Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Get the funk out

November 12, 2008

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the November 2003 issue of Professional Carashing & Detailing. If you have an technician’s tip or article you would like to submit, please e-mail Editor Kate Carr.

Ronald G. Fink

Ozone is well known for its ability to destroy car odors. It is also noted for a variety of other uses including food sanitation, flood and fire restoration, water and air purification, and laundering.

Ozone is a reactive gas that cannot be stored and is revered in the car care industry for its unique ability to not only cover up car odors, but to destroy them.

Creating ozone

There are two methods of generating ozone

The Corona Discharge (CD) method;

Ultraviolet Light (UV).

In nature, ozone is created by lightning from thunderstorms and from the sun's UV energy. Both the CD and UV methods simulate Mother Nature's processes to create ozone. The CD method simulates lightning, and a UV lamp simulates the sun.

When a high concentration of ozone is required, the CD method is most commonly used, such as in water purification. UV is usually used when a high volume of low concentration is preferred, such as air treatment for cars.

Proceed with caution

Auto interior air treatment is best served with a low concentration UV system, as ozone will oxidize rubber and some vinyl or leather, which could be disastrous.

CD Systems without expensive oxygen generators tend to make Nitric Acid or Oxide, which is not good for interiors.

There have been cases where people have turned on a CD ozone unit in the garage overnight and the ozone levels get up to 5 ppm and above, which is well beyond the human and rubber tolerance level.

The next morning revealed four flat tires, ruined hoses and fan belts. Accordingly, care should be taken when dealing with high concentration systems. Ozone can be used effectively and safely with a little knowledge and common sense.

1. Do not use more than is needed.

Use a generator that cannot generate high concentrations. This will inhibit the possibility of expensive accidents with interiors.

2. Remove the source of the odor.

If possible, clean the carpet to get as much of the contaminant out of the car.

3. Run the air conditioning fan.

This will allow the gases can get into the A/C ducts and coil where mold is likely to grow. Mold combined with cigarette smoke is a car interior's worst nightmare.

Repetition is necessary

A good auto interior odor control program should be ongoing.

A tunnel wash often employs the use of a mobile generator, which simply plugs into the cigarette lighter. The unit can operate as the unattended car is traveling through the tunnel. A short five to 10 minute treatment will give most cars a fresh, clean odor.

A safe, short treatment will not permanently cure a car of all odors, but it will last a week, just in time for another wash and interior treatment.

Making scents

Scent engineering is the study of olfactory persuasion. It has been proven that certain scents promote specific responses, such as happy, trusting, and concentration scents.

The problem with scent engineering is what smells great to one person may not to the next. For example, a floral scent may make you happy but remind your passenger of a funeral.

In addition, you have the potential of allergies; perhaps a non-scent engineer would be a safer route to go. The absence of any scent would most likely not offend anyone.

Ronald G. Fink is the president of RGF Environmental Group and has authored over 70 published technical papers and has a 30-year background in nuclear power, air, water and food purification systems.