How to use salt to separate purell

Written by grace grimm | 13/05/2017
How to use salt to separate purell
Ordinary salt can be used to separate hand sanitisers such as Purell. (Salt image by lefebvre_jonathan from

Purell and many other hand sanitisers are a blend of ethyl alcohol (ethanol), water and moisturisers. Using ordinary table salt, you can easily separate hand sanitiser gel into alcohol and the gel's other components. Salt binds to the glycerine in the gel, forming a viscous goo and leaving the alcohol behind as a clear liquid. Aside from scientific interest, this technique could be used in a pinch to obtain ethyl alcohol for use in a camp stove.

Combine 113gr. of hand sanitiser gel with 1 tsp of table salt.

Cover a cup or bowl with several layers of cheesecloth or a similar porous material.

Strain the mixture through the cheesecloth. The liquid ethyl alcohol will pass through, leaving the congealed salt and glycerine behind. In one experiment, the filtered liquid that resulted from this process was 70 per cent ethyl alcohol and 2 per cent isopropyl alcohol by volume.

Things you need

  • Ethyl alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel
  • Cheesecloth

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