MOUNT VERNON — Hand sanitizer is a hot commodity right now.

To help with the skyrocketing demand, Makers Compounding Pharmacy & Hallmark in Mount Vernon is producing it.

It is donating it to local first responders, and selling it to the general public.

After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration acknowledged the shortage of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, it gave certain businesses, including compounding pharmacies, permission to produce it.

Makers Compounding Pharmacy & Hallmark founder, owner and pharmacist Michelle Moser made the decision to get involved as a way to help those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic that as of Tuesday afternoon had resulted in 169 confirmed cases and five deaths in Skagit County.

“It’s an approved formula made in a professional lab under exacting conditions,” she said. “Everything is measured precisely.”

While the process itself is relatively easy, finding the necessary ingredients has become a challenge. One of the main ingredients is 70% isopropyl alcohol.

“There was some stockpiling going” Moser said. “And wholesalers sold out quickly. But we had the majority of materials already on hand.”

It takes about an hour to produce 24 bottles of hand sanitizer.

As of last week, Moser and her staff have produced about 100 two-ounce spray bottles and they plan to make more. They have distributed hand sanitizer to police departments, fire departments and the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office.

“The bottles are small and easy to use,” Moser said. “They can use it as soon as they get back into their cars or put it in essential vehicles.

“Just three or four squirts does it. It’s not sticky, so it’s easy to use. It’s exciting to be able to do this and we will be making more. First responders are there protecting us, so it’s nice to do something to help protect them.”

The Hallmark side of Moser’s business is also proving popular. Customers can phone in orders and pick them up curbside.

And what are people buying besides items such as hand sanitizer?

“Puzzles,” Moser said. “Lots of puzzles.”

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