Oxygen therapy is a standard treatment for people with medical conditions that negatively impact their ability to take oxygen from the air, such as COPD, cystic fibrosis, or severe asthma.
Two of the most common delivery methods for medical oxygen are liquid oxygen-filled metal canisters and portable or in-home oxygen concentrators.
What Are Oxygen Concentrators?
Oxygen concentrators provide a safe, cost-effective, and user-friendly option for those who require oxygen therapy. These devices deliver purified oxygen through a nasal cannula with intermittent or continuous flow. The continuous flow oxygen concentrators provide a consistent oxygen level to the patient.
The oxygen delivered through an oxygen concentrator is extracted from the surrounding air using filters that remove the nitrogen, eliminating the need for liquid oxygen tanks. Oxygen concentrators are powered by a battery pack, a 12V vehicle adapter, or by plugging into a regular household outlet.
What Is Medical Liquid Oxygen?
Liquid oxygen used in medical applications has been super-cooled down to at least -297 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a pale blue liquid that is 100% pure. Liquid oxygen takes up much less space in a canister than oxygen in a gaseous state, making liquid oxygen containers lighter and smaller than oxygen gas cylinders. For reference, one liter of liquid oxygen equals about 860 liters of gaseous oxygen.
What’s the Difference Between Liquid Oxygen Canisters and Oxygen Concentrators?
There are several differences between these two medical oxygen options, the main one being that oxygen concentrators extract oxygen from the air. In contrast, liquid oxygen comes in a long, oversized thermal canister, and the oxygen converts to gas as it leaves the container. These metal oxygen canisters can be taken on a small cart or mounted to a bracket on a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Another critical difference is that liquid oxygen is 100% pure, while the oxygen delivered through an oxygen concentrator is less than 100% pure. For many people who require oxygen therapy, the oxygen level provided through an oxygen concentrator meets their needs. However, it can’t be used around open flames, heat sources, or combustible materials, as oxygen fuels fires.
Liquid oxygen canisters are self-pressurized and don’t require an external power source; however, the canisters need to be replaced by a medical gas supply company when empty. By comparison, with an oxygen concentrator, the surrounding air provides an endless supply of oxygen. However, concentrators do require a power source.
Oxygen concentrators are widely used by patients who want a low-maintenance, portable delivery method. In contrast, liquid oxygen is often only prescribed for patients with complex medical needs who require 100% pure oxygen. And because portable oxygen concentrators don’t contain oxygen, many of these units are approved for use onboard a commercial aircraft, while liquid and gaseous oxygen tanks are not allowed.
Your AZ Portable Oxygen Concentrator Specialists
Call our oxygen therapy experts at Copper Star Home Medical to learn more about in-home and portable oxygen concentrators. We have a wide variety of top-rated concentrators available for sale or rent.