Exploring Ozone use in Odor Elimination

We have heard about how the ozone layer in our middle atmosphere protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet rays. Ozone is generated in electrical storms by bolts of lightning — that’s why it smells so fresh during and after a heavy storm. It’s also used in the cleaning and restoration industry. But what exactly is ozone?

Ozone, also known as “heavy oxygen” or “activated oxygen,” is simply a molecule of oxygen consisting of three oxygen atoms (O3) instead of two (O2).

“Normal” oxygen consists of two oxygen atoms bonded together. The bond that holds these two oxygen atoms together is relatively strong, resulting in a stable molecule. However, this bond, although strong, is not unbreakable. When an O2 molecule comes into direct contact with a certain wavelength of ultraviolet (UV) light or an arc of high voltage electricity, its bond is “severed,” rendering the two atoms separate, each of which can be referred to as O1.


Oxidation simply refers to the process of an atom of oxygen attaching itself to a receptive molecule, which changes its structure. Oxidation essentially turns something into something else; oftentimes the change is dramatic. One example of oxidation is the transformation of water into hydrogen peroxide. There is one more oxygen atom in hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) than in water (H2O).

Hydrogen peroxide is a good example for this article, as we are all familiar with its ability to sanitize and disinfect. Its properties are so powerful, in fact, the hydrogen peroxide in bottles at the local pharmacy and grocery store has been diluted to three percent. Even at three percent dilution, H202 is extraordinarily effective at killing bacteria, fungi, viruses and a wide spectrum of germs. By way of comparison, 90 percent hydrogen peroxide can be used as rocket fuel.

 Types of ozone generators

Ultraviolet generators produce ozone in the same way our sun creates and maintains the protective ozone layer between the troposphere and stratosphere. Typically, weaker, and usually less expensive, this type of generator has one or more ultraviolet bulbs mounted inside the unit that emit specific wavelengths of UV light, which separate the atoms of O2 molecules as ambient air is blown past the bulbs by an internal fan. This type of machine normally offers a lower ozone output, and the bulbs weaken over time. They also are prone to breakage, so the bulbs need to be replaced regularly. Corona discharge generators produce ozone with what’s called a “corona discharge tube” or “plate.” Generally offering a stronger and more reliable output than UV generators, corona discharge generators manufacture ozone in the same way lightning does — by ripping the O2 molecules apart with electricity. A high-voltage electrical current is passed through a dielectric material (material that transmits electrical force without conduction) in the form of a tube or plate while ambient air is blown through the tube or over the plate by a fan mounted at the rear of the unit. More powerful, and requiring less or no maintenance, corona discharge generators are typically the choice for restoration companies and those looking to do the job more effectively and in less time.

Proper operation protocol

Proper procedure calls for the operator to be sure the area is evacuated of humans and animals, and if extremely high levels are to be generated over an extended period of time, it is wise to remove plants and cover aquariums.

Signs that read “Do not enter: Ozone treatment area,” marked with the time it is safe to enter, should be posted at all entrances. Ozone degrades (turns back into “normal” oxygen) quickly — in about 30 minutes. For this reason, it has to be generated on site. (It cannot be kept in tanks.) The huge upside to this quick degradation process is that, despite its unparalleled oxidizing/deodorizing/sanitizing capabilities, it leaves absolutely zero residue.

Since the composition of ozone (O3) is merely a third oxygen atom attached to a normal oxygen molecule (O2), the process of reverting back to oxygen is merely a detachment of the third atom from the other two, more strongly bonded atoms. These remaining single oxygen atoms, which don’t join with and alter the molecular composition of odor molecules, rejoin with other single detached oxygen atoms, creating normal O2.

Benefits to offering ozone treatment

If your business offers carpet cleaning, duct cleaning or virtually any cleaning service, ozone treatment can be the best value-added service you offer.

Cigarette, pet, musty, moldy and cooking odors all can be permanently removed quickly and easily with ozone. I’ve found that by simply mentioning the benefits of ozone to customers, a surprising number of people jump at the chance to have their homes, businesses, RVs, cars or other areas treated. It’s easy to get customers interested in ozone. They’re already your clients who look to you for guidance in the realm of cleaning and sanitizing.

Recap the benefits of ozone:

•Ozone is unequalled in its ability to sanitize, disinfect and deodorize.

•When used correctly, ozone can be one of the safest services you offer.

•Ozone is completely non-residual, leaving behind only clean, pure oxygen.

•An ozone generator can generate revenue for you while you’re somewhere else being productive.


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