Alex MacPherson  •  Saskatoon StarPhoenix

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, LB Distillers in Saskatoon started production and distribution of hand sanitizer to first responders. The Saskatoon company, which specializes in gin and vodka, said on March 19, 2020 in a Facebook post that it recognizes “there is a desperate demand but we wanted to provide sanitizer to those risking their own safety & don’t have access to a hand washing station.”

A pair of Saskatoon-based distilleries are teaming up and retooling to start manufacturing alcohol-based hand sanitizer in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Lucky Bastard Distillers and Stumbletown Distilling aim to produce their first bottles of  emergency hand sanitizer this week, according to Lucky Bastard co-owner Michael Goldney.

The virus has a lipid envelope and is “very susceptible” to soap and water, meaning hand washing should be the first line of defence, said Goldney, who is also a medical doctor.

However, many essential workers do not always have immediate access to soap and running water, hence the need for hand sanitizer, he said Thursday in an interview.

“For that reason, we recognized right away that we have limited production capacity, let’s take care of those people first and we are distributing the product to first responders,” he said.

“It’s not that easy,” he noted of the work necessary to retool a distillery to make hand sanitizer.