Distilleries around the country are switching to hand sanitizer because of the coronavirus — here’s how they actually make it

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  • Distilleries around the world are making hand sanitizer because of the shortages caused by the coronavirus.
  • Eight Oaks Farm Distillery in Pennsylvania has stopped production of whiskey, rum, and other spirits to make hand sanitizer, which it donates to nonprofits and local frontline workers.
  • Here’s how the hand sanitizer is made in the distillery.
  • View more episodes of Business Insider Today on Facebook.

Distilleries around the world are switching from spirits to hand sanitizer as the coronavirus continues to spark global supply shortages.

One family-run distillery in Pennsylvania has completely stopped its production of whiskey, rum, and other spirits. Instead, it’s making hand sanitizer and donating it to nonprofits and frontline workers in the community.

Chad Butters, the founder and CEO of Eight Oaks Farm Distillery in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania, says he’s committed to making hand sanitizer as long as there is a need. Right now, the distillery can make around 2,000 bottles per day.

By switching to hand sanitizer and tapping into savings, Eight Oaks has been able to keep and pay all of its regular employees in a time when many American companies are laying off workers.

“People that work here as bartenders are now filling up bottles of hand sanitizer and delivering those bottles to the people that need it,” Butters told Business Insider Today.

He says the biggest challenge has been finding the ingredients and supplies to make sanitizer. But community members are helping by donating bottles, bottle fillers, and glycerin.

“It’s really not a stretch to go from making bourbon or rye whiskey to changing your processes slightly and your ingredients slightly and turning it into hand sanitizer,” Butters said.

Here’s how Eight Oaks makes the hand sanitizer:


At Eight Oaks Farm Distillery in Pennsylvania, workers have started making hand sanitizer instead of spirits.

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The distillery makes sanitizer using grain grown on its farm.

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The grain is then milled and fermented over the course of a few days. The fermented grain is run through a distillation set until it reaches a high-proof alcohol.

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Then, the alcohol is combined with glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, and aloe. These ingredients help to keep skin moisturized.

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The alcohol content is measured to ensure it meets CDC and WHO guidelines. The agencies recommend an alcohol content of 60% to 70% in order for hand sanitizer to be effective.

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Eight Oaks employees then bottle the sanitizer. Butters said finding bottles and other supplies has been one of the biggest challenges of producing hand sanitizer.

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“We’re going to continue to do this until there’s no longer a need for it,” Butters told Business Insider Today.

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“I think for me and for our team, you know, what this gives us is that purpose for today, and we’ll continue to do that and work for today,” he said. “And then we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

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