What is Ozone
The air we breathe consists of many gasses. The gas that we inhale is oxygen and ozone is a variation of it. Ozone is a naturally occurring gas that has 3 oxygen atoms bonded together in a molecule instead of 2, like in oxygen molecules.
You most probably came across ozone gas after a thunderstorm. It has some kind of a fishy/bleachy smell to it and is usually found in the stratosphere.
However, during a lightning strike, a lot of ozone is created from the electric discharge. Ozone isn’t stable in the atmospheric pressure and temperature of the earth’s surface.
Additionally, the bond between the oxygen atoms in an ozone molecule is a bit weak. That’s why ozone is not stable under standard room temperature/pressure and tries to be in a stable form, like oxygen.
As a result, ozone is a powerful oxidizer that reacts to almost everything it comes in contact with. The weak bond breaks, leaving free oxygen atoms that oxidize other materials. That is why ozone is so powerful against any kind of odor problem.
What is an ozone generator
Ozone isn’t naturally produced on the earth’s surface. That’s why we use special machines that can produce ozone by binding oxygen molecules together.
These machines are primarily used in the fire and flood restoration industry and can help you to get rid of any odor problem.
Usually, the unit looks like a tiny box with handles attached to it. You can get your hands on a decent-quality ozone generator for about $100-150. Remember, an ozone generator is just like any power tool you use. You have to be careful about how and where you use it.
How to Use Ozone Generator in Home?
Step 1: Clean up and seal before
You’ll need to seal the place you are about to cure so any ozone gas can’t lean outside.
Close all the windows and place towels under the door to make sure there is little or no leakage. Don’t use the generator in an occupied space, no matter the reason.
Don’t forget to identify and eliminate the source of the odor before you use the generator. Otherwise, the solution won’t be permanent.
Eliminate the source yourself and the generator will destroy the odor for you. Leave the inside doors, such as the bathroom and closet doors open.
Step 2: Start the generator
Now plug in the generator and place it on the middle side of the space. This will allow the gas to spread into every open inch of your room.
Try to place the generator in someplace high because ozone is heavier than regular air and will flow downwards.
Once you place the generator in your desired position, plug it in and set a timer for about 20-30 min for a small room or a car. Keep your ozone generator away from three “P”s all the time. They are people, pets, and plants.
Step 3: Wait
The time you need to use an ozone generator depends on a variety of factors. The most prominent of them are room size and humidity. You’ll need a bigger generator or run the small one for a long time if you want to incorporate ozone into a bigger room.
Usually, a standard room or a car will take no more than 30 minutes of ozone emission to shock the odor environment and eliminate the odor-producing particles. Set a timer for the time you need to wait.
Step 4: Turn the generator off
Once the timer rings, turn off the generator and leave the room for 2-6 hours or overnight. All those ozone particles will spread into your room and oxidize any odor particle they’ll come in contact with.
However, there are a couple of matters you need to keep in mind when you go inside the room to turn the machine off.
First of all, ozone is toxic to any living being. The active oxygen will not only give you discomfort, but it can also damage your lung tissues if you inhale the gas directly.
Ozone can also cause shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing. That’s why you’ll need to cover your face properly when you decide to go inside the ozone-filled room.
Either use a mask or hold your breath, enter the room quickly, turn the generator off and rush out.
Ozone has a half-life of about 30 minutes. Leave the room for about 2-3 hours while the gas inside neutralizes all the odor components and settles down.
Step 5: Provide proper ventilation
Ozone itself has a distinctive smell that can latch onto your clothes and other appliances and we don’t want that. After 2-3 hours the room should be sterilized and odor-free.
Now enter the room wearing a mask/ holding your breath and turn on your ceiling or furnace fan (if you have any).
The fan will help the ozone to reach every corner of your home and remove pungent and nasty odors. You can reapply the ozone till all the odor is gone.
Once you are happy with the result, open all the seals. This will let fresh air inside the room and neutralize any remaining ozone particles.
For a car, leave all the windows open and make sure the air gets circulated enough before you start using the room or car.
How an Ozone Generator Works
The basic principle of an ozone generator is to collect fresh oxygen (O2) and turn it into ozone (O3). The easiest way to do that is to break apart oxygen molecules and free an oxygen (O) atom.
The free oxygen atom (O) gets attached to other oxygen (O2) molecules and creates ozone (O3).
According to the regulations from the International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants, there are two prominent ways to turn oxygen (O2) into ozone (O3) –
1. Ultraviolet radiation
This process mimics the process of breaking ozone gas in the atmosphere. Ozone gas is unstable and tries constantly to become stable like oxygen. That’s why they are reactive to many things, including the energy they get from the sun as a form of UV radiation.
UV has the power to break apart the bond between oxygen atoms at the molecular level and produces highly reactive oxygen atoms (O–).
The free oxygen atoms are so reactive that they create a bond with other oxygen (O2) molecules and create ozone (O3) molecules.
However, this method isn’t very efficient and is being replaced by more efficient methods.
2. Silent corona discharge
This is the most prominent technology today to create ozone and eliminate all the weird pungent smells from your home/car. This method uses purpose-built ozone generator plates and runs high voltage electricity through the plate.
The ozone generator plates are usually made from ceramic or glass. The basic principle is to pass high voltage electricity between two electrodes placed in a small gap until the electricity starts overflowing the gap and creates an arc.
The high voltage electricity will create ozone molecules when it comes in contact with the oxygen available. A fan is installed to provide the necessary airflow and a high power voltage transmitter provides the voltage. The process is named “corona discharge”.
