If you’ve used a hand sanitizer pump at the front of a grocery store or restaurant lately, you’ve probably gotten either a) a liquid that reeks of alcohol and disappears before it can spread or b) a yeasty gel that never dries. That’s what Sootsoap co-founder K. Dee Howard experienced as COVID-19 numbers rose in Canada earlier this year.
Howard had just broken into the soap game in September 2019, when she launched Sootsoap especially for folks who are exposed to lots funky smells and harsh chemicals. She knew firsthand from her firefighter partner coming home smelling of smoke (he’d shower three times and still smell, she says) and sought out options for getting that stink out. “There wasn’t anything,” she says. “People would say they had tried Irish Spring or tomato juice, but there wasn’t anything that actually worked.”
And no wonder—Howard says there are hundreds of chemicals in the wood we use to build houses and furniture, so when those are burned, tons of stinky particles get into firefighter’s clothes, skin and hair. Sootsoap products use charcoal to get those chemical stenches out, and natural ingredients like aloe, broccoli and wild cabbage to moisturize and detoxify. It’s good for firefighters, but also miners, construction workers, and even plain old people who live in cities—there’s lots of stanky chemicals about.
Howard and her team in Kelowna got to work when the need for hand sanitizer became clear—especially for those on the front lines. “It was really tough to find good hand sanitizer, and first responders really are in desperate need of that,” she says. “They found the products available really harsh on their skin, and their hands were cracked and sometimes bleeding.”
Now, Sootsoap’s premium hand sanitizer gel is available along with their charcoal-fueled body care lineup. Howard explains that the sani is actually a liquid/gel hybrid, so it won’t evaporate too quickly or stay too wet. It also has a refreshing, minty scent (I tried it, it’s great, and a little goes a long way). They’re $13.99 for a 473ml bottle.