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A hand sanitizer recipe you can make at home — and trust — to stop coronavirus if you still can't find any at the store
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Riverside Pharmacy, with FDA approval, is going to begin making hand sanitizer for customers. - photo by Scott Rogers

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Amid the recent COVID-19 outbreak, hand sanitizer has become just as rare as graduates leaving college without student debt.

But unlike that debt, you can do something about the hand sanitizer shortage — make it yourself.

People have flooded pharmacies, supermarkets and other stores to get their hands on the bacterial-killing solution. 

Luckily, the ingredients aren’t as impossible to find.

You can purchase all of the elements from your local pharmacy, grocery store or supermarket, if they still have them. 

Blake Southerland, pharmacist at Riverside Pharmacy in Gainesville, recommends a simple mixture:

Items you’ll need:

  • Small bottles; 100 milliliters or around 5 ounces

  • Funnel

  • Isopropyl alcohol, 70-90%

  • Aloe vera gel

  • Clean skewer, utensil or thin object to mix ingredients

  • (Optional) Bottle of essential oil in lavender, sweet orange, mandarine or yuzu 

How to prepare hand sanitizer:

Southerland recommends filling 75% of the bottle with isopropyl alcohol. 

If you’re using rubbing alcohol, make sure it contains at least 70% isopropyl alcohol. However, he said a bottle of 99% isopropyl alcohol is ideal for killing bacteria.

Southerland strongly advises against replacing isopropyl alcohol with vodka, and encourages people to closely examine the recipes they find online. 

“Vodka is not recommended, and it’s not going to have the effect you’re wanting it to have,” he said. “People don’t need to trust in anything they read online. Make sure everything you’re reading is from a trusted source.”

The other 25% of the bottle should then be filled with aloe vera gel.

Not enjoying the sweet smell of alcohol? Add some drops of essential oil to the mix.

Danene Woody, certified aromatherapist and owner of The Spiced Brew in Gainesville, recommends putting 18 drops per ounce of either a citrus or lavender essential oil into a bottle. 

She warns against using certain types of citrus essential oils because they can burn your skin when exposed to sunlight. 

“Lemon and lime will burn,” Woody said. “You have to be careful because some are phototoxic. You can use sweet orange, mandarine or yuzu.”

If people are worried about guessing the incorrect type of citrus essential oil, Woody said lavender is the safest bet. 

Once all of the ingredients are in your bottle, mix them with a clean utensil or tool. And there you have it, homemade hand sanitizer. 

Riverside Pharmacy, located on 935 Greet St., will begin making its own hand sanitizer in the upcoming days for customers to purchase. 

“The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) is allowing pharmacies to make hand sanitizer during this time whenever there’s a big shortage,” Southerland said. “I should have the ingredients coming in over the next few days.”

Riverside Pharmacy is currently offering free medication deliveries for its customers, as well as curb-side pick-up. The business will maintain its normal hours of 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

“We’re taking the necessary precautions to ensure we’re doing our part for being as clean as possible,” Southerland said. “We’re here for the public for whatever they need.”


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Riverside Pharmacy's Blake Southerland begins mixing a batch of hand sanitizer Wednesday, March 18, 2020. With FDA approval the Gainesville pharmacy is going to begin mixing hand sanitizer for customers. - photo by Scott Rogers
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