I’m sure if you’ve ever called your local detailer about odor removal, they mentioned the term “ozone generator”. The ozone generator is the final step in the odor removal process. Ozone is also referred to as activated oxygen, and is created naturally either through electricity, photosynthesis, or by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Ozone is created when one of these forces causes oxygen to split into two separate atoms.
The freed atom then attaches itself to an O2 molecule, recombining to create ozone. The word "ozone" is derived from the Greek word "ozien", meaning "to smell". By nature, ozone is an unstable molecule and has a half-life of approximately 20 minutes. Shortly after ozone is created, it begins to break down, casting itself to the odor molecules in the car which then produce fresh oxygen. For DIY individuals who won’t be detailing cars on a daily basis, you can pick up consumer-grade ozone generators online for anywhere between $60 to $100.
There are a few safety precautions that must be taken when using an ozone generator. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated room away from children, people, and pets. Because ozone is a lung irritant, if exposed to direct contact for too long, it can be harmful or even cause death. A rule of thumb is that if you can smell the ozone, you're too close! Next, take your ozone machine and place it in a central area of the vehicle.
After that, start your car in a well-ventilated area (a closed garage is a no-go), and turn on your AC and air recirculation on max. This will help spread the ozone around the cabin, making sure it reaches everything. After you turn on the car's AC system, turn on the ozone machine for 1 hour and immediately close all your car’s doors and windows. After the time has elapsed, unplug the ozone generator, open all the car doors, and step away from the vehicle. You're then going to want the vehicle to air out for at least 30 minutes to an hour. After this, turn off the vehicle and enjoy a smoke-free car driving experience!