Being stuck indoors for almost 2 weeks due to the COVID-19 virus has increased our creativity more than ever. We started going back to the hobbies that we left on hold, due to the busyness of college life. We began to read more, paint and cook new recipes.
While getting accustomed to this new lifestyle and following up on the news we couldn't help noticing people panic buying and leaving the grocery stores fully loaded with more food than they could ever eat in a lifetime. Many were also stocking up on medication, gloves, masks and most importantly hand sanitisers to protect themselves from this virus.
My sister Jenny and I were thinking of ways in which we could help the community during these challenging times. Since I am a 3rd year Pharmaceutical Science student and recently came back from my Erasmus study in Germany, I thought of ways in which I could apply the new skills I have obtained and learned both here and abroad.
The depletion of the ‘2020 most wanted product’ made me think of how I could use my scientific skills to produce it.
I researched the formula according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and did the chemical calculations. We managed to get the raw products: surgical spirit containing 90% ethanol (it is too high to kill the virus) so we diluted it to an optimum of 70% concentration. Glycerine, hydrogen peroxide and deionised water. We added bergamot oil for a subtle nice scent. I decided to demonstrate to Jenny what a day in the laboratory may look like and of how precise everything has to be calculated, weighed, measured and mixed. It was a fun experience.
So how does it work?
The alcohol concentration must at least be 60% to destroy the protein envelope of the viruses and bacteria. A lower concentration would not allow for the ethanol to destroy or dissolve the lipid layer (protein) and a higher concentration would result in the coagulation of the lipid layer, preventing the alcohol (ethanol) to disturb the microorganism’s RNA/DNA. This means that the microorganism can still further replicate. The concentration that is optimum for killing the virus is 70% as the ethanol is able to dissolve the lipid cover (protein) of the virus and can furthermore pass through and disintegrate the RNA/DNA of the virus so it can no longer survive or multiply.
The end product?
Liquid, 70% ethanol, hand sanitizer spray, lightly scented with bergamot essential oil.
Remember to stay safe, stay indoors, make use of your time, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer with 70% ethanol concentration!