Which Hand Sanitizers are Safe?

At certain times hand sanitizer can be essential. Especially since the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some hand sanitizers may contain toxic chemicals. Find out more about how to avoid toxic chemicals in your hand sanitizers.

A recent warning from the FDA has left many questioning the safety of their hand sanitizer.

The FDA found that hand sanitizers produced by the company Eskbiochem contain methanol, a toxic chemical.  This warning comes at a time when hand sanitizer use is high due to the global coronavirus pandemic.  Avoiding these sanitizers is easy enough. But do other hand sanitizers contain toxic chemicals?

What is Methanol?

Methanol is an alcohol, like ethanol. Both methanol and ethanol kill viruses and bacteria. Both are made by fermentation. 

But unlike ethanol (which is in alcoholic drinks), methanol is toxic.

Methanol can cause severe toxicity and even death from:

  • Oral consumption

  • Inhalation

  • Repeated skin exposure

It clearly does not belong in hand sanitizer. So how did it get in there? 

Is methanol in hand sanitizer a common occurrence?

How did methanol end up in hand sanitizer?

Proper hand washing with soap and water is the best way to kill germs, including the coronavirus. Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the next best thing

Methanol is a type of alcohol. But methanol is not permitted for use in hand sanitizers. This is due to its toxicity.

Methanol is sometimes an unlisted ingredient in hand sanitizers.

This can be because the ethanol used  is impure. Methanol impurities are the biggest reason (among many) not to drink hand sanitizers. Even small impurities can cause harm if you drink it.

In the case of Eskibiochem, it is likely that methanol was added intentionally. The FDA found that one of the products they tested contained 81% methanol. At those levels, methanol is not an impurity, it is a main ingredient.

Do other hand sanitizers contain unlisted methanol?

Hand sanitizer is considered an over-the-counter drug. Previously, the FDA approved all hand sanitizers before they went to market. So the risk of methanol toxicity was low.

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has created a temporary policy for approving hand sanitizers. This allows companies that are not licensed drug manufacturers to make alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

The rules outlined in the policy are stringent. They limit the sanitizer to four ingredients:

  • Ethanol that is at least 94.4% pure OR isopropyl alcohol

  • Food grade glycerin

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Sterile water

Methanol is not an allowed ingredient. So any company that does use it is in violation of the FDA rules. In the case of Eskbiochem, the FDA asked them to recall their products. However, they have yet to do so.

Fortunately, the FDA has yet to hear of any ill-effects from use of Eskbiochem sanitizers.

There has also never been any reports of chronic harm caused by sanitizers with unlisted methanol, when used on the hands.

Which sanitizers are the safest?

Harm from methanol in hand sanitizers appears to be low. Make sure to keep sanitizer away from children except when they use it to clean their hands. And never drink it! If you notice a rash on your hands, stop use and consider switching brands.

But the FDA allows other harmful chemicals to be added to hand sanitizer. Like methanol, these can be absorbed into the skin and cause harm in the body.

These chemicals include:

Million Marker is currently working to add hand sanitizers to our list of Approved Products. In the meantime, we recommend EWG’s list of hand sanitizer products.

Hand sanitizer is not the only product we put on our bodies that can cause harm. Everything from our shampoo to our cosmetics can contain harmful ingredients. To learn more and make sure you are keeping yourself and your family healthy, visit millionmarker.com.