Here Is How To Thicken Hand Sanitizer

by Mario Garcia
Here Is How to Thicken Hand Sanitizer

The coronavirus pandemic came with several surprises. Things that were formerly less important became the opposite. One of them is hand sanitizers. They became important because of the need to wash the hands occasionally to avoid spreading the virus. 

However, hand sanitizer prices skyrocketed during the heat of the global pandemic. And only way families could have constant access to the product was to make theirs.   

Homemade hand sanitizers are as effective as the ones sold at the supermarket and pharmacy shops. People also had access to instructions on the required ingredients, including how to combine them to achieve a desirable finished product.

The only major challenge many faced when producing sanitizers is how to make them thicker. Excitingly, we have highlighted the steps on how to create a thicker hand sanitizer. Read for an in-depth understanding.

How To Thicken Your Homemade Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizers come in different forms, such as liquid, foam, or gel. However, the gel form (thickened hand sanitizer) is more common. That’s because it lasts longer, making it more anti-microbial effective. 

You can thicken your hand sanitizers using various substances. Some of the well-known thickening agents include Xanthan gum and Carbomer 940. However, Gelatin or Cornstarch can be useful.

Method#1: Using Carbomer 940 

Carbomer 940 is a great thickener, and it’s readily available. You can purchase it from the supermarket or pharmacy shop in your local area. You can even buy it online.  

The reason carbomer 940 works well is that it absorbs water, causing it to increase in volume. 

You require only about 0.1 to 0.5 percent of this ingredient to form a smooth and clear gel. Carbomer 940 is also the most effective thickener for hand sanitizers because it forms a smooth gel easily.

To use Carbomer 940, add it slowly to the already prepared hand sanitizer using a fine mesh. Then, stir thoroughly for about an hour or more. The mesh helps to add the thickener correctly to avoid clumping.

A Handy Tip:  Carbomer 940 is unarguably one of the most effective thickening agents out there. The only challenge people have with this product is that it is quite expensive. 

Method#2: Using Xanthan gum

Xanthan gum is less expensive than carbomer 940. And it’s an effective thickening agent for hand sanitizers. You can easily find it in grocery shops. Unlike Carbomer 940, the method of mixing is very much easier. It produces a slightly thicker gel than the regular Carbomer 940.

Xanthan gum is also available in powder form. Produced from the fermentation of glucose and sucrose, Xanthan can be useful as a food additive. 

Xanthan gum works by suspending the solid particle of the disinfectant and stabilizes emulsion. It’s best to purchase a clear powder to get a colorless consistency and not white.

Method#3: Use other thickeners (Cornstarch and gelatin)

Some other thickeners like cornstarch and gelatin are useful for homemade hand sanitizer production. However, they are not very effective as thickening agents.

Cornstarch is a useful thickening agent in the kitchen, but it’s not for preparing hand sanitizers. Like other thickeners, it thickens the liquid effectively. The major drawback is that cornstarch forms a gel considered too sticky. It also leaves sticky remains in your palm after application. 

The stickiness wouldn’t make the sanitizer useful, as it can cause germs to settle on the surface of your palm. Hence, it is not appropriate to use cornstarch as a thickener.

Despite the gel-like nature of gelatin, it’s not very effective to produce a thick hand sanitizer. However, it moisturizes the skin and prevents the drying effect of alcohol. It’s more effective when you add it with a small amount of another thickener. And so it’ll add more value to your hand sanitizer.

Again, it prolongs the time the alcohol remains on your skin. And that helps to boost the hand sanitizer’s ability to kill germs and bacteria.

How To Use Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizers don’t replace washing your hands with soap and water. Rather, they act as disinfectants. The alcohol present in the hand sanitizer kills the microbes by dissolving their protective outer layer of proteins and disrupting their metabolic activity.  

However, sanitizers are not very effective for getting rid of dirt and some germs like Cryptosporidium. That’s why you have to wash your hands whenever you have the chance.

