BUSINESS
18/03/2020 3:14 AM AEDT | Updated 26/03/2020 6:58 AM AEDT

Distilleries, Perfume Plants Turn To Making Hand Sanitizer To Fight Coronavirus

“We are a community of huggers and hand shakers and we want to do our part," one distillery said of its sanitizing gels that it’s offering free of charge.

Amid panic-buying and shortages of hand sanitizer over coronavirus fears, companies around the world are stepping up efforts to help, in some cases by crafting their own free sanitizing gels for those in need.

Multiple U.S. distilleries and even perfume factories in France have announced they’re using their skills and resources to create batches of the alcohol-based gels as free resources to those in their area.

“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,” Moonrise Distillery in Clayton, Georgia, said in a Facebook post announcing its recent turn to hand sanitizer.

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Bottles of hand sanitizer made at the Eight Oaks Farm Distillery in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania, are seen in a display box on Monday. The disinfectant will be donated to charitable groups that need hand sanitizer.

The facility, which typically crafts whiskey, bourbon and brandies, said it has created a gin and aloe vera blend for those unable to get their hands on sanitizer in their community.

In nearby Atlanta, Old Fourth Distillery said it has been turning out bottles of aloe vera gel and 95% ethanol for local municipalities and healthcare professions, after initially offering free batches to the community, which quickly dried up.

Similar efforts have been reported at distilleries in SeattleOregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and North Carolina.

Across the Atlantic, French luxury goods manufacturer LVMH, which manufactures perfumes by Dior and Givenchy as well as Moët & Chandon champagne, said its perfume facilities have begun turning out 12 tons of free hydroalcoholic gel for French hospitals this week.

“Through this initiative, LVMH intends to help address the risk of a lack of product in France and enable a greater number of people to continue to take the right action to protect themselves from the spread of the virus,” LVMH said in a release on Sunday.

The production, which will continue indefinitely, is using a formula that was approved by French authorities as effective against the coronavirus, The New York Times reported.

LVMH’s recipients include Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris, which is made up of 39 hospitals that serve more than 10 million people annually.

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From left, Caitlin Bagenstose, Logan Snyder and his wife Carly Snyder bottle hand sanitizer made at the Eight Oaks Farm Distillery on Monday.

Homemade hand sanitizer has been a bit of a taboo subject, with many health care workers, as well as vodka brand Tito’sdiscouraging people from making the stuff themselves over concern that users may not use the correct ingredients. Such mistakes could make the product ineffective and/or damage users’ skin — putting them at a greater risk of infection — if they don’t know the concentrations of the ingredients being used.

In New Jersey, a woman was arrested last week after she allegedly manufactured and sold “spray sanitizer” from water and commercially available foaming sanitizer that burned children’s skin.

Moonrise Distillery was among those warning against such homemade attempts.

“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,” the company advised.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention primarily recommends regular handwashing with soap and water over hand sanitizer, reasoning that handwashing is more effective at removing certain kinds of germs. 

“Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can inactivate many types of microbes very effectively when used correctly, people may not use a large enough volume of the sanitizers or may wipe it off before it has dried,” the CDC’s website states. 

If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizers are OK so long as the products contain alcohol concentrations above 60%, the CDC advises.

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