Do not attempt to make hand sanitizer out of alcoholic beverages

It doesn’t work. Most spirits are too diluted to be effective. You do not have the extra materials or knowledge to make it into the right kind of emulsified gel. Most likely you’ll just drink the alcohol, ending up in weaker physical condition. Sanitizer is no substitute for a good soapy hand-washing and social distancing.

I just thought I’d share the conclusion of this morning’s internal dialogue with my alcoholic brain, which was trying to come up with reasons to go buy some high-proof liquor.

Leave it to the professionals (NYT soft paywall).

Many breweries and distilleries are making hand sanitizer in these trying times.

What, “the stock market’s tanked, the bars are closed, and we’re in the midst of a global pandemic” isn’t reason enough?

I don’t know about breweries, but yes, many distilleries are, and most are giving it away for free, though some are restricting it to emergency responders and others with a particular need. But they’re using nearly pure alcohol to make it, not liquor of any kind. The CDC says that to be effective, hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol or more. The OP is right. Considering that an alcoholic beverage is normally just 40% alcohol, even the high-proof stuff would not be strong enough because it would have to be mixed with substances like aloe vera gel to help it moisturize and to thicken it. Pure vodka all by itself is only a mildly effective disinfectant if you use it for surface cleaning.

However, the above need not be a problem because there are other solutions. I find that if you take a small glass, fill it about 3/4 full of ice, pop in a mini-onion that has been pickled in vermouth, fill it with vodka, and drink it, concerns about COVID-19 begin to fade. It may take several to be fully effective.

I’ve spend my day tracking down 150,000 gallons of 96% ethanol per week for the next 8-12 weeks for making hand sanitizer. I’m having to source it from eastern europe and south america at this point. Even that supply is problematic so we’re buying white whiskey and blending it with the 96%. This has been a weird day, I never expected to get into the sanitizer business.

Somebody on CNN said that anything less than 150 proof is ineffective.

Has there been a run on Everclear recently?

You’d need to use some kind of Everclear-style very high proof grain alcohol and then dilute it with water, add whatever else to it, and end up with an ABV that’s somewhere in the 60-70% ABV range.

I bought a gallon of Everclear a few weeks ago.

ETA: Sorry OP, stay away from that crap. It will kill you.

People are famous for carrying around a plastic bottle of water. Is it so hard to carry around 2 small rags in 2 ziplocks, one damp with soap/water and the other to rinse?

Local distillery plans to make hand sanitizer - 80% alcohol – giving away for free


I’m very happy to see distilleries doing this, and the local ones here are doing it, too, but the closest ones are quite a long drive away. Some of them are having a hard time finding enough plastic bottles, and are asking people to bring their own. I’d bring a couple of empty water bottles just in case.

There’s a distillery in Kansas City that started making hand sanitizer and selling it for whatever price you wanted to pay. They ran out… and people were coming by and yelling and cussing at them. I’m starting to root for the coronavirus.

Any reason that carrying around a container or 2 with a soapy damp rag (or 2, one to wash one to rinse, perhaps dry) to clean one’s hands would not be effective?

Is that because ethanol plants in the US are shutting down?

My wife made some out of 190 proof grain neutral spirits (not Everclear. Some off brand that was a lot cheaper) and Doller Store version of KY Jelly. It turned out fine.

How did you know it turned out fine, though?

My own alcoholic brain has taken notice about isopropanol: it’s the new social lubricant, and I can partake again.

On my hands, I mean.

Not quite and I’m actually taking advantage of that situation. Our hand sanitizer contract specified Food grade ethanol and from I can tell there are a hundred people out there trying to get into the hand sanitizer game at a similar level. I just saw the City of New York is looking to make as much as I am. Between the giant spike in demand and the responsible companies shutting down there is just not enough supply in the country. Most of the bulk suppliers like Ultra pure, MGP and Blantons are evaluating production ramps but aren’t sure how long this sanitizer demand is going to exist at this level.

I’m taking advantage of it thought because fuel ethanol is cheap I have a friend that is buying it and cracking it to turn it back into food grade for me. At this point ai should have 20-40k gallons of hand sanitizer to HHS this week.