OTTAWA -- Hand washing is important to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but you might not always have quick access to soap and a sink. Hand sanitizer is an easy and effective way to keep your hands germ-free while on the go.

However, not all are created equal.

Health Canada is recalling six types of hand-sanitizer, because of an ingredient that could cause harm to your skin. Anyone who has a bottle of the sanitizer below is asked to stop using them.

  • Eltraderm Hand Sanitizer - 70% Ethyl Alcohol, made by Eltraderm Limited
  • Hand Sanitizer, made by Contract Packaging Distributions Inc.
  • Gel 700 Hand Sanitizer, made by Nature's Own Cosmetic Company Inc.
  • Sanilabs Hand Sanitizer 70% Ethanol, made by Sanilabs Inc.
  • Walker Emulsions Hand Sanitizer, made by Walker Emulsions Ltd.
  • Hand Sanitizer Désinfectant pour les mains, made by Walker Emulsions Ltd.

They are being recalled because of the type of ethanol used, which is meant for industrial use.

“Technical grade ethanol would be used for industrial paints and stuff of that nature,” says Stuart Thornley, of Top Shelf Distillers in Perth, ON. 

Top Shelf Distillers is among the local distilleries that have been pumping out hand sanitizer since March. They have been approved by Health Canada.

“Our distillery and other distillers, we all went through that process to have our hand sanitizer certified by Health Canada; and, it’s listed on the Government of Canada website list of approved hand sanitizers for fighting COVID-19,” Thornley says.

Thornley adds there’s a big difference between what’s been recalled, and his product.

“It’s food-grade, so we have used that food-grade ethanol in our bitters, so we’re familiar with it. The active ingredient that is fighting germs, bacteria and viruses on your hands is the 80-percent alcohol.”

Top Shelf Distillers, along with other local distillers, sell hand sanitizer directly on their website, as well as in some stores.

“We felt a massive sense of duty to do it, and it meant a lot of weekends worked, a lot of late nights. It’s really great to be a few months down the road, and looking back and say - wow, we went from 150ml bottles to now over 300-thousand units in just a matter of months.”

Health Canada has a list of which hand sanitizers are approved.