Durham Distillery turns from gin to producing sanitizing solution for businesses

Gin can be turned into sanitizer  

Durham Distillery owners Melissa and Lee Katrincic said they were in an “unique position of providing assistance to our hospitality colleagues” and felt compelled to act as the coronavirus crisis spreads across the nation.

They are producing an industrial-strength sanitizing solution and are giving it to hospitality businesses — hotels, bars and restaurants — at no cost.

“It makes us feel like we are able to respond in some ways,” Melissa Katrincic told North Carolina Business Daily on Tuesday.

They have donated to 50 businesses so far, providing them with two liters of the cleanser, which kills microbes. Businesses are advised to apply it after cleaning and let it evaporate.

Katrincic said they will continue to do this “as long as we can. I think we are in a very special segment of the population of the state that has access to the right permits for this.”

They also have the expertise. Lee Katrincic worked as a pharmaceutical chemist for 20 years, while Melissa has two decades experience in pharmaceutical marketing and operations.

“You feel obligated,” Melissa Katrincic said. “Part of our civil duty is to flatten the curve.”

Researchers are emphasizing the need to contain the spread of the virus by having people avoid large groups, stay in their homes and reduce the risk of infection. This “flattens the curve” and reduces the number of exposed and infected people.

Katrincic said their distillery is not making hand sanitizer, which is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“I don’t want to have a false sense of security,” she said.

But the sanitary solution they are producing can be a great help to businesses and other organizations. Last Tuesday she was contacted by a federal law enforcement officer in Columbus, Ohio, seeking some of the solution.

She was unable to provide him any, since the business is only licensed in North Carolina — but she reached out to the Watershed Distillery in Columbus, and talked them through the process to create the solution.

Now the sergeant who called her will be able to obtain the needed solution to solve his problems with creating a safe environment in his workplace. That is their goal, she said — to help people feel safe at such an uncertain time.

While the production of the sanitizing solution continues, the distillery continues to make its award-winning gin as well as liqueurs. In September 2018, USA Today named their business the top gin distillery in the nation.

Their distillery produces Conniption gins from a 95% ethanol base. With available ethanol, they developed a highly effective sanitizing solution of 70% ethanol and distilled water which kills microbes.

They are donating it under the following guidelines:

The 70% ethanol and water solution is recommended for surface spray as a final step after shift cleaning. Once the area has been sprayed, do not wipe. Allow for natural evaporation.

During service the spray should be utilized for high-touch surfaces, including but not limited to doorknobs and door handles; bathrooms, including toilet seats and handles; all sink faucets and glass-touch surfaces.

People who receive it must pledge not to consume or resell it. They are required to sign a liability waiver and are limited to 2 liters.

The sanitizer is placed in containers brought to the distillery, which requests people bring a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) container with a sturdy, glass container or a tight, resealable closure. Some large mayonnaise jars work as well. They advise people to look a recycling logo with a “2” on the bottom.

People seeking donations are asked to contact McMullen at erin@durhamdistillery.com or 919-390-2896 to schedule an appointment. Training will be provided.

The Katrincics said they will continue to do this as long as they can.

“Keeping our community and families safe is of paramount importance to us all,” they state on their website. “This is a time where we know we’re stronger together.”

The message is signed with “clean hands and hopeful hearts.”

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