The Story of ONA
- How did the company get started? Did it evolve out of something else, or has combating odour always been the company focus?
The founder of the company, Shane Lander, was a Vancouver fire fighter who specialised in hazardous materials such as radiation, explosives, drug labs, and toxic chemicals when he initially became interested in finding a safe and natural method for eliminating the nasty odour’s these chemicals left behind after a major fire.
Shane knew that the chemicals most commonly being used at that time to mask, reduce, or eliminate odour emissions, had toxic properties that presented health risks to those people who used them. After extensive research, he learned about the odour neutralising capabilities of essential oils which appeared very promising. Soon afterwards Shane formed both a personal and business relationship with a chemist who had 25 years of applied scientific research into this technology.
They worked closely together and later perfected the special formula which is now a trade secret. Most importantly, it was strong enough to use in industrial applications, yet safe to use around people, pets and plants. The exclusive right were then licensed to manufacture and distribute this technology into major markets around the world including the America’s, UK, EU, Asia and Russia.
This was the birth of ONA. Shane left the fire department and started Odorchem Manufacturing Corp. In the early years the company was focussed solely on industrial applications such as sewage treatment plants, mining, food rendering plants and the janitorial/sanitation markets. Entering into the Hydroponics market wasn’t part of the company’s strategic plan. At that time, the market itself was in its infancy and distribution was not as established as it is today. Unknown to Odorchem one of their commercial customers had introduced ONA into the Hydro industry. He kept returning to buy more product until one day he was asked “who are you selling it to?” That was their introduction to the industry and since then they have never looked back. Quite simply it was the quality and sheer effectiveness of ONA that got people talking. Inevitably it became a staple product and grew along with the Industry in North America before becoming popular in other markets such as the UK and Europe.
The ONA line has been growing very successfully in the UK and Europe and much of this success can be attributed to the tenacity and hard work of the folks at Easy Grow Horticultural Wholesale in the UK. They are the master distributor for ONA in these markets and have done an exceptional job of establishing distributors and increasing public awareness for ONA.
- How do the products actually work? What are the chemical processes involved?
ONA is an essential oil based technology. The base formula utilizes 32 essential oils which enables the product to neutralise a wide spectrum of odours. .
It is not just the quantity of oils that makes ONA so effective. The oils used have specific properties and unique capabilities, however, the blending process itself is just as important as the oils. You cannot simply mix these oils together to make the formula. The mixing process includes factors such as; the processing time, the order and temperatures of the oils being added, and, the specific chemical reactions needed to take place during the mixing process, is critical. There are chemical reactions and synergies that occur when making the base formula that took over 25 years of engineering to achieve. It was a long time in development but this also resulted in a major benefit. Competitors cannot reverse engineer the formula.
THE SCIENCE – ONA’s complex formulation represents a unique terpene (constitute of essential oil) compound that provides specific characteristics and functionalities. There are three mechanisms of action that can occur, based on the chemical and physical natures of each terpene and active ingredient versus the organic and inorganic volatile compounds (odours).
Absorption – is the process in which molecules of a substance (VOC) are attracted, absorbed and distributed uniformly within ONA molecules.
Adsorption – is the process where VOC molecules are attracted and held on the surface of the adsorbent (ONA) by chemical bonds.
Chemical Reaction – based on the Pairs Theory by Dutch Scientist, Zwaardermaker. This is the process where two or more odours can cancel each other out when they attract and permanently bond. This mechanism transforms the pollutant into its basic properties. As a result, odours disappear.
- What is the environmental impact of the products?
The compounds that are used in ONA odour neutralizers are of high-grade quality, they are non-toxic, and safe for the environment. Essential oils used to make ONA are derived from plant materials grown in specific area’s around the world that are known for producing the highest quality oils. Essential oils have a long history of being used safely in society. They are used regularly in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps, for flavouring food and drinks, and for adding scents to incense, and household cleaning products. Recently, essential oils as used in aromatherapy have enjoyed increasing popularity for health and wellness benefits. As for the environment, essential oils are completely biodegradable. Customers can be confident that ONA is safe to use around people, pets and plants.
The plastic containers and caps, as well as, the cardboard boxes in which ONA is shipped, are all made of recyclable materials. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” waste hierarchy. They are ensuring that the customers can choose to have these used materials recycled into new products and reduce the amount of materials going to land fills, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials from earth, and, lower greenhouse gas emission as compared to virgin production.
