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Old 03-29-2020, 08:22 AM
joebuck20 is offline
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Has anyone here tried distillery-made hand sanitizer?


There was a distillery in the next town over from where I live the other day that was going away bottles of hand sanitizer they made in-house. I thought about going, but didn't really have time.

Anyway, has anyone here had a chance to try this type of hand sanitizer? If so, how does it compare to say Purell? Does it have a similar gel-like consistency? Does it smell like whiskey?
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Old 03-29-2020, 08:46 AM
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A friend who runs a rum distillery is using a recipe provided by the WHO to make hand sanitizer. The recipe calls for 96% ethanol, which is basically vodka. So it should not smell like any distilled spirit.

I have not tried distillery produced sanitizer but looking at the WHO recipe it probably does not have a gel-like consistency. You can find the WHO recipe here: https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Guide_...Production.pdf
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Old 03-29-2020, 09:18 AM
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It is pretty thin and not like Purell at all. It also is harder on your hands than Purell since we can't add any moisturizers to it. The good news is that WHO says your hands will be clean enough to perform surgery after using it. One of the ones I'm making will have a slight whiskey scent since weren't blending 4:5 whiskey with neutral to help our volumes out. The FDA guiadance has shifted a bunch in the last week so there is probably a ton of variation in how they were produced.

If I was out looking I'd be looking for a gin base since they are "naturally" at the proof you need for hand sanitizer and would smell better. Of course they would cost way more to make that way.
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Old 03-29-2020, 09:32 AM
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{...} 96% ethanol, which is basically vodka. {...}
No, it isn't.

CMC fnord!
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Old 03-29-2020, 09:53 AM
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No, it isn't.
The raw distilled spirit is about that level.
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Old 03-29-2020, 12:36 PM
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No, it isn't.

CMC fnord!
I did say "basically." After distillation it is a neutral spirit. If the distillate was treated to make it without distinctive character, aroma, taste and color it would be vodka.
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Old 03-29-2020, 01:10 PM
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Are these sanitizers potable as an alcoholic drink? Are people paying tax on them as alcoholic beverages? Is there policing of sales?

Or are these denatured somehow, such as by adding methanol?
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Old 03-29-2020, 01:11 PM
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As people have said, it's thinner and harsher. No scent in the jar I got locally, which was distributed free by the distillery. If your local distillery gives it to you free, throw some money in their tip jar for their innovation and kindness in order to offset their lack of distillery/restaurant revenue.
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Old 03-29-2020, 01:20 PM
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Are these sanitizers potable as an alcoholic drink? Are people paying tax on them as alcoholic beverages? Is there policing of sales?

Or are these denatured somehow, such as by adding methanol?
I know that they were able to give it away free without a variance, and some jurisdictions have permitted distilleries to switch over to this (presumably, charging for it). Some medical facilities are now buying it in bulk.

At least some is methyl. Here's a source that says so. Some are ethanol plus other ingredients.

A quick look online shows these additives (not all at the same distillery):
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Aloe vera
  • "Natural ingredients for scent"
  • Glycerine
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Old 03-29-2020, 01:28 PM
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Are these sanitizers potable as an alcoholic drink? Are people paying tax on them as alcoholic beverages? Is there policing of sales?

Or are these denatured somehow, such as by adding methanol?
They will kill you as an alcoholic drink. Though I haven't seen how much you have to ingest Distilleries are putting 0.125% Hydrogen peroxide by volume to help ensure its effectiveness as a hand sanitizer. Right now there is a debate about if the alcohol should be denatured since the Tert-butyl alcohol that is necessary for both denaturing methods is in short supply.

As far as taxes its a bit of a mess that became clearer with the passage of the stimulus. Currently there is no excise tax being charged on alcohol being used in hand sanitizer through the end of the year whether or not it is denatured. There is a hug mess of regulations between the TTB, FDA and state governments right now and the FDA issued 4 different guidelines between March 20th and the 26th. So everything I'm saying is subject to a ton of variation.

