With most store shelves still bare of hand sanitizer, a Portland booze producer is stepping in to fill the void.
Shine Distillery and Grill, on North Williams Avenue, is repurposing the high-proof byproduct from its 130-gallon steel-and-copper still to produce hand cleaner, and making it available to the public in 2.7-ounce bottles.
Owner Jon Poteet says before the COVID-19 scare, the company used the material at the facility to scrub windows and floor drains.
"Three types of alcohol are generated in the fermentation process," he says. "The moonshiners would call it the heads, hearts and tails. Methyl alcohol [heads] comes out first, and they would end up throwing it away."
Legally, Shine can't call the substance "sanitizer," or make any medical claims about its use. But it is 80-percent alcohol by volume, well above the 60 percent recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help prevent the spread of germs.
The agency urges people to wash their hands with soap and water, which is more effective at removing parasites like cryptosporidium as well as norovirus—particularly if the skin is visibly dirty or greasy. But sanitizer can still be a useful way to reduce the amount of microbes on the hands in a pinch.
Shine will make as much cleaner as possible and, since they can't sell it, offer it free of charge at their North Portland distillery and restaurant. If customers come storming in to wipe them clean a la Costco and Fred Meyer, Poteet says they'd welcome the onslaught.
"Restaurants are hurting because of this," he says, adding a party of 65 just rescheduled their event at Shine for August. "January and February are notoriously the worst months. This is why they put Portland Dining Month in March. We're just hoping people will come in and have a bit of food or an amazing cocktail, too."