Historically odour control products simply masked odours with another scent or utilise toxic substance to neutralize odours. Offering safe and environmentally friendly products is not only the foundation from which Odorchem started, it remains the motivating principle behind all the products they produce.
- Tell us more about the ONA Cyclone and ONA Breeze distribution fans.
The ONA Breeze fan is designed to sit on top of the 1 Litre Jars, 4 Litre jars and 4 Litre pails, and Cyclone fans to fit on top of the 20 litre pails. This gives customers the option to use a fan if they need a higher rate of ONA disbursed into the air, or need to neutralize odours in a larger room. The gel products dispense ONA into the air by evaporation, therefore, airflow is important to ensure ONA is mixing effectively with odours to get the best results. Otherwise, ONA will only neutralise odours in the area where contact is made between the odour and ONA molecules. Generally in small applications, a customer only needs to remove the lid from a container and simply let the evaporating ONA gel go to work. A fan isn’t required.
Having too much airflow increases the rate of evaporation and customers could end up using more ONA than necessary, therefore, two fans speeds on the Breeze Fan have been included and five adjustable speeds on the Cyclone fan meaning customers have the ability to control the rate of evaporation and scale it up or down as needed to eliminate odours more thoroughly and cost effectively.
- What is the largest commercial application the products have been used in? What are some of the challenges associated with large commercial projects?
Sewage treatment plants and food rendering plants generally require the largest volumes of odour neutraliser to combat their odour problems. Larger commercial or industrial applications generally all have their own unique challenges and there isn’t one simple step or product or dispenser that will solve a problem by itself. Larger applications typically require an in-depth analysis of the odour problem, and a solution, for example, must take into consideration the size of the air stacks, rate of airflow, exhaust temperatures, and an analysis of the chemicals that need to be neutralized. At that time the formula is customised if needed and custom build dispensing system that will deliver the exact amount of odour neutralizer needed to resolve their odour problem. This process can take several months.
In many applications ONA is used only as a backup system for emergencies. A spray system has been installed in the Canadian Mint that will automatically turn on any time their air ventilation stops working. Without proper ventilation or odour control, the smell of the ink would be too strong for employees to continue working and they would have to shut down the presses. The City of Richmond in British Columbia had contacted them once in an emergency situation. Their pumps had failed and raw sewage was now backing into the overflow ponds which are there just in-case the pumps fail; however the smell was terrible and affecting neighbourhoods in the vicinity. They needed us to eliminate the smell immediately. Since there was no time to install and set up a spray system, a plane was loaded with their chemical and was flown over to spray the overflow ponds. The plane could hold enough liquid for two passes. On its first pass the pilot reported that he almost vomited in the cockpit, however, on his second pass he couldn’t smell the sewage at all, and he was very pleased. They were able to control the odour with ONA until the pumps were repaired. That was a panic situation and stress levels were very high. That story made newspapers.
Regrettably, the largest application where ONA has been used was at ground zero after 911. Shane being well connected with the Vancouver Fire Department volunteered and flew to New York to set up large spray systems so they could provide odour and dust control to help workers with the enormous task of cleaning up debris from the fallen buildings after the terrorist attack.
- What have you got in R&D? What’s going to be the next big thing in your corner of the industry?
There are several projects currently in R&D, however, admittedly not all projects result in a marketable solution. They don’t want anyone to get too excited about something that does not make it to market, so cannot disclose too much.
Customers know that ONA has a distinct industrial kick to it. This is what sets it apart from other odour neutralisers. It is strong and it works. ONA only comes in three different scents and the reason for this is that our core neutraliser is so strong that it neutralises the scents we try to add to it. If you would like to see a chemist pull their hair out, just ask them to scent a true odour neutraliser. It is an incredible challenge, especially when they are only permitted to use all natural non-toxic ingredients.
For many years Odorchem have been working on developing new scents that are more consumer friendly. Hundreds of scents have been tried and very few remain stable with the base neutraliser. To be successful with the mission, leading edge advances in chemistry is relied upon. ONA will likely always have that very distinguishable kick to it, but, if the level of quality can be maintained and provide additional consumer friendly scents for customers to choose from, the business can continue to expand and grow. The future looks bright.