We get a lot of mail from readers and customers who are interested in using ozone to purify their water. The problem is, ozone systems tend to be very large and very expensive. Luckily, there are some small point-of-use ozone generators available that offer the same benefits of ozone (disinfection, odor removal, great tasting water) at a fraction of the cost and effort. Before we get into our recommendation, let's talk a little bit about ozone:
Q. What exactly is ozone?
A. Ozone is a pungent gas naturally produced in the Earth’s upper atmosphere by the action of UV sunlight on oxygen molecules. Ozone is manufactured by sending air through a special chamber containing a high-voltage “spark,” which creates a blue plasma corona; it is also produced by sending air through a chamber of ultraviolet light.
Q. Why use ozone in water treatment or purification?
A. Ozone is a powerful oxidizer similar to chlorine. Many of the same benefits we get from chlorinating water (disinfection, oxidation of metals, etc.) are also realized using ozone gas, except that with ozone there is no chemical residual left in the water. Chlorine can also combine with organic material in water to produce toxic compounds, such as trihalomethanes (“THMs”). Because of this, many municipal water utilities have turned to ozone as a way to disinfect with reduced THMs.
Q. Will ozone soften or desalinate water?
A. No, ozone does not soften (remove calcium) or substantially desalinate water. In some cases, with proper contact time, slow aeration, and sufficient settling time, we have seen a 2% to 10% reduction of inorganic minerals due to the effects of coagulation and settling.
Q. Is ozone harmful or toxic?
A. Yes – ozone gas should not be inhaled, and water to be used for household purposes (e.g. drinking, bathing) should be filtered if ozone if present. Ozone gas is very corrosive and should not be used with galvanized piping, copper piping, mild-steel storage tanks, pumps, or pressure tanks unless they are corrosion-proof. However, very-low-output UV Ozone generators can sometimes be used as aeration or re-circulation systems in mild-steel pressure tanks without much corrosion.
Q. Does ozone remove iron or manganese?
A. Ozone does not remove iron or manganese; it changes these elements from a dissolved form to an oxidized particulate form. Once they are oxidized, they can be more easily filtered. In some cases, these metals can settle in a storage tank after ozonation.
Q. Do ozone systems remove bacteria or parasites?
A. Ozone can be used for disinfection and elimination of parasites, but only if there is sufficient contact time with a measurable residual of ozone dissolved in the water. Since this typically requires a contact-column and a more elaborate system, most of our residential installations use ozone as a pre-treatment for iron, manganese, and odors. If bacteria is present, we typically install a UV sterilizer after the water has been ozonated and filtered.
Q. What is the difference between a UV sterilizer, and UV ozone generator?
A. UV Sterilizers are used to disinfect water by allowing the UV rays to shine directly into a passing water stream; UV Ozone generators work by shining the UV rays into air, where a small percentage of the oxygen (O2) in the air is converted into ozone (O3).
As we mentioned, ozone is a supremely effective disinfectant, which is why ozone systems are often desirable in areas with poor water quality and/or underdeveloped water infrastructure. Home ozone systems do require a bit of contact time for the ozone to disinfect water, but require no maintenance, can be powered solely by water, and will fit right onto most faucets, ozonating your water before your eyes. This water can then be used for drinking, or for washing vegetables and fruits, as is commonly the case.
For such household applications, we recommend the Ozone Boy Ozone Generator. It uses a hydro-electric generator, meaning it is self-powered (unlike commercial ozone systems which require large amounts of energy to operate), and has an on/off switch that allows you to control when your water is injected with ozone. Plus, it uses no filters or membranes, meaning there is no maintenance required, and will last for several years or more.
The Ozone Boy represents a breakthrough in ozone systems, bringing the functionality of large-scale, point-of-entry systems to your faucet, without all of the enormous equipment and resultant operating costs. What's more, the Ozone Boy Ozone Generator comes with a 1 year warranty, so you have no reason not to try it out and see the benefits of ozone for yourself!