Re: Alcohol (was: Re: [TekScopes] Remove adhesive from old Tek aluminium cabinet covers)


From what I saw of shortages as COVID-19 turned from an epidemic to a
pandemic was a near-immediate sell out of rubbing alcohol in pharmacies and
supermarkets (at least the local ones I go to, but they are part of
national chains) as well as hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, Lysol and
other disinfecting sprays, and the more newsworthy shortages of toilet
paper and paper towels (oh, and milk, eggs, and bread). I think people were
looking for 99% IPA because there were plenty of Web sites that tell you
how to make your own hand sanitizer, but the final alcohol percentage
should be at least 70-75% according to the CDC so starting with 70% IPA and
adding stuff like aloe vera gel and some fragrance will dilute it too much.
My colleagues and I joked about buying a high-proof vodka if you didn't
mind the cost. You could then drink what you didn't use to make hand
sanitizer. There's a Vodka called Spirytus that is 192 proof or 96% ethanol
(we looked it up to see if you could actually do this).

On Thu, Dec 17, 2020 at 10:44 AM Jeff Dutky <> wrote:

Many of the COVID-caused supply shortages are just demand shocks:
just-in-time manufacturing and delivery is very good if the demand is
predictable, but when demand doubles or triples (as happened, for example,
with toilet paper) it can take quite a while for supply to readjust. I
suspect, however, that another factor in the ongoing shortages is that many
manufacturing operations have very little excess labor capacity, and that
only a few people out sick is enough to bring entire operations to a halt.
It's one thing if you have to cover for one person out sick for a week or
two, but when 10% of your staff is out for two weeks you probably don't
have enough cross-trained people to cover all positions. Now multiply that
across dozens of companies involved in any supply chain and you get massive
shortages of all kinds of things, even things that are not directly being
demanded by the crisis.

None of this is to say that I completely understand the supply shortages
caused by COVID, I just think it's a fascinating example of how complex
systems can fail under unexpected conditions.

-- Jeff Dutky

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