James Huey of Walled City Brewery in Derry has just launched this unique way of helping hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes.
But James needs donations of unused spirits from the public for his ‘Community Spirits’ project.
Said James: “The idea for this came from my dad, who is cocooning away and who can’t get hand sanitiser.
“He dropped me in an old bottle of Ouzo, which is about 40% ABV (alcohol by volume), which on its own is too low to kill off the virus.
“But I realised we had a few bottles in the restaurant that have been there for around five years and will never be used, so that is really where the idea formed.”
Hand sanitiser needs an alcohol level of around 60 to 80% to kill germs, but Mr Huey can convert everyday spirits with a lower alcohol level in the brewery with the addition of a few key ingredients.
He added: “I am not looking for people to go out and buy spirits, this is about all those dusty bottles of spirits that lie at the back of people’s cabinets, they don’t even need to be full, but we can convert them to hand sanitiser at the brewery.
“The level of alcohol is the key point; wine won’t work, but, really, any spirit will work.
“As long as the alcohol is above 20% ABV we can take it – it doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy, we can filter it – and in a few days it will be helping keep our amazing NHS workers safe on the front line.”
Potential drop-off points around the city are still being rolled out but donations can be left at the Walled City Brewery at Ebrington Square.Mr Huey added: “We will convert the alcohol to hand sanitiser using the World Health Organisation specification and then deliver it to essential services in and around Derry.
“It is quite a technical process converting the spirits to hand sanitiser.
“In terms of the concentration, it basically takes one litre of spirits to produce 500mls of hand sanitiser, but we are set up now to do that.
“We have tested the process out and already have all the appropriate registrations so we know it works, we just need the donations now.”