Here are some ways to use hand sanitizers properly:

  • To rub it properly, place some quantity of the gel in the palm of one hand. Then, rub your hands together, covering your entire hand, including between your fingers. Stop rubbing in the sanitizer only when your skin is dry. 
  • Keep your hand sanitizers away from the kids’ and pets’ reach. It’s best to assist children whenever they’re using sanitizers, especially when it’s alcohol-based.
  • Don’t use hand sanitizers to disinfect surfaces or equipment.
  • Eating with hands after using sanitizing is not a concern. But it would help if you didn’t swallow the gel to avoid poisoning. You should ensure it does not get into your eyes.
  • Don’t use hand sanitizers on your pets. Rinse their fur or skin if it touches them by mistake.
  • Always use hand sanitizers whenever and wherever soap is not available. It’s important, especially when you go to public places. However, it’s best to wash your hands with soap and water (not hand sanitizer) when you do dirty work like gardening.
  • It’s also appropriate to use it when you shake hands, touch an animal, or after you’ve touched a grocery cart, and so on.

Note that you make yourself prone to being affected by germs, bacteria, or viruses if you don’t use hand sanitizer. 

Why Are Hand Sanitizers Thick?

If you haven’t tried making a hand sanitizer, you would probably think that the presence of aloe Vera gel is the only reason hand sanitizers are thick. Certainly not! 

Aloe plays a partial role. Other thickening agents contribute to this. Thickening agents are substances that are responsible for thickening a hand sanitizer gel.

Using the appropriate amount of these substances brings the desired result to your hand sanitizer gel.

Furthermore, hand sanitizers may become watery when alcohol is no longer present in them. Alcohol is very volatile and can easily evaporate if not properly stored or when exposed to air.

Chemicals For Making Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizers are alcohol-based substances, yet there is certain alcohol you shouldn’t use to produce them. A case study is the methanol-based hand sanitizer, which is very toxic to the skin or internal organs if mistakenly ingested into the body. 

There are a lot of adulterated hand sanitizers with deadly chemicals that are sold in grocery stores. So, it’s better to make your sanitizer as long as you can get the appropriate chemicals. 

Furthermore, hand sanitizers that have at least 60% alcohol absorbed in water are the recommended types. It’s very easy to make a hand sanitizer because it requires just three major ingredients. 

These ingredients are: 

Rubbing alcohol:

It comprises alcohol (ethanol or isopropyl alcohol), that at least 70%. It’s colorless, less harmful, and undrinkable due to some additives present. However, it’s best to use rubbing alcohol with at least 90% alcohol for hand sanitizer production. This is because you’ll distill it in water during preparation.

Aloe Vera gel:

This happens to be an extract from Aloe Vera plants. The moisturizing effect of hand sanitizer is because of the presence of Aloe Vera gel. Also, it has anti-microbial effects.

Essential Oil:

It’s either tea tree oil or lavender oil. It fortifies the fight against bacteria and soothes the skin. It also gives off an appealing scent.

How To Make Hand Sanitizer At Home

The ingredients and materials you need to produce hand sanitizers are:


  • 2 cups of rubbing alcohol 

Half a 

  • cup of distilled water
  • 5 to 10 drops of essential oil
  • Half a cup of Aloe Vera gel
  • 0.24ml of any thickening agent 
  • A large basin


  • funnel
  • Plastic bottles 

Now, here’s how to begin the hand sanitizer-making process.

Firstly, pour the thickening agent into distilled water in the large basin. Let it dissolve. Next, pour the Aloe Vera gel and the rubbing alcohol. Mix the ingredients properly until it becomes a smooth solution (make sure there are no lumps).

Then, add drops of essential oil to give it a pleasant aroma. Now, your hand sanitizer is ready for use. Finally, transfer it into the plastic bottles using the funnel.

Before you start making your hand sanitizer, take note of these precautions:

  • Rubbing alcohol is very flammable, especially isopropyl. It’ll help if you make use of nitrile gloves for safety purposes.
  • Please do not touch the mixture with your hands until it is ready to use. 
  • Prepare the mixture in a clean space.


Homemade hand sanitizers are as effective as the ones sold in grocery shops. All you have to do is follow the instructions on how to combine the ingredients in the right proportions. 

Consider making your hand sanitizer thicker, so it would have a long-lasting effect. Get the right thickening agent also. You can use Carbomer 940 and Xanthan gum for this. Both are ideal for making hand sanitizers thicker. 

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