Isopropanol & Ethanol: How to Make Any Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer Smell Good & Look Credible

Isopropanol & Ethanol: How to Make Any Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer Smell Good & Look Credible


Your sanitizer can work well and smell good, giving you an edge in an over-crowded market.

Anyone marketing a new hand sanitizer in 2019 would have seen the 9% compound annual growth rate projections (CAGR) and had a reasonable expectation of the market conditions as they sought to make a profit. In 2020, the CAGR rose to 17% due to hand sanitizer's effectiveness in killing the COVID-19 virus in everyday life and on the go. Because hand sanitizer became a necessity for everyone overnight, the market exploded. But just because there's more sanitizer than ever doesn't mean it's all the same or equally as good.

If your business has pivoted to help meet the sanitizer demand and bring in some extra cash, the chances are good that you either already addressed the familiar repugnant odor of ethanol-based sanitizer, or you're still working through it. 

Unlike isopropyl alcohol, which is sourced from petroleum, ethanol comes from organic sources such as corn or sugar and can give off some astoundingly putrid odors. This is why isopropyl alcohol is traditionally used for sanitizing products but became hard to come by after the pandemic drove up demand. In response, the FDA relaxed its protocols on ethanol production. This change paired with locked down taprooms and bars offered the perfect opportunity for microbreweries and distilleries to create their own branded hand sanitizer. Unfortunately, quelling the stink that improperly treated ethanol gives off is a challenge to overcome. 

To make sure your sanitizer is one that customers actually WANT to use, it must be effective, smell good, and stand out from the competition. Let's go over some ways to make that happen. 

Make Ethanol Smell Good 

The problem with adding perfumes or essential oils to alcohol is that it can become so diluted that it becomes ineffective. If your sanitizer's alcohol content falls below 62%, whether ethanol or isopropyl, its effectiveness drops dramatically and may fail to kill germs at all. The FDA has even created a list of commercially available sanitizers that contain too little alcohol or worse, more harmful substances such as methanol. Distilleries even had to send out messages on social media to remind consumers that while 40% abv might make for a strong drink, it makes for an ineffective sanitizer.  

Thankfully, there are chemists who have been working on the dilution vs. odor problem. Alpha Aromatics is one company that specializes in creating additives that don't dilute ethanol's effectiveness, leave the hands feeling clean, and eliminate ethanol's terrible odors. They can also help companies craft a particular fragrance for their sanitizer, as well. Samples of ethanol can be sent to them for analysis so that formulas can be tailored to a specific client's needs. 

Make Sanitizer Smell Good but Not Appetizing

Don't Make Sanitizer Appetizing 

In the process of trying to make sanitizer more appealing, it's possible to make it the wrong kind of appealing. Sanitizer that comes in containers meant to look like beverages or food is extremely dangerous. Beer cans, water bottles, and especially children's juice pouches or boxes are not just a bad idea but can get you in serious trouble with the FDA. Hand sanitizer can be extremely harmful if ingested but is particularly dangerous to children who can experience acute alcohol poisoning.  

Making sanitizer smell like food can also be problematic. Even if the container's appearance suggests it's not meant to be ingested, it can still wind up in the hands of a child who doesn't know any better. Pleasant odors don't have to mean delicious aromas. Lavender, cherry blossom, sandalwood, and other such scents will work wonderfully well. And if you insist on having some more food-oriented scents, such as vanilla or citrus, make your warning label prominent. 

Appeal to Lifestyle

However your sanitizer smells, it has to be attractive on the outside, too. Ever since hand sanitizer first hit the market, it's always been viewed as utilitarian — a boring necessity in a bacteria covered world. But ubiquity has a tendency to cause individuality to rebel against uniformity. Sanitizer bottles are in almost every pocket, purse, backpack, briefcase, car cup holder, and even holster. Consumers want sanitizer to start filling the roles of other personalized hygiene items, like soaps and lotions. Boutique brands have made such items a part of consumers' lifestyles and reflect their personalities. Now they’re starting to do the same with sanitizer.

Rather than simply placing your sanitizer in a clear, cylindrical squirt bottle, you can get creative. Companies around the world have started making sanitizer in a way that can even be considered cool. Containers look like iPhones, expensive perfume, or even little works of art. It's a way to set themselves apart from the everyday gels that get hands clean but aren't fun. 

Appeal to Lifestyle

How a Labeler From Pack Leader USA Can Help 

Making your sanitizer look professional, safe, and appealing isn't a mysterious process. One step in the right direction is making sure you have the right packaging and labeling equipment. Pack Leader USA's wide range of labeling machines for the hand sanitizer industry will give you the head start you need to create impactful, memorable branding to stake your place in the market. From semi-automatic and fully-automatic labelers to full-body shrink sleeves and wrap-around labeling machines, there's a labeler that's perfect for your hand sanitizer bottling line. If you need help, we can always point you in the right direction with a free consultation. Good luck!