Antigo­nish dis­tillery ad­justs to pro­duce hand san­i­tizer.


Ear­lier this week, Stein­hart Dis­tillery in Antigo­nish County was pre­par­ing to start pro­duc­tion of hand san­i­tizer.

A ship­ment of 8,000 bot­tles was sched­uled to ar­rive as owner Thomas Stein­hart drove to Hal­i­fax to pick up olive oil for the new prod­uct.

“I don’t do stress,” said Stein­hart.

He’s had to re­mind him­self of that mantra of­ten over the past week as he watched the prov­ince pre­par­ing to shut down.

His bills won’t shut down as peo­ple stop go­ing out to bars or the liquor store to buy his prod­uct.

Nei­ther will those of the five peo­ple he em­ploys through the win­ter sea­son.

It was one of those em­ploy­ees who came up with the idea of mak­ing hand san­i­tizer as they brain­stormed what to do last week. There is a short­age of it. And its pri­mary in­gre­di­ent is al­co­hol.

So be­gan a fren­zied few days of re­search­ing how to make it and phone calls to sup­pli­ers.

“Sup­ply chains are re­ally hard right now, ev­ery­body is buy­ing ev­ery­thing,” said Stein­hart.

There were no pump bot­tles to be or­dered anywhere, nor could he find an in­ex­pen­sive plastic so­lu­tion, so it’s go­ing in 500ml mickey glass jars.

What he and his em­ploy­ees came up with are two prod­ucts – one us­ing co­conut oil as a mois­tur­izer, and the other olive oil. Lemon and or­ange es­sen­tial oils are used to make them smell nice.

“It’s all nat­u­ral,” said Stein­hart.

“We don’t use emul­si­fiers, there’s some de­bate over whether they’re good for you.”

With­out emul­si­fiers you need to give the bot­tle a quick shake be­fore ap­ply­ing it.

Bot­tles will sell for $15. Stein­hart cau­tioned peo­ple that he’s not price goug­ing, but he’s also not a large fac­tory ded­i­cated to mass pro­duc­tion of hand san­i­tizer.

Those fac­to­ries, how­ever, aren’t keep­ing up with the sud­den de­mand oc­ca­sioned by the spread of coro­n­avirus. Ac­cord­ing to an­a­lyt­ics firm Nielsen, North Amer­i­can hand san­i­tizer sales spiked 73 per cent in the four weeks ended Feb. 22. As the virus has spread, along with panic buy­ing in the three weeks since, the prod­uct has be­come in­creas­ingly hard to find.

For ev­ery 10 bot­tles pur­chased Stein­hart is com­mit­ting to do­nate two to the area’s food bank.

Even as he rushed into pro­duc­tion, there’s much left to fig­ure out – namely how to get it to cus­tomers.

“I don’t know yet,” he said when asked about dis­tri­bu­tion.

“I’ll load up the truck, peo­ple can pay cash. We can sell on­line.”


Thomas Stein­hart, owner of Stein­hart Dis­tillery, has started pro­duc­tion of hand san­i­tizer at his Ari­saig, Antigo­nish County, fa­cil­ity.

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