Ozone generators are the core of ozone therapy and there are many types of machines to choose from with a lot of different names and terminology. This article is meant to boil down some of those terms and clear up the confusion.
A quick history of ozone generators
The first ozone generators are considered to have been created by Werner von Siemens in 1857. By 1870, Dr. C. Lender was using ozone to purify blood in test tubes. Dr. John Kellogg started using ozone steam saunas in Michigan in 1880 and the first water treatment facility to use ozone was built in Holland in 1893.
Famed inventor Nikola Tesla patented his ozone generator in 1896 and started selling machines and ozonated olive oil to doctors in the early 1900s. At the same time, Dr. S.R. Beckwith was using his Thermo-Ozone Generator to treat diseases. 1957 saw the patent of Dr. J. Hansler’s ozone generator that helped create a basis for ozone in Germany. Over 8000 German doctors use it today.
Ozone therapy is seeing a dedicated resurgence in popularity today that has lead to the creation of a number of generators that range widely in terms of noise, ozone creation, ozone destruction through heat and more.
Methods of ozone creation
Ozone can be made in a variety of ways but many ozone generators primarily use one of these methods: electrochemical, ultraviolet radiation, cold plasma and corona discharge. Others use cold ozone production, an advanced corona discharge method, which has a number of advantages. Here is a quick rundown of each method.
Electrochemical: Typically, an electrical current is applied in an electrolytic solution of water and high electronegative anions. At the anode a mix of oxygen and ozone is created. You don’t find many of these in ozone therapy circles.
Ultraviolet radiation: Ozone is created naturally in the air when oxygen meets ultraviolet rays. The same applies in machines using this method, as oxygen is bombarded with ultraviolet.
Cold plasma: You don’t see a lot of cold plasma ozone generators on the market for ozone therapy because they produce very little ozone in comparison to a corona discharge ozone generator and you cannot adjust the strength of the ozone. Adjustable ozone strength is crucial when performing ozone therapy.
Corona discharge: Corona discharge is the most commonly used ozone production method for therapeutic purposes. With corona ozone generators you are able to adjust the frequency of the ozone. This means if you are looking for desired ozone strength at a precise flow rate chances are you will probably get what you are looking for.
Cold corona discharge: Corona discharge ozone generators have come a long way. They have become more efficient and when properly engineered produce virtually no heat. Also known as cold ozone production or cold spark technology, cold corona discharge is what the most modern generators use.
Besides the method of creating ozone, these machines have a number of other differences that you’ll need to consider.
Glass vs. ceramic ozone cells
Glass and ceramic are two of the most popular materials for good ozone cells. Glass cells have disadvantages in that they are very temperamental and are subject to burnout over time. For that reason alone many companies are changing to ceramic cells. Ceramic is just as ozone resistant as glass and does not create contaminates. Washable cells are a big plus because, if a cell accidentally gets dirty, wet or oily, washable cells don’t need to be replaced, potentially saving a lot of money.
How many cells do you need?
There really isn’t any controversy when it comes to the number of ozone cells. If you’ve heard that a second cell will destroy ozone, you’ve heard a myth. All large commercial and industrial ozone generators use multiple cells because a single cell unit would get way too hot and can be very noisy. There are many advantages to having a multiple cell unit and no advantages to having a single cell unit.
Dealing with voltage
The great thing about ozone is that you don’t have to have extremely high voltages to create it. A properly constructed machine can produce ultra pure ozone on only 12 volts. Units operating on 120 volts require special certification for shipping overseas. Lower voltages are just as effective and safer for the user.
If you are overseas or plan to go overseas with an ozone generator, you’ll be much happier if the unit has universal voltage. This would allow you to use it anywhere as long as you have the right country plug, without the need to buy a separate step-down transformer.
Noise and heat in ozone generation
Noise and heat are the leading causes of complaints with some ozone generators. A high voltage, single cell unit has the potential to create a lot of heat and annoying sounds. Heat destroys ozone and units that create a lot of heat have to have noisy cooling fans or some other coolant to keep the ozone stable (to varying degrees of success). A unit with efficient ozone cells and low voltage will create the ozone you want without the noise or excess temperatures. These are especially ideal when doing insufflations. Be careful of companies that claim their machines don’t create heat but install cooling fans inside. If there is no heat, there is no need for a fan.
Gamma ranges and how much is too much
Some companies will trumpet high gamma levels as a leading reason to buy their machine. Research from Russia has shown that gamma concentrations in the high 90s and higher are detrimental to human health. The ideal range for typical ozone therapy, therefore, would be mid 90s and lower.
Why where and how a machine is made is important
There is a growing desire for ozone generators that are made in the United States. There are good reasons for that. Some Chinese-made machines lack quality control and may not do what they’re supposed to do. Companies that make their machines in their own country are more likely to have some or complete control over the process.
You’ll also want to make sure you buy from a company that provides a good warranty and support. You don’t want one that sells a machine and then won’t offer even basic support. A toll free number is also helpful for your bottom line, and several companies have one.
You might also want to consider how much input a company actually has in the creation of their machines. It is easy to buy units from a business that makes ozone equipment and resell them as your own, but if someone designs a unit personally and oversees the manufacturing, that person is more likely to be able to assist you with using the unit and any potential troubleshooting.
The key factors in choosing an ozone generator
For the most options, best ozone creation and best support, look for the following:
- Cold ozone production
- More than one ceramic ozone cell
- Universal voltage
- Low voltages used in the actual ozone creation
- No excess heat production or need for cooling fans
- Made in the USA
- A good warranty and support options