A gloved hand affixes a label to a personal-sized bottle of hand sanitizer that was made by Badlands Provisions in Brawley. The farming company decided to use its stores of ethanol, which is used to process CBD from hemp, to make the sought-after product that has been flying off store shelves since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Badlands is an industrial hemp grower and had ethanol available as it readies its CBD-extraction facility in Imperial. | COURTESY PHOTO
BRAWLEY — With hand sanitizer flying off store shelves across the country in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, local company Badlands Provisions came up with a creative way to meet a community need, using a key ingredient in its fledgling CBD-extraction business to produce the coveted product.
Brawley growers, partners and brothers, John and Andrew Currier, whose Badlands Provisions is the farming arm of an industrial hemp operation, are also the men behind Imperial CBD Extraction, a cannabidiol-extraction facility about two weeks away from opening in the city of Imperial, where they intend to process their hemp and eventually take CBD-infused products to market.
Badlands Provisions is using its stores of ethanol intended for CBD production and making hand sanitizer that is already being sold in local stores.
“We decided to do this to help during the emergency crisis with COVID-19. The reason we can create hand sanitizer is because in about two weeks we are going to open Imperial CBD Extraction, the first CBD-extraction facility in the Imperial Valley,” said Bari Smith, senior director of marketing at Badlands Provisions, during an interview with this newspaper April 14. “The way we process hemp CBD oil is with ethanol, and ethanol is one of the main ingredients approved by the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and the World Health Organization to create hand sanitizer.”
The hand sanitizer is being made at one of Badlands Provisions work yards in Brawley.
“The CBD-extraction facility (at 520 W. Aten Road) in Imperial is not open yet. … We took our ethanol from that facility that we had already purchased and used it for this venture,” Smith said.
Badlands Provisions is actively marketing to get its product used throughout the state and has already shipped orders as far as Las Vegas, she said. Badlands Provisions recently hired seven new employees just to make hand sanitizer.
What Makes Local Product Special
The hand sanitizer made at Badlands Provisions is higher quality than most of the other hand sanitizers on the market, she said.
“It is a medical-grade liquid hand sanitizer. Gel hand sanitizer sold in stores is 63 percent ethanol. Our product is 83 percent and is liquid and not a gel, which is why we sell it in a spray bottle. We have been providing to local hospitals and have sold to over 50 farming organizations in the Valley to help keep staff and employees safe,” Smith said.
Smith elaborated on the process of making hand sanitizer:
“The formula we use is the formula approved by the FDA; glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, purified water and ethanol. We make it in larger quantities. It probably takes about 45 minutes to mix everything. We make 275 gallons at a time.”
Since its first day of making hand sanitizer on March 31, Badlands Provisions has produced more than 50,000 ounces of the product.
“When we first started, we were just producing to fill individual orders. At this point, we have an inventory of a couple thousand bottles of each size. Different counties and large hotels are talking with us about making orders,” Smith said.
Badlands Provisions’ hand sanitizer can be purchased at all Imperial Do-It Center hardware stores and La Brucherie Irrigation Supply. The company produces the product for individual sale or bulk quantities.
What Customers Have to Say
Dion Ashurst Farms is one of Badlands’ bulk customers, using the product to disinfect everything from equipment to its workforce.
“I work mostly with bees, and for my employees, I bought the bigger bottles and we spray the down trucks and other stuff around the shop and in areas of heavy traffic. I gave each of our employees a personal hand sanitizer to carry with them,” Dion Ashurst said April 14.
The quality of the product is “really strong,” Ashurst said. “I was really impressed with their product and I couldn’t find hand sanitizer anywhere. It was so expensive online, and their product is very fair priced when making bulk orders.”
Cynthia’s Flower Connection of El Centro purchased a large order of hand sanitizer with plans to give back to its customers.
“We are giving out a pair of gloves, hand sanitizer and a mask with every order of flowers,” Cynthia’s Flower Connection owner Silvia Arce said.
“It works really well on my hands. It doesn’t dry me out, and it’s something that was needed,” Arce said of the quality. “We couldn’t find any and we wanted to help our customers. I think the spray works better than a gel. You feel cleaner because the spray is getting around you.”
Quality Counts in the Hand Sanitizer Game
“The cost of our product is a little higher than the hand sanitizer you would normally buy at the store,” Smith said. “We are not in the hand-sanitizer business, and we can’t compete with the Purells of the world. Ours is a little more expensive than if you went and tried to buy Purell online.”
Smith also noted there is a $26-per-gallon tax that accompanies each purchase of ethanol and that Badlands Provisions’ hand sanitizer has a higher amount of ethanol that most of its competitors.
“If businesses buy directly from us, it is at a lower cost. Any bulk order over $125, we sell for wholesale. Imperial stores sells our product for $3.49 for a 30-milliliter bottle, $8.99 for a 100-ml bottle and $14.99 for a 10-ounce refill bottle,” Smith said.
“We are currently in discussions for filling hand sanitizer orders in several counties throughout the state. We have talked about selling hand sanitizer nationally, but it is not cost-effective to ship. We will ship sanitizer anywhere if they provide a prepaid shipping label to ship anywhere,” Smith added. Businesses in need of large amounts of hand sanitizer for employees can contact Smith at email@example.com or by phone at 760-455-2682.