What are odours and what causes them?

An odour is the interpretation that our brain makes of the interaction between certain gaseous molecules and the tissue inside our noses. It is the brain which tells us if it is good or bad. Odour is, thus, subjective. Different persons have different sensitivities (they perceive more or less) and there is also a strong cultural impact: different cultures have different tastes.

The most frequent odors found in everyday life are caused by molecules belonging to 3 main groups:

  • Ammonia (NH3) and Amines (R-NH2, R-NH-R, R3-N). Some examples are: urine, fish, rotten fish, tobacco, and cadaverine.
  • Hidrogen sulfide (H2S) and Mercaptanes (R-SH, R-S-R). Some examples are: rotten eggs, cabbage, human odour, rotten food, and organic decomposition.
  • Fatty acids (R-COOH). It is a very wide group that includes: deep fried, cheese, vomit, vinegar, and pets.

Many other odours are caused by mixtures of these three, such as sewer or garbage.

What do bad odours have in common?

Essentially, nothing.

The three groups have very different:

  • chemical properties
  • size
  • geometry

Even within the groups. The smell of fish is caused by amines (big molecules), but the smell of rotten fish is caused by ammonia (tiny molecule). And if we start looking at other groups of malodorous molecules, the dispersion is even bigger.

What is the difference between air fresheners and neutralisers?

Air fresheners are the most extended solution for indoors. They work by overlaying themselves above existing smells. So, if the amount of smell to overcome is small, they will work. Otherwise, you get a really foul smell
They may only be effective as long as the perfume is in the air. Once the molecules fall to the ground, the effect disappears

As opposed to this, an odour neutralizer will react with foul smelling molecules. And once the reaction is complete, you get a neutral odour (or more likely a soft scent). The neutralisation eliminates the bad odour problem permanently, as long as no additional foul smelling molecules are added.

What other solutions are there on the market?

Forced ventilation: refreshes the air but does not eliminate all bad odours (i.e. adhered to the textile surfaces). It is an expensive system to install and operate (high energy consumption).

Ozone: it is effective in eliminating bad odours , but dangerous to people and environment. There are severe limitations for its use.

Particle filters: good system, it removes certain particles but not all odour causing molecules as it requires for all air to pass through its filter system. It is expensive and will not affect molecules attached to textiles.

How do neutralisers work?

Odours can be chemically neutralised by emitting to the air active molecules that react with the malodorous molecules. The resulting molecules have no odour for us. This reaction takes place in gaseous phase, so the products start reacting in seconds. Depending on the amount of odour to neutralize, it will take more or less time for it to be completely eliminated.

Is it possible to find a “universal” chemical neutraliser?

Not possible.

Odours are caused by very different chemical groups. So you simply cannot have a single molecule that reacts with all of them. Chemistry will not allow it. So you have to use specific molecules to attack specific odours.
In fact, odours are seldom “pure”. Therefore we are usually subjected to mixtures of compounds that are addressed to diverse groups of molecules.

The only molecule that will destroy any odour is Ozone. It will oxydise almost anything. Of couse, the downside is that it will also react with your lungs and with your electrical installation. That is why its use in human environments is highly regulated (and in some countries, forbidden).

Why should I use Air.Furniture instead of any other solution available in the market?

We do Science. We have developed a range of formulas to target specific bad odour problems. We know that “one size fits all” technology does not work.
We use a solid product, which is very user-friendly. The products you find in the market are usually liquid-based. And that is not simple to use. Spillages happen.

And of course, we have some unique features: our products are integrated with furniture, They are easy to install, easy to use, effective, and affordable.