Carmel begins making its own hand sanitizer

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As director of the Carmel Street Dept., Dave Huffman never expected his job responsibilities to include overseeing the production of hand sanitizer.

But thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s doing just that.

Much like toilet paper, hand sanitizer has been nearly impossible for retailers to keep in stock for much of the pandemic. So the City of Carmel decided to tackle the problem by making its own.

“When it does come into stores, it goes out pretty quick,” Huffman said. “We did some research and found there’s not much to (making) it.”

Starting in late April, street department employees began using a drill with a mixing attachment to make hand sanitizer in five-gallon batches. They combine isopropyl alcohol, aloe and fragrance oil to create a viscous solution similar to what’s sold in stores.

Mixing the ingredients takes only a few minutes, Huffman said.

“It takes longer to fill the bottles,” he said. “We’ve asked the departments to keep their bottles if they’ve got some now so we don’t have that extra expense.”

The street department’s initial hand sanitizer clients include the law, human resources and police departments and city clerk’s office.

Huffman said he’s not sure if the city is saving money by making its own hand sanitizer, but if that proves to be the case he said his department may continue making it beyond the pandemic.

“This is a small way to contribute to the city to help keep things safe and the business of the city moving forward,” Huffman said.


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