Review Why You Shouldn’t Buy Hand Sanitizer Here!

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Here’s why you shouldn’t buy the cheapest tools

A closer look into the quality of bicycle tools

Walk into a prestige car workshop and you’ll likely find high-end toolboxes filled to the brim with quality ‘trade brand’ tools. Professional mechanics rely on these tools to make an income, day in, day out. As car technology has rapidly changed, so have the tools offered.

Yet, if you walk into some bike stores (and, in all probability, if you open up your toolbox) you’ll likely find plenty of cheaper, lower grade tools that are just making do and haven’t really changed for a few decades — despite the fact that your bike certainly has. It’s worth bearing in mind that high-end bikes are delicate pieces of engineering.

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Jason Quade, the man behind Abbey Bike Tools is one (but not the only) strong advocate for better tool quality in cycling. Sure, he has strong monetary motivations to make such a statement, but he’s absolutely right.

Of course, good tools in the wrong hands will almost always cause more damage than poor tools in the right hands. But I digress.

“It’s an overall quality issue,” says Quade. “Nice bikes deserve nice tools — sometimes they require them. I’m sure you’ve seen a outboard bottom bracket that’s been thrashed by a heavy hand and a poorly fitting tool.”

As Quade points out, many bolts in cycling come oversized from standards, and the tools arrive undersized. Combining these factors results in obvious fit issues.

Damage to components may very well be the user’s fault, but it’s just as likely a result of poor tool design and tolerances. If you’ve ever stripped a rotor bolt, rounded a stem bolt or marred a hub cone then you’ll have felt the impotent fury this can cause.

“When I designed my pedal wrench, I went out and measured close to 100 pedals from every brand and not a single one of them had hexes that were within published specs,” Quade explains. “Most of them weren’t over by much, but some were off by a mile. So we pushed the size of our hex to the limit to compensate for the shoddy manufacturing of others. We did the same thing with the (cassette lockring) spline of our Crombie tool.“

Bondhus, a US-based manufacturer that specialises in hex wrenches, is another company vocal on the importance of tool tolerances and material hardness. Bondhus sells under its own brand, but also produces the hex (and Torx) tools for popular American brands such as Park Tool and Snap-On.

A high quality tool will keep its sharp edges and tolerances to ensure repeatable quality. Hex wrenches are the most obvious example, where cheaper options lose their edge sooner, leading to a rounded fastener (and potential for huge frustration).

Budget chain breakers (common in many generic multi-tools and tool kits) are another example that noticeably deform with each use, eventually leading to a bent pin on a new chain install.

At the other scale, make tools too hard and they can become brittle — risking dangerous snapping and fragmenting during use. It goes without saying that you don’t want this, and it’s something the better brands will test for and engineer to prevent.

Lifetime warranty on a tool is nice, but it shouldn’t be used as a judge for quality. Extended warranties are commonly used as marketing strategy, simply to add further value to a product — not necessarily to prove that it will never fail. And while the manufacturer may replace the tool, it won’t replace the failed component as a result.

Tight tolerances and durable materials come at an obvious expense. The general price of most ‘professional’ cycling tools is a clear indicator of what we’re using compared with the far higher costs associated with professional trade tools. This is not to say that most cycling tools are inherently bad, but rather that most of them are made to a price point.

For the very casual user, high tool costs are prohibitive and these soft materials may be acceptable. But in any situation, loose tolerances are inexcusable for a task-specific tool.

Take cheap cone wrenches as an example, which have the sole purpose to be thin enough to fit in between the tight gaps of hub cones. There are more than a few options too wide for common hubs — instant fail.

An actual example

For cycling, the most used tool is the 5mm hex wrench. With this, I took a wide-ranging selection of brands (most new) and measured them with a micrometer. I admit, the test is flawed in that there’s only one of each for most brands, but it does give some insight into varying tolerances.

For a 5mm hex wrench, you want it as close to 5mm as possible as the bolts are oversized to fit this. As you can see, the cheaper Chinese options are the clear losers — while the US-made and European tools are often superior.

Sample 1

Sample 2

Sample 3

Mean average

Bondhus Standard

Bondhus ProGuard

Bondhus ProGold

Park Tool (Bondhus)

Crank Brothers Multi 17


Jet Black multi-tool


Kincrome (Tiawan)


Irwin Impact Bit

Topeak Mini 9

PB Swiss




PrestaCycle Bit

PRO multi tool

Generic Chinese


Lezyne Stainless Multi

This .06mm is just a hair’s difference, but use each of the two extreme examples in the same bolt and you’ll feel an obvious change in grip and movement, and likely see the undersized version cut into the edges of the bolt before it begins to turn.

