Alternative automotive uses for surplus 80% alcohol hand sanitizer?

I figure people will be wanting this stuff again soon. They are saying potatoes are now in short supply like toilet paper was last year and that other things are starting to become scarce as well.

I am not going to have it disposed of just yet but have found it is a nice cleaner for other things in the meantime. It just evaporates after you wipe surfaces down. You just don’t want it anywhere near open flame which is probably the main hazard to having all this stuff around.

I will see if the local schools might want some the next time I donate a load of surplus computers to them. They are all half gallon containers.

I use the stuff but it does have the disadvantage of drying your hands out. So if you are a little microbe looking for a place to hide, there are a lot more canyons available than with just soap and water. GSQ

I think I found my solution. I have a small camping size solo stove with a platform for cooking pots or a grill. Anyway, I poured some of this stuff in there and let it get going nice and hot. I cooked my dinner over this burning hand sanitizer in a pan and it worked quite well. There are no settings so I had to pull the pan off once in a while to avoid burning my food. Also, it was a cool but nice night. This was also a nice source of heat outside. The stuff burns off FAST as it is very light and volatile. I burned though almost an entire half gallon during my testing and cooking tonight so think I found a use for it. I will use a lot come summer and nice weather when I want to cook outside. I am not sure if it would be a good idea to cook directly over it but it does burn quite cleanly with no real odor so will do research on that.

As for auto uses, it might be a good deicer after a winter storm or a good parts cleaner/solvent but that is probably it. I don’t see automotive uses being the primary use for all this although that was my main thought when I got ahold of it.

Since it burns so well, you might consider using it as a charcoal fire starter for grilling. Put it in a squeeze bottle, and put a little on the charcoal before lighting it.

I would prefer not to use that for anything food related. Donate it somewhere and be done with it.


Ummm… Covid is not “over,” by a long shot. You might wish you had saved a good amount of this sanitizer for friends and family at some point. Right now this variant is not contagious by touch for very long, unless you touch mouth or nose, or sneeze/cough into hands.
But the next variant? Viruses are tricky little devils. They have only one job–mutate as needed so as to be able to replicate by finding new non-immune hosts. Make sure you are not one of the those.

None of this is rocket science: Mask, Distance, Wash, Vaccinate, Booster. Keep it up, as long as necessary. 2025? 2030? At the current rate of human cooperation and concern…2030 might be an early guess.



No, but solving the problem is much more difficult because it deals with people and their irrational fears of real experts.


The thread started with the info that it was coming from charities that had it donated to them. I doubt any charity would want it.

I think the issue is that there is so much of this floating around right now. No one seems to want it right now but as mentioned, that might change with the next variant of the virus. I am certainly not going to get rid of it quickly but figure there might be other uses. Some of the area schools are closing down due to outbreaks so would expect someone will want some of this.

As for the camping fuel, it creates a nice clean burning flame. I did read up on byproducts of burning glycerin and it appears this is something you want to only burn outdoors and probably wouldn’t want direct contact with the food such as over the flame like a grill but should be fine in a pot or pan where the byproducts are isolated. My tests have shown that most of the glycerin builds up as a paste in the bottom of whatever you are burning in as it doesn’t burn easily. If any does burn it turns into acrolein which is toxic but also produced by frying foods at high temps when fat starts to burn. Apparently this is a huge industrial byproduct including up to about 10% by volume of all biodiesel produced. Apparently it is building up as well with the push to renewables and people don’t know what to do with it.

It looks like auto uses are pretty much out for this. I am guessing it would be difficult to filter out the glycerin from the alcohol/water but this would help make it a better camping fuel or a cleaner/deicer that doesn’t streak glass. It is probably cheaper to pay full price for windshield washer solution than to try to make this “free” product usable for that purpose. I had put a small amount in one windshield washer reservoir before I realized it left a film on glass. It leaves minor streaks but nothing horrible. Either way, I won’t do that again and plan to run the reservoir down before refilling with a proper winter formula to get the rest out.

I plan to just sit on this for now and if someone wants it, they can have it. I have noticed local stores are dumping cleaning supplies of any kind right now at insanely cheap prices as well. This may or may not continue as obviously more was produced than demanded.

good question. Doubt the amount of peroxide and glycerin are large (3 to 6%) and it’s mostly EtOH and H2O. Peroxide is an oxidizer and explosive when heated (decomposes into water and oxygen). You can distill the EtOH off but it will be contaminated with H2O (96% ethanol and 4% water …azeotropes) so this distillate can’t be used in a gas tank (you’d have to dry it and that’s expensive). You can distill it under vacuum to lower the BP of the EtOH/H2O mixture but then you’ll be concentrating the peroxide which isn’t good. Not sure what the temp has to be to destroy/decompose the peroxide. peroxide isn’t stable in basic solutions so you can maybe add some caustic and heat for a while (testing to prove the peroxide is gone), then distill off the EtOH. You’d have to contact a chemical company and let them do internet searches and trial runs but it might cost your more to recover than to toss away. Time and people are a money drain in chemistry. Good luck.

I believe I found it was 3% peroxide and up to 7% glycerin. Peroxide is very unstable and breaks down in heat, light, or if shaken hard so I have no concerns about it. None of the byproducts will harm food and will assist in burning the alcohol if anything. That leaves about 10% as water and the rest ethanol.

I haven’t looked in great detail about separating the glycerin but feel it probably wouldn’t be worth it. All my searches revealed extraction processes for medical cannabis as a mixture of ethanol and glycerin is used. I am not a chemist but apparently glycerin is in the same family as alcohol and sugars so odds are it would be energy intensive, costly, and time consuming to separate.

I really feel that most of the glycerin just builds up at the bottom of the burner. This is something you can just wipe out with a paper towel. The sites mention that the toxic byproducts have a nasty smell like burning fat or cooking oil and I didn’t smell any of this. I think the alcohol vapor just boils off and leaves the reservoir of this mix at the bottom relatively cool. Glycerin isn’t easy to burn so just gets left behind as a syrup. I am probably more concerned about this than I should be but won’t cook directly over the flame, only in pots or pans.

I will also not discount giving this stuff away to friends, family, or schools if the nature of COVID-19 changes with a future variant. I certainly don’t plan to just take it to a hazmat disposal place.

I think you have the right idea if you have the storage space for it.