Local distillery makes hand sanitizer to raise money for children’s park

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Grocery stores have turned to chaos, the lack of available toilet paper has increased dramatically, and for the love of hygiene, where can one find some hand sanitizer?

Look no further than St. Augustine Distillery.

When distillery CEO Philip McDaniel’s daughter came down to visit from New York City a few weeks ago, she talked about how hard it was to come by sanitizer because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“She couldn’t even find any on Amazon,” McDaniel said. “And that was before it [the pandemic] was as intense as it is now.”

So, after doing some research and finding that ethanol was an essential ingredient in hand sanitizer, McDaniel realized he could make a difference – or at least make hand sanitizers.

“Ethanol is the exact thing made at distillery and we actually make it every day,” he said. “The idea reverts back to when we first started the distillery and thought how cool it would be if we could take this dormant building and ice plant and turn it into one of the leading craft distilleries. So basically, to be able to take what we already have now, reduce the waste and help our future.”

The distillery’s sanitizer is called Heads Up, and was inspired by the distillery’s production, where an extremely potent alcohol is removed early in the process, called the heads.

“It’s high in alcohol content, about 170% proof and very potent,” McDaniel said. “We don’t use the heads because they don’t taste very good.”

So rather than let the heads go to waste, he put it to good and blended the ethanol, distilled water, aloe gel, vitamin E oil and essential oils to create Heads Up.

McDaniel wants to hold off on charging for the sanitizer for as long as possible. Instead, he plans to give them out and is asking for donations of any kind for a program with the American Legion Post 194 to help build a playground for children.

“I don’t think anyone on the planet, whether 6 or 65, has gone through this turmoil that we’re all going through now. To be able to do something good for the community that’s literally being put in the hands of people, it’s an amazing feeling.”

McDaniel acknowledged as stressful and challenging as it is with the rising events of the virus, he’s excited to take his vision further, help his community and use the money and recent awareness to assist those in need.

“I’m quite happy,” he said.

Photos provided by the St. Augustine Distillery

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