Sterilizing Your Room and Equipment
Sterilizing your room and equipment is one of the biggest hassles of being a grower. Ozone acts as a magic bullet that cuts out such soggy labor. You will still have to manually clean up debris with hot water first, but that’s the hard part done. Let equipment dry, and then stack it up so air can circulate freely around it. Include things like scalpels, pruners, pH meters, screens and fans because ozone sterilizes everything.
Position your generator in the center of the room and switch on some circulating fans. It doesn’t have to be blowing a gale in there, but the air needs to circulate around the entire room. If you have a generator with a tube attached for ozonating water, great! You can set up your nutrient tanks and hydroponic system now, and run the pumps with plain cold water. Attach the end of the generator’s tube to an air stone and put it in your nutrient tank. Now you can sterilize the entire room and your nutrient delivery system in one easy move.
Set up a timer to switch off after 30 to 45 minutes. Plug your generator into it and turn it on. Hold your breath to avoid breathing the ozone in as you quickly check the air stone is bubbling ozone into the water, and then leave the room immediately. The generator will switch off after one hour, and the room will be safe to re-enter an hour after that. If your growroom is in the main part of the house, then it’s probably a good idea to open the windows to allow any leaking ozone to escape. That’s it! Your room will smell incredibly clean and is now completely sterile, ready for your next grow.
Inline Odor Control
The most common use of ozone by growers is inside the ventilation ducting with a carbon filter. This gives an extra insurance against unwanted odors escaping. This works great and is a belt-and-braces addition to odor control. This method is also completely safe because the ozone is immediately extracted through ventilation into the outside, leaving no possibility of ozone buildup inside the growroom. For this set-up you need a medium output inline generator to place inside your ducting. Here the ozone molecules mix with the smelly plant terpenes inside the pipe. In an ideal world, you would have this inline ozone system paired with a portable ozone generator.
If you buy a generator with a tube and air stone option, then you can ozonate water. This is a fantastic way to ensure your root zone stays healthy and lets you disinfect a hydroponic system with your plants still installed.
Working with ozonated water is much safer than using it in the air. When ozone is bubbled through water, the unstable molecule behaves as it does in the air; attaching itself to any single-celled pathogen and killing it instantly. The by-product of this is pure residual oxygen in the water. Once all the pathogens are gone, the ozone actually starts to be absorbed into the water too, where its power can be harnessed.
When using a 400 mg ozone generator, place the air stone at the bottom of the water container and ozonate for around two minutes per liter of fluid. If possible, do this in open air as to not breathe ozone. Use the water right away, as the ozone starts to break down into oxygen over 30 minutes. Once you have ozonated water you can really do some amazing things with it, such as:
- Spray it directly on your plants to kill any spores, rust spots, fungus, powdery. mildew or bud rot. It is safe to use at any time in the flowering period because there are no chemicals.
- Immediately dip fresh cuttings in the solution for 30 seconds to sterilize them before dipping in rooting hormone. This improves strike rate dramatically.
- Dip pots, syringes, pipettes, meters, drippers, pumps, connectors and anything else that goes near your plants in the solution for one minute to sterilize safely.
- Pour it straight into your root zone to give a massive oxygen boost and sterilize the rhizosphere.
- When you change your solution, ozonate the fresh nutrient solution thoroughly before running it through the system, disinfecting everything and giving the plants a huge oxygen boost.
Working with ozonated water is more forgiving than ozonated air. You can safely handle it, and people with skin complaints may actually find it helps a lot, as it gently keeps skin sterile. There is no point in using organic nutrients or supplements in freshly ozonated solution, as the ozone will kill any beneficial bacteria too, including trichoderma. If your supplement isn’t compatible with liquid oxygen, it’s not compatible with freshly ozonated water. But, because ozone only remains active in water for around up to 45 minutes before turning back to oxygen, you can still use organics if you wait for an hour or so after running the ozone through your system, and get the best of both worlds.
No More Bud Rot
An ozone generator can save crops from botrytis and other pathogens, even if it’s already started to weave its gray web around plants. It does this quickly without adding any toxic chemicals at all. Here’s how to go about it:
- At the first sign of mold, physically remove any infected material from the room.
- Switch off your extractor fan but leave your circulation fans running. (You will need to set a timer to switch your extractor back on in about 15 minutes).
- When using a 400 mg per hour generator, try running it for 30 to 45 seconds per square meter of enclosed grow space and then switching it off. If you have a machine with a tube outlet, you can attach it directly to a circulation fan for maximum spread.
- Leave the extractor fan off for 15 minutes afterwards, but make sure the circulation fans are moving lots of air around inside.
- After the extractor fan has been on for 15 minutes, open your tent and look at the mold. Instead of looking a vibrant, fluffy gray, it should now look brown, crusty and dead.
- If mold is more progressive, you may need to run the ozone for longer. For serious infestations, run for up to an hour without the extractor on.
- Dispose of any previously infected matter. Although the mold is no longer active, it shouldn’t be ingested.
Inspect every plant thoroughly, and if there is any mildew alive, repeat the process. Be aware that building up too high a concentration of ozone in a room can cause plant damage to the stomata, resulting in burnt leaves, especially at the tips and wider shade leaves closest to the generator. There have also been reports of it damaging the delicate trichomes with major overuse. Tread carefully, using it sparingly yet often to prevent contamination, and you will be OK. You might have to toss a few plants if they were infected already, but it will not spread and you have saved your crop from death or early harvest. Check your plants for new mold thoroughly every day for a week, and if you spot any new stuff, repeat the process.
Battle Spider Mites
Spider mites spread fast and are tough to beat. A higher level of ozone will break down the respiratory systems of spider mites and kill them. Be warned that the levels you need to run ozone at to kill spider mites may cause plant damage, but spider mites will cause worse damage.
Ozone is a wonderful tool for the hydroponic gardener. If treated with respect, it can troubleshoot many problems and maximize efficiency in a growroom.
Air purification techniques help gardeners reduce pathogens, pollens, and volatile organic compounds in the air and create a healthier enviroment for both plants and growers. Carbon filters are one of the most commonly used air purification techniques.