Presentation on Homemade Hand Sanitizer | AIChE

Presentation on Homemade Hand Sanitizer

Tuesday, September 22, 2020,
7:00pm to 8:30pm
Virtual / Online

Presentation on Homemade Hand Sanitizer


Cris Hehner was raised on and worked on his family farm through college. In 1976, he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Nebraska.


Cris then started his career with Monsanto in St. Louis, working in the fibers division and the electronics division. Some main highlights include being the lead process engineer on the construction of the coating operation for the Permea hollow fibers gas separation technology that was then sold to Praxair, and in the electronics division, he was the lead process engineer for 3 plants built overseas. As a result, Cris spent time working and living in Malaysia, Japan, and Korea.


In 1990 he joined Mallinckrodt. The first 2 years were spent working in the recently purchased Chesterfield UK plant as project engineer on plant capacity, safety, and environmental upgrades. In the middle 1990’s he worked in the Raleigh NC APAP plant on expansions. In the late 90’s and into 2001 he worked in the Greenville plant and had projects to install 2 fluid bed granulators and one new spray dryer. In the 2000’s in the St Louis plant he had projects to install a new waste water stripper and was lead process engineer for a new drug manufacturing process. Recently, he has become the company subject matter expert on emergency relief, combustible dust, and static electricity.

Homemade Hand Sanitizers

Being a chemical engineer, Cris has an operational distillation column set up in his backyard. Cris is a home beer brewer as well as home wine maker. Sometimes his quality control fails, and he ends up with beer and wine not compatible for drinking. Rather than throw out the beer and wine, Cris has fun distilling the beer and wine to recover the alcohol.


Up until now the question was what to do with the alcohol recovered. Since he was on a learning curve, the alcohol came out with bad smells and taste.  He had planned to burn it as fuel, but the water content is not good for small engines.


The pandemic solved his problems on what to do with the alcohol: Mallinckrodt was making hand sanitizer, so Cris copied their procedure and produced hand sanitizer for his home use, use on the farm, and use in his church. It's fun to see how to apply distillation, what he's learned about distilling in the process, and how to successfully distill ethanol from bad wine and beer.