of these may not be suitable for use with high levels of alcohol. I just checked the aloe vera gel you purchased and it is thickened with xanthan gum. This gum is not compatible with high levels of alcohol so will not be suitable and is what is causing the problems you are seeing.

Also to form a gel many of the polymers must be neutralized so adding any acid (such as lemon juice) reverses this process and causes the gel to fall apart.

Definitely avoid the lemon juice.

Look up the WHO hand sanitiser formula for a formula that is guaranteed to work.
 

CaraBou

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Aloe vera "gel" can be gelled with any number of polymers (carbomers/ acrylates etc) and gums and some of these may not be suitable for use with high levels of alcohol...
^^Thanks JJ. That insight into aloe vera gel additives may help explain my own experience with hand sanitizers. I made two small batches with the same recipe, but used two different aloe vera gels. I got different results from those two batches.

The first aloe gel produced a white precipitate in the bottom of my mixing container. The precipitate was not suspended throughout the liquid, so I was able to decant the liquid away from the precipitate. However, the decanted liquid is cloudy.

The second gel did not produce a precipitate and is almost as clear as water.

The first gel was labeled 98% pure aloe vera, with 7 additional ingredients listed (given here). The second gel was labeled 100% pure aloe vera, and had 6 additives listed as ingredients. However, only 2 of the additives are the same between the two different gels. Neither lists xanthan gum so I am still not sure what caused the precipitate or cloudiness in the first batch of sanitizer. But I'm sure the answer lies in these details.

It is also worth noting that neither of my two gels list any of the same additives shown in the Amazon label for NaturSense Organic (which is what 82Tank purchased). The diversity of aloe vera gel additives is very interesting!
 
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