How Effective Are Ozone Generator
The manufacturer’s claim
According to the manufacturers, ozone’s highly reactive nature helps it to react and bind with almost any other molecule it comes in contact with. The list of molecules that ozone can destroy includes odorous chemicals like smoke and organic stuff like viruses, bacteria, and mold spores.
However, they don’t have any scientific proof or evidence to back up their claim.
Ozone VS Mold and Bacteria
While ozone can effectively destroy mold spores, it can’t actually control mold infection if the source isn’t eliminated and the humidity is high.
Even if you use ozone gas at a far higher concentration than the safe limit, it’s unlikely that ozone will help you control your mold problem very much.
Ozone VS VOCs
Ozone can definitely help you get rid of that pungent smell that has been bothering you for weeks, but it can’t solve the air pollution problem (duh).
This might be true that ozone oxidizes and breaks apart the molecules of every organic molecule, but it takes a staggering amount of time to do that.
A survey confirmed that the ozone concentrations of 100 ppb would take more than 800 years to eliminate 6 of the most prevalent organic molecules (pollutants) found in the air, and I am talking about the Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs half-life.
Ozone VS Particulates
Ozone is also ineffective to eliminate dust, debris, or pollen from your room. You have to do that yourselves.
An ozone generator might sound like magic but it’s really not. It is really just a power tool with limitations that can either do pretty good or bad depending on how you use it.
After reviewing a number of scientific studies, The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA came to the conclusion that ozone is not particularly effective at removing indoor air contaminants at concentrations that meet public health standards.
However, If you want to use this power tool for your odor removal service, be sure to take proper safety measures to ensure nobody gets hurt.
Don’t forget that ozone is a known lung irritant with the power to damage soft tissues from your respiratory system.
Ozone Generator Safety Precautions
Read the manual
We can’t stress this enough. No matter what kind of machine or tool you intend to use, always try to read and understand the user manual thoroughly before you even start using it.
This will help you figure out the limitations of that unit and the necessary precautions you need to take to ensure safety. Don’t even dare to skip this part.
Properly seal the room
Not only you’ll have to keep your generator away from the three Ps I’ve mentioned earlier, but you’ll also need to seal the room properly beforehand so that any ozone molecule can’t escape the room and cause any health damage to your favorite houseplant, pets, or loved ones.
You can use tape or a towel along with the door and windows to properly seal off the room. Make sure the place is unoccupied and don’t forget to cover the vents.
Cover valuable Items
Ozone not only destroys odor particles but also causes metals to oxidize and rust. That’s why we recommend covering all the valuable items with blankets. Put a cover over your furniture, metal things, and paintings too.
Don’t forget, ozone will try to react to every single thing it will come in contact with. Hang your clothes in a place with proper ventilation so ozone can reach every spot and eliminate odors; especially, cover or relocate anything made of iron to avoid rust problems.
For a standard-sized room, you might need to use the ozone generator for about 3-6 hours, and for your entire house, it can take up to 26-30 hours. 30 Minutes is enough for a small room or your car.
An ozone generator is a power tool that produces amazing results only when all the conditions are met. You shouldn’t use the tool for longer than suggested.
Many modern-day ozone generators come with an “auto-off” feature and a timer. When the timer hits zero, the device gets shutdown automatically so that you don’t have to enter the room risking your respiratory health just to turn the machine off.
If you don’t have the “auto-off” feature, use a mask or cover your face when you enter the room. This will protect you from accidentally inhaling that toxic ozone gas.
The ozone needs time to work its magic. Additionally, you shouldn’t come in direct contact with ozone. That’s why it’s instructed to leave the room uninterrupted for a couple of hours after you turn the generator off.
Leave the room overnight if you can and the next day you’ll have an odor-free and disinfected room.
Adequate maintenance is essential to keep the machine working for longer. We recommend you clean the collector plates every 2 to 6 months. This is a great way to regain the efficiency you’ll lose over time.
Additionally, avoid using the generator in humid environments since it can cause arcing inside the machine. You also need to be careful because the machine uses a high voltage transmitter that can become dangerous.
1. How long should you run an ozone generator?
Ans: It depends on multiple factors. For example, if you want to eliminate weaker odors like fumes, exhaust gasses, and smoke, mild ozone treatment is enough. If your goal is to kill bacteria, molds, germs, pungent smells, or heavy cigar smoke, you’ll need more time.
Sterilizing a small room with ozone can take up to 3-6 hours and for the whole house, the process can last up to 30 hours.
2. Are ozone generators safe to use?
Ans: Like any power tool, an ozone generator also can be really helpful in the hour of need, but also holds the power to do major harm. Using ozone generators without proper knowledge and instruction can be very dangerous. Read and understand the instruction manual beforehand.
3. How long does it take for ozone to dissipate?
Ans: Depending on the concentration ozone gas can take anywhere between 30-240 min to entirely transform into harmless oxygen. If the concentration is thin, the gas may dissipate within 30 minutes to 2 hours at most. Higher concentration can take up to 4 hours.
4. Is ozone bad for you?
Ans: Yes. No matter the concentration, ozone is harmful and can cause a series of painful side effects, not to mention destroying microorganisms. The gas harms lung tissue and reduces lung function if you inhale the gas directly.
According to The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the level of ozone should not be above 100 ppb (parts per billion) in a closed environment.
5. How long do the ozone generator plates last?
Ans: On average, A standard ozone generator can last between 5,000 and 20,000 hours of run time. With proper use and maintenance, it can last even longer. If you feel the blue light getting weaker and dimmer or can’t smell as much ozone as before, replace the plates.