Special to the Star and Wave
NORTH CAPE MAY-The novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, is quickly changing life for both people and businesses. The global pandemic has seen a spike in purchasing goods of all kinds, especially toilet paper and hand sanitizers.
When store shelves were cleared of brand name sanitizers, instructions on making hand sanitizer at home started to circulate online.
Local businesses are pitching in to help the community, including distilleries.
“Recognizing that there was a dire need for hand and spray sanitizers late last week, we were researching how we could legally turn some of our very high-proof spirits into sanitizer,” Nauti Spirits Distillery President Steve Miller said.
The switch from spirits to sanitizer made sense for Nauti Spirits Distillery, 916 Shunpike Rd.
“On Wednesday morning, my friend and Cape May resident Jim Matthews and I spoke about working together to produce a high-grade professionally mixed 80 percent alcohol sanitizer,” Miller said.
Matthews is the Executive Vice President of Operations at Partners Pharmacy in Springfield, which serves the comprehensive medication needs of skilled nursing facilities, long-term care residences and assisted living communities.
“Fortunately on Wednesday afternoon, the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau federal regulator recognized the national shortage of sanitizer and issues all distillery permit holders temporary authority to use their equipment and alcohol to legally produce ethanol-based sanitizers,” Miller said. “So we got to work.”
On Thursday morning, Miller provided Matthews with the alcohol from Nauti Spirits.
“His company is now professionally compounding the sanitizer and putting it into bottles and labeling it,” Miller said. “As soon as that’s done, we will be donating sanitizers to those who need it most.”
The hand sanitizer will go to Cape May area first responders and several assisted living/skilled nursing facilities.
“After that, we intend to make the sanitizer available to the public at the distillery front door and ask that folks donate to cover some of the cost of productions,” Miller said. “[That] will enable us to keep providing this sorely-needed high-grade sanitizer.”
A March 19 article from the New York Times reports “craft distilleries, hearing the call of duty to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, are adding a new product to their lineup of gins, whiskeys and rums: hand sanitizers.” Even the giant liquor producer Bacardi, is partnering with a Puerto Rico manufacturer to provide ethanol for over 1.7 million bottles of hand sanitizer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends handwashing with soap and water to kill COVID-19, but if soap and water is not available, hand sanitizer can be used in place if it contains 60% alcohol. The CDC said 60% alcohol is the minimum for effectiveness.