Health: It’s in Our Hands
Botnia hand sanitizer, it’s here for you! While we wish our newest creation entered the world under different circumstances, we also recognize the huge need right now for hand sanitizers that are both good for our world and good for your skin . . . and in stock! We researched and tested various formulas before settling on a unique blend featuring Botnia all-stars like our in-house juniper hydrosol and goldenseal extract. We put a lot of heart and science into this formula to develop an effective product that also keeps the integrity of your skin in mind, which is always our North Star when creating new skincare.
Speaking of science, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Melanie, our new in-house cosmetic chemist! Melanie started working at Botnia HQ in March and brings a wealth of chemistry know-how to our team. This is Melanie’s first formulation here at Botnia and she’s here to break down all the science behind how our hand sanitizer protects you against pathogens:
Skincare for our time
We all know hand sanitizer has been hard to find these days! Largely because it’s a quick and convenient way to combat the invisible enemy: pathogens. Hand sanitizer sales spiked 470% during the first week of March 2020, in comparison to March 2019. We were inspired to put a Botnia spin on hand sanitizer, so ours features botanical extracts and an essential oil blend to combat germs as well as maintain the health of your skin.
The science behind sanitizer
The main and active ingredient of all working hand sanitizers is alcohol. Alcohol (at a 60 to 90% concentration) can break apart proteins, in turn deconstructing bacteria, fungi, and enveloped viruses. H1N1, HIV, and COVID-19 are all examples of enveloped viruses. Note: The alcohol concentration of your hand sanitizer is dependent on the concentration of the alcohol that you formulate with. We use 95% ethanol for our formulation. Please see the Additional Information for Formulating below if you’re using a different percentage of alcohol.
Our #2 ingredient is water, which aids alcohol in the process of deconstructing proteins. It’s important to use distilled water! Tap water or even boiled water will contain microbes that you don’t want in your formulation. A hydrosol (floral water distilled from fresh plant material) can also be used instead of distilled water.
A water-soluble humectant, or moisturizing ingredient, should be incorporated to protect our hands from becoming brittle and dry from the high alcohol content of hand sanitizers. Glycerin or aloe vera gel are the two best humectants to use. Plant extracts can be used to enhance the antimicrobial, antibacterial, and moisturizing effects of a hand sanitizer (along with its scent!). We use goldenseal extract in our formulation: it’s naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial.
Essential oils work just as extracts do, except for providing moisturizing effects. They can be irritating in high concentrations, so please use judiciously. Botnia always uses essential oils with a light hand; less is more, in our opinion!
The final and unique ingredient used in our formulation is a pH adjuster. We adjust the pH of our hand sanitizer spray to slightly acidic to prevent the growth of bacterial spores. Bacterial spores are highly resistant, dormant structures that are produced by bacteria. They can live in unfavorable conditions (like alcohol) to preserve bacteria’s genetic material. Spores are essentially a survival mechanism for certain types of bacteria—and we don’t want them! Some hand sanitizers don’t even consider combating the growth of spores in their formulations, and the ones that do use hydrogen peroxide. Botnia’s objective is always to maintain the integrity of our skin’s function, so adding hydrogen peroxide alongside high concentrations of alcohol to a product that will be used frequently on the skin didn’t sit well with us. Upon further research, we discovered that organic acids can also combat the growth of bacterial spores. Our formulation uses apple cider vinegar, which is approximately 5 to 6% acetic acid.
Use in good health
To use our hand sanitizer, spray a liberal amount onto your hands in between or in place of handwashing. Thoroughly rub your hands together until dry, covering all surfaces of your hands—don’t forget around your fingernails and between your fingers. Use as frequently as needed; experts recommend sanitizing or washing your hands at least once an hour if you’re out and about in the world. Lastly, feel free to follow with a cream or lotion to moisturize your hardworking hands; they need a little extra love right now!
Even though we’re thrilled to offer this new product, we also want to underscore that soap and water is still the #1 way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The World Health Organization states that washing your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds is the best way to stop the spread of germs and viruses. Handwashing rules supreme! But if you don’t have access to soap and clean water, or if you find yourself nowhere near a sink, hand sanitizer is a very practical way to keep yourself safe from the spread of pathogens.
The fine print
This hand sanitizer comes packaged in our new milk glass spray bottle (3.4 fl oz/100ml) and retails for $26. We also have a travel size spray bottle (1oz/30ml) available for $12. You’ll find both up on our website now!
Make your own
If you’re not able or ready to purchase our new creation, we get it! We want to offer a solution that’s accessible for everyone, so here’s a DIY version if you’d like to create your own germ-busting concoction. We even made a video demonstrating how to make it (featuring Justine and Melanie at the beautiful Skin Remedy); the video elaborates on Botnia’s formula and shares *lots* more ingredient substitutions and variations. Bonus: it also features Justine demonstrating how to (carefully!) carve an aloe vera leaf; please enjoy!
Homemade Hand Sanitizer
Yields 8 oz
Mixing bowl or beaker
Measuring cup (with ounces)
Droppers or pipettes (if needed, for essential oils)
pH strips (optional)
6 oz plus 1 tablespoon Alcohol (95% ethanol)
1 teaspoon Organic vegetable glycerin (or aloe vera)
1 teaspoon Goldenseal extract (or other plant extract)
1 oz plus 2 teaspoons Juniper hydrosol (or other hydrosol or distilled water)
1 teaspoon Apple cider vinegar
15 to 20 drops Essential oils (we use 9 drops juniper + 5 drops lavender + 4 drops cinnamon)
Sterilize your materials before starting (make sure they’re 100% clean, then spray them down with 70% isopropyl alcohol and let the alcohol evaporate). Pour the alcohol, glycerin, extract, and hydrosol into the mixing bowl or beaker. Add the apple cider vinegar and the essential oils. Blend thoroughly with the whisk. Pour into a spray bottle.
Note: The final concentration of alcohol in this hand sanitizer is 75%. If you’re using a different concentration of alcohol, aren’t using extracts, or want to modify our formula to create your own adaptation, please see the additional formulation information below.