Ozone In The Garden

A guide to using ozone in your garden
What is Ozone? Ozone (O3) is a form of oxygen. It is a natural and highly reactive gas composed of three oxygen atoms. It is a powerful disinfectant and odor eliminator used by greenhouses and growing environments all over the world.

Welcome to our guide on ozone in the garden. This page is under construction, please check back here soon for expanded sections on using ozone in a variety of different applications.

Mite control/Insects/Pest Management

Mite control/Insects/Pest Management

At high concentrations ozone kills spider mites (including eggs) and most other insects. If you previously had a mite outbreak in your room, remove your plants and leave the BIG BLUE plugged in overnight. Unlike chemical sprays, ozone will permeate through everything in your room, and leave nothing behind except pure oxygen.

Spider mites cannot become resistant to ozone, unlike the resistance they have built up to many pesticides. You can repeat treatments in necessary until they are gone. Just make sure to remove plants or perform the treatment between crops, as high ozone concentrations will make them very unhappy!

Powdery Mildew / Mold / Botrytis

Powdery Mildew / Mold / Botrytis

Ozone oxidizes Powdery Mildew in the air and on surfaces. It destroys mold on contact. If you’ve had an outbreak of grey mold you know it’s no joke. It can live behind wall-coverings and in tiny places you’ll never be able to clean properly or get wet (like the electronics in your ballast).

Run the Big Blue for a few hours to disinfect your room between grows. Wash down everything you can with an organic cleanser to remove as much “gunk” from surfaces. Then close all vents and run the Big Blue on a timer for a couple of hours. You can turn on your oscillating fans to help the ozone disperse.

Using ozone between grows

Using ozone between grows

Clean and disinfect your grow room between crops. Ozone will disinfect surfaces and will help your plants achieve their full potential. Common plant diseases like PM are easy to treat with fungicides if you catch them early and often enough. Once they’ve established in the stomata no amount of spraying will fully eradicate the issue. Using a BB between grows will go a long way towards effective management of fungal diseases. 

Plants are affected by bacteria and viruses too. Using a BB to disinfect your space will eliminate a significant amount of them. You can disinfect items like meters and scissors by leaving them in your grow space to be saturated with ozone.

Cultivation & Ozone

How does ozone work?

Ozone is oxygen, just like the oxygen in normal every day air. While the oxygen we breathe is O2 and is composed of two oxygen molecules, ozone is O3 and comprises three oxygen molecules. Ozone is HIGHLY reactive. The O3 molecule is not stable in the presence of normal oxygen – it really wants to give up it’s 3rd oxygen molecule. When ozone comes in contact with organic compounds such as odor molecules, pollutants, mold, mildew and viruses (and many other unpleasant things) it reacts molecularly with the substance. This process is called oxidation. You may have heard this term applied to products such as bleach, laundry detergent and even toothpaste. Ozone smells similar to pool chlorine (another potent oxidizer). This oxidizing reaction is quick, and in the process the ozone gives up one of its oxygen atoms and degrades back into O2.

The only element left over from this process is pure oxygen (O2), which makes it perfect for treating everything from odors, insects and powdery mildew in a grow room, to killing viruses and bacteria (coronavirus, the common flu virus, Staph, C. Diff, etc.) in residential and commercial environments.

Instead of spraying chemicals that can leave residuals on surfaces that may be harmful to people and pets as well as the objects you’re spraying (food and food surfaces, appliances, keyboards, drapes, etc.) it leaves behind only pure oxygen! Ozone saturates everything in your room; it saturates objects left in your area and even gets behind wall coverings!

Oxidization

Oxygen is an element vital to the biology of most advanced lifeforms. Without it our cells would not be able to produce energy. We have evolved to need it. We do not breathe oxygen in the form of single atoms, the oxygen we breathe is O2 (molecular oxygen). Molecular oxygen consists of two oxygen atoms bonded together. We almost never see single atoms of oxygen in nature. Single atoms of oxygen are actually very toxic to all life forms. In nature we almost never come into contact with single atoms of oxygen, the reason being that single atoms of oxygen have two unpaired electrons. These atoms want to rip the electrons off anything they can find. Chemists call this process oxidation. It’s the same chemical reaction that chlorine uses to kill bacteria in swimming pools. In our case the BIG BLUE’s lamps produce light that carries enough energy to split the O2 found in normal air into individual atoms. A percentage of these atoms bond together in to O2 and a smaller percentage bond in to O3. O3 has the same problem that a single atom of oxygen has – it wants to swipe electrons from other molecules. This oxidization process is toxic to all forms of life. It disrupts the cell wall and simply rips it apart; its membrane stops functioning. Molecules cannot transfer through this membrane and parts of the cell can leak through the disrupted cell wall. Oxidization can affect important structures in the cell such as DNA and cellular enzymes as well.

Chemists call this process oxidation. It’s the same chemical reaction that chlorine uses to kill bacteria in swimming pools. In our case the BIG BLUE’s lamp produces light that carries enough energy in it to split the O2 found in normal air in to individual atoms.

Where does ozone come from and how is it made?

In nature ozone is most commonly created in two ways.

The first is when oxygen in the air is exposed to high intensity ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. The “ozone layer” resides miles above the Earth’s surface, and this ozone reduces the amount of harmful UV radiation that reaches us.