As of now there is no policing and we're in the wild west. Most craft distilleries are not capable of meeting the normal neutral spirit regulations by the ttb (95% ABV) and are certainly not meeting the USP standards that we are all supposed to be following. As of now the laboratory testing and verification of USP standards has been waived and for at least the last 5 years or so I don't know of any distillery that has had its products tested by the government to ensure meeting of TTB guidelines. In 2015 all of the spirits submitted to the ADI spirit judging were tested and 80% of submitted vodkas had impurities in them that could not have been there if they were distilled properly. Of course, the other side of this is that you're not drinking this stuff any how so even the boatload of impurities that make whiskey taste good aren't going to cause you to get sick rubbing it on your hands. One of the reasons that the FDA/WHO guidelines call for 80% ethanol in the final product is that the WHO only expects you to be accurate +/- 5% in their blending method and that means that the minimum 75% will still be effective rather than allowing people to target 60% and be ineffective.

In general, most of what you find out there will be safe and effective but I'm sure there will be lawsuits on the other side from people not following the guidelines.

As for the denaturants the two approved recipes for hand sanitizer are Sucrose Octaacetate & Tert-butyl alcohol or Denatonium Benzoate and Tert-butyl. There are other methods that can be used normally but those are the only two approved by the FDA for hand sanitizer.

Last edited by Oredigger77; 03-29-2020 at 01:31 PM. Reason: ETA: denaturing
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Old 03-29-2020, 01:35 PM
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I know that they were able to give it away free without a variance, and some jurisdictions have permitted distilleries to switch over to this (presumably, charging for it). Some medical facilities are now buying it in bulk.

At least some is methyl. Here's a source that says so. Some are ethanol plus other ingredients.

A quick look online shows these additives (not all at the same distillery):
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Aloe vera
  • "Natural ingredients for scent"
  • Glycerine
Distilleries who are doing this are the ones who will end up in trouble. We specifically are prohibited from added aloe vera and other similar moisturizers and scents.

Here is the current regulation though it hasn't been updated based on Friday's rule changes.
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Old 03-29-2020, 03:03 PM
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If there's now a regulation, I'll assume that the distilleries will shift their formulas.
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Old 03-29-2020, 03:40 PM
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The formula guidelines haven't changed. The WHO has been clear from the start about aloe vera and scents.

What has been changing is the purity of the ethanol stream the FDA wasn't requiring USP purity until 3/24 so any ethanol source that could be blended to 80% ABV was considered acceptable including many whiskey streams. Then on 3/25 we could use any stream again as long as a compounding pharmacist approved the manufacturing process.

While shifting through these regulations has been difficult I know a lot of craft distilleries don't follow the rules and I'm sure the guys adding scents (and I've seen guys on the news here doing it too) are the ones that can't make alcohol correctly during normal times. Keep in mind that 80% who can make vodka were the ones that were proud enough to sent it into a judging competition.
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Old 03-29-2020, 04:27 PM
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Thanks. Is this the case if they're giving it away to the public, or only if they're selling it?
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Old 03-29-2020, 04:48 PM
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The only ones I know of around here are manufacturing only for health care workers and first responders. One of them is providing it to them for free, but launched a GoFundMe to cover expenses.
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Old 03-29-2020, 05:26 PM
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Thanks. Is this the case if they're giving it away to the public, or only if they're selling it?
No one is quite sure. The TTB has authorized all DSPs (distilled spirits plants) to produce non-beverage alcohol for hand sanitizer use. The stimulus package has eliminated the excise tax (collected by the TTB) on non-denatured ethanol being used in hand sanitizer but the FDA guidelines are still requiring it to be denatured. At this point the FDA has said it's guidelines are only that and that they will only shield DSPs who follow their guidelines from lawsuits and every one else is on their own. So far there has been no guidance difference between selling as cost, selling at cost+ or giving away for less than cost.

Heck, at this point we're unsure if DSPs are able to package hand sanitizer in gallon containers or 55 gallon drums since everything above 1.75L is specifically prohibited. Under that volume there are specifically allowed sizes and we're not sure if these apply for hand sanitizer or not.
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Old 03-29-2020, 06:54 PM
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At a quick glance the UK position is that any established distillery or brewery business is free to make hand sanitiser with no tax/duty implications at all. Caveats: let the revenue and customs people know the details of what you are doing, and the product should conform to the WHO standard.

In more positive news, I've finally found customers for that big load of hydrogen peroxide I've been keeping in my garage since the Crash of '08. My bet on big curly perms making a big comeback obviously didn't pan out back then, but who is laughing now?

Last edited by Baron Greenback; 03-29-2020 at 06:56 PM.
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