American distilleries produce hand sanitizer amid shortages

Several distilleries are producing hand sanitizer and are making it available to the public for free.

Woman hand applying hand sanitizer (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Woman hand applying hand sanitizer
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
As the coronavirus continues to spread, demand for hand sanitizer has increased. Israelis have reportedly bought 35 times the normal amount of disinfectant gel, according to Channel 12.
In response to growing shortages of hand sanitizer, many distilleries are putting their ability to produce alcohol to use. While initially, companies such as Tito’s vodka discouraged the public from making their own sanitizer from alcohol, these distilleries have worked within guidelines to ensure that their sanitizer is high enough proof and safe to use.
Eight Oaks Farm Distillery in Pennsylvania announced that it is starting a hand sanitizer project, but it has yet to produce physical bottles of the product.
The Pennsylvania-based distillery is making its sanitizer from alcohol and aloe."We have temporarily shifted our distillation process from spirits to hand sanitizer in order to support our community, hospitals, assisted living homes and beyond!"
Moonrise Distillery in Clayton, Georgia, which has started producing hand sanitizer wrote this message to consumers: “Please don't try and make sanitizer at home as it will be either too low proof to be effective or make your hands crack and peel from the alcohol.”
Moonrise is currently offering its hand sanitizer for free. “We are a community of huggers and hand shakers and we want to do our part to maintain that warmth in a safe manner.  While washing hands with soap and water remains the best solution we hope the sanitizer will help when that is not possible.”
Durham Distillery in North Carolina is using its gin to make hand sanitizer and explained in-depth on its website how the sanitizer was made and how it should be used.
“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. At this concentration, microbes are killed upon spraying and evaporation,” the distillery wrote.
Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta announced this past week that it was making hand sanitizer.
“Due to the recent reports of outages and low supply in our community, We have decided to provide hand sanitizer free of charge to anyone in need. Made with aloe vera gel and 95% ethanol. This is no substitute for washing your hands but in a pinch it will get the job done. Available at the Distillery starting March 12th at 5pm. If you have a container please bring it and we will be happy to fill it!”

However, the demand was so high that by Monday, the distillery announced that it was focusing its efforts on helping first responders.
“March 16th update:
Thanks everyone for the tremendous amount of support!
Due to the overwhelming need of first responders and healthcare workers we have shifted our efforts to fulfill those needs as they are on the front lines dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. We will no longer be providing hand sanitizer to individuals at our 487 Edgewood location.
Please stay home if you can!”

Alcohol producers are not the only ones responding to an increased demand for hand sanitizer, TSA recently changed its guidelines to allow for larger bottles of sanitizer.
TSA will now allow travelers to fly with 12 oz (354 ml) of hand sanitizer in their carry-on luggage. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, liquids and gels in carry-ons were required to be 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or smaller.
"TSA understands that COVID-19 (coronavirus) is at the forefront on the minds of travelers, as health officials are encouraging that individuals wash their hands frequently," the agency wrote in a statement.
While sanitizer is effective, health officials say that washing ones hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is the most effective way to stay safe from viruses.