spirit essences, spirit essence, home distilling, liqueur essences, liquid smoke, oak chips

You Can Use Whiskey to Create Hand Sanitiser, But …

spirit essences, spirit essence, home distilling, liqueur essences, liquid smoke, oak chips
Whiskies proofed at 60% ABV or higher can be used to create hand sanitizer. (Photo by iStock/Thanumporn Thongkongkaew )

IN ORDER to stop the spread of COVID-19, it is vital that we all keep our hands clean, refrain from touching our faces, and practice social distancing wherever and whenever possible.

Let’s be clear: There is no substitution for washing your hands thoroughly and often, using soap and water.

However, if you don’t have access to soap and water or are looking for an at-home project with real-world value, you can convert high-proof whiskey into hand sanitizer.

Distilleries around the country have already begun producing hand sanitizer for hospitals and the general public, and if you have a bourbon, rye, or other whiskey that is high enough in proof, you can do the same.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends hand sanitizers with a minimum of 80% ethanol, which eliminates almost every whiskey on the shelf. While higher is better, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% ethanol — a characteristic that is met by whiskeys of 120 proof or above — can be effective.

Does this mean you can just rub the whiskey straight onto your hands?

Theoretically. But most hand sanitizers mix gel with alcohol in part because the mixture will evaporate more slowly, which gives it more time to do its job as you rub your hands.

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Chances are, if you have  decent whiskey with an ABV over 60%, you spent a significant amount of time, energy, and money to secure it, and even with the recent spike in hand sanitizer prices, many of these bottles remain a good deal more expensive.

So you probably shouldn’t use up your precious whiskey unless absolutely desperate.


Use some 93%-ish neutral from your own still.

Even better, don’t waste your previous drinking alcohol… just use your heads and tails.

  • Mix the alcohol with glycerine. The proportion depends on the strength of the alcohol; at 93%%, a 3 to 1 ratio works best.
  • Allow your sanitiser to sit for at least 72 hours, as per the WHO instructions, to properly kill off any bacteria introduced during creation.

And slap it onto your hands every time you can’t give them a decent wash with soap and water… keep that COVID-19 at bay!

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Until next time… Happy Distilling!


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