Erin Bell, Head Spirits Distiller / Production Manager of Silo Distillery and Northeast Grainshed member shares how they are going the extra mile to use their facility for the production of hand sanitizer. Support them by clicking here!
“About two weeks ago we started making our own hand sanitizer in-house to put guests in our tasting room at ease. When some local area restaurants found out, they approached us about sourcing some. So we made more.
Then at the beginning of last week, it felt like the whole world shut down.
All of our restaurant and bar customers shuttered their doors and we thought we were done for good, too. We rely so much on our own retail and bar programs for revenue, as well as on-premise distribution, that we weren’t sure what would happen next. All of our staff except me chose to go on unemployment (there are ten of us total). I stayed on to keep producing some more sanitizer to donate for what I thought was our last week of business and to button up some stuff around the facility. We released a statement on Monday saying folks in our local area could come to pick up sanitizer free of charge with their own bottles. We thought it would help ease the anxiety that most are feeling right now.
Then Wednesday The FDA and TTB announced that we could legally produce sanitizer (we were toeing a line legally, but we kind of didn’t care, we wanted to help). And our first day of free pickups went well, with 40 visitors. Then the news got wind of everything.
We have provided 100 gallons of sanitizer to individuals, companies, health facilities, nursing homes, UPS, first responders, Police, and volunteer organizations in the last 4 days.
I will be making another large batch today to provide more, but the demand has been overwhelming, to say the least.
Our distillery is in a unique position since we are a vodka producer. Vodka is ethanol, the main ingredient in hand sanitizer (or isopropyl alcohol is used in place of it) and we are able to produce high volumes at 95% and up in just a few hours.
We make it from Vermont grown corn.
The other two ingredients are hydrogen peroxide and glycerin. We were a bit ahead of the curve and bought about 16 gallons of glycerin before things started getting crazy, and were able to source the Hydrogen peroxide locally. We are adhering to the WHO’s recipe, which combines those three ingredients and sterile water (which we also produce here). We add nothing else, as dictated by the FDA.
We have so far been doing this at our own cost. We just put out a GoFundMe (click on GoFundMe) campaign to raise $5000 more for supplies and to be able to start paying some of our staff who were furloughed when we initially had to shut our doors. It also helps us buy more grain from our farmers to make the ethanol. And containers to get the bulk amounts out to larger groups and facilities. Bottles are hard to come by these days (which is mind blowing).
Any excess will be donated to the NOFA Farmer Relief Fund…
At this point, we feel we might be doing this for a few weeks at least. The more we get, the more we will make. We are also looking into local area partners who may be able to help us distribute the hand solution to individuals through their storefronts. This will be a packaged version and will be sold retail through our partners to cover the costs of packaging and to raise funds for other local area groups.”
Find out more here