Ozone Generators Effective For Odor Removal
Article by David Selter
Ozone has a bad reputation as an air pollutant in some parts of the country, including here in Houston. Because of that, odor removal using ozone generators would seem to be oxymoronic. However, ozone is a very effective way to remove odors, especially those caused by carbon compounds such as decaying organisms and smoke – called organic odors – which comprise the majority of problems.
Most people don’t know that odors in public places such as grocery stores and large dumpsters are handled by ozone produced by continuously running ozone generators. The low levels of ozone these machines generate keep the smell of spoiled or spilled food under control. Supermarket operators know customers won’t spend time in a place that smells of spoiled food. However, shoppers will shop in a more leisurely manner – and spend more money – in a fresh smelling store. So it’s apparent that ozone odor control is already used more than you thought and is being used in places you frequent to help maintain a more pleasant atmosphere.
Problem odors come in all shapes and sizes. Smoke, pets, cooking spices like curry, pets, food, decaying organisms, and humidity are just a few of the problems where ozone can be successfully used in odor removal. Houston also has a humid climate that tends to increase odor problems, because damp items tend to give off more odor. A good example of that is a wet dog. However, removing the odor’s source and treating the area with heavy concentrations of ozone can clean up even the most stubborn odors.
What is ozone? It’s a molecule made up of three oxygen atoms. Oxygen molecules in the air we breathe are made up of two oxygen atoms, so ozone is like super charged oxygen. It’s more unstable than oxygen and interacts more with other molecules., which is why it can be a respiratory irritant in too high of concentrations.
As oxygen oxidizes or “burns up” carbon products like coal or oil, ozone oxidizes or “burns up” carbon-based odor molecules. So ozone treatments result in odor elimination, not just odor masking. Because it’s so unstable it reverts back to simple oxygen molecules quickly after the ozone generator is turned off, making the place habitable again within hours.
Ever wonder why the air smells so clean and fresh after a thunderstorm? Lightning is nature’s ozone generator. Vast amounts of ozone it produces in the atmosphere oxidize odors caused by everyday human activity and leaves the air smelling fresh and clean. That pleasant “after the storm” smell is actually the smell of the ozone made during the storm. Treating odors with ozone generators does the same thing on a smaller scale.
Ozone is very effective, but the first thing to be done when removing odors is eliminating the odor’s source. If you don’t, you’ll eliminate the odor that’s already been produced, but more odors will occur. For example, if there’s rotting food in a refrigerator, the food must be removed and any seepage from the food must be cleaned up. That will eliminate the odor’s source but the refrigerator will still smell like rotten food. That’s when the ozone generator should be used. It’s the best option for removing odors that are still there after the source has been removed. Houston odor removal might be more challenging than in some drier climates, but removing the source of the odor and treating the residual odors with ozone has proven to be the most effective method of odor elimination.