Holidays mean food and fun, shopping and decorations. Family gatherings almost invariably involve food stains of one type or another. Typical holiday stains are fairly easy to remove.
But what do you do when the food burns?
Uh-oh. Removing odors can be a whole lot tougher than stain removal.
One of the most difficult odors to remove is smoke. This is especially true for pipe and cigarette smoke, but it can be completely removed if done properly. In severely contaminated situations, some smell will remain but be detected by only the most sensitive noses.
Even more difficult to remove is smoke odor caused by protein residue from burned foods such as meat or eggs, depending on how deeply the smoke penetrated the walls and crevices of your home.
One of the available professional treatments on the market is using ozone-generating machines. These industrial machines differ from some home air purifiers that also emit ozone to clean the air.
But does ozone really remove odor?
Ozone (O3) is often associated with terms like “activated oxygen” that give the impression that it is healthy. That is not true.
If you use an air purifier that generates ozone to remove food odors, you may unintentionally cause health irritations or, worst-case scenario, health damage. While you probably do not need to be alarmed about this, you must be informed.
If you are thinking of using an air purifier to neutralize burned food odors, we urge you to carefully read the details of the product you own or borrow. If you have a concern, please consult your medical physician.
Ozone can be used safely, but it is a toxic unstable gas that has two types:
- Ground level ozone, which is found in smog, and
- Stratospheric ozone, which protects us from ultraviolet light.
Health effects from exposure from sources like ozone-generating air purifiers vary, but it can cause permanent lung damage. Symptoms from exposure include coughing, chest pain or tightness, and shortness of breath. This can be especially detrimental to those already in poor health or who suffer from asthma.
The FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) has set standards for air purifiers, but these levels do not remove dust and pollen particles from the air. Also, despite advertising claims, they don’t kill contaminants like bacteria and mold.
What happens when they are used is that rather than improving indoor air quality, they can increase air pollution by combining with other chemicals already in the home. Many household cleaners, personal hygiene products, and air fresheners contain terpenes.
Since terpenes give pine and citrus oils their fragrance, you’d think that would be all good. Who doesn’t love the fresh clean smell they leave? When terpenes combine with ozone, though, they can form products that cause dangerous reactions such as formaldehyde.
So, what are you supposed to do to get rid of odors caused by cooking gone bad?
The safest way is to avoid them. But when it’s too late, use an exhaust fan and open windows. Depending on the severity of the smoke caused by the burned food, you may need to clean ceilings, walls, cabinetry, carpets, and furniture.
If this doesn’t clear the air, you may want to get an opinion from a professional odor remediation specialist. Let us know if you need a recommendation.