Why won’t denatured alcohol act as a sanitizer?


Why won’t denatured alcohol act as a sanitizer?

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Denatured alcohol is not appreciably poorer at sanitizing than ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, but denatured alcohol is more damaging to living tissue (i.e. our hands, our lungs) than the others.

Denatured alcohol (ethanol with methanol and pyridine in it) is just as good at killing germs. But, it’s also a little good at killing humans. Since hand sanitizer might get inside the human, particularly tiny humans, it’s not a good idea to use denatured alcohol when you can use the non-poisonous version of ethanol instead.

Also, pure or nearly pure alcohol is a bad sanitize because it evaporates too quickly. It evaporates before the bugs die. That is why they recommend about 70% alcohol, 30% water in a hand sanitizer.

It is the main (and the only “active”) ingredient of sanitizers. Other use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol for US) which is sometimes used to “denaturize” spirits.

An why it’s not used alone:

* a bit ow water makes it more effective – instead of drying the microbes to be revived later it allows the alcohol to get inside them
* a bit of gel is added so the alcohol will stick better to hands and not evaporate as fast
* fragrance is added so it smells better
* Glycerol is added so it doesn’t dry your skin
* Vitamins and plant extracts are added so they can be listed on the package and allow for better marketing. They’re useless but “with aloe” will likely sell better than the one without.

Denatured alcohol is widely used as a sanitiser, it’s performance is the same as undenatured alcohol. This is why alcohol used in hand sanitisers is always denatured. If it wasn’t denatured, there would be huge amounts of liquor tax to pay.

For hand sanitiser, however, the use of toxic denaturants is not a good idea. So, old fashioned denaturants like methanol and pyridine are not used. Instead, isopropyl alcohol with or without denatonium benzoate tend to be used as denaturants.