From this, you can see that Bondhus tools are an obviously brilliant choice if you’re after a snug fitting hex wrench. They also happen to be some of the cheapest available and go against the idea that more expensive is better.

Perhaps the most surprising measurement is that of the PB Swiss hex wrench. These are seen in many pros’ toolboxes and are often thought of as the very best — but while they’re super strong and very nice looking, they don’t, on this showing at least, fit as snugly as Bondhus items that cost ¼ as much.

Things you can do

It takes experience to know the difference between a snug fitting tool and a disaster about to happen. Unfortunately, the mechanics with least experience are probably going to be attempting a repair with the worst fitting tools. Here are a few simple tips:

  • Always watch how a bolt, nut, lockring or spline is handling a high torque. If it changes feel, stop and assess. Are there signs of deformation to the tool or the bolt? If either occurs, don’t keep pushing.
  • Are you using the right tool for the job? The limit screws in your Shimano derailleur aren’t actually Phillips, they’re JIS (Japanese International Standard) — that’s why they’ve always stripped (a good, sharp Phillips does work though). The chainring bolts on new XTR are T27, not the T25 you commonly use on your bike.
  • If you’re continually stripping or rounding screws, it’s most likely your tools are in need of replacement or an upgrade. If the tools are fine, it’s your technique that’s the problem — be sure to push down (or ‘in’) on the tool when applying torque.
  • When working with press-fit items, such as bearings and bearing cups, always take your time. It’s often easiest to do one side at a time, using the opposite face as a guide for the press. If it’s not aligned from the start, try it again — never assume it’ll ‘come right’.

Sadly, there’s no hard and fast rule as to what cycling tools should be avoided like the plague — and most of the blame should fall on the sloppy tolerances of the component manufacturers. Generally though, the very cheapest stuff is cheap for a reason… though one day, it may be the source of an expensive headache.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Hand Sanitizers

For everyday use, sanitizers are a poor replacement for soap and water, and even come with surprising health risks.

Hand sanitizers have become all but ubiquitous in the West. In the United States it’s a $200-million a year industry. While these cleansers can be useful, notably in clinical environments, they are far from being a benign frippery: they bear not only an environmental cost, but can bear a medical cost too.

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A study published in Plos One in October showed that because hand sanitizers increase the permeability of the skin, using them and then handling thermal paper (the kind commonly put out by credit card terminals, cash registers, taxi drivers) causes the body to absorb bisphenol A, a hormone-disrupting chemical that’s incredibly common. This is all the more pertinent if you sanitize, handle thermal paper and then eat with your hands.

The paper dwelled on the BPA, which has been found in 95% of American adults’ urine. Hand sanitizers aren’t that ubiquitous yet, but unthinking use of them is arguably one of the ills of the consumption-crazy west.

With old friends like these

The purpose of sanitizers is to, well, sanitize your hands in the absence of soap and water. Some people, possibly forgetting what “soap” does, even use them after washing their hands.

Hand sanitizers contain an active ingredient, usually alcohol, that kills some if not all bacteria. The mania for sanitizing has become so prevalent that in Israel at least, some parents are shocked – shocked! when others don’t carry it about with them to keep the kids squeaky “clean”. Never mind that they may smoke in the living room or let the dog sleep in the bed: if the kid touches a jungle gym, he gets sprayed.

Some schools in Israel even require children to bring a bottle of the stuff together with their pen and exercise books, despite new research done in New Zealand showing that the practice does not in fact reduce absenteeism in schools (where kids could alternative wash their hands). For many – women at least, as most men still don’t carry around pocketbooks – these sanitizers have become almost a status symbol ostensibly indicating that the carrier is clean while non-carriers are slobs.

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As there is no water laving away the dirt, at most, the alcohol in the sanitizers kills some bacteria, and possibly reduces viral and fungal flora while about it. Cleaner, you are not; more sterile than before, you probably are. But is that necessarily a good thing?

Sure, in a hospital. Or if somebody sneezes on your hands, fine, go ahead and sanitize. It’s also good for people out in the field – soldiers come to mind – who don’t have access to soap and water. But in the playground or classroom? The Hygiene Hypothesis, first published by Dr. David Strachen in 1989, postulates that one reason for rising incidence of allergies and illness among western children is the effort to sterilize their environment.

