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Re: [BKARTS] Purell



The elementary school in which I work installed Purell dispensers everywhere, including at the door to the library, and it's school policy to have students douse their hands constantly.  I know I can't use it when I do "white work" (tatting and other lace-making) because it eventually browns the cotton, even if I wait until my hands are dry, so I'm somewhat concerned about the effect of purell on the books -- not that we have many special ones, but just curiosity in general.  Does anyone know about the archival-ness of Purell or other "water-free" hand sanitizers?
--Marguerite Radhakrishnan


The main ingredient is alcohol; 62% ethanol (aka “grain” alcohol), 5% 2-propanol (aka isopropyl “rubbing” alcohol). There are lots of unknown additives. These can include fragrances, aloe vera, etc.  I wonder if the added aloe vera juice could be causing the discoloration of cotton.  Aloe vera is one common additive and it does turn brown quickly (try squeezing the juice from the plant, if you’ve never seen it). Otherwise, I think they use some sort of cellulose ether, like methylcellulose, as a thickener.  The fact is that the ingredients are proprietary, and they only have to reveal the alcohol content because it is a fire hazard. Otherwise the governement would allow them to have a completely “secret” formula.


BTW, you can look up any item’s ingredients by searching for a material safety data sheet. Just enter the name of the item and MSDS into your search engine of choice.  The only catch is that they are only forced to disclose potential health, fire, or environmental hazards.  The EU may have better disclosure standards, but I’m not sure what they call their disclosure forms.


Valinda Carroll



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