LONG BEACH — Wearing protective glasses and black rubber gloves distiller Jacob Moore carefully poured the container of clear liquid into a steel vat and began filling dozens of four-ounce bottles from a nozzle.
The process was a little different from his routine run of vodka, gin or whisky, but still largely familiar for the award-winning distillery.
“In the case of the hand sanitizer, we dilute the spirit down then we add a couple basic ingredients and stir it,” Moore said.
“It’s insanely simple. We have to quantify volumes and blend them in the proper proportions all the time.”
While hand sanitizer has been seemingly impossible to find on store shelves, Adrift Distillers has risen to address a community need by producing more than 50 gallons of the antiseptic over the past few weeks.
Personal hygiene, including the use of hand sanitizers, has been an important step in stemming the spread of covid-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We sent 10 gallons out the door this morning (Monday, March 23) to someone who’s going to distribute it to elderly people living at home,” Moore said.
“Everyone loves it.”
Helping community combat covid-19
On Sunday, March 22 the distillery completed the first dedicated batch of sanitizer, after first using excess alcohol stock.
“Right now we are producing neutral spirit. Yesterday (Sunday, March 22) we completed a run that was destined from the get-go to be hand sanitizer,” Moore said.
“We’ve probably produced approximately 50 gallons so far. We had a lot of spirit on hand that could be turned into sanitizer.”
Several community members have stopped in for small quantities, some bringing their own bottles to fill.
“We’re giving out the (4-ounce) bottles free with a purchase. One free bottle for community members. Free fills of any bottle up to four ounces, for anyone. Free bottles or fills up to eight ounces for first responders and city official,” Moore said.
The distillery is accepting donations to help cover the cost of the bottles.
The biggest order has been a customer from Kent, who purchased 10 gallons.
“They’re caretakers who are distributing it to people living at home,” Moore said
From spirit to sanitizer
Making hand sanitizer has similarities to producing vodka, Moore explained.
“We end up with a spirit that’s well over 180-proof, which is 90% ethanol and 10% water. That’s what we need to use as an active ingredient in the sanitizer. Ethanol, glycerin, peroxide and water blended in the proper proportions. We buy the peroxide and the glycerol. We just have to make the 180-proof ethanol, which comes from wheat,” Moore said.
“When we’re making it to consume, we’ll distill it to 190 (proof) instead of 180. It’s as pure and high concentration as you can get. It then gets diluted down and filtered and turned into all of our gins, lacquers, vodkas etc."