April 03, 2020, 08:41:28 PM
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Topic: Explanation of hand sanitizers in reference to shape polarity etc.  (Read 105 times)

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Offline bfangirl22

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I would like to understand how hand sanitizers work in reference to shape, polarity, and intermolecular forces of virus and sanitizer and why it has to be at least 60% alcohol to be effective and why sanitizer is not as effective as washing with soap and water. Sorry if its a lot I just need a better understanding of this and it would be awesome if someone could share videos about the topic too.

Offline Enthalpy

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Re: Explanation of hand sanitizers in reference to shape polarity etc.
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2020, 07:06:12 AM »
Welcome, bfangirl22!

Biology is complex, I expect no single answer, and many modes of action are unknown. Humans are made of proteins just like viruses, so any answer like "the sterilizing compound binds with the amine function" would probably be wrong as it doesn't differentiate the target from the organism to be spared. This knowledge is essentially experimental, with explanation attempts afterwards hence doubtful.

One mechanism I read about soap (other forum members know it better) is that it degreases. Many viruses and bacteria are protected with a sheath of lipids that soap dissolves, while humans can survive with some fats less on the skin - within limits. You can find by yourself on the Web how soap acts on grease.

Hydroalcoholic gel versus soap: soap is perfectly efficient. I suppose alcohol acts faster, hence is precious to professionals. Hydroalcoholic gel is hence requisitioned for hospitals, which is absolutely meaningful, and to my opinion understandable by the population. I disagree with the governments that allege "gel is less efficient", "face masks don't protect" and more propaganda because they consider the people is an idiot. And I don't grasp how plain alcohol and masks could be in shortage in rich industrial countries after a month. Encouraging individuals and companies to act would be better.

Offline jeffmoonchop

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Re: Explanation of hand sanitizers in reference to shape polarity etc.
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2020, 06:23:34 PM »
Both things are to do with the solubility of the lipid shell of the virus. We make lipid nanoparticles where the outer membrane is made from phospholipids like coronavirus. The lipids are soluble in ethanol but not water. A high concentration of alcohol is required to dissolve the shell because water keeps it intact. Even at 60% the lipid shell may not be very soluble and as such would be less likely to dissolve it and kill the virus than soap.

Soap is better, it bridges the lipid membrane to the water, making it soluble in water, or you could think of it like pulling molecules of lipid out from the particle and dismantling the virus.

So many people on here asking about sanitizer, just wash your hands with soap and water.

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