Interim guidance for producing ethanol for use in alcohol-based hand sanitizers: Background

Date published: May 9, 2020
Updated: October 8, 2020

This interim guidance gives information on the use of ethanol in alcohol-based hand sanitizers sold in Canada. Many companies not currently regulated by Health Canada are interested in providing other sources of ethanol, such as anhydrous alcohol, ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, for use in the production of hand sanitizers. They want to help address the shortage of hand sanitizers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help reduce the risk of infection or spread infection to others, both the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that people:

Health Canada produced a guidance document for the production and distribution of alcohol-based hand sanitizers on March 27, 2020. We updated it on July 13, 2020. The guidance:

Health Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians while balancing the need for exceptional measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The quality of ethanol used to manufacture hand sanitizers must meet safety, efficacy and quality requirements.

For this interim measure, we have taken into account:

Health Canada will lift this interim measure when the regular supply of ethanol stabilizes.

If you have questions about this guide or the licensing of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, please contact our Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate at

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