Hands holding a bottle of hand sanitizer

This Week In Hand Sanitizer!

The spread of coronavirus has generated worldwide concern for personal hygiene and, along with it, a severe shortage of hand sanitizer. Here in the United States only the luckiest of shoppers will find a pump bottle of Purell on the shelf at CVS or Walgreens drug stores. Amazon has, at least temporarily, restricted sales of hand sanitizer to frontline COVID-19 responders.

However, enterprising companies and citizens in this country and many others are finding alternative ways to meet the unprecedented demand for hand sanitizer. Below are some highlights from around the world.

Bali, Indonesia

Woman and Temple in Bali

The tropical-island tourist destination is turning thousands of liters of a popular fermented palm wine into a personal disinfectant with a 96 percent alcohol content. Bali Police Chief Petrus Reinhard Golose spearheaded the initiative in collaboration with Udayana University.


Dior Perfume Bottle

On March 13, the French government issued a call for industry to shift to the production of key medical supplies. LVMH, the luxury conglomerate jumped into action. It immediately shifted production at perfume and cosmetics facilities for brands Christian Dior, Guerlain, and Givenchy. The effort produced 12 tons of sanitizer for French hospitals in just one week.

Brooklyn, New York

Hand Sanitizer Bottle

Alcohol distilleries around the United States have pivoted to the production of hand sanitizer. This includes Brooklyn-based Kings County Distillery, which normally pumps out handmade bourbon and whiskey. The company has made bottles of sanitizer available for pickup and via shipping in New York state. It is asking for a modest donation from those who need the sanitizer, and suggests that you buy a bottle of whiskey while you’re at it.


Brazil City Sunset

Ambev SA, the Brazilian subsidiary of Anheuser Busch InBev, is repurposing one of its beer breweries to produce half a million bottles of hand sanitizer. It will deliver 5,000 bottles of the gel to every public hospital in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.


Women Wearing Saris in India

Enterprising groups of industrious women, known as Sakhi Mandals, are manufacturing, packaging, and selling handmade sanitizer in the eastern state of Jharkhand. They are combining lemon grass and Tulsi leaf oil with a 72 percent alcohol base. They are upping production to 1,000 liters per day, and will sell the sanitizer from roadside stalls.


A tower in Istanbul

The Minister of Health has recently championed the disinfectant properties of a classic Turkish fragrance known as kolonya. Traditionally, this ethanol-based perfume is sprinkled on guests’ hands at restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and religious centers. It is made with fig blossoms, jasmine, rose and citrus ingredients.

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