Exploring the Difference Between Ozone and Hydroxyl for Smoke Damage Cleaning

Cleaning up after a fire is a challenging task, especially when dealing with smoke damage and lingering odors. Ozone and hydroxyl are two popular methods used by professionals to remove smoke odors and restore indoor air quality. In this blog post, we'll dive into the differences between ozone and hydroxyl treatments for smoke damage cleaning, helping you make an informed choice for your restoration needs.

Ozone Treatment:

Ozone, often referred to as O3, is a molecule composed of three oxygen atoms. Ozone generators are used to produce ozone gas, which is released into the affected area to neutralize odors and purify the air. Ozone works by chemically reacting with the odor-causing molecules, breaking them down and eliminating the smell.

Pros of Ozone Treatment:

  1. Effective Odor Removal: Ozone is highly effective in removing tough odors, including smoke smells, mold, and pet odors. It breaks down odor molecules and eliminates them.
  2. Versatile Application: Ozone treatment can be applied to various surfaces and materials, including walls, furniture, carpets, and clothing.
  3. Rapid Results: Ozone treatment typically requires shorter exposure times compared to other methods, often completing the treatment within a day.

Cons of Ozone Treatment:

  1. Health Concerns: Ozone exposure can be harmful to humans and pets. Ozone can irritate the respiratory system and worsen existing health conditions.
  2. Occupancy Restrictions: After ozone treatment, the area needs proper ventilation to remove residual ozone, which means occupants must vacate during the treatment.

Hydroxyl Treatment:

Hydroxyl radicals (OH) are naturally occurring molecules that play a role in the earth's atmosphere's cleaning process. Hydroxyl generators replicate this process by producing hydroxyl radicals in indoor environments. These radicals react with and neutralize odor-causing compounds, breaking them down into harmless components.

Pros of Hydroxyl Treatment:

  1. Safety: Hydroxyl treatment is considered safe for humans, pets, and sensitive materials. It does not produce harmful byproducts or irritate the respiratory system.
  2. Constant Operation: Hydroxyl generators can operate continuously, allowing occupants to remain in the treated area during the process.
  3. Effective Odor Removal: Hydroxyl treatment is effective in eliminating various odors, including smoke, without masking them.

Cons of Hydroxyl Treatment:

  1. Longer Treatment Times: Hydroxyl treatment may require longer exposure times compared to ozone treatment, depending on the severity of the odors.
  2. Equipment Cost: Hydroxyl generators are generally more expensive to purchase or rent compared to ozone generators.

Which Method to Choose?

Choosing between ozone and hydroxyl treatment depends on factors such as the severity of smoke damage, the affected area's size, the presence of occupants, and your budget. If rapid odor removal is essential and occupants can temporarily vacate, ozone treatment might be suitable. On the other hand, if safety, constant occupancy, and a gentle yet effective approach are priorities, hydroxyl treatment could be the better choice.


Ozone and hydroxyl treatments are both effective methods for removing smoke odors and restoring indoor air quality after a fire. Ozone treatment quickly breaks down odor-causing molecules but requires temporary evacuation and can pose health risks. Hydroxyl treatment offers a safer and more continuous approach, suitable for occupied spaces. To determine the best option for your situation, consult with professionals experienced in smoke damage restoration and choose the method that aligns with your needs for odor removal, safety, and effectiveness.