CANMORE, ALTA. -- **Update: Within hours of releasing the hand sanitizer, Rocky Mountain Soap Company announced it had completely sold out of its supply. The company plans to produce additional stock on a daily basis and will restrict future hand sanitizer sales to one per purchase**

A Canmore-based company — inspired by the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains — is launching a hand sanitizer, adding to its roster of soaps and bath products.

Rocky Mountain Soap Company received certification from Health Canada to create a naturally derived hand sanitizer available that will be available online April 1.

"Anything that is approved by Health Canada is guaranteed to be antibacterial and kill 99.9 per cent of germs," said Karina Birch, owner and chief executive officer of Rocky Mountain Soap Co.

Like many Alberta retailers, the company has closed its store locations as part of measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has benefitted from a certain trend.

"Our online sales are up 700 per cent since we closed our stores and there’s clearly global demand for lots of soap," said Birch.

The Public Health Agency of Canada and other health organizations continue to emphasize the benefits of hand washing as the best defence against the spread of the coronavirus.

Soap and water more effective

According to the World Health Organization, viruses are wrapped in a casing of lipids or fats, and soap breaks up that shell.

"Soap and water is more effective than hand sanitizer," explained Birch. "Not only are you removing the dirt and killing germs, you are rinsing it off completely."

Like toilet paper, hand sanitizer continues to be among the hardest items to keep on Canadian store shelves as people are stockpiling, which means buying more than we need according to Mount Royal University associate professor Mohammed El Hazzouri.

"If you look at most soap advertisements, it doesn’t say it kills 99.9 per cent of germs as sanitizer does. Sanitizer has always been marketed as the extra step that will kill these germs," said El Hazzouri.

He expects purchases of these products will be prolonged with persistent reminders to keep hands clean.

The sanitizer formula from Rocky Mountain Soap Co. uses mushroom-derived moisturizer, lemongrass essential oils and 60 to 80 per cent ethyl alcohol.

Rocky Mountain Soap Co. has placed a limit of two units of hand sanitizer per purchase.