With hand sanitizer no where to be found on store shelves throughout the area due to the coronavirus pandemic, a local distillery in Gulf Breeze has stepped up to help meet the need.
This past week, Rollins Distillery, located beside the flea market at 5680 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Unit D-10, has generated over 3,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. The essential cleanser is being offered to first responders, medical workers, assisted-living facilities and even to families in the community.
Patrick Rollins, a partner of Rollins Distillery, says that he and his father wanted to aid the community in this time of crisis.
“The reason why it’s important to get it out to the community is the fact that they just need it,” he said. “We want to keep our community safe. We want to avoid widespread community infection of the disease. People need it.”
The production of sanitizer is more than just mixing alcohol in a bottle.
First, they distill the spirit to a high enough proof, so the final percentage of alcohol is 80% when blended with reverse osmosis water, glycerin and hydrogen peroxide. After the solution is blended, it is dispensed into plastic bottles and labeled. The hand sanitizer is then ready to be distributed to the community.
A well-applied dose of hand sanitizer is a convenient way to help prevent transmission of germs from person to person. Soap and water do the same job and it is the more preferred method of cleansing.
“Washing your hands is the best thing you can do. Hand sanitizer is a secondary option,” Rollins added.
The main ingredient of both liquor and sanitizer is ethanol, so a distillery like Rollins Distillery is the perfect place to create a weapon to combat the transmission of COVID-19. Under guidelines issued by the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration, sanitizer should begin with high-proof ethanol—96% alcohol by volume, which is then diluted with other products (glycerol, hydrogen peroxide, distilled water) to about 80% alcohol.
March 13, the president declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. Sanitizer, which was already hard to find in stores and online, became even more limited due to a combination of fear, more demand and people purchasing higher quantities. This phenomenon is not the first of its kind. The sanitizer industry experienced a massive shortage during the less catastrophic 2008 outbreak of swine flu.
Rollins Distillery is providing their handmade hand sanitizer for free to those who need it most.
The bottles will be available everyday Monday through Saturday between 10 a.m. until the allocated supply runs out for the day. They have a limited quantity to ensure that the supply will last throughout the week.
Rollins Distillery will continue to give the bottles of hand sanitizer away to those in need at no charge, but any donations are greatly appreciated. Any donations given will go toward aiding the community and the production of hand sanitizer.
“The cost is steep, but the opportunity to assist our community is priceless,” Rollins said. “Should you choose to support the effort and donate, there is no set price, we only ask you give what you believe is fair for what you have taken.”
The distillery has already ordered more ingredients and packaging with an eye on starting a second batch Friday.
“We’re just a humble distillery and without the people within the community here in the panhandle, we’d be absolutely nothing.” Rollins said. “So, it’s because of you all that we exist and that we have a chance to distill spirits, and for that matter, make hand sanitizer.”
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