Tenino distillery makes hand sanitizer in midst of COVID-19 pandemic

VIDEO: Tenino distillery makes hand sanitizer in midst of COVID-19 pandemic

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — A Thurston County distillery is swapping out gin and whiskey and using its equipment to churn out hand sanitizer that it’s giving out for free.

"That’s 100% alcohol,” said John Bourdon.

Checking the proof on his latest batch of homemade hand sanitizer, John explains how he turned wine into one of the hottest products people can’t find on store shelves.

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“It’s about 196 proof, 97 proof right in there, which is pretty darn pure. That’s what you need in order to make hand sanitizer,” he said.

John owns Sandstone Distillery in Tenino.

COVID-19 closed his tasting room, but the virus is keeping him busier than ever.

"Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought of something like that,” he said.

John’s a man with a big personality, which also matches the size of his heart.

He knew his community was in need. When he realized he could help, John and his wife, Jenni Bourdon, didn’t shy away.

“This is hand sanitizer, but this is also a little bit of hope and a little bit of peace for people,” Jenni said.

They got their recipe from the World Health Organization. It’s not your typical store-bought sanitizer. It’s only made of alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and glycerol.

"It feels different, it behaves different, the consistency is different, but this is really what we need,” said Jenni.

They’re filling two-ounce bottles by the dozen and handing them out for free.

Word spread like wildfire on Facebook and people stopped by the distillery all day.

"It seemed like a really good thing. I’ve been trying to find hand sanitizer and can’t find any,” said Hannah Anderson.

They’re producing sanitizer around the clock and even supplying it to doctors’ offices, fire and police departments, intercity transit and homeless shelters.

John’s honored, he’s humbled, and it’s clear he has a heart of gold.

"The raw goodness of people coming out and to be a part of something like that is once in a lifetime,” he said through tears.

People in need of hand sanitizer can stop by and pick up an airplane bottle or bring their own eight-ounce bottle.

To help, people are asked to bring glycerin, which is a key ingredient in the hand sanitizer and one John is having trouble finding.