Assistant Professor of Russian Studies Jason Cieply's homemade hand sanitizers.

When he assigned a Russian role-playing and survival game to his students last semester, little did Jason Cieply know that a few months later the exercise would inspire him to take his own small stand against today’s global pandemic by making hand sanitizer. Cieply is an assistant professor of German and Russian languages and literatures.

The premise of the game is survival after a strange sickness befalls a small town. “As the days move on, the price of different goods, including food and medicine, skyrocket,” Cieply said. “So, I think the game inspired me to take a DIY approach. It’s actually been amazing how much of what we talked about with the students has been proving relevant now.” 

Cieply said he normally doesn’t use hand sanitizer. “Like a lot of people, I think, I was slow to actually start preparing [when coronavirus spread to the U.S.].” By the time he decided he’d better buy some, local stores were out.                                                                    

Jason Cieply
Jason Cieply Photo: Nancy L. Ford

Cieply found an article on how to make hand sanitizer on Wired and decided to give it a shot. However, by then “most of the ingredients were sold out in stores and online, plus Amazon and eBay started to close down people who had hoarded the ingredients and were engaging in price-gouging,” he said.

After hours of online searching, Cieply found everything he needed through a health site and a few Etsy sites. “I think the Etsy merchants had marked the prices way up, but I figured I’d pay what they were charging and make as much as I could for whomever needed it. I figured a lot of people were in the same boat as me,” he said. 

Cieply called the process of making hand sanitizer easy, but added that it’s important to follow all of the sanitary procedures and, most importantly, get the proportions right so there's enough alcohol (you need to use 99% so that there’s enough once it’s watered down with the other chemicals). 

“If I can get ahold of some more isopropyl alcohol, I will definitely make some more,” he said. “It’s the main ingredient, and you need a lot of it. I have the hydrogen peroxide and glycerin.”

Cieply sent out an all-campus email offering his homemade hand sanitizers to the Hamilton community for free – one per person please!  

“I think that, looking forward, there’s a lot we can do to help keep the community safe and everyone’s spirits up a little,” he said. “Who knows how long we’ll be in this situation. I hope we can organize to help each other as we move into what is sure to be a nightmarish time and as we hopefully transition into a slightly better, but still trying long-term, situation.”

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