Ozone Vs. Hydroxyl: Which Technology Is Best?

Hydroxyl generators and ozone machines are the go-to methods for odor removal in building restoration. Both attack the source of odors by altering their molecular structure, making ozone and hydroxyl very effective at eliminating odors. However, the two utilize very different technologies, begging the question–which is best?

Understanding the Technologies

Ozone Machines

Ozone machines generate ozone (O3), a highly reactive molecule of three oxygen atoms. Ozone effectively eliminates odors and destroys organic contaminants by oxidizing them. It penetrates porous materials and reaches areas where conventional cleaning methods might not, making it a popular choice for odor removal in buildings affected by fire, smoke, or water damage.

Hydroxyl Generators

On the other hand, hydroxyl generators use a different approach. They produce hydroxyl radicals (OH•), powerful oxidizing agents formed naturally in the atmosphere. Hydroxyl radicals react with and neutralize odors, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), bacteria, viruses, and mold spores, without leaving any harmful residues. Unlike ozone, hydroxyl generators are safe for use in occupied spaces, offering continuous odor elimination without evacuation. The hydroxyls can also penetrate porous material and help eliminate odors within the contents.

Comparing Effectiveness and Efficiency

Ozone Machines

Ozone machines are known for their rapid odor-elimination capabilities. They can effectively neutralize strong odors in a relatively short time due to ozone’s ability to build up quickly in an environment. However, ozone machines cannot be used in occupied areas, as they harm people, pets, and plants. Additionally, ozone can damage certain materials, including rubber, plastic, fabric, paints, and metals. 

Hydroxyl Generators

Hydroxyl generators provide a more gradual but continuous odor-removal process. Hydroxyls are more reactive than ozone, which allows them to break down a more comprehensive range of odors and pathogens, including odors, VOCs, bacteria, and mold spores. While it may take longer for hydroxyl generators to achieve similar results as ozone machines, they offer the advantage of being safe for use in occupied areas, allowing for continuous operation without disrupting daily activities. Hydroxyl generators also don’t leave a chemical-like residual smell like ozone machines. 

Safety Considerations

Ozone Machines

One of the primary concerns with ozone machines is their potential health hazards. High levels of ozone can harm humans and pets, causing respiratory issues and other health problems. For this reason, proper safety precautions, including evacuation of the treated area during operation and adequate ventilation afterward, are essential when using ozone machines.

Hydroxyl Generators

Hydroxyl generators, on the other hand, are considered much safer for use in occupied spaces. Since they produce hydroxyl radicals naturally found in the atmosphere, they pose no health risks to humans or pets. This makes them ideal for use in homes, offices, hospitals, and other occupied areas.

Ozone & Hydroxyls for Restoration

Ozone Machines

Ozone machines are particularly effective in situations where strong odors need to be quickly eliminated, such as after fire or flood damage. However, due to safety concerns, their use may be limited in occupied spaces.

Hydroxyl Generators

Hydroxyl generators are versatile and appropriate for a wide range of restoration scenarios. Their ability to safely operate in occupied areas makes them ideal for continuous purification and odor control in homes, offices, hotels, hospitals, and other commercial spaces.

Both ozone machines and hydroxyl generators have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to eliminating odors. While ozone machines offer rapid odor elimination, they come with safety concerns and limitations in occupied spaces. Hydroxyl generators, on the other hand, can take longer to remove odors but do so without compromising safety or damaging surrounding contents.

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