By now we all (hopefully!) know that one of the most effective ways to prevent catching and spreading the coronavirus is to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser. If you haven’t already, please read our informational blog Coronavirus: How To Protect Yourself.
But we wanted to know why the experts are recommending hand washing as a preventative measure. How is such a simple act effective against a virus that has no cure? Sure, washing hands obviously gets rid of dirt and germs, but there is actually a deeper reason.
Viruses, like any living organism, consist of molecules and substances such as proteins, lipids (fats), and even RNA. In the COVID-19, as in many viruses and bacteria, these core building blocks are held together by a lipid layer or membrane. Because soap and alcohol break down fats, they have the ability to inactivate the virus by destabilising this lipid membrane. Soap and water works particularly well because the combination can quite literally lift up the virus from off your skin and carry it down the drain. But if you aren’t near a tap and soap, then alcohol based (minimum 60% concentration) hand sanitiser will work just fine.
There has been nothing short of a full scale onslaught for buying up hand sanitiser and ingredients to make your own sanitiser such as alcohol, aloe vera gel and vegetable glycerine, and many shops have now sold out. If you are wondering what to do if you can’t find the items you are looking for, then please read on for options.
Technically any soap or agent that has the ability to break down a lipid layer can destroy the virus from surfaces and hands. This includes conventional soap, homemade soap, surfactant-based handwashes, alcohol sanitisers, etc. So please don’t panic if you can’t find alcohol or aloe vera gel!
If the kids are home from school and you are wondering how to keep them busy, this is a great opportunity to teach them how to make their own hand wash, soap and sanitiser.
Making up your own hand wash is actually really easy. Here is what you need:
Pump bottle or re-used bottle
9% or 22.5ml coco glucoside
10% or 25ml cocamidopropyl betaine
10% or 25ml vegetable glycerine
5ml OliveM 300 (optional but recommended)
Weigh out the surfactants and stir gently to blend them. Then stir in the veg glycerine, then the water in a few additions, stirring in between each.
Dollop out some of the handwash into another bowl and stir in your essential oils and preservative, then add it all back into the main mixture. This just helps it combine better. If you are using the OliveM 300, add this in now too.
Test the pH, and if necessary adjust it down by adding a small amount of citric acid solution (a few citric acid crystals in some water). If you want to thicken the hand wash you can add in a pinch of xanthan gum or some salt and blend well with a stick/immersion blender. Decant into a pump bottle and use it regularly.
For more recipes and reading go to Surfactants Part 2: DIY Liquid Hand Wash
You can also make soap using the quick and easy Melt and Pour Soap Base (note this base does contain SLS). Simply melt down the base, add in your favourite antibacterial essential oils, pour into molds and leave to set. Then you have plenty of soap for the whole family.
There is going to be much waste produced from the panic surrounding Covid-19. To lessen your waste footprint, why not try DIY reusable wet wipes. You can make up either an alcohol based solution, or a surfactant solution (more soapy).
Gauze swabs or cut up fabric
Good for the Ground packet for storage
5ml bacteria buster
70ml isopropyl alcohol
5ml coco glucoside
70ml water, or substitute the water for colloidal silver
Feel free to add in any essential oils to the solutions.
Soak the gauze swabs in your chosen solution and store in a sealed plastic bag. To use, take out the bag, wipe down your hands with your reusable wet wipes, and rinse off your hands with your bottle of carried water if you used the surfactant solution. It's not necessary to rinse if you used the alcohol solution. Then pop the used wipes bag in the bag and take home to sterilize and re-use.
Apart from regularly washing hands and social distancing, boosting your immune system is a must. here are some of our favourite immune boosting teas:
Astragalus increases white blood cell count, and helps the healing process after illness. It is used to treat colds and respiratory infections.
Ashwagandha has been used in various Ayurvedic treatments for centuries. It is also a nerve tonic and adaptogen - just what we all need right now.
Echinacea (herb and root) increases your white blood cell count, which helps your body fight infections, specifically respiratory infections. It is an immunomodulator, and may help to boost immunity in healthy people and reduce symptoms of illness, specifically colds and flu.
Olive leaf helps your immune system in two ways: firstly there is evidence it boosts phagocytosis - when your immune system cells engulf and eat up invaders, and secondly it can disrupt bacteria and virus cell generation.
Vitamin C for immune defense.
Look after your mental health and watch your stress levels, get some sunshine and exercise everyday, try to sleep well and look after yourself during these times. A pandemic like this is obviously awful but also gives us all a chance to take a step back, practice social responsibility and take a little bit more care of ourselves and one another.
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