Absolut Offers to Help Produce Hand Sanitizer in Sweden

A representative for the vodka brand says the company has made alcohol for sanitizer in the past.

When natural disasters strike in the U.S., breweries will often switch from canning beer to canning water for those in need. It's a relatively easy change to make: Breweries use a ton of water, and they already have the canning line ready to go. So, similarly, how can distilleries help during the coronavirus outbreak? Well, despite the rumors, no, you can't use vodka as a hand sanitizer; however, many hand sanitizers are alcohol-based, and since the spread of COVID-19 has put hand sanitizer in high demand, at least one major spirits brand has offered their help to provide the alcohol necessary to make more: Absolut Vodka.

Over the weekend, Paula Eriksson—communications manager for The Absolut Company in Stockholm, Sweden—tweeted that her company was "happy to help" with her country's hand sanitizer needs. "We can deliver liquor by itself if the receiving authorities can help with the rest," she continued. "Absolut wants to contribute with the production of hand sanitizer." Though Absolut is now owned by the French conglomerate Pernod Ricard, the Swedish vodka brand still operates a distillery back home in Sweden.

LMVH and Absolut Making Hand Sanitizer
Helin Loik-Tomson / Getty Images

Additionally, the news agency Finwire reports that Eriksson said sanitizer has already been made for personal use, and, previously, sanitizer was produced during the swine flu outbreak. Eriksson later posted that she's been in contact with both the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and the Swedish Department of Health, according to The Drinks Business. (That said, Eriksson has posted no follow up tweets in the past two days.)

Importantly, however, just because Absolut can produce the alcohol necessary to produce hand sanitizer, it's important to remember that Absolut Vodka is not itself strong enough to be used for sanitization purposes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol-based hand sanitizers must be at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective. Absolut Vodka clocks in at 40 percent ABV—which is more than enough for a mixed drink, but nowhere near strong enough to save lives.

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