Air fresheners are everywhere. In public toilets, at work, in your house and sometimes hanging from the mirror in your car, but how do they work? Do they really eliminate odours? Can they hurt us? How are they different from perfume?
Here’s everything you need to know about air fresheners…
How do air fresheners work?
The molecules contained in air fresheners are often highly volatile, meaning that they easily turn from liquid form to a gas – event at room temperature. Our sense of smell is tuned in to detect the kinds of molecules that drift around in the air, more than it is to detect liquids.
Spray air fresheners, which are still the most popular freshener type, are aerosols. The word aerosol means “Dissolves in air”. What shoots out of your air freshener is liquid when under pressure, that quickly evaporates into the air, when released into standard pressure.
The aerosol propellant is mixed with fragrance molecules before being released into the air, where it covers up the bad odours. Most of the time, they simply replace a bad smell with a stronger, nicer, smell. Certain air fresheners also aim to reduce your sensitivity towards smells, so that instead of masking smells with other smells, they anesthetize your nose to reduce your sensitivity towards all smells – thus, not seeming as bad.
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How do odour eliminators work?
Most air fresheners don’t actually kill a bad smell, or remove it from a room; they only mask bad smells, with other smells that appear more pleasant to your senses. What about the air fresheners that claim to eliminate bad smells? How do they do it?
The key to odour eliminating air fresheners is a molecule called cyclodextrin. This is a donut shaped molecule suspended in a water carrier. Due to cyclodextrins hydrophobic interior, they attract the odour molecules in the air. As the water dries, the water molecules on the interior of the cyclodextrin are encapsulated inside, therefore reducing their volatility and therefore reducing their smell.
Are they harmful?
Whilst there are articles around that would argue otherwise, when used in moderation and safely, air fresheners are not dangerous. If someone has an allergy towards them, or a serious lung condition – they are not advised, but used sparingly and sensibly, air fresheners won’t cause you any trouble.
How are they different from perfumes?
Aside from costing a lot more, perfumes are quite different from your standard aerosol air fresheners. For a start, they are compounds that are unstable. This means the water molecules break away from each other – diffusing in the air. This process is sped up by heat and a surface area exposed to air. This is why perfumes are ideally placed on open areas on the skin, such as the neck.
Air fresheners on the other hand either drift around in the air, masking a bad smell, or bind with other volatile smells to neutralize them.
To make your workplace or washroom smell as fresh as ever – check out our range of Air Freshener Dispensers