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Local businesses mix more batches of sanitizer after giving 1,000 bottles away for free

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SWISHER, Iowa (KWWL) -- Local business owners in the Linn and Johnson County area were refilling their supply of 'DIY' hand sanitizer after they gave out at least 1,000 free bottles yesterday to the community.

Today, KWWL News7 got a first-hand look as volunteers and employee's with Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery and EcoLips made more batches in an attempt to fulfill the growing demand.

With a little bit of xanthan gum, essential oils, and grain alcohol from Cedar Ridge, volunteers were mixing and bottling as fast as possible, to get another batch of sanitizer ready.

Cedar Ridge Winery CEO and Founder, Jeff Quint said he and owner of Eco Lips, Steve Shrider along with his business partner Ryan Sunderman decided to make the sanitizer themselves after realizing stores had run dry.

"We handed out 1,000 bottles or so yesterday. We could have handed out at least 10,000 bottles," said Quint.

After the free giveaway yesterday at NewBo City Market, Quint said the need has only grown. Local hospitals, homeless shelters, police departments, and emergency management agencies have reached out to see if they could get some as well.

"It's just it's been overwhelming and all-consuming. You know, like maybe next week we'll get back to our business but yeah it's just the interest has been overwhelming I mean people are freaking out because they can't get it," said Quint.

Shriver's business partners, Ryan Sunderman, an emergency physician at St. Luke's and the medical director in the emergency department said sanitizer is a critical resource.

As someone in the medical field, Sunderman was especially concerned when he was unable to find sanitizer at the stores or even ingredients to make it.

"The need has been incredible...but unfortunately incredible," said Sunderman, "My own nurses and I, we face the same problem as healthcare providers, we can't go out and buy it either. The stuff that's at the hospital needs to stay in the hospital."

Between the businesses, they had enough supplies but now the challenge has been having enough bottles to put it in.

"Nurses need it, paramedics need it, police officers need it," said Sunderman, "You know, any kind of safety personnel. It's critical and they need it and we're happy to do what we can."

Sunderman recommends anyone else who wants to make their own sanitizer should make sure it's strong enough to kill the Novel Coronavirus.

"The key is you just got to make sure it's more than 60% [alcohol]. Ideally, 62%, so maybe count on 65% of whatever your concoction is, it needs to be either ethanol alcohol or isopropyl alcohol."

Aloe vera can also be used to help make DIY sanitizer. Quint said there are a lot of recipes out there.

"It's a recipe that you can find online right now, frankly. But we have our own version of it here but the main ingredient is high proof alcohol and that's hard to get. Vodka is generally 40% alcohol and they want you to be at least 60%, if not 65% alcohol. So we have a supply of the higher proof alcohol and that's why we're able to do what we're doing here," said Quint.

They'll be giving out the sanitizer again, for free, at NewBo City Market on Saturday morning.

Sunderman also had other advice for the public to avoid catching COVID-19.

"The absolute number one thing is if you're healthy, you need to stay isolated. In small groups, make sure that the people that you're with do not have any symptoms because there is minimally symptomatic spread of this disease," said Sunderman, "People focus on young people, old people -- you have to assume that everybody is minimally symptomatic. And the fact is, you need to isolate."

To find more information on COVID-19 symptoms, recommendations, and the number of cases in Iowa, click here.

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Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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