Ozone is often thought of as the crucial molecule that makes up part of the atmosphere, but recent innovations in decontamination technology have repurposed it as an effective cleaning agent for water, soil and agricultural products. Ozone is an incredibly powerful oxidizing tool that can be used to remove a variety of free-floating, harmful molecules, and pathogens.
As a decontaminant, it’s 2.5 times more powerful than chlorine bleach and can kill a variety of pathogens that are commonly found on cannabis. The use of ozone has increased significantly in the last 10 years and is often used in surface sanitation as a cost-effective treatment method. Overall, ozone has proven to be a popular and effective method for treating wastewater, soil contamination, odor control, and food processing plants.
Ozone is designated as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA and the USDA, which means it is approved for all food products. Researchers from the American Journal of Infection Control stated that an ozone generator “can provide a valuable decontamination tool for the removal of bacteria in many institutional and communal settings.” For this reason, Willow Industries uses ozone to effectively decontaminate cannabis.
As we were developing our decontamination technology, we attempted to use ozone gas because of its widespread use in food and beverage processing. We were satisfied with the results we saw when using ozone to treat cannabis, and our research and development culminated in the creation of Willow’s ozone decontamination machine, the WillowPure.
Inside the WillowPure system, oxygen’s two atoms release and recombine to form ozone with three oxygen atoms. Ozone effectively attacks the bacteria and mold it encounters because the newly bonded, unstable third atom releases and breaks down cell walls. The cells eventually die as this process repeats itself.
After ozone destroys bacteria and mold cells, only oxygen remains, so no residue, chemicals, or solvents are left behind on the cannabis product. This process allows us to effectively decontaminate the product without altering potency, cannabinoid concentrations, or terpene profiles on cannabis.
Though the ozone decontamination process does not render product harmful to consume, ozone gas can be hazardous to humans at high exposure rates. We developed the WillowPure system so it can be used safely and confidently no matter the size of a grow, with measures in place that prevent leaks and overexposure to ozone gas. Our ozone decontamination machine does not require in-depth knowledge to operate, and our service staff provides initial training to ensure the system functions correctly.
The WillowPure system is implemented in grows across the county, giving cultivators the power to decontaminate their product at multiple phases in the harvesting process. Our ozone decontamination machine functions as a kill-step for freshly harvested flower or as a remediation solution for product that has failed testing.
Evolving contamination regulations throughout the legal cannabis industry highlight the need for this kind of ozone decontamination technology. More states with legal cannabis are developing and changing crucial microbial testing guidelines, and with that, consumer awareness of the contamination problem within the industry is higher than ever. Manufacturers realize the importance of implementing measures that ensure microbial testing success so consistently safe product is reaching consumers and patients. Willow addresses this $3+ billion issue within the cannabis industry by creating a product developed specifically for cannabis.