Prince William County is partnering with MurLarkey Distillery in Bristow, VA to make hand sanitizer that will go to first responders and healthcare workers.
Mike Larkin, the president and one of MurLarkey’s founders, said the distillery recently made 30 gallons, or 300 units, in its first batch of hand sanitizer. The company will resume production when it receives a delivery of glycerin, a key ingredient.
“We have everything we need except the glycerin. Once the glycerin comes in, we’ll be able to make enough to satisfy the Prince William County order request immediately and they can get it out to their locations,” said Larkin, adding that he expects the shipment to arrive from Ohio “any time now.”
The initial supply of another essential ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, was provided by the Prince William Service Authority, explained Matt Adkins, the Prince William County Hazardous Materials Coordinator.
The distillery’s production of hand sanitizer is being made to World Health Organization (WHO) specification, and with the organization’s blessing. “The World Health Organization sent us their recipe,” said Larkin. “It is a very, very powerful formula that we follow and that is with peroxide, glycerin, distilled water and 190-proof ethanol. We can’t just make hand sanitizer unless we’re licensed. They waived the licensing based upon the recipe.”
Before partnering with the County, Murlarkey was packaging its product in plastic sandwich bags, because it was unable to purchase bottles, which are in short supply currently. Contacting the County to form a partnership is allowing the distillers to overcome that hurdle.
“MurLarkey is going to provide the county with 250 gallons in bulk, and we’re going to fill and refill bottles ourselves. The County’s Emergency Operations Center has a backlog of orders and will prioritize and fill orders for public safety agencies first and then the other county agencies with front-line workers in mission essential functions,” said Brian Misner, the County’s Emergency Management Coordinator.
“We’re making ethanol, and 80 percent of hand sanitizer is ethanol. We knew we could do it,” Larkin said of the decision to produce sanitizer. “We’re doing everything in our power [to help] and the government’s been very helpful in helping us source the things we need.”
“This is a great example of the whole community coming together to find a solution to a critical unmet need,” said Misner. “These local partnerships are critical to the County’s response to – and recovery from – this unprecedented national emergency in the weeks and months ahead.”
More information about the county’s response to COVID-19 is available at pwcgov.org/covid19.