Warheads hand sanitizer is here to cause chaos

Illustration for article titled Warheads hand sanitizer is here to cause chaos
Photo: galitskaya (iStock)

Once, not too long ago, the biggest story on the internet wasn’t a life-threatening worldwide pandemic, but teenagers eating candy-like morsels of washing machine detergent in the name of viral fame. Simpler times. Now we can capture the spirit of those halcyon days with Warheads-branded hand sanitizer, a product that looks way too much like actual candy and, unlike Tide Pods, is literally made by a candy company. Or so it seems.


According to Yahoo! Lifestyle, it was Reddit users who helped bring attention to the neon-colored bottles of goop, and the Chicago Tribune later confirmed that a 7-Eleven in downtown Chicago was carrying hand sanitizers that appeared to be manufactured by a variety of candy brands, including Airheads, Mike & Ike, and Warheads. Interestingly, these Reddit users have also called attention to the fact that the product is labeled “alcohol free,” meaning that it won’t disinfect your hands and definitely doesn’t meet the 60% minimum alcohol requirement set by the CDC for combatting coronavirus.

While the website for Impact Confections (makers of Warheads candy) does list “Super Sour Double Drops” as one of their patented sugar delivery systems, Warheads-branded hand sanitizer isn’t a product they’re advertising, and this does seem like exactly the sort of thing a less-than-scrupulous overseas manufacturer might try to make a buck off of.

We called Impact Confection’s headquarters in Janesville, Wisconsin to try to get some answers, but unfortunately weren’t able to reach anyone. So, for now, this will remain a mystery. Just remember that hand sanitizers, candy-like or not, must be at least 60% alcohol to be effective. And for the love of god, don’t drink them.

Jacob Dean is a food and travel writer and psychologist based in New York. He likes beer, less traveled airports, and is allergic to grasshoppers (the insect, not the mixed drink.)


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This is a real product, licensed by Florida-based Flex Beauty Labs:


Its UPC is 711237958483

The back of the package shows why it’s alcohol-free:

Let’s clear a few things up, though:

- Ethyl Alcohol-based hand sanitizer must be at least 60% ethyl alcohol to show effectiveness against viruses like the SARS-CoV-2 (the higher the percentage, the more likely to be effective)

- Isopropyl Alcohol-based sanitizers must be at least 70% isopropyl alcohol to show effectiveness against viruses like the SARS-CoV-2 (the higher the percentage, the more likely to be effective)

- Benzalkonium Chloride (which is used in the product in this article) is used in hospital sanitizers already, as well as home-use antibacterial soaps and other products, it’s not as popular in hand sanitzer as alcohol, and not currently recommended by the CDC for SARS-CoV-2 because there is conflicting data about whether or not it’s effective at killing this novel coronavirus, a higher percent solution showed no effectiveness against one strain while a lower percent solution showed some effectiveness against other strains. It’s an anti-bacterial which means it’s shown to be effective at killing bacteria, not viruses.

- Quaternary ammonium compounds such as alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride that are found in products like Lysol All Purpose Cleaner and Clorox Wipes are shown to be effective against viruses like the SARS-CoV-2, however they take on average for home products between 3 and 10 minutes to be effective. They are not safe for use as hand sanitizer, only as surface sanitizers.

- Soap and water is shown to be effective against viruses like SARS-CoV-2, that’s why washing your hands thoroughly is so important and is the best course of action against this virus right now.