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Grow Your Own Hand Sanitizer

We don’t keep hand sanitizer and rarely used it. But when this health crisis hit, I was willing to start. Of course, there was none in the stores. I’m sure some people hoarded it, not thinking that they are not going to get the virus from themselves, but from all the other people who don’t have any hand sanitizer!     

Aloe vera juice, Oh My God! I never talk about plants other than vegetables and weeds. This week is different, I’m going to talk about aloe vera. When I was a kid my dad started growing aloe vera.  He wanted to put it on everything.  He would tell everyone how good it was.  He sounded like a snake oil peddler.       

No one else in the family wanted to use his aloe vera.  It’s good for burns. Nope, you put ice on burns, not slimy, green cactus juice.  It’s good for sunburn.  Nope, that’s what Solarcaine is for.  It’s good for cuts. Nope, hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin.       

After we were grown and living away from home, my dad decided that aloe vera juice was good to drink. No way! He talked my former brother-in-law into drinking some.  It was obvious from the contorted facial expressions and noises that nobody else was going to try a sip.     

Fast forward. I’m sitting in the living room with Martha.  She told me that she read on the internet how to make hand sanitizer from aloe vera.  I didn’t laugh.  I didn’t tell her anything about my dad’s snake oil.  I simply inquired, “how do you do it?”  It’s amazing how a disaster like this changes things.  But, it’s still funny that poor Kenneth drank that nasty stuff.     

Aloe vera is a succulent.  I’m not going to get into the history or all of the particulars, you probably know what an aloe vera plant is. Martha has some growing in a cactus garden in front of the house and also has a couple of plants on the back patio.       

The first thing you do to make hand sanitizer is to cut a couple of the large leaves at the bottom of the plant. This stuff will go bad within a week so you don’t want to make too much at a time. Since I’m so smart, I doubled the recipe and made way too much. Stand the freshly cut leaves in a cup with the cut part down for 10 to 15 minutes.  This allows the latex, a yellowish substance, to drain out. This can irritate your skin.  Then you peel the tough outer skin off the gel that is inside.  Use a spoon to scoop the gel into a blender; be sure there is no skin.  Then blend for a few seconds until it is frothy. Now you have aloe gel.       

The minimum that the CDC suggests using for sanitizing is 60 percent alcohol. This recipe uses 1/4 aloe gel and 3/4 isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (99 percent). That should be about 75 percent alcohol. You also want to add 10 drops of essential oils or lemon juice. Measure your ingredients and mix with a spoon, then beat with a whisk to turn the sanitizer into a gel. You can repurpose a used pump or squeeze bottle for your homemade hand sanitizer.  Keep it in the refrigerator.   

The CDC says there is nothing better than a good old-fashioned handwashing with soap to stop the spread of diseases.     

However, there are times like when you leave the pharmacy, dry cleaners or liquor store, that you can’t wash your hands before getting into your car. Keep on growing, even if it’s aloe vera for hand sanitizer or to feed your son-in-law.  


Author: Geary Hare of Edna is an avid gardener. For questions, contact Geary at ghare@msn.com

Jackson County Herald Tribune

306 N. Wells
Edna, TX 77957