Tenino distillery switches to sanitizer to battle COVID-19

Mar 22, 2020 by

Sandstone Distillery is putting its stills to good use battling the COVID-19 outbreak.

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A company known for its locally produced liquor has turned its attention to killing coronavirus germs.

Sandstone Distillery in Tenino began using its equipment to make hand sanitizer early last week in response to the widespread shortage of the valuable substance due to the coronavirus crisis.

Manager Justin Bourdon said he and his parents have been able to distill 190-proof alcohol from byproducts of the liquor-distilling process and cases of wine donated by Olympia’s Fish Tale Brewpub. Glycerine purchased on Amazon and bottles of hydrogen peroxide bought locally will be combined to supply area hospitals and first responders while their suppliers catch up to the rampant demand for germ killers.

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Residents will have their chance to pick up or refill small bottles of sanitizer as early as this coming week, Bourdon said, depending on how quickly shipments of needed materials arrive. Only small bottles will be handed out or filled to supply as many people as possible.

“It’s mostly dependent on how much hydrogen peroxide we can find,” Bourdon said. “We can probably produce about 25 gallons with each distillation, which we can do every other day.

“The way we came about it is that we saw hand sanitizer disappearing off the shelves and from online stores. So we looked into what it would take to produce that to hand out to our local folks who are unable to find it. The hardest thing was actually tracking down glycerine and getting it here.”

Bourdon said he expects to spend at least the next few weeks making sanitizer as the COVID-19 crisis escalates. He’s received calls from at least two area hospitals and Lacey Fire District 3, and expects Medic One to reach out if the first batch goes well. Fish Tail Brewing also will receive some sanitizer to distribute as it sees fit.

Sandstone Distillery is selling sanitizer to public agencies to cover costs, but the new venture won’t come close to covering losses incurred during the outbreak.

“Thankfully we have very low overhead here, so we should be able to weather the storm a little bit easier than some other folks,” Bourdon said. “The nice thing is we’re using what we have on hand right now, which is all byproduct, so it’s a very minimal cost other than the power it takes to run the still. But the next few weeks will be tough without people here.”

Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier commended the efforts of the distillery and other local businesses to step up for the community during the COVID-19 crisis.

Local restaurants have banded together to hire a delivery driver to help keep business afloat for as long as the governor’s order keeps them closed to dine-in customers. The Tenino Coffee Bistro was offering free sack lunches to students and senior citizens, but had to close its doors entirely on Wednesday.

“I think the Bourdons are inspiring,” Fournier said. “I have heard from multiple hospitals that they are running out of supplies. If it relieves pressure for those things, I think it’s amazing that the distillery has stood up to do that.”

Source: Tenino distillery switches to sanitizer to battle COVID-19 | The Olympian

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