There are at least three reasons to be looking for oxygen from an oxygen supplier. Medical necessity is the number one reason, followed by non-medical consumption of oxygen. Compressed oxygen gas for use in welding is the third reason to seek oxygen from a licensed oxygen supplier.
Oxygen for medical necessity is only available by prescription and only available through pharmacies or durable medical equipment supply companies that are allowed to fill oxygen prescriptions and supply respiratory products. Usually, criteria need to be met before health insurance companies will cover the cost of medical oxygen for home use. When oxygen is prescribed for home use, the pharmacy or durable medical equipment company will have the ordering doctor provide a “certificate of medical necessity” so that the insurance company will authorize payment to the oxygen supplier.
Oxygen for home use is usually delivered by a machine called a “concentrator” or by a large liquid oxygen tank. The concentrator draws room air into the machine to separate the oxygen from the rest of the gases in the air so that the patient can breathe in higher concentrations of oxygen. If the patient needs oxygen away from home, smaller pre-filled tanks are supplied. Large liquid oxygen tanks are more expensive and allow the home oxygen patient to fill smaller portable tanks so that they can have supplemental oxygen on the go! The pharmacy or durable medical equipment oxygen supply company will arrange for refills or replacement of any oxygen tanks and supply the patient with oxygen tubing and oxygen regulators to use on portable tanks.
Oxygen for non-medical human consumption is more readily available and is minimally regulated. Oxygen bars, spas and the aviation industry demand the most oxygen for non-medical use on people. The oxygen is supplied by “concentrators”. The same concentrator that the home use oxygen patient would use, but purchased from a non medical provider. There really is no regulation regarding oxygen being supplied to oxygen bars, spas and the aviation industry as long as the owners do not claim that the “therapy” provided has any medicinal benefit. Most oxygen bars limit a person's increased oