Humans are capable of distinguishing up to 10,000 different odors, thanks to the powerful olfactory epithelium nestled in the back of our noses. This remarkable sensory organ detects smells through millions of sensitive neurons.
Generally, we identify ten basic types of smells:
- Fragrant: Florals and perfumes
- Fruity: All non-citrus fruits
- Citrus: Lemon, lime, orange
- Woody and resinous: Pine or fresh cut grass
- Chemical: Ammonia, bleach
- Sweet: Chocolate, vanilla, caramel
- Minty and peppermint: Eucalyptus and camphor
- Toasted and nutty: Popcorn, peanut butter, almonds
- Pungent: Blue cheese, cigar smoke
- Decayed: Rotting meat, sour milk
Smells have a significant impact on us due to their processing in the brain’s area responsible for emotions. Certain odors, particularly those that fall into the “pungent” or “decayed” categories, can be extremely bothersome and challenging to eliminate. Many methods simply cover the odor instead of eliminating it entirely.
There are a number of different techniques that you can use to eliminate odors. In extreme cases it may be necessary to literally remove the surface materials (and even subsurface materials in some cases) to completely remove the odors. However, before you go to such extreme lengths, you should exploring using an ozone generator to remove those noxious smells.
What are Ozone Generators?
Ozone generators are devices designed to produce ozone gas, a powerful oxidant known for its ability to neutralize odorous particles in the air, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Ozone generators are often used to tackle stubborn odors in homes, offices, and even cars.
These devices work by breaking apart oxygen molecules (O2) into single atoms, which then bond with other O2 molecules to form ozone (O3). The ozone produced by these devices can react with VOCs and other gaseous pollutants, altering their chemical structure and neutralizing the odors.
How Do Ozone Generators Work?
Ozone generators produce ozone through two primary methods: silent corona discharge and UV radiation. Both methods involve breaking apart oxygen molecules, which then recombine to form ozone. Once in the air, ozone reacts with other chemicals, changing their structure and effectively neutralizing their odorous properties.
However, it’s crucial to note that ozone’s effectiveness in eliminating odor-causing compounds depends on the type of compound and the concentration of ozone. For instance, ozone can react with acrolein, an irritating chemical found in secondhand tobacco smoke. It may also be effective in breaking down certain types of VOCs found in cooking oils and cleaning agents.
Precautions When Using Ozone Generators
Despite their effectiveness in odor removal, ozone generators should be used with caution. High concentrations of ozone can be harmful to health, causing respiratory symptoms and worsening conditions like asthma. Here are some precautions to consider:
- Use the ozone generator in unoccupied spaces only. Ensure pets, children, and plants do not have access to the area during operation.
- Limit the generator’s use to 2-3 hours in larger rooms and do not return until later in the day.
- Remove items that may be discolored or damaged by ozone from the treatment area.
Effectiveness of Ozone Generators on Specific Odors
Ozone generators may interact differently with various odors. Here’s a closer look at how they may tackle some common problem odors:
- Pet odors: Ozone can potentially mask general pet odors, but it may not be effective against urine smells, as the urea in pet urine does not oxidize.
- Cigarette smoke: Ozone can be harmful to individuals with asthma or cardiovascular issues, making it a risky method for cigarette smoke removal in homes where smokers (or people with compromised cardiovascular systems) still reside.
- Mold and mildew: Ozone can mask mold and mildew smells and may help reduce mold odors under high shock ozone treatment conditions.
- Human smells and body odors: Ozone may mask body odor but does not remove it. Other traditional cleaning methods may be more effective.
Renting an Ozone Generator
In certain situations, renting an ozone generator may be a cost-effective option. Rental costs vary based on the unit’s size and performance, ranging from around $250 to over $2000 depending on how many generators and how long you run them for. Before deciding to rent, identify the odor source, try alternate elimination methods, and consider the overall cost-effectiveness. You can try your local tool rental company to get a generator on a short term basis – or you can buy them at Home Depot or Lowes for not that much more than renting.
Hire a Professional Odor Removal Company
There are numerous companies that specialize in home restoration from disasters – such as fire, which of course also has a heavy smoke smell. These companies are experts in removing all kinds of noxious odors from homes – smoke, mildew, mold, sewage, toxic chemicals – you name it, they remove it. Ozone generators are one of the most powerful tools in their arsenals – so if you are not comfortable using an ozone generator yourself, and you want to let a professional handle it for you and perhaps guarantee the result, consider hiring one of these home restoration companies to do the job.
The Final Verdict
While ozone generators can be a part of your odor removal strategy, it’s crucial to understand their limitations and potential health risks. They are not a one-size-fits-all solution, and other air purification technologies may be more effective and safer. Always consider the type of odor, the severity, and the potential health implications before deciding to use an ozone generator.