By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
For the last several weeks, it has been nearly impossible to find hand sanitizer and disinfecting agents at any store, in person or online. This posed a risk for several of those continuing to serve the community, or those considered essential employees. It is known that the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, can be delayed and prevented from spreading with hand washing and disinfecting. In order to do this at the necessary rate, the amount of soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant needed was and is astronomical.
Athey and Maggie Lutz, residents of Tucker County and owner of Still Hollow Spirits distillery in Job, made an impacting contribution to several entities when it was needed most. “What I had provided them with is a surface sanitizer that’s a high proof alcohol that you spray on surfaces and it will kill anything living on the surface,” explained A. Lutz. When the Lutz’s run their still to produce their house crafted beer, there is a byproduct that is produced that is composed of a minimum of 70% alcohol, or 140 proof, that serves as a phenomenal disinfectant spray. “At the beginning when your still runs, you get a really high proof alcohol called head, which contains methanol which is poisonous to drink, so you can’t use it for the alcohol and that also makes it so you can’t use it for hand sanitizer because the methanol can absorb through your skin,” he continued. This makes the product a great source for surface sanitizing.
The distillery typically uses this product to clean within their own facility, which resulted in a small inventory of the disinfectant. Several entities were donated a batch of sanitizer, including Parsons Volunteer Fire Department and the Potomac Highland Market to name a few. A. Lutz stated that, for the product to be effective, it has to be at least 70% alcohol that is sprayed on the surface and left for at least five minutes before wiped. “We were actually giving it at a higher proof that was over 80%, which will reduce the time it has to sit on the surface, but we were still telling people five minutes just to be safe,” he said.
Kevin White, Company 10 Chief of the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department was grateful for the donation to the VFD. They received approximately five gallons of the solution they used on their trucks and equipment. “We actually purchased a sanitizing spray gun,” explained White. This mechanism is operated by their compressed air bottles, allowing them to disinfect an entire truck very quickly. “It works very well,” he said. They have been using this sanitizer on their units on a weekly basis, even though they have not been on an official call that would mandate doing such. “We still do it as a precaution,” White confirmed. With the cancelation of the departments major fundraiser, the street fair, it has caused a lot of financial unknowns within the fire station. Without this donation, sanitizers would have had to have been purchased to have on hand. “We appreciate Still Hollowing making that contribution to us,” concluded White.
Jennifer Olinger co-manager of Potomac Highland Market expressed her gratitude for the contribution in a time of need. “They donated a quart of sanitizing spray to help minimize the spread of germs here at the Highland Market,” she said. “We are very grateful to Still Hollow for helping keep the community healthy and clean,” she added.
It is estimated that Still Hollow Spirits donated around 25 gallons of the agent to those working through this pandemic. It takes the distillery approximately six months running the still once every two weeks to accumulate one to two gallons of the disinfectant. “In the production you want to minimize it because it’s a kind of a waste, but the last few runs that we were running while this is going on, we were a little more generous and taking more of that because people was wanting it,” A. Lutz stated. He added a few other distilleries across the state have formulated hand sanitizers in addition to surface disinfectants in efforts to assist those in need.
Still Hollow Spirits is located on Stink Run Road in Harman. They can be reached at 304-227-4692.