A Jersey distillery is brewing hand sanitizer to fight the coronavirus

Claremont Distillery didn’t realize how lucky they were when Gov. Phil Murphy deemed all liquor stores and distilleries essential.

“We have sold limited amounts of alcohol in the past week and a half. We have a line out the door actually waiting for hand sanitizer,” said Claremont Distillery owner Tim Koether.

Tim says after figuring out that his Jersey distillery already had the ingredients, he switched from making distilled spirits to hand sanitizer free of charge.

“We start with 190 proof ethyl alcohol. We then add aloe juice, a concentrated aloe juice, that we add with water. We then will add xanthan gum and glycerin to give the product a little bit of viscosity. And then we just blend it all together and make sure that the final product is more than 70% alcohol,” the owner said.

“Literally, when we first started, we were hand-filling 12 ounce bottles with funnels. And we actually received a donation two days ago from a local company that makes shampoos and they provided us a machine that does it much more efficiently,” Tim added.

“Now that we are using these smaller 4 ounce bottles, we are using the machine and it goes much faster. We do about 1,500 in an hour,” said daughter Anna Koether as she filled bottles using the machine.

“I actually gave our employees the day off today simply because we have been here for eight days straight — some days 18 to 20 hours a day. I actually think we went a 60 hour period where I had employees sleeping in the cars and sleeping on couches,” Tim said.

He says they have made over a thousand gallons of hand sanitizer that’s being distributed to local hospitals, first responders and even the public.

“We are basically providing all the local county OEMs with sanitizers that’s in 5 gallon pails. We’re giving them 50 gallons at a time, which they are distributing to their local police departments and first responders. As far as the general public, we start handing them out at 2 in the afternoon and we generally will have a line of people out there. Obviously we can’t accommodate everyone, but we try if we can to possibly get product to someone. I had a 75-year-old man in Rahway contact me, who is in heart failure, can’t leave his house and we made sure we got him some bottles yesterday,” Tim said.

He’s asking the public for donations. He also warns that no one should try making homemade hand sanitizer without the proper equipment.