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Odors are something that anyone working in industry needs to be aware of. They can quickly get out of hand, making for an unpleasant working environment, upsetting local residents, and even putting public health and safety at risk.
Air fresheners and odor control agents work to remove, mask or neutralize these odors. Each agent contains different active ingredients, and so works in a different way to combat odors — with varying degrees of success. However, as business owners and facility managers become increasingly tuned in to public safety — and to environmental sustainability in the case of applications like pond odor treatment — the need for all-natural odor control agents and non-toxic air fresheners becomes even more acute.
We’ve compiled a list of safe, all-natural air fresheners and industrial odor control solutions to help you make the best choice for your business and your facility. Read on to learn more.
Baking soda has been used as a household odor absorber for many decades, and it also has applications at an industrial odor control level. Its absorbent structure helps the baking soda trap odors and remove them from the air. The soda also works topically, neutralizing acidic spills or contaminations that may be causing the odor’s release. As baking soda is mildly to moderately alkaline — with a pH level of 9 — it is effective in this application.
However, topical applications of odor control substances are difficult to deploy on a broad scale. It may not be cost-effective for businesses to utilize baking soda as their primary line of defense against odors, although it can be applied as a topical backup for other natural, non-toxic forms of odor control.
Charcoal is naturally absorbent, thanks to its structure, and can be used for odor neutralization at a low level. However, this structure can be enhanced, augmenting its odor neutralization power without relying on chemical treatment. Heat treating can create activated charcoal — an extra porous version of charcoal that is more suited to effective odor absorption.
It is important to note that not all activated charcoal will be 100% natural and non-toxic. This is because the activation process can sometimes utilize chemical treatment to achieve the activated structure of the charcoal. It is important to check how the charcoal has been activated before purchase and to discover whether there are any chemicals present on the charcoal itself.
Enzymes are proteins made up of amino acids and are used by organisms, including humans, to break down and neutralize chemicals and other molecular structures. On a biological level, these proteins are used in processes such as digestion and are critical to the function of many different types of organisms.
These properties make enzymes suitable for use as an industrial odor control and neutralization agent. While the enzyme itself does not remove the odor from the air, it does break down and destroy the substance at source, providing a longer-term odor control solution. For immediate odor removal, enzymes can be paired with other control and neutralization agents that can go to work on the particles in the air while the enzymes work on their source.
Enzymes may be a controversial inclusion on a list of non-toxic and natural odor control agents. This is because the proteins work actively and topically to destroy odor-producing substances, which may cause some parties to class them alongside synthetic chemicals and even toxic agents. We have included them here because — if sourced from the right location — enzymes are 100% natural, with no synthetic elements or chemicals. What’s more, enzymes should not be toxic or harmful in most cases.
Salt is another all-natural odor control agent that has been used for many decades — or even centuries. All salts are products of acid + base reactions, bringing together an acidic substance and an alkaline substance to produce something neutral. In most cases, ordinary table salt — or NaCl — is used, and the neutral pH of this substance helps to remove the source of odor when it is applied topically.
But ordinary table salt is not particularly absorbent. If you have examined salt close up using a microscope, you will have seen a largely smooth, crystalline structure similar to that of glass granules or even polished metal. This structure does not easily accept odor particles, which is where treatment comes in.
With treatment, the structure of the salt is altered to create something more porous and absorbent. Similar to the process of activating charcoal, heat or chemicals can be used to treat the salt and achieve this more absorbent structure. If the salt has been treated chemically, some traces of chemicals may be left upon the salt itself. This means you will need to check carefully that the treated NaCl odor control agent is in fact all-natural and non-toxic.
Plant-based oils are natural extracts derived from plant materials and are frequently used as non-toxic air fresheners and odor neutralizers. Unlike other entries on this list, plant-based oils tend to have their own specific odor that serves to mask the less pleasant odors caused by industrial chemicals. The extract will also work to neutralize and remove the odor at the same time.
This means the oil will not immediately result in a “clean” aroma. As a result, plant-based oils are not suitable for every application, particularly for those in which an odor-neutral situation is required swiftly.
Choosing a natural odor control solution
Understanding your aims is important when selecting a non-toxic air freshener or natural odor control solution. If you do not mind adding another more pleasant odor to mask the original scent, something like a plant-based oil might be the most suitable. If you want to achieve topical neutralization quickly, baking soda or activated charcoal may be suitable, while treated salt and enzymes might be better suited to larger-scale applications. Always check to make sure that the specific solution you choose does not contain any residual synthetic chemicals and is an all-natural agent.