The second is when oxygen is exposed to a high voltage electric arc, such as lightning.

Commercial ozone generation systems typically produce ozone in one of two ways.

The first is corona discharge. Think of it as man-made lighting. Corona discharge systems rely on an electrical arc passing through a substrate/catalyst. They work well; however, they require frequent maintenance. They also require very clean, dry air. Environments with just a small amount of humidity degrade performance considerably. Corona discharge units also produce a considerable amount of heat, which then needs to be removed from the area.

The second most common type of ozone generators use special UV lamps that can produce ozone. UV lamps are like other light bulbs – they produce light in a certain spectrum. Indoor plant growers use light bulbs that produce light of different wavelengths, usually a reddish light for blooming plants and a whitish or bluish light for vegetative plants. The color of the light output corresponds to the amount of energy that is in each photon. Just like there are different types of visible light, there are different types of UV light. Our proprietary bulbs produce two spectrums of UV light, at 185nm and 254nm. When an unshielded bulb produces at under 240nm, ozone is produced. Light at this frequency is so energetic that it breaks the bonds of oxygen molecules in air. These free oxygen molecules recombine to form O3 (ozone).

Not all germicidal UV lamps produce ozone. When a UV lamp operates at under 240nm it produces ozone. In fact, most UV lamps have a coating to prevent ozone from being produced. Our lamps are tuned for the “far” UV (or “vacuum” UV) spectrum and produce an output measurable at 185nm.

UV ozone generators are better because they are more reliable and have a longer lifespan. Corona discharge units have a higher failure rate, and once they’re done you have to throw out the entire generator and purchase a new one. UV ballasts last for years and years and are inexpensive to replace. Lamps are easy and relatively inexpensive to replace, and when you do replace a set of lamps you essentially have a brand new unit (full UV/ozone output again). UV lamps provide a constant output; no “shot bursts” like corona discharge.

Top Frequently Asked Questions About Cultivation

In our city (Houston, TX) we already have high ozone days that instigate warnings for respiratory health. If I am using ozone in my indoor garden, will this increase my health risk?

As you know, ozone is the most dangerous component of smog. This ozone is created when the sun reacts with hydrocarbons (the major component of smog) in the atmosphere. Ozone can be very harmful if you are asthmatic or have allergies. You are also probably aware that ozone is extremely unstable. The measurement of ozone in cities is taken out of doors. If the same measurements were taken inside your home (with the HVAC running and the windows open) it would only be 1/10th of the outside measurement. Also many of the machines that we have in our homes (i.e. laser printers or copiers) can produce harmful levels of ozone for some people! If you have these conditions Blue Air Products would never recommend that you use our products while you are in your enclosed hydroponic garden. When you are using the BIG BLUE to sterilize your grow space between harvest and planting, it should be run on a timer or be turned at least 30 minutes before you re-enter the enclosed garden. This time allows the unstable ozone molecules to revert back to harmless oxygen.

What size fan should I use if I want to use the BIG BLUE in an exhaust system for odor control?

Sizing a fan for the BIG BLUE isn’t like sizing for a carbon filter. Fan size and the CFM rating are not the variables you need to account for. Contact time is the important variable. If you have a 5 CFM fan blowing through a BIG BLUE then you’ll have more contact time for the UV light to kill malodors vs having a 500 CFM fan blow through the same unit. This is more related to the number of air exchanges in a given period you desire for proper plant transpiration. It is not a question of what is best for odor elimination. It is best to use the lowest cfm fan available to accomplish this exchange. Watch this video. BIG BLUE ozonators come in varying diameters from 4 to 12 inches. The larger diameters are not only designed to fit your existing ventilation ducting but also ever higher fan volumes. In other words the 12 inch BIG BLUE will handle more cfm than the 4 inch.

I am about to purchase your 8″ model. I have read somewhere that the life span of the bulb is only 14-18 months. If this is true, how much are the replacements? Please tell me all about the maintenance of the bulbs and anything that might need changing.

The total life of the lamp (depending on the manufacturing quality and all in use conditions being optimal) is about 18 months of continuous use (to know more, click here for the video). Understand that an old Ultra Violet lamp is much like an old MH lamp – the light may be on, but its growing potential has long since perished. From about the 12th month the ozone output begins to decrease until the 18th month and then you probably will smell very little ozone. It is best to err on the side of caution when replacing the bulbs. Therefore our recommendation is usually 14 to 18 months for replacement.

With the 8 inch BIG BLUE you have 3 bulbs. Unless you’ve undersized for the application, it is unlikely you will have all bulbs working all the same time. In other words you may only have one bulb burning for the first quarter of the growth cycle and then add lamps as the growth and odor increase. Therefore, you would not have to replace all the bulbs at the same time. If you are very serious about your garden maintenance you could date the times for each lamp and buy replacements as needed. The replacement cost as of 03/20 is approximately $50 per lamp. As for maintenance at the end of each grow cycle, it might be prudent to clean the inside reflective surfaces of your BIG BLUE. The polished surface almost doubles the effectiveness of the UV lamps. Also wipe down the bulbs as dust, oils, and fingerprints can negatively affect their performance.