Quarantine Moonshine: Portland Distillery Turns Waste to Free Hand Sanitizer

If you’ve stopped into a grocery store or corner market in the last week (and who hasn’t?) you’ve likely seen something missing. No, we’re not talking about toilet paper and pasta, we’re referring hand sanitizer. Yes, that high-alcohol content, anti-microbial gel that smells like vodka is mysteriously absent from store shelves. It’s one of the major products that’s being gobbled up by panicked shoppers as the novel coronavirus spreads across the country like coronavirus-infected Tom Hanks spreads Vegemite on toast. A Portland, Oregon-based distillery noticed the disappearing hand sanitizer and decided to do something about it.

Not only did the Shine Distillery & Grill in Portland, Oregon, make their own hand sanitizer using booze, they gave it away for free. In an age when people have hoarded hand sanitizer in hopes of making big bucks via price gouging, a distillery (that’s likely been forced to shutter its doors by now) decided to hand it out at no charge.

The idea to make hand sanitizer came from the distilling process. The first portion of alcohol in the process isn’t drinkable due to high levels of ethanol. It only made sense to make it into sanitizer. The distillery was already using it to clean their equipment. A customer asked if the distillery could make hand sanitizer and they decided to give it a shot.

It’s made from a solution of 80 percent alcohol from waste alcohol, xanthan gum, and water. The CDC minimum alcohol content for a sanitizer to fight viruses is 60 percent. This boozy hand sanitizer is likely more potent than that Purell you spent a week’s pay to buy on Amazon. If you happen to live in Portland, stop by and grab a free bottle if they still have any.

Photo: Shine Distillery & Grill

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