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Distilleries are making hand sanitizer and giving it out for free to combat coronavirus

Make your own hand sanitizer
How to make your own hand sanitizer 01:17

As people around the U.S. prepare to self-quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic, hand sanitizer has flown off the shelves of local supermarkets and pharmacies. Now, distilleries are stepping in to help and using their own alcohol to make free sanitizing solutions. 

Aside from soap and water, public health experts say that cleaning your hands with a 60% alcohol-based solution is one of the best ways to avoid infection, leading consumers to panic-buy hand sanitizer in large quantities. Some businesses are limiting the number of sanitizers customers can buy per visit, while others are increasing their prices in stores and online.

While it's possible to make your own hand sanitizer at home, even the necessary ingredients have proven difficult to find in recent weeks. And distilleries across the country have taken note, coming up with a clever solution to the sanitizer shortage: using in-house alcohol for homemade sanitizer. 

The Old Fourth Distillery, based in Atlanta, is providing free hand sanitizer to anyone who stops by its facility. The distillery told CBS News that over 600 people visited the facility with empty bottles to fill up on Friday, leading to a temporary shortage of the product.

"Due to the recent reports of outages and low supply in our community, we have decided to provide hand sanitizer free of charge to anyone in need," the distillery wrote on Instagram. "Made with aloe vera gel and 95% ethanol. This is no substitute for washing your hands but in a pinch it will get the job done."

Durham Distillery, based in North Carolina, said in a statement this week that it is in "a unique position of providing assistance to our hospitality colleagues." The company announced it will use its alcohol to create a sanitation solution, which it plans to donate to local businesses in need. 

"We distill Conniption gins from a 95% ethanol base. Having this ethanol available enables us to develop a highly effective sanitizing solution of ~70% ethanol and distilled water," the company said. "At this concentration, microbes are killed upon spraying and evaporation." 

Portland, Oregon-based Shine Distillery & Grill is also making its own "hand cleaner" and giving it out to the community for free. The company said it wants others to give back as well — so it's also offering up its recipe to other distilleries.

Distilleries around the country are taking note of the ingenious idea — and they're asking for nothing more than a donation if possible. Moonrise Distillery in Georgia announced its efforts to create a hand sanitizer Saturday, which it plans to give out to any locals in need. 

"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," the distillery wrote on Facebook. "We will keep making the sanitizer as long as it is required and we can get the ingredients." 

While nearly half of the roughly 147,000 people who've caught COVID-19 worldwide have already recovered, the toll in human lives is staggering. More than 5,500 people have died, including at least 47 people in the U.S.

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