DIY Wet Napkins to Avoid COVID-19

I (johnk) made a video showing how to make antiviral wipes, but I just found out one of the ingredients is not good. It works, but has some negative environmental effects, and some health risks.

// the video got pulled by YouTube.

So, this project is mostly fine. The only problem is the chemical in the pine cleaner: alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. This is also called benzalkonium chloride, abbreviated to BEK.

BEK works as a surfacant (a detergent) and a biocide. So, adding it to my mix helped it work more like detergent. Tests show that BEK works as a viruscide, and is more effective than ethanol (alcohol).

See BEK on Wikipedia.

However, anything like this might be an environmental hazard. Studies show the chemical is harmful to aquatic life. It’s also extremely toxic at high concentrations (which is why it’s used at low concentrations).

So, it’s not optimal. It appears to be widely used. I found it not only in the pine cleaner, but also in the prepackaged wet wipes I purchased. I found it in all kinds of products, including medical wipes. It’s used in the food industry to clean surfaces. It’s an ingredient in acne medicine and makeup remover. It’s in eyedrops.

The stuff degrades, so it won’t accumulate like lead or mercury. Best to let it sit on a surface and stick to it, and dry. Best to make sure it doesn’t get into the water. Throw the used wet nap into the trash, and do not toss it into the sewer system or gutter, or on the ground.

Using it as a wipe to clean surfaces seems, to me, a lot safer than some of the other uses.

However, I will not be eating this stuff, or dipping my hands in it unnecessarily.

–johnk

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