Booze and beauty combine as distillery teams with salon in COVID-19 fight

Published March 19, 2020 7:16 p.m. ET

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EDMONTON -- An Edmonton distillery is teaming up with a local spa and salon to produce hand sanitizer made from vodka, for a boost in the battle against COVID-19.

Red Cup Distillery, based near the Edmonton International Airport, is denaturing vodka that will be used to help kill the virus in an effort approved by the federal government.

"You can't drink it. It is a natural product that, if you had some, you'd be looking for water and drinking lots of water for a day or two," said owner Robert De Groot.

For the last year, the business has been partnering with Eveline Charles, which has made hand sanitizers for years. The timing of their latest venture couldn't have come at a more necessary time.

"We started on the journey of hand sanitizer and we finally got our Health Canada approvals last week," said De Groot. "Suddenly, to the misfortune of everybody, COVID came in place and we just happened to be ready for production."

People around the world have been searching for hand sanitizer for weeks, with reports of the product completely selling out in most places.

"Because of consumer demand, we've made relationships to increase and expand our production," said Lina Heath, president of EC Labs.

She said the next line of hand sanitizers will be ready as early as next week and the company will continue to scale up production in the weeks to come.

"Our increased production will be available within the next two to three weeks," she said.

Both companies are hoping the ramp up with help slow the spread of the virus, at least at the local level.

"A vodka maker and a cosmetic lab getting together was interesting a year ago, and the synergy is a surprise," said De Groot. 


Other Edmonton-based distilleries are stepping up, producing the germ-killing liquid or gel using a byproduct from their distilling process.

"We decided we might as well join the war effort here and have our way of saying get out of town Coronavirus,” said Adam Smith, owner of Strathcona Spirits.

The bottling process of their Scona Community Sani has already begun. The early plan is to release a few hundred litres of the sanitizer – free of charge.

Smith told CTV News that it’s 'not a big business pivot,' it's just his company’s way of helping out the community during the outbreak.

“We basically are just putting together a simple product and looking at what we can do to help.”

Health Canada recently announced that it is waiving some of its usual regulatory requirements to increase supplies of hand sanitizers.

An announcement on how the public can access the Scona Community Sani will be available on the company’s social media platforms in the coming days.

With a report from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk.

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