Ozone washing: less water for more responsible jeans

Introduced only a few seasons ago, ozone washing looks to be an eco-friendly solution for the denim industry. How’s it work?

It’s a process using almost no water, if any (as opposed to roughly 100 litres for a pair of jeans on average). It’s energy saving and spells the end of toxic processes like bleaching and using permanganate. That’s the brief in favour of ozone technology, first patented in 2008. And it gives denim the same sun-bleached, bleached and naturally aged look that’s so sought-after. Up till now its use has been fairly limited, but the technology is gaining ground.

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A technology founded on air

Today, many companies are turning to this new technology, including Merkoteks and Le Faxx Jeans from Turkey, and Firemount Textiles from Mauritius. All of them are equipped with G2 machines made by Spain’s Jeanologia, which notes that its technology provides “a maximum of vintage effects that stand the test of time wash after wash.” The technology is based on a natural process of oxygen enrichment. The machine takes in air from the atmosphere, filters it, and separates it into its essential components. Oxygen (O2) is thus purified and enriched, and the O2 molecule is transformed into an O3 molecule, generating ozone gas. The ozone thus obtained is injected into the tumbler that washes the jeans. It naturally ages the denim, which whitens as if sun bleached. At the end of the bleaching cycle, the ozone is sucked from the drum, and re-mixed with atmospheric components to become oxygen before being released into the air. Jeanologia emphasises that this type of washing is “a natural and non-polluting treatment.” A process worth keeping a close eye on, and one that looks certain to improve over the years to come.