Unchallenged immune systems remain stunted, says the hypothesis. Some even believe the immune challenge can result in serious illness later in life, including diabetes and nervous system impairment.

The Hygiene Hypothesis remains controversial (a paper in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology in 2020 by a team headed by Dr. Emmanuel Prokopakis of the University of Crete spells out the controversies). That said, a great many studies have found that children living on farms or even urban kids growing up with pets (hair! parasites! doo doo!) and in big families (ditto) have been repeatedly shown to have less allergies than their pet-less peers.

Put simply, kids who grow up with dirt have more germs in their system, and seem better able to deal with them.

Prokopakis points out that there is no proven link between hand sanitizers and the Hygiene Hypothesis, let alone immune dysfunction, but confesses he finds the thought intriguing. “We may only assume, that the extensive use of hand sanitizers in western countries is associated with the increase of allergies (among other reasons), based on the hygiene hypothesis,” he elaborates by email to Haaretz.

A twist on this theory was proposed in 2003, by the scientist Graham Rook, who broached the “old friends” theory. Man evolved with certain bacteria on his skin, in his mouth and in his guts and in fact. Far from being agents of disease, these “germs” are crucial to our health, helping us digest among other things, and fighting with non-benign bugs. In 1998 a group of scientists even published evidence associating childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia – a growing problem in the west but not in the developing nations – with excessive hygiene conditions.

Cleansing and superbugs

That isn’t to say that living in a sewer will make you healthy: but over-cleansing can evidently do harm. Washing your hands after using the toilet is good; habitually cleansing after shaking hands with a new acquaintance is overkill.

If anything, over-use of anti-bacterial agents is among the elements associated with the rise of so-called superbugs, that are resistant to the usual range of antibiotics.

As for what you wash with, the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration itself has said that hand sanitizers are no better than soap. In 2020 the FDA even stated that though the sanitizers can kill many germs and are better than not cleansing at all, manufacturers are wrong to claim that they “prevent infection from MRSA, E. coli, salmonella, flu, or other bacteria or viruses”.

Shame about the liver damage

Another problem is that many hand sanitizers (and other household staples such as toothpaste) may contain the anti-bacterial hormone-disrupting pesticide triclosan, or its cousin triclocarbon. These are readily absorbed by the skin – and have been shown to impair thyroid function and damage our liver and muscles. Liquid soaps often have these chemicals too, by the way. Plain soap does not.

Other studies have demonstrated that triclosan depresses central nervous system functioning.

Triclosan is so common that a 2007 study found it in 97% of breast-milk samples (based on 62 women in Texas and California); and 75% of urine samples in the U.S. (2,517 people).

If you’re going to use a hand sanitizer, choose one without these chemicals. They do exist. And while about it, for the sake of efficacy, choose one with alcohol content greater than 60%, advises the CDC.

Poisoning our water

The first aspect of the environmental aspect is fairly obvious. Using a product we don’t need is a waste of precious resources. And a lot of resources are going into these products: In the U.S. alone, hand sanitizers are a $200 million a year industry – and sales are expected to double and more by the year 2020, to more than $400 million a year, according to the marketing research firm Global Industry Analysts of California. Sales have been heartily boosted by spikes in widely-reported diseases, like SARS or, more recently, Ebola.

Then after its use, we have millions upon millions of plastic bottles adding to the billions of tons of plastic waste polluting our planet. We have the spread of superbugs which is being abetted by unthinking use of these gels – that could be considered an environmental hazard as well.

There’s also a fire hazard in the sense that alcohol is flammable, and sanitizers contain a lot of that – which is why some people drink the stuff, a habit that reportedly started in prisons. A sanitizer with 62 percent ethyl alcohol is equivalent to a 120-proof drink. However, tell your kids: they really could go blind. The alcohol in sanitizers is usually poisonous and can damage the liver and nervous system. Some manufacturers have started putting vile-tasting additives in the stuff on purpose.

And finally, for dessert, we have contamination of our water supply bodies by triclosan and triclocarbon, which are synthetic – they do not occur naturally. They get into the water because almost all the products containig triclosan and triclocarbon wind up getting washed down the drain.

The Margin

Nicole Lyn Pesce

Hand sanitizer is selling out in stores over coronavirus fears, but doctors say you’re better off washing your hands

Tito’s Vodka isn’t meant to be used as a hand sanitizer ingredient.

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Do not throw away your shot — especially to make your own hand sanitizer.

