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Facing Sanitizer Shortage, Copper Barrel Offers ‘Shine For Servers’

Brian Carlton
Mar 22 · 3 min read

Distillery works to create hand sanitizer and distribute it for free to local law enforcement, medical and other essential personnel.

North Wilkesboro’s Copper Barrel Distillery isn’t just making moonshine right now. The company is producing hand sanitizer to distribute in the community. NWNC photo by Brian Carlton.

UPDATE: Due to delivery issues, not all of the ingredients made it to Copper Barrel on time. As a result, the Shineitizer won’t be available until Saturday rather than Wednesday as originally planned.

NORTH WILKESBORO-The phone calls started coming last week. People around Wilkes County reached out to Copper Barrel, asking if the distillery had anything they could use for hand sanitizer. As the government made announcements about the coronavirus, local residents went to every store they could find and took toilet paper, Kleenex and yes, hand sanitizer, to the point those who need it in their everyday jobs couldn’t find any.

“A lot of people are having problems finding hand sanitizer,” said Copper Barrel CEO George Smith. “We got calls from people in the medical field. One person works at the local prison. A number of people called to ask for help, so we decided to make some.”

You can’t just reach into your pantry and use any type of alcohol to make hand sanitizer. It has to be strong. Really strong. Light beer won’t cut it. Neither will tequila. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your sanitizer mix needs to be at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective.

“Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands,” says a CDC report. “Hand sanitizers without 60 to 90 percent alcohol may not work equally well for many types of germs; and merely reduce the growth of germs rather than kill them outright.”

Smith and his staff at Copper Barrel read through the CDC’s requirements and started placing orders for a large amount of hydrogen peroxide, among other ingredients. Then they got to work. Right now, Smith expects to have a batch ready by Wednesday. But that doesn’t mean you should rush over to get some. He has some specific requirements for who gets access first.

“The immediate plan is to make it available here at the distillery, for people who need it in the medical field, in the service industry,” Smith said. “Then, after they’ve got what they need, we’ll open it up for anyone else.”

Finding Ways To Help

Those medical, law enforcement and other service industry workers will get Copper Barrel’s product for free. The same goes for everyone else, but Smith is asking, if possible, to please make a donation of any size if you can. Those donations will go to help cover other needs service industry workers might have during this situation. But regardless of your need, Smith asks that people place orders rather than just showing up, to make it easier to know how much is needed. You can either send a message through Copper Barrel’s Facebook page by clicking here or go to the company’s website by clicking this link.

The distillery does need some help making all of this happen, however. In addition to producing the product, it has to be bottled and distributed. For that, Smith says it would be great to have volunteers from the community.

“We will need volunteers on site this week and beyond, both to help bottle it and to give it out,” Smith said.

Anyone interested in helping can use the company’s Facebook page or website to contact them. Explain which part, either bottling or distributing, that you’re interested in.


Our goal is to tell the story of Northwest North Carolina by highlighting the people, places, businesses and history of this region.

Brian Carlton

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Our goal is to tell the story of Northwest North Carolina by highlighting the people, places, businesses and history of this region.

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