Chemistry faculty make hand sanitizer for College during pandemic shortage

Ensuring that adequate supplies of hand sanitizer are available on the Indiana University Bloomington campus has required diligent sourcing efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. But one recent source has been in-house.

A man in a red plaid shirt pours chemicals for hand sanitizer into a large white container.View print quality image
The Department of Chemistry's Jon Karty volunteered to make hand sanitizer for the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. Photo courtesy of Jon Karty

Jon Karty, a senior scientist in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Chemistry, volunteered to make batches of hand and surface sanitizers to protect those in his department and the College.

Karty, with the assistance of director of undergraduate laboratories Norman Dean, whipped up 32 gallons of hand sanitizer and 32 gallons of surface sanitizer on May 22, and began distributing them a week later.

Karty volunteered his services after the need for more hand sanitizer was mentioned in a chemistry department meeting. He'd previously helped advise Bloomington-based Cardinal Spirits on a formula for making large batches of hand sanitizer, which IU has purchased.

"We're happy to help," Karty said. "We're chemists; this is what we do. We needed to help."

The sanitizers for the College of Arts and Sciences can be obtained in 5-gallon buckets, 3-ounce spray bottles or 1-quart bottles, Karty said. Requests for hand sanitizer and information about costs should be placed through department chairs, who can contact him or Department of Chemistry chair Caroline Chick Jarrold, he added.

A man stands in a lab making hand sanitizerView print quality image
The Department of Chemistry's Norman Dean and Karty made 32 gallons of hand sanitizer and 32 gallons of surface sanitizer on May 22. Photo courtesy of Jon Karty

Karty said he'll continue to make hand sanitizer as needed, and as long as he can get the ingredients at reasonable costs. Karty said he can make about 50 to 100 gallons at a time.

The good news for IU is that supply chains are opening up, making it easier to obtain hand sanitizer, said Cherie Anderson, emergency management coordinator.

IU purchased more than 600 gallons of hand sanitizer from Cardinal Spirits since March to meet its needs when it wasn't available through other sources. Now, IU's Facility Operations has a contract with Cintas for it to provide hand sanitizer stations -- either free-standing or wall-mounted -- in about 4,000 areas across all of IU's campuses, Anderson said.

The hand sanitizer stations will be in high-traffic areas such as near building entrances and elevators, and in lobbies, Anderson said.

Anderson said IU also purchased large amounts of hand sanitizer -- pallets full of small bottles of the germ killer -- through Hawkins Bailey Warehouse in Bedford, co-owned by former IU basketball star Damon Bailey.

"We feel we're in a really good place with hand sanitizer because we moved early and we moved fast," Anderson said.