Lending a ‘hand’

Community Shine On

Local company switches direction and produces hand sanitizer

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.

Northumberland Hemp is proving that to be the case and is pivoting in a crisis.

The local hemp producer has spent the past five years doing what it does best: growing hemp and producing hemp seed oil, hemp seed flour for baking, and hemp protein from their operation in Bailey’s Brook.

And now, hemp hand sanitizer.

Spokesman Bradley Jardine said it was his colleagues in the business, Doug MacEachern and Dave Fanning, who identified the need to produce the hand sanitizer which, during this time of a global COVID-19 panic, is in short supply in many places.

“It was actually their suggestion because we realized there was a need. We decided we’d give it a shot so we did and it’s actually going very well,” Jardine said from his home office in Chance Harbour.

In order to be effective in sanitizing, hand sanitizer must contain a specific amount of alcohol. Northumberland Hemp hit on the right formula through what Jardine laughingly refers to as good old-fashioned ‘trial and error.’

“We’re using hemp oil and hemp oil is a natural moisturizer, alcohol will just dry your skin right out. So we played around with various combinations until we got one that we were satisfied with — and that was primarily due to Dave.”

The company produces two different sized bottles of Northumberland Hemp Hand Sanitizer that is made from hemp seed oil and isopropyl alcohol — a 150 mL spray bottle that’s a perfect size for a purse or a vehicle, and a 250 mL bottle with a flip top.

“We’re having a hard time getting bottles now,” Jardine said. A Halifax company has been providing the receptacles but is now in short supply of the spray bottles.

Making a batch of hand sanitizer is what Jardine calls “quite an involved process.” But when all is said and done, it takes about a day to make a batch. One batch produces approximately 2,500 bottles. “But we’ll have three or four batches going at a time.”

That’s a lot of production for a five-person operation, which is the number of people producing the product.

The market for the all-natural product is huge, and growing exponentially.

It can be found at Millside General Store in Pictou, Stirling’s Farm Market in Blue Acres, LBR Gas Bar NSLC and Variety in Lower Barneys River, John’s Country Canteen in Salt Springs, Jemu Siku on Pictou Landing Road, Alma Pizza & Variety, Mike’s Harbour Beach Market in Little Harbour, and further afield at Adored Beast Apothecary in Moncton and Home Hardware in Antigonish and Springhill. Other clients who have the product include Kids First, HCRS and VON.