Odor Be-Gone

Many people believe that removing smoke or soot odor is very hard or next to impossible. However, we at RESTORx have found that, with the right training, tools, and experience, we can be extremely effective at removing odors. There are several processes that will remove odors, read on to learn more.

Adsorbents:

Adsorbent refers to the property of a substance to adsorb something on its surface by chemical attraction, instead of throughout its interior. Basically baking soda vs. a sponge. Adsorbents are very effective in the odor removal industry. One of the most effective products is activated carbon. Activated carbon is a substance created by a controlled process of heating and cooling wood. Activated carbon has many pores on its surface which are able to adsorb large quantities of odor compounds. Just 1 pound of activated carbon has 5,000,000 million square feet of adsorption area!

Activated carbon is good at trapping other carbon-based impurities (organic chemicals).  However, many other chemicals are not attracted to carbon, like sodium and nitrates, so they pass right through the carbon. This means that an activated charcoal filter will remove certain impurities, but will be highly ineffective with others. Once all of the bonding sites are filled, an activated charcoal filter stops working. At that point, the filter must be replaced.

Neutralization:

Neutralization refers to the chemical property of pH, the characteristic of compounds to have an acidic or alkaline composition. pH actually refers to the relative concentration of hydrogen ions in distilled water. Low pH corresponds to high hydrogen ion concentration and vice versa. A substance that when added to water increases the concentration of hydrogen ions (lowers the pH) is called an acid. A substance that reduces the concentration of hydrogen ions (raises the pH) is called a base.

Compounds may be neutralized by first analyzing the compound’s pH, and then applying a chemical with the opposite value pH to make the overall pH 7. If you were trying to neutralize urine (an acid with the pH of 6), you would need to apply an equal amount of a base chemical with a pH value of 8 (such as seawater). The application of sodium bicarbonate will effectively neutralize the odor liberated from an acid spill.

However, neutralization is only effective when the compound is accessible and has a pH. Many times an odor producing compound is neither accessible or has a pH, and therefore this technique cannot be used.


Oxidation:
 

Webster’s defines oxidation as “the combination of a substance with oxygen.” Nowadays this has a broader meaning and includes reactions not involving oxygen. Most compounds are susceptible to oxidation, according to their oxidation number, which leads to a chemical change. In many materials, this can lead to a decomposition of the odor creating substance, removing the odor.

Biocides:

Biocides are materials which kill or inhibit the growth of micro-organisms. Most molds, mildews and yeasts create their own odor (actually technically a myco-toxin, which is harmful to other
molds and indeed life). When the mold is killed, it will stop producing these myco-toxins. However, it is important to note that dead mold spores are just as dangerous as live ones. So just killing the mold isn’t all that is required.

Counteraction:

Literally means “to work against,” is most often used when there are a combination of offensive odors, referred to as complex odors. Odors caused by decomposition and other biological processes, and also smoke odor, can be highly complex and require 2 or more of the above techniques for effective odor removal.


Bio-enzymatic Digestion:

This is a process where genetically engineered bacteria and enzymes consume the odor producing material. These can only be used on organic matter, such as animal feces and fuel oil. Bio-enzymes are used throughout the human body to facilitate digestion, especially in the upper and lower intestines.

In order for something to be smelled, it must meet the following criteria:

  1. It must be a highly volatile material, such as something being cooked. This increases the rate of which the vapor is given off by the substance.
  2. The odor bearing molecules must be soluble in water, even to a minuscule degree.  If it is not water soluble, it will never reach the smell receptors in the nose as they are covered in a watery film.
  3. The odor bearing molecules must be usually absent from the nasal tissue.  If they weren’t, the person would soon get used to them, and they wouldn’t smell them anymore.