Distilleries are using their high proof alcohol to make hand sanitizer as Purell and other sanitizers become harder to find in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says washing with soap and water is the best way to clean your hands, but when that’s not an option, the agency recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Along with items like face masks and toilet paper, alcohol-based sanitizing gel has been one of the most in-demand items as coronavirus fears have sparked panic buying that has left store shelves empty. Reports of people stock piling sanitizer has brought complaints of price gouging, and at one point a two-pack of Purell 12-ounce bottles was selling for a marked-up $149.
In response, distilleries have stepped up to help combat the shortage. Moonrise Distillery in Clayton, Georgia, said Saturday that it will make hand sanitizer using botanical gin infused with aloe vera “as long as it is required and we can get the ingredients.”
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“We are a community of huggers and hand shakers and we want to do our part to keep that warmth around but in as safe a manner as possible,” the distillery said in a Facebook post. “While washing hands with soap and water remains the best solution we hope the sanitizer will help when that is not possible.”
Moonrise plans to give out their hand sanitizer for free, and has asked for donations from those who are able.
Late last week, Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta posted on Instagram that it plans to hand out free 95% alcohol-based sanitizer to anyone who stopped by and asked.
They ran out of the solution just two days after they began giving it away and have asked for donations to help keep production going. The business said that it was expecting another shipment of ingredients on Monday and would resume production then, according to an Instagram post.
“Once we make an announcement that hand sanitizer is available to pick up, please practice social distancing,” the company wrote. “As of today, we are only making hand sanitizer for local municipalities and our healthcare professionals.”
In Portland, Oregon, Shine Distillery and Grill announced similar plans on Facebook. In the comments, owners connected with many other distillery owners who reached out asking for their recipe so they can help their communities in a similar way.
Instead of hand sanitizer, Durham Distillery in North Carolina announced that they would be giving away on its website a sanitizing solution for local hospitality workers . The company said the spray can be used for doorknobs, bathrooms and glass-touch surfaces.
“Durham Distillery is in a unique position of providing assistance to our hospitality colleagues,” the company said. “We distill Conniption gins from a 95% ethanol base. Having this ethanol available enables us to develop a highly effective sanitizing solution of ~70% ethanol and distilled water.”
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The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with governors in multiple states closing all bars and restaurants.
Brad Plummer, spokesman for the American Distilling Institute and editor of Distiller Magazine, told the Associated Press that he’s been seeing a lot of talk among distillers interested in converting part of their operations to hand sanitizer.
“The hospitality industry is going to be decimated by this and they are our primary clients. We’re looking for ways to help in the response to this, but also to find other ways to look for revenue streams,” he said.
Contributing: Associated Press, Kelly Tyko and Dalvin Brown, USA TODAY