INNISFAIL — Adding more varieties and a commitment to marketing are pushing the magic in the locally-produced version of an elixir known for its germ-killing qualities.
The challenge is to convince people that something that looks, feels and smells like clean water can actually oxidize pesticides and wipe out bacteria and viruses, says Robert Sinnamon, a partner in Innisfail-based BioHygienic Solutions Inc.
Ionized water with small concentrations of hypochlorous acid has long been recognized for properties that make it highly effective against a wide variety of pathogens, says Sinnamon. However, producing those products was difficult and expensive because the process is highly corrosive. Machinery used in the process would become unstable with the result that the product itself was also unstable.
A few years ago, at the sprout plant on their family farm southeast of the Dickson Dam, Robert and his brother, Glen, started experimenting with ionized water produced by a local entrepreneur, Ivo Wachter.
Wachter had immigrated from Western Europe, where his family had developed a patented water ionizing process based on the work of former Soviet scientists left jobless at the end of the Cold War.
The Sinnamon brothers, whose sprouts are marketed across Canada under a variety of different trade names, encountered Wachter and his product in their search for an effective way to keep their lines free of e-coli, listeria and other potentially fatal bacteria.
Impressed with its effectiveness, the Sinnamons got the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s approval to market Wachter’s product as a food sanitizer and branched relatively quickly into selling hand sanitizers as well.
Four years after their sanitizers hit the store shelves, they have developed a growing line of health products created by tweaking the original formula for specific targets, from cleansing wounds to soothing itches and breaking down dental plaque. They have even formulated a spray for treating new tattoos.
Products are sold in grocery and health food stores, dental clinics and veterinarians in all four Western provinces as well as a few stores in Toronto, Ont., said Robert.
As of this summer, sales have reached the point where the product is finally paying for itself, as long as the four partners do not collect any wages.
Robert and his partners are pushing the markets on their own, with his son, Tyler, travelling throughout the western provinces, giving free samples to retailers and health-care professionals in his efforts to get them to carry the product. Robert dedicates a portion of his time to designing and building wooden display racks that he hopes will help catch attention in stores and clinics where the products are available for sale.
“It’s all about the samples now,” said Robert. “Of course, it’s costing us lots of money, but there’s no other way to do it.”
Profits from the sprout plant were ploughed back into producing and selling the ionized water.
Local retailers now carrying the BioHygienic Solutions line include the Sobeys grocery store at the south side of Red Deer and the Red Deer Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods, where the prototype display rack is installed.
Nutter’s manager Carla MacKenzie said on Friday that she has been carrying a variety of BioHygienic Solutions products for about a year and knows that they are moving, but has not had any feedback from store customers, nor has she tried the products herself.
Robert said he and his partners have not sought marketing help from organizations such as Access Prosperity in Central Alberta because he finds their processes too slow. Nor is he interested in seeking help from outside sources such as the TV show, Dragon’s Den, because they want too much in return.
“I’m not prepared, after all the work that I’ve done, to hand it over to them,” he said.
Robert’s wife, Lois — in charge of the books and administration, said the rate of growth in sales will determine how long it will be before she and her partners can start drawing wages from BioHygienic Solutions.