As people worried about contracting or spreading the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 have cleaned retailers such as Costco COST, -0.97% , BJ’s BJ, -1.44% and Kroger KR, +2.18% out of hand-sanitizing gels, wipes and household cleaners, some folks have also been turning to do-it-yourself hand sanitizer formulas that have been going viral online, which generally call for combining two-thirds of a cup of 99% rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) or ethanol to kill the germs, and one-third of a cup of aloe vera gel to protect your skin from drying out.

But some misinformed individuals have also been looking into making sanitizers with liquor, such as Everclear grain alcohol and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and taking their queries (and dubious success stories) to Google AAPL, -1.43% and Twitter TWTR, +0.30% .

That even rubbed Tito’s the wrong way, as the spirits maker shared the following PSA from its official Twitter account on Thursday in response to a customer who claimed to have made hand sanitizer from its vodka: “Per the CDC, hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is 40% alcohol, and therefore does not meet the current recommendation of the CDC,” it read.

Others have considered using Everclear (which can contain up to 95% alcohol by volume), with “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” even recently doing a parody commercial on it entitled, “Can’t Find Purell? Reach For 190 Proof Everclear,” joking that the strong grain alcohol is “super-effective against germs and consciousness.” Luxco, which makes Everclear, did not immediately respond to a MarketWatch request for comment.

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told MarketWatch that liquor is not a good substitute for — or ingredient in — hand sanitizer. “Usually, the proof is double the percentage of alcohol in a spirit. Vodka is only 80 proof, or 40% alcohol — you need at least 60% to effectively kill viruses and bacteria,” he explained.

Hand sanitizer sales spiked 313.4% in the week ending Feb. 29 compared with the same week last year, according to the latest Nielsen NLSN, -1.13% data, and shoppers have been sharing images of empty drugstore shelves cleaned out of hand sanitizers on social media as the number of coronavirus cases has hit 241 in the U.S., and 101,583 worldwide, along with 3,460 deaths globally.

Hence the sudden interest in making hand sanitizers at home.

The World Health Organization has shared the following formula for places where clean water, soap and commercial sanitizer are scarce. The measurements here will create large quantities, however, calling for 35 cups of 96% ethanol, 0.6 cups of 98% glycerol and 1.7 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide, for example. And the steps get complicated — even calling for quarantining the solution for 72 hours to allow any spores or contaminants present in the alcohol or the bottle storing the mixture.

Dr. Jenelle Kim — the founder and lead formulator at JBK Wellness Labs in San Diego — shared a simpler DIY hand sanitizer recipe with Fox Business, which is owned by the same parent company as MarketWatch. It follows: Fill two-thirds of a 2-ounce bottle with rubbing alcohol, then fill the remaining third of the bottle with aloe vera gel, and top off with distilled water if space permits, and a few drops of essential oils if desired. And make sure to sterilize all of the tools you’ll be using beforehand.

But Dr. Glatter and many other medical experts aren’t wild about DIY hand sanitizer in general. The average person isn’t an expert chemist, after all, and it’s very important to get these concentrations correct to ensure that the mixture is effective. For example, New York City’s Hudson Square Pharmacy posted a DIY hand sanitizer recipe in its store with the wrong ratio; it only called for one part alcohol to four parts aloe gel.

“Isopropyl alcohol is very dangerous and can lead to complications,” added Dr. Glatter. “Swallowing just 8 ounces, or 240 cc [cubic centimeters] of isopropyl alcohol can be deadly — even quantities as small as 20 cc can be toxic.” Side effects of swallowing isopropyl alcohol — from a DIY or a store-bought hand sanitizer — can lead to seizures, kidney failure, gastric bleeding and death, he warned.

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Even used topically, isopropyl alcohol can dry out your skin and cause superficial burns — and damaged skin is more vulnerable to the types of infections you’re looking to avoid in the first place. “You’ve got to wear gloves when you handle it,” Dr. Glatter explained. It’s also flammable, so you need to make sure that you’re not mixing these ingredients near an open flame or heat source.

Hand sanitizer works in a pinch, but washing your hands works best.

And in the end, the WHO and the CDC agree that scrubbing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is a much more effective way to reduce the risk of infection. And make sure to clean in between your fingers and under your nails. The CDC clearly states in its guidelines that “soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing certain kinds of germs.”

“Hand sanitizer shouldn’t be your first choice,” said Dr. Glatter. “if you don’t have access to hand sanitizer, using a hand gel is acceptable. The take-home message is this: if given a choice, find a sink and wash your hands with plenty of soap and water.”

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