Ozonated water, bleach, and hydrogen peroxide are three oxidizing agents useful for disinfection, odor control, color removal, water treatment, food preparation, and more. Bleach and hydrogen peroxide are common, low cost household items, but you will never find a gallon of ozonated water in the store even though it has many superior qualities. Equipment can be purchased to make a gallon of aqueous ozone, but how does the price compare to hydrogen peroxide or bleach? Let’s figure it out.
Oxidizers pack stored up molecular energy that breaks apart odor and color molecules. The energy is released on contact and physically disables or destroys microorganisms and viruses. Bleach, a combination of chlorine and oxygen, is valuable because it is stable and will oxidize over a long length of time. Hydrogen Peroxide, a water molecule with one extra oxygen atom, can also be stored and its oxidizing power applied when needed. Ozone molecules combining 3 atoms of oxygen are dissolved in water to produce ozonated water,, better known as aqueous ozone. The ozone immediately reacts with any contaminants in the water and breaks down to oxygen over a matter of minutes.
Oxidizers are very useful for solving everyday problems. You can find a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide in most households, and barrels of 35-50% peroxide in many different industries. Even more common is a gallon of bleach. The power and value of oxygen is well-known, and the convenience of having this power in a jug of hydrogen peroxide or bleach is very attractive. A gallon of aqueous ozone also contains this oxidating power, and its uses are diverse and growing. You will not find a gallon of ozonated water for sale because it has a shelf life of minutes. It is highly reactive and therefore quickly dissipates back to oxygen within a matter of minutes. The only way to get this powerful tool is to make it as needed with electricity.
Before discussing the equipment needed to ozonate water, we will explore some of the ways it can be used. Ozone dissolved in water has been used for over 100 years in large scale industrial settings, but a growing number of people are discovering the value of ozonated water in smaller applications. The demand for environmentally friendly and healthy solutions to problems is driving the demand for ozonated water and the technology to provide it.
Bacteria and mold is an age-old problem for food preparation and storage. Aqueous ozone provides an attractive alternative to chemicals that may alter taste or lead to health problems. Aqueous ozone has the power to destroy bacteria as well as improve taste, smell, and appearance of many foods. A gallon of aqueous ozone can
1) Rinse a bushel of cranberries to prevent a 20% loss due to mold
2) Extend the shelf life of 20 pounds of fresh fish
3) Make 10 gallons of freshwater safe to drink
4) Provide a Log 3 reduction in bacteria count on three butchered chickens
5) Disinfect a wine carboy
6) Disinfect food preparation equipment
7) Disinfect cow udders before or after milking
Ozone will enhance the value of polluted water by helping to remove many contaminants. Ozone dissolved into a gallon of polluted water has the power to
1) Remove discoloration
2) Oxidize dissolved iron for filtration
3) Clean aquaculture water
4) Lower the chemical cost of cooling tower operation
5) Wash clothes in cold water.
6) Treat a pool or spa.
7) Remove pathogens and add oxygen for hydroponics.
This list only scratches the surface of possibilities. Many of the uses people have found for hydrogen peroxide can be accomplished with aqueous ozone. While the convenience of stored oxidative power is attractive, there are also advantages to having this power on tap. An ozone water system makes this possible, and the value may be surprising.
This brings me back to the question: how much would you pay for a gallon of ozonated water? Let’s suppose you were willing to pay somewhere between the $0.02 for bleach or $3 for the hydrogen peroxide option … $1 a gallon. Our OXS-10 ozonated water system can produce about 10 gallons of 3 ppm ozonated water per minute. At that rate, it would make 600 gallons an hour, or a value of $14,000 per day. Even at $0.05 a gallon, an OXS-10 system generates a value of $700 per day.
If you did not need that much aqueous ozone, and just wanted a few gallons to rinse produce for your family or wash clothes, some different options are available. The simplest way to prepare some ozonated water is to use a small ozone generator and a bubble stone. Bubbling ozone in a gallon of water using a small ozone generator can dissolve some ozone in water, but it is not very efficient and is difficult to attain 2 ppm without dealing with significant off-gas. Even so, many people do this and are happy with the results.
Electrolytic devices are under development and available to provide up to 2 ppm aqueous ozone from a handheld spray bottle or from a kitchen tap. They generate ozone directly from water by running an electric current to special electrodes in the water. Electrolytic devices are convenient, but over time the electrodes get fouled with minerals and ozone output levels decline. Regular cleaning with a vinegar solution restores their function.
The SB-100 spray bottle is a convenient way to apply a spray of ozonated water over a kitchen counter or for rinsing produce. When used with clean water and given a regular vinegar rinse, the spray bottle will provide 1000-2000 hours of use. It sprays 1/2 a cup of ozonated water a minute at up to 2ppm concentration. That would be 30 cups an hour or about 2 gallons an hour. Over its expected life, it will provide up to 4000 gallons of ozonated water. With a price tag of $499, the cost of a gallon of ozonated water from the convenience of a spray bottle comes to between $0.12 and $0.25.
Another option is a small battery powered pen-sized device – the O-Pen which provides a convenient way to disinfect a 16-ounce glass of water in one minute. This is equivalent to 960 ounces or 7.5 gallons per hour. Over its expected life, it has the capacity to ozonate 7500 to 15,000 gallons of water. The O-pen can be purchased for $150, so the cost of a gallon of ozonated water comes to $0.02 to $0.01 per gallon.
The OZO-Pod is capable of bringing a gallon of water up to 2-3ppm within a minute. At $189, this device is capable of providing a gallon of ozonated water at less than a penny a gallon.
Electrolytic devices provide a very simple and convenient means for making small amounts of ozonated water. They are prone, however, to fouling problems if the water quality is poor. The most reliable, long-term equipment for producing larger amounts of ozonated water consists of a high concentration ozone generator supplied with dry air or an oxygen concentrator and an injection venturi with off-gas tank. Most hot tubs have a small ozone generator with a venturi built into the circulation plumbing. A variety of options using this technology are available for home laundry applications as well.
The WT-4 ozone water system can produce 300 gallons of 1-2 ppm water for pennies a gallon over its expected life. Our industrial line of ozone water systems (OST series, OXS series, ISX series) are capable of providing much higher concentrations of dissolved ozone if needed. The ISX system can provide up to 500 gallons per minute. We also provide service and larger equipment for municipal water treatment plants.
At a penny a gallon, making 500 gallons of aqueous ozone a minute generates a value of at least $300 an hour and breaks a million dollars in value after only 5 months of operation. Hydrogen peroxide and Clorox have their place, but ozonated water is a very competitive option to supplement or replace these oxidants.
In summary, the base price for a gallon of aqueous ozone is anywhere between $0.01 and $0.25 depending on the type of equipment used. In general, a lower initial cost of small equipment will mean a larger price per gallon because it makes less ozone and doesn’t last as long. Top quality industrial equipment will be expensive, but will make large quantities of aqueous ozone and last a long time.
The actual cost of a gallon of aqueous ozone needs to include the cost of a gallon of potable water and maintenance costs for the machine. The average price for a gallon of potable water is $0.01. Even if the spray bottle at $0.25 a gallon only lasted half its expected life, you could have gallons of aqueous ozone for under $1 a gallon. Maintenance and time spent on larger machines would at the most double the cost of aqueous ozone and still be only pennies a gallon.
We can make a better price comparison to hydrogen peroxide and bleach if we dilute the typical 3% peroxide to 1%. This would have similar oxidizing power to 3ppm aqueous ozone. We can make a 100 ppm bleach solution to get an equivalent for bleach. Doing this we have the following table for comparison:
1 Gallon of 1% hydrogen peroxide $3
1 Gallon of 3 ppm ozonated water – $0.03 – $0.25
1 Gallon of 100ppm bleach solution – $0.02