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Homemade Disinfectant

Someone jumping in a pool made of a smartphone
Due to COVID-19, we are currently locked-in. We tend to not go out. We try to protect the spread for our elders, so we just stay home. In the end, we can work from home, so it's not much of an issue. Moreover, I do not really have a strong desire to do a 2 hour subway ride each day.

While we can get most commodities online (read food here), it seems some household items are impossible to get. Yes, for example, forget the TP, you'll have to go in the shower. Also, forget the gloves, masks and protective gears, we don't really need them and you should leave those to the people that have to work with an infected population.

However, what is becoming more difficult to procure is disinfecting products. We had some alcohol, but not necessarily enough to wash the house or large surfaces. We have some Lysol wipes, but again these are good for small surfaces.

For large areas, the solution seems simple: you can prepare a chlorine solution by mixing bleach with regular tap water. Then again, you need bleach. I'm a big Oxy-clean user, no luck here. So what other source of chlorine could I use?

Since we have a hot tub, I keep a good amount of chlorine in powdered form. Could I use these to concoct a similar recipe? After all, in these times it's all about substitution isn't it?

As it turns out, I couldn't find online an exact recipe so I had to do some calculations. I hope the math is correct and my goal was to do this in small batches, aiming for 1 liter at a time.

So first step is to decide what concentration we actually need. According to multiple sources, during outbreaks of respiratory diseases, you want to aim for a 1000 ppm solution. When using bleach, this calls for 4 teaspoons per liter.

For a dichlor recipe, using a pool or spa calculator, you can see that most products are about 10 times as potent per volume when compared to a 5,25% sodium hypochlorite (bleach) solution. So in this case, for a liter I would need 0,4 teaspoons (or about 2 ml).

Since my spray canister is 455 ml, I'll be using 1/4 teaspoon and call it a day.

In case you are lucky enough to still be using lithium, you would have to triple the quantity.

Now, some important words of wisdom:

  • Validate my math, I'm a tech guy, not a chemist nor a healthcare practitioner. Leave a comment below if I did a miscalculation.
  • Never add water to chlorine. Fill your bottle first and then add the powdered chlorine.
  • Never add vinegar to this. Acids will make the chlorine react and produce gas
  • Never add alcohol to this either. You could be creating chloroform
  • For surfaces that can get in contact with food or kids, washing away with water is recommended

Next project, how can I create whisky out of what I already have here...

References:


  1. COVID-19 Resources for Households on CDC
  2. Chemical Disinfectants and Methods on CDC
  3. Disinfecting and Sanitizing with Bleach Guidelines from Washington State DOH
  4. Chlorine Solution for Disinfecting
  5. Clean your hot tub with a 50 ppm dichlor solution

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