Art in Quarantine — Ana Pérez-Quiroga

UMBIGO invited several artists to reflect on the era we are living in and to think about their artistic production in quarantine times.

Project by the artist Ana Ana Pérez-Quiroga.

Ana Pérez-Quiroga, The quasi 70º alcohol and the industrial alcohol gel, 2020

When the state of emergency was declared in Portugal (March 19), the population rushed to the pharmacies, trying to buy, besides masks, ethyl alcohol or 70 ethanol and alcohol gel. It was an unsuccessful quest for me, as there were no such products in any pharmacy I visited. There was only 96º alcohol.

But why not use the 96º alcohol?

The World Health Organization (WHO), and many other national and international health organizations, say that 70º alcohol is the right one for disinfection. Its use as an antiseptic and disinfectant in wound cleaning or surgery has been known since the 14th century, and was used in distilled spirits. But its value as a powerful antiseptic was only proven by tests made by Reinicke in 1894 and by Epstein in 1897. But Harrington and Walter, in 1903, demonstrated that the concentration between 60º and 70º is the most effective to destroy bacteria, microbes, fungi and viruses, because it has the exact content of water that allows the entry of alcohol into microorganisms.

Alcohol with a concentration above 70º ends up dehydrating the microorganisms without killing them. Due to the lack of 70º alcohol and alcohol gel, I looked for information on how to make them. I was so eager to make my alcohol in a professional way that I bought an alcoholmeter from a laboratory material company, as well as a 500ml tester, an alcohol thermometer and several glass bottles. I bought 96º alcohol, distilled water, glycerine and 3% oxygenated water, and used a pot to sterilize the bottles. On the kitchen table, on the marble, I distributed the objects, put on the gloves, and handled the liquids, measuring their alcohol content with the alcoholometer until reaching the ideal 70º at a temperature of 15º. To make alcohol gel, I simply added oxygenated water and glycerine.

I need to transcribe the two home recipes prepared by the Occupational Health, Biosafety and Quality Commission of IHMT/NOVA:


1. Preparation of 70 alcohol


– Ethyl alcohol at 96º-98º

– Distilled water (or bottled or tap water)

Preparation mode:

a) Place 1 bottle of 250 ml 96º-98º ethyl alcohol in a container, and add 10 tablespoons of distilled water (approximately 100 ml);

b) Mix properly.


2. Preparation of alcohol gel


– 96-98º Ethyl alcohol

– 10 volumes of oxygenated water (3%) (hydrogen peroxide 3%)

– Glycerin

– Distilled water (or bottled or tap water)

Preparation mode:

a) Place 1 bottle of 250 ml 96º-98º ethyl alcohol in a container, 1.5 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide (approximately 15 ml), 1 teaspoon of glycerine (approximately 5 ml) and 3 tablespoons of distilled water (approximately 30 ml);

b) Mix properly;

c) Place the mixture in dispensing bottles.


Note: The validity of these products depends on the level of hygiene and sterilization during the manufacturing process, ranging from 7 days to 3 months.

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