When the story broke that COVID-19, or coronavirus, had reached the United States, one of the first items to be mass-purchased was hand sanitizer. Following that, people began hoarding the ingredients to make their own hand sanitizer, like aloe vera gel and isopropyl alcohol. Because of the panic buying and hoarding of these products, many were left without, including me.
But today I got a call that surprised me. A local distillery, Heritage Distilling, had just come out with the hottest product of 2020: hand sanitizer. I jumped at the chance to grab some. When I arrived at the distillery, an employee wearing gloves had already packed a bag containing two 750 ml bottles and I was out the door quick and easy.
Earlier this month, Gig Harbor, Washington-based Heritage Distilling began switching from making spirits to hand sanitizer to help Pacific Northwest communities combat the spread of coronavirus. Their intent was to scale up to 15,000 gallons of hand sanitizer produced every month. Heritage Distilling’s CEO, Justin Stiefel, says the decision to produce hand sanitizer came from a clear community need.
Now, at any of Heritage’s four tasting rooms in Washington State and Oregon, you can get a free 8-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer with a $25 purchase of spirits, or purchase 750 ml for $15. And Heritage is not alone.
Portland, Oregon-based Shine Distillery & Grill has also taken up the cause of producing hand sanitizer for a community desperately trying to slow the spread of COVID-19. Jon Poteet, the owner of Shine Distillery, said the decision was a no-brainer. The distillery uses alcohol to clean various surfaces, and after a customer inquired about purchasing some of the cleaning alcohol, it all came together.  This idea isn’t confined to the Northwest either.
Last week, Spirit Hound Distillers in Lyons, Colorado also began producing hand sanitizer. Spirit Hound began with a smaller batch, producing 48 gallons of 80 percent alcohol hand sanitizer.
Distilleries north of the border as well this as well. The Spirit of York Distillery in Toronto, Canada is doing its part to help during these dire times.
“Our mandate is always giving back to the community … its part of our core values, so when we saw what was happening we decided we needed to something.” Gerry Guitor, the founder of Spirit of York, said to CTV News
According to Guitor their recipe consists of ethanol at 96%, hydrogen peroxide at 3%, glycerol at 98% and distilled water. This is important because the final product should be at least 60% alcohol to be effective.
According to the CDC, one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, aside from staying home, heeding the warnings local authorities, and isolating yourself if you’re sick, is to properly disinfect surfaces and wash your hands regularly. 
When disinfecting and cleaning surfaces, always wear disposable gloves and discard the gloves after cleaning. If the surface you need to disinfect is dirty, first clean it with a detergent or soap. To disinfect, you can use a diluted bleach solution or a solution with at least 70% alcohol. To make a diluted bleach solution, mix 1/3 of a cup of bleach for every gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach for a quart.
For properly washing your hands, the CDC recommends washing with soap and water for 20 seconds, taking care to clean between the fingers, under the fingernails, each finger, the thumbs, and wrists, and forearms as well. Alcohol-based sanitizers, like what Heritage, Shine, and others are producing, can be used in a pinch, but make it a priority to wash with soap and water.
To stop the spread of coronavirus, always wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, after using the restroom, before eating or preparing food, before and after caring for someone who may be sick, and before leaving the house as well as when you return.
Parade Magazine has a comprehensive list of distilleries that are currently producing hand sanitizer. Consult their list to find a location near you.
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