There may be good reason to be extra cautious when using hand sanitiser after a video surfaced exposing how rapidly the hygiene essential could turn harmful.
An eye-opening TikTok video revealed how a small portion of alcohol-based hand sanitiser could cause second-degree burns due to its emission of invisible flames when set alight.
A TikTok user from Birmingham in the UK shared his experiment online last month to warn others to be careful when using hand sanitiser around naked flames.
In the video, he tipped a blob of Cuticura hand sanitiser onto the side of his sink before lighting it with a cigarette lighter.
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To the naked eye, there were no obvious changes to the gel and the flame didn’t appear to affect it.
Moments later however, he held a piece of paper towel above the blob and it instantaneously went up in flames.
The product, which claims to kill 99 per cent of bacteria, contains 66 per cent alcohol volume – well above what is recommended to destroy Covid-19 germs.
While largely touted vital in maintaining personal hygiene during the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers were urged to be aware of its potential danger.
“When you are buying hand gel, you’re buying hand gel to kill bacteria. Not many people know what ethanol does,” the video creator said.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said while alcohol-based hand sanitiser was considered a flammable liquid, there were few incidences linking it to harmful fires.
“ABHS contains ethyl alcohol, which readily evaporates at room temperature into an ignitable vapour, and is considered a flammable liquid,” the CDC said.
“Although the incidence of fires related to ABHS is very low, it is vital that ABHS is stored safely and that bulk dispensers are installed and maintained correctly.”
A woman from Texas in September last year sustained burns to 18 per cent of her body after lighting a candle near a bottle of hand sanitiser.
Speaking to KHOU-TV after the incident, she recalled how her hand begun burning before her whole body became “consumed in flames”.
A mechanical contract worker earlier last year sustained first and second degree burns after using alcohol-based hand sanitiser and touching a metal surface before it evaporated.
The static electricity from the metal surface caused the vapour from the sanitiser to ignite, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America said at the time.
The worker promptly extinguished the flames in a nearby sink.