Due to the legal state of distillation this short article is purely theoretical and a what-if, but if the recipes were carried out they’d probably work really well. I have an intuition for these things.
A still can produce more than just beverage alcohol, it can also churn out sanitary ethanol of which hand sanitizer is a popular form. If you were not aware, most hipsters make their own hand sanitizer.
Hand sanitizers are typically just blends of ethanol and other non-potable alcohols held in a gel with a soup of strange ethanol tolerant gelling compounds. One likely gelling agent is polyacrylic acid which is used in baby’s diapers for its water absorbing capacity. The soup of gelling agents is very hard to create from scratch, but luckily you would never have to. Simply de-hydrating a commercial hand sanitizer in a kitchen dehydrator such as an Excalibur brand, whose removable shelves turn it into a big open dehydration box, can isolate the gelling agents. These agents can then be reconstituted with more ethanol.
These gelling agents are also heat tolerant enough that they can be separated from the ethanol and other non-potable alcohols in a commercial hand sanitizer by simple distillation. The gelling agents in the bottom of the pot can then go into the dehydrator and the ethanol can be distilled again, aromatized, and concentrated further to the necessary proof before the two fractions are reunited.
To separate the gelling agents from the ethanol:
1000 ml commercial hand sanitizer
100 ml distilled water
Mix and re-distill on high reflux until the temperature at the exit point of the still reads 93.3 Celcius. Water is added to prevent the gelling agents from getting too thick and potentially scorching. Distilled water in particular is used to minimize any impurities getting introduced into the product.
The salvaged ethanol can then be re-distilled with a fun aroma source such as wormwood; 50 grams of wormwood should do the trick. Re-distill on high reflux with the goal of concentrating the distillate as much as possible.
For hand sanitizer to kill bacteria instead of just inhibit bacterial growth, The final ethanol content needs to be above 60%. Most hand sanitizers are above 62% to compensate for potential evaporation. Some new versions of hand sanitizers I’ve seen are even at 70% which might be useful to kill bacteria with as short a contact time as possible.
The gelling agents need to be dehydrated such that when they dilute the ethanol, the ethanol content will be above 62%. At this point the gel is in a pan in the dehydrator and it is difficult to gauge its volume. Luckily the gel is mostly water and each gram of it will displace close enough to one milli liter of water. Pro tip: weigh the pan before you put the gel in it so you can easily subtract the pan’s weight.
With an ethanol content such as 80% and a known volume, a weight for the partially dehydrated gelling agents can easily be calculated with simple algebra.
A blender can be used to integrate the gels with the ethanol and further integration can obtained by hydrating the gels in a sealed canning jar in a hot water bath.
Once the project is complete make sure your equipment is thoroughly cleaned before returning to any beverage production. Few people like isopropyl alcohol in their gin.
Have any ideas for aromatized hand sanitizer? Feel free to submit your own in the comment section.
The aromas of danger: wormwood or quinine aromatized hand sanitizer
Aroma monograms from the garden: lavender or aromatic wild cherry bark aromatized hand sanitizer
Commercial mashups (please don’t sue anyone!): Wray & Nephews hand sanitizer or the Pinaud’s.
Pinaud Lilac Vegetal hand sanitizer (the specific gravity of the Lilac Vegetal implies that it is 70% ethanol!; aroma jackpot!)
Pinaud Bay Rum hand sanitizer (again particularly high in ethanol!)
For the decadent millionaires out there: Green Chartreuse hand sanitzer (but of course..)
Making mono aroma sanitizers could become a useful teaching tool for staff. They probably need sanitizer if they handle money or food and they can use the opportunity to experience and familiarize themselves with a unique scent. Distilling items such as botanicals also presents the opportunity to learn how they behave in regards to volatility. It is a fairly cheap endeavor as well if you learn to salvage the ethanol and non-potable alcohols of commercial hand sanitizer.
Aroma flaws in distillates can be turned into hand sanitizer to help cement their memory at various if not random points in the day.
In more of a beautiful, but very high concept context, imbibers could apply an aromatic sanitizer to their hands then proceeds to enjoy their drink. aroma sets like those of the Pinaud fragrances which neatly connotate a place in time (19th century) become a garnish. The hands of the imbiber do not feel like their own because of the aroma and it ends up feeling like rubbing elbows in another era.
In another context an absinthe drip could be amped up into a full blown and very expressionistic super stimulus by having the drinker apply eau-de-wormwood.