Victoria Distillers and Nezza Naturals partnered up to create hand sanitizer for people with essential needs jobs. (Courtesy of Victoria Distillers)

Victoria distiller partners with body care store to make free hand sanitizer

Companies will distribute product to essential service workers

An unlikely partnership between two local businesses is helping to address a hand sanitizer shortage in Greater Victoria.

Victoria Distillers is working with natural store Nezza Naturals to produce a 70-proof hand sanitizer spray, made with alcohol, vegetable glycerin and sweet orange essential oil. The product is not for sale, but will instead be distributed to essential services staff such as doctors, nurses, long-term care workers, bus drivers, grocery store workers and more.

READ ALSO: B.C. declares state of emergency, recalling legislature for COVID-19

“With every distillation we do we’re getting this alcohol byproduct that we’re not necessarily using,” said Jessalyn Pechie, marketing manager for Victoria Distillers. “So instead of getting rid of it, we’re turning it into something good. And why not try to do something good at this time, and bring some positivity into the world and our community?”

Hand sanitizers and disinfectants have been in short supply since the COVID-19 pandemic reached B.C.

Bars and restaurants have been ordered to close and many shops have followed suit. Public gatherings of more than 50 people have been advised against and on Wednesday, the B.C. government activated a state of emergency.

Cleaning and sanitizing supplies sold out quickly, Pechie said, and Victoria Distillers is hoping to help fill that void for those who need the supplies most.

“It’s shocking to see the demand even in our health care system,” she said. “Clearly the demand is there with our essential services workers who don’t have the choice to stay at home.”

Peter Hunt, president and master distiller at Victoria Distillers, said many people reached out after the sprays were announced.

“So far the demand has been overwhelming,” Hunt said. “We have received requests from all over, and though we wish we could help everyone, our supply is limited so we are going to focus on our local community first. We know that this situation is not going to go away overnight, so we are looking to make this an ongoing project for the months ahead.”

The companies are working with recipients to determine how the sprays will be distributed.

Victoria Distillers is one of the oldest artisan distilleries in Canada and is the maker behind Empress 1908 Gin, a collaboration with the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Nezza Naturals is a Victoria-based natural alternatives store that creates plant-based body, beauty, bath and home care products.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria residents find compassion and community amid COVID-19 isolation



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