In Canada, hand sanitizers are considered natural health products and are governed by the Natural Health Products Regulations. These regulations, which fall under the Food and Drugs Act, came into force on January 1, 2004 and specifically apply to the manufacture, packaging, labelling, importation for sale, distribution, storage (for the purposes of the previously mentioned activities), and sale of natural health products. Working to ensure that these regulations are observed by companies involved in natural health products is a federal institution called Health Canada. Through the Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate, Health Canada is responsible for the national public health of Canadians and, as such, assesses all natural health products before allowing their sale in Canada.
In recent months, Health Canada has recalled a number of alcohol-based, publicly available hand sanitizers that did not meet minimum safety requirements. For example, one recall discontinued the sale of products containing ethanol or denaturants not yet approved in hand sanitizer manufacturing in Canada and not yet reviewed for safety and effectiveness by Health Canada. The potential side effects of using these products as-is, according to Health Canada, include skin irritation and cracking, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation, and headaches.
Although Health Canada is looking out for us, it is also vital that we review the ingredients, and understand the potential negative side effects, of the hand sanitizers we’re using or purchasing. One consideration, common to the vast majority of conventional hand sanitizers on the market, is the inclusion of synthetic chemicals such as parabens. Parabens (e.g. ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben) are often used in cosmetics as a preservative, and can easily penetrate through our skin and harm, or even prevent, the growth of healthy microbes.
Another commonly listed ingredient in hand sanitizers is fragrance. This catch-all word, used by many companies to describe recipes considered trade secrets, represents a complex mixture of potentially dozens, or even hundreds, of chemicals. This poses an unknown threat to us as consumers, and may drastically increase health risks for people with chemical sensitivities or environmentally linked illnesses.
When considering ingredients and potential health risks, you may also want to consider the other labels on the product and the company you’re purchasing the hand sanitizer from. Has the product been approved by Health Canada? Is the packaging safe and recyclable? Is the company local? All alcohol-based hand sanitizers must include warning labels, cautioning that the product is for external use only and flammable. If you have small children, are you comfortable bringing a product with these warnings into your home? Additionally, you may want to ask yourself how often you plan to use the hand sanitizer. Will you be using it irregularly, only when washing your hands is not an option, or will the product be used multiple times a day? Moreover, if you’re evaluating a hand sanitizer that you’ve already purchased, pay close attention to how your skin feels after use. Is it irritating your skin in any way? Is it causing dryness or cracking?
Unlike many hand sanitizers on the market today, Back to Earth’s Pure Hand Sanitizer effectively kills germs using 100% natural ingredients. The absence of harsh chemicals in this product allows for instant hydration and circumvents the drying effects that many alcohol-based sanitizers can have on our skin. Pure is also free of the misleading ingredient fragrance, and includes only pure essential oils such as Eucalyptus, which naturally calms inflammation, kills germs, and counteracts mental exhaustion. Another key ingredient contained within Pure is St. John’s Wort. This perennial, with its beautiful yellow flowers, has been the topic of many legends around the healing properties of the plant in the battlefield, and is Health Canada approved as an effective antibacterial and antiviral.
Guided by ancient wisdom and natural sciences, Back to Earth’s Pure Hand Sanitizer recipe also contains the key ingredients, Colloidal Silver and Canadian Kisolite™ Glacial Clay. Silver, which has been known for centuries to kill bacteria, blends well with the hand-harvested Kisolite™ Clay, found naturally on an island off the coast of central British Columbia. This clay is rich in beneficial minerals and rare earths and has proven to be an effective antibacterial and antimicrobial that does not rob the skin of its natural minerals or nutrients. Together, the ingredients contained within Pure have passed all the same microbial tests that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are put through and have received Health Canada approval.
This unique offering from Back to Earth is one of very few alcohol-free alternatives that truly supports our skin, microbe health, and well-being. With no toxic chemicals, and only ethically harvested ingredients from Mother Earth, Pure is the natural choice for you and your loved ones.
Written By: Zoë Tomichich
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Many people have benefited from the natural healing powers contained within Back to Earth’s product line. Tracy’s story is one such account, of an Okanagan man’s journey toward healing using natural ingredients.