Being out in the country has its advantages. We enjoy the benefit of a small, country Post Office in Newtonsville, OH. We get to know the postal workers by name and enjoy friendly banter daily. Its also an advantage when you are trying to figure out the “legal” way to ship a flammable substance, which hand sanitizer is. We are also sharing this information for the benefit of other “makers” who may not know of the updated regulation effective February 2020.
Shipping Alcohol has specific rules
We learned a lot through this process and just want to share it with you. Since any hand sanitizer containing either type of alcohol (ethanol or isopropyl) is technically flammable, the United States Postal Service has specific rules around such substances. If you are interested in learning more, this link can be helpful (although dry) reading. Please see the marking requirement from Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail Appendix C.
So each shipping box must be clearly marked on the address side with a label that says Consumer Commodity ORM-D AND Surface Only. It is a black label with gold lettering.
Alternatively, a package may use an approved DOT limited quantity square-on-point marking which designates surface transportation ONLY.
All packages containing sanitizer must carry one of these labels.
Both do not need to be used.
No first class shipping
Now here is the bite. These types of packages cannot be sent by First Class Mail. First-class is typically those that weigh under 16 ounces (13 if you go to the Post Office instead of online). However, First Class cannot be used for flammable substances. We researched online, called USPS and talked to the local postmaster to find out if there was an alternative so that lightweight packages could go at a reduced rate. The answer was a disappointing NO. The extra handling and time required for “hazardous or flammable” products is the reasoning behind the higher price. You would typically think that “Ground” would be cheaper than “Priority Mail”, but it depends on the situation. Packages carrying these stickers will not be at a reduced rate.
So for the first batch of orders, we took a hit as we only charged $5 for orders under 1 lb. There is now another shipping option on the site specifically for hand sanitizer. Regardless of the number purchased, the charge will be $8.95 on the website. We will continue to absorb the postage when the order exceeds $60.
So our advice is, don’t buy just one single hand sanitizer, you are getting hit with heavy postage per the regulation. Mix and match and exceed at least 1 lb so that you are getting the most bang for your buck.