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Old 06-12-2010, 12:04 AM  
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Shooter's post has jogged my memory and given me a good idea to try.

The biggest gun in the arsenal when it comes to eliminating odors is something called an "ozone machine" or "ozone generator". When someone dies in a house and the body isn't discovered until the neighbors complain about the smell coming from the house, it's an ozone machine they use to eliminate the smell from the house before it's put on the market for someone to buy. An ozone machine creates ozone by producing sparks inside it, and these machines can be rented from many (but not most) janitorial supply stores. Just look under "Janitorial Equipment & Supplies" in your yellow pages phone directory and start phoning around.

Ozone (O3), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and bleach (NaOCl) all work the same way; they all natually break down to form a more stable compound with the liberation of a lone oxygen atom. Ozone breaks down to form O2 (oxygen gas) and a lone oxygen atom. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down to form water and a lone oxygen atom. Bleach naturally breaks down over time to form salt water and lone oxygen atoms. And, it's those lone oxygen atoms that do the work.

How to put this politely? Basically, lone oxygen atoms are the horny drunken sailors of the chemical world. They are highly reactive and will react with anything unstable enough to react. This most often will be organic molecules which contain double carbon, double nitrogen and carbon-nitrogen bonds, and it's also these same kinds of bonds in organic compounds that give materials colour, taste and smell.

For example, there is a class of chemicals called "azo compounds" that are all characterized as having a double nitrogen bond in them, and these azo compounds are most commonly found in dyes and pigments because the double nitrogen bond absorbs light of various frequencies giving those azo compounds colour.

Azo compound - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A lone oxygen atom could react at the double nitrogen bond to create nitrous oxide (N2O or "laughing gas") and leave the azo compound in two pieces and no longer absorbing light and therefore colourless.

Nitrous oxide - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

When a lone oxygen atom encounters an organic molecule, it reacts with it at some spot on the molecule to create a CO2, H2O, N2O or other oxygen containing molecule, and in doing so breaks the organic molecule into pieces. That changes the structure of the molecule and the remnant pieces typically no longer absorb the same frequencies of light, or react with the olefactory glands in our noses the same way. Typically, the remnant pieces don't absorb any frequencies of light or react with the olefactory glands in our noses at all, and that means those remnant pieces are colourless or odorless to us. That's actually what "bleaching" out a stain involves; you don't necessarily have to remove the compounds that are causing the discolouration... you just have to change their structure so that they no longer absorb light. Doing that makes them clear and colourless, thereby making the stain "disappear". Breaking them into smaller pieces does that very effectively. You can make things odorless or tasteless exactly the same way.

Heck, I'd say go along with Shooter's suggestion, but don't use an ion generator, use a rented Ozone Generator. If you put a few glasses on the table and cover the whole thing with a tarp or sheet of plastic, you reduce the volume and thereby increase the concentration of ozone in that space. That would make any given size ozone generator more effective at removing the smell. (Ozone generators come in different sizes depending on the amount of space you want to treat.)

And, if you don't believe me, just phone around to the janitorial supply houses in your area. All of them will be knowledgeable enough about ozone generators to know that they're used to remove smells from houses, cars and the like. There's no reason why you couldn't use one to remove the smell from a table. If it was my table and my money, I'd say renting an ozone generator was well worth a shot.

Keep in mind, however, that just like bleach, ozone will weaken cellulose (cotton) fabrics, and take the colour out of organic (mostly) materials that have any colour to speak of. You wouldn't end up with a white table, but it might be slightly lighter than before. The janitorial supply stores that rent ozone generators would know better than I what effect ozone would have on wood.

There ya go. Something that's likely to work.

Last edited by Nestor_Kelebay; 06-12-2010 at 12:33 AM.
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