Distiller Fights COVID-19 With Hand Cleaner

Mar 25, 2020

Credit Hoarfrost Distilling

A Fairbanks distillery is giving away hand cleaner made from Alaskan barley normally destined to become vodka. Hoarfrost Distilling has converted its entire operation, in response to COVID-19 panic buying. The company is giving away free bottles every afternoon to fill a community need.

This is something we can do, and we feel like this is a … so it’s a responsibility we feel to do what we can for the community.”

That’s Toivo Luick, who with his wife Natalya Medvedeva, runs Hoarfrost Distilling which makes vodka from Delta Junction barley.

When people started hoarding hand sanitizer, Luick thought he could try to fill the gap.

“We started making the hand cleaner about a week ago; I saw an article about a distillery in Oregon called Shine Distilling who had started making and giving out hand cleaner.”

Luick says Shine had a formula that they were happy to share, and had researched all the legal requirements for making and giving it away an alcohol hand cleaner.

“And we’ve just turned our entire vodka production over, and all of the alcohol we are producing is going into hand cleaner at the moment.”

The recommended amount of alcohol in hand sanitizer is 60 percent, and the Hoarfrost handcleaner is 80 percent. The rest is a thickening agent. He doesn’t call it hand sanitizer, because he’s not making any claims about its effectiveness.

“We have got a little disclaimer that says please be safe, this product should be used with handwashing and careful hygiene to avoid exposure. It is not a first-line defense against Coronavirus.

And how is it on your hands?

“Its horrible. It will dry out your hands. Its not horrible, I’m just joking. But it will dry out your hands. We don’t have a big source of aloe gel or glycerin.”

He recommends using hand moisturizer from time to time.

Luick says he’s in a fortuitous position, with a stockpile of local vodka, and he could distill alcohol for this other reason. He also happened to have hundreds of four-ounce bottles on hand, intended for souvenir sales.

“That’s what I bought the bottles for, I never actually bottled these tiny bottles, I was getting ready to start doing that in the spring.”

Hoarfrost gives away four ounces at a time, and he asks that people not hoard the product.

The distillery is down to four people, with some laid off and some in quarantine.

“We’re hoping, that as panic buying slows down – normal distribution comes back, then we’ll go back to making vodka, of course.”

He would like people coming to pick up hand cleaner to bring their own very clean bottles.