I saw an interesting blog post, sent to me by my ultrasound uncle, Dr. Chris Fox, that was on the: “Why Is American Healthcare so Expensive?” site entitled “How to Make Ultrasound gel: which is also sterile and edible and environmentally friendly” by Dr.Janice Boughton. Not only did the title catch my eye, but the content drew me even closer. If you are in need of gel – whether that’s because you are doing global health, disaster relief, or healthcare at any resource-limited area – there are ways to make it. Ive heard of a couple alternatives – and here is a way to make your own – that is also sterile, edible, and environmentally friendly. 🙂
As the blog post states: “Ultrasound requires an aqueous interface between the transducer and the skin or else all you see is black. Ultrasound gel is a clear goo, looks like hair gel or aloe vera, and is made by several companies out of various combinations of propylene glycol, glycerine, perfume, dyes, phenoxyethanol or carbapol R 940 polymer along with lots of water.” – not easy to find, and ot so cheap either. So, she set out and tried six different recipes – yup, that’s right – SIX! …and made the below gel (see pic) from guar gum (found in the flour section of stores), salt and water:
“Guar gum is available in the flour section of many grocery stores and costs about $10 for a 220 gram bag. It is purported to be good for diarrhea, constipation, diabetes and lowering cholesterol.” – how cool is that?!
1. Mix 2 teaspoons of guar gum with 1-2 teaspoons of salt. (The amount of salt isn’t vitally important since it is just added to keep the guar gum from clumping. Using slightly less than a teaspoon of salt per 2 cups makes a gel with which is isotonic, which would be ideal for use near eyes or other mucus membranes or on open wounds).
2. Boil two cups of water.
3. Slowly sprinkle the guar gum/salt mixture into the boiling water while stirring vigorously with a fork or whisk.
4. Boil for about 1-2 minutes until thick and well mixed.
5. Cool before using. Save lives.
Below is a video on how to do it made by her too:
Some other substances that may be worth trying are Xanthan gum or Gluten. Both Xanthan gum and Guar Gum are used in Gluten free baking to replace the emulsifying and binding effects of the missing gluten. I have not tried either of these but I plan to give them a try once I have gone through my bag of Guar gum. So, it may be a while.
Thanks for the suggestion!
Hi comrades how can one preserve sonogel made from guar gum
Hi Muwanika – it is ok to freeze then thaw guar gum gel.
Hahahahaha good I have discovers it at the end waaaawooooo am muwanika farouk from Uganda East Africa I would like to get you’re what’s up bomber 2e took more on that business of ultrasound gel .
thanks for your post on how to make ultrasound gel. My question is; ‘can one use this guar gum with the method above to make ultrasound gel for sale’ may be adding food preservative and food colour?
Hi there -thanks for the question – Im sure anyone can sell anything. It’s not as good as the real thing.
What is the guargum viscosity?
It is variable depending on what you ,mix with it. here is a link to some data : http://www.stanchem.co.uk/Portals/20/docs/Guar%20Gum%20Data.pdf
I would like to preservation ultrasound gel in 6 month to 1 year. So, Can you tell me, how to preservation them?
You can freeze it and defrost later – works great
You can use starch (potato,rice) instead of guar gum. If you add more salt you can use it as conductive gel for electronic tens units or electronic muscle trainers.if you add a few drop of food coloring of your choice you will get lovely translusent color.
Jack, Ive never tried potato with rice, but I will! Thanks for the info!
You can definitely use lubricant or lotion or hand sanitizer or yogurt or aloe vera gel, but if you’re going to get on a plane to a place where they don’t have a drugstore you need a just-add-water option. It’s not hard to find guar gum. When I made the first youtube video I did it on picasa which is a bad way to make a video. This is a better video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnjCqgvwj9I
I had somebody who knows what they’re doing help me with it.
Janice! This is fantastic! Thank you so much for the info and the youtube video showing the technique. In your travels and experience have you found that “just add water” gel? Could common flour work if salt is added? Thanks again
Geez, who has guar gum around? We use water soluble lubricant for rectal exams.
Haha – yes, believe it or not, guar gum does exist and it’s pretty cheap. Many other alternatives can also be used, but may run out, which is why maming it from edible products can be of benefit – mainly in the third world, of course.