What is ozone and what is it used for?
Ozone (OO2 or O3 – the numbers should be smaller but I can’t manage it in this font/formatting) is a powerful and volatile gas. Most people probably know about it from the ‘ozone layer’ but ozone makes up a very small part of our atmosphere; the ‘ozone layer’ is simply a ‘band’ of slightly higher concentration that helps act as a multi-purpose filter. On the planet sized scale it is super but close-up is too strong for creatures and plant life hence ‘low level ozone’ that is detectable by humans via their ordinary senses is considered degenerative and dangerous.
Ozone was previously associated in lower concentrations with industrial use including professional cleaning, sterilization and toxin/germ/poison neutralization e.g. from ‘deep cleans’ before/after tenants to deodorize, sanitizing food and water supplies, disinfecting ‘health’/production/lab spaces or even an alternative bleaching agent to chlorine-containing compounds. Even though itself has a chlorine-like smell it breaks down easily into dioxygen so doesn’t leave an odor or taste. That said, industrial generators were/are still only used in closed, empty rooms that are then aired out before people, animals and plants are allowed back in.
So, Can Ozone Be Healthy on a Personal Scale?
There’s plenty of information online about the health and safety fears/regulations of ozone from being an irritant to fatal and perhaps more easily recognized via aeroplane cabin news regarding air quality combined with radiation. But at the same time there’s also a lot of positive information and experience of ozone in very small concentrations; these household/small space ozone generators have been on the market for some years and from my personal experience I’d say they’re not a fad or alternative health gimmick, for me and mine at least. They don’t have time restrictions and you can be in the room at the same time – they are basically air purifiers generating ozone from air and electricity via corona discharge light (Ultra Violet is the natural way but less commercial).
Some think ozone production is dangerous or inconsistent (e.g. in windy or flowing wet environments) stating that ozone is only safe to breathe when made from pure oxygen instead of air and pushed through olive oil. I have not looked into that process or why olive oil is specifically necessary but from what I have read those are the really high quality, high output industry generators and as with many consumer products many people have to compromise. These are small sized, single socket plug-ins made for small-medium home style rooms that presumably have doors, windows and vents. There’s some caution needed and that is true for every appliance.
Ozone is one of those things where moderation is involved; in its case a lot is not a good idea and a little can be beneficial (I still eat almonds and a bunch of other foods that have dangerous components in them and have found more UV to be better for me than less and I don’t wear sunscreen in this climate – though I’m Brown skinned so need more anyway than a fairer skinned person; it depends, as long as you don’t go overboard).
WHY I BOUGHT THIS?
I’ve had chronic breathing difficulties since I was 15 though the warning signs started much earlier; not a condition like asthma but more congestion and inflammation of the throat/nasal passages hindering and shortening the breath. Obviously not being able to breathe properly has a lot of knock on effects from headaches, fatigue to digestion and stiff posture. I personally don’t think being born and raised in London or living in many a damp, rundown environ helped; many a polluted city dweller experiences ‘Black bogey’ (Greyish anyway), moreso if using the tube/underground. Then going ‘healthy’ and walking as much as possible isn’t that healthy when sacrificing the respiratory system to traffic and other air/water pollution (not to mention that everybody wears a cacophony of fragrances from their toiletries but I don’t want to sound too much like Victor Meldrew) and since wearing builders or surgical masks isn’t the done-thing here like in some Asian counties, unless one is a cyclist.
I tried a lot of things to help after leaving prescribed antihistamines behind me and preferring breathing exercises, oil pulling (a method of holding and squeezing oil in the mouth until it pulls out everything from the throat & nose) and unrefined apple cider vinegar (many internal health benefits and awesome external body & home cleaner) but it got to the point in my late-20’s where I was bothering people in the household.
All those years I had to hide it in public and when I relaxed at home and made my laboured breathing obvious e.g. gulping or trying to push air through my nose every few seconds (even while talking) one of the household members remarked on how annoying it was which surprised me because I’d gotten used to it. I thought that was it, I needed something constant to aid because as helpful as the aforementioned methods were/are they’re only so good whilst doing them and for a short while after. Frequently I’d ‘sort myself out’ and then be blocked by the time I got out of the building or to the main road. On a sidenote – interestingly enough despite my issues I’ve never been a snorer but have spent nights listening to the sympathetic, synchronistic snoring of household members who are then joined by cat (and bird) in a strange symphony.
I found out about these mini, portable ozone generators and didn’t have much faith in the idea since I’d tried other air purifiers, fresheners and such with little to no effect but at approx £16-20 each or less in pairs (Amazon/eBay), marketed as safe for household use and low consumption unlike regular generators I thought they were worth a go.
THE GENERATORS IN ACTION
To me they resemble nightlights or baby monitors in size, weight and general look for an appliance. The outer casing is White plastic with an output volume dial on the side which when fully rotated to one side clicks ‘on’ and the opposite direction clicks ‘off’, and then there are two lights on the front in Blue and Purple. I’m guessing that the Blue is more a pretty ode to the colour of ozone gas or to appeal to the ‘pimp my (whatever) crowd’ and the Purple is probably a corona discharge light (these are air-cooled and get warm-hot depending on how long they’ve been on). The Purple is at the base of a small output-hole for the ozone and hence uncovered. When on they make a whirring/blowing sound, it’s not very loud and becomes part of the background noise but at first it’s noticeable.
I’ve found for smallish to medium sized rooms like second bedrooms and box rooms they take approx 10-15 min before I can breathe properly and consistently, in larger lounge/master sized rooms they take approx 20-30min. I actually bought 4 of these and placed one in the kitchen, one in the sitting room, in the hallway and in my bedroom. I’d only use one at a time but the other household members noticed the difference – the air didn’t feel like ‘fresh air’ from being in the countryside say but it was cleaner, more breathable and relaxing so they said I should leave them all on (with intervals) except the kitchen one which we only used after cooking since the kitchen fan wasn’t upto the job. I did turn them off at night though because of the furry and feathery people.
Using them so much probably shortens their lifespan but I did use them consistently for 3 years and they worked well not only improving my overall health and mobility by making breathing easier but in those years I didn’t notice Winter mould and general household smells were reduced so my family and I probably benefitted from the anti bacterial/fungal/viral properties. However I can’t say whether food left out lasted longer or stayed fresher for longer or whether my plants benefited (since they turned out to be humidity lovers and ended up making the bathroom look like a jungle.)
Ultimately I found that I could breathe without pressure, without having to blow my nose every or multiple times an hour and without that persistent sniffling/partial choking sound. The other household incumbents of the non-furry/feathery persuasion found their hayfever didn’t bother them anymore when at home and said paw/talon folk didn’t seem bothered by them.
You shouldn’t really be able to smell the ozone but it is noticeable just after turning it on and if we accidentally put a hand near the Purple output-hole we’d get ‘stung/bitten’. They never burned but the zap and smell showed they were working – just be careful not to put any body parts in front of them when turning on/off or adjusting the output level via the side dial and keep out of reach of very young/curious persons. As for the smell it dissipates quickly.
I had one in the kitchen but away from the food prep areas so as not to get splashed and I only ever wiped them clean, when off, with a dry or slightly damp tissue/cloth. Do not use these in humidity e.g. whilst cooking – moisture affects their performance/lifespan by producing nitric acid (unlike UV based ozone production).
We didn’t have any problems using these with the windows closed and for an hour or more at a time, opening a window would have defeated the purpose imo but we never left them on to the point of feeling oppressive. Bear in mind that we had always lived in heavily urban areas, in blocks of cheap flats, with breathing problems, surrounded by people far more technologically enamoured/disposed giving off noise and radiation pollution all the time so what might seem normal to us may be too much for others. If you ever feel like something bright, noisy or smelly for example is causing stress turn it off, move or ventilate the area if possible.
Ozone is a much more potent oxidant than ‘regular’ oxygen yet we didn’t notice an accelerated deterioration of textural or functional quality from materials/objects immediately surrounding the generators.
THESE ARE NOT IONISERS
Despite what some keen marketers/sellers may say to perhaps alert viewers/potential customers to these generators, they are not ionisers. Ionic air purifiers do produce ozone as a bi-product but they use high voltage to produce positive or negative (generally negative) charged ions and when industrially used – generally to clear some infections and reduce electrostatic buildup. In my home experience they leave the air feeling/tasting sterile and ‘empty’ rather than fresh or clean. Ozonation is produced via attracting an extra oxygen and is a much more thorough sanitization.
ALL IN ALL
I’d say these were a good purchase and helped more than expected, different people will have different results but I’m glad I gave these a try. They are on the lower end of ozone production vs price only making 50mg/h at £15 each yet they were still effective whereas others under £100 range upto roughly 600mg/h so better value but for bigger/airier spaces or to be left on then vacating the area for a bit. Note – output is a more reliable indicator of strength than estimated distance/volume of area the ozone may reach (different locations and conditions will affect that).
Advantages: Anti-bacterial/fungal/viral, Deodoriser, Low output for small spaces, Effective & Efficient, Cheap, Durable.
Disadvantages: Safety concerns, people have different sensitivities, Not for big spaces, Not to be used once space is humid.