As panicked Americans wipe store shelves clean of hand sanitizer in an effort to stave off the novel coronavirus, others have been scouring their pantry for ingredients to make a concoction of their own. But those efforts can land you in a medical emergency unrelated to COVID-19 should you mix the wrong chemicals together.
In a letter sent out from one Connecticut town’s office of emergency management, officials warned residents against mixing household bleach and ammonia, as doing so produces a toxic gas called chloramine that could cause shortness of breath and chest pain. Additionally, residents were warned against using household bleach and vinegar, which can produce a chlorine gas that causes coughing, breathing problems, burning and watery eyes.
Residents were also urged to avoid mixing household bleach and rubbing alcohol, as it produces chloroform -- which is highly toxic, and to keep hydrogen peroxide and vinegar separate, as the combination could produce peracetic/peroxyacetic acid, which is a highly corrosive solution.
Should you choose to make your own sanitizer, or possibly turn it into a fun project to do with the kids while everyone is stuck inside, there are plenty of safe ways to do so.
One such method was shared by Anne Marie Helmenstine, who holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences.
- 2/3 cup 99% rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) or ethanol
- 1/3 cup aloe vera gel
- 8-10 drops essential oil, optional (such as lavender, vanilla, peppermint or grapefruit)
- Bowl and spoon
- Recycled liquid soap or hand sanitizer bottle
Mix the ingredients in a bowl and stir with a spoon. Use the funnel to pour the liquid into the empty bottle.
Fox News' Madeline Farber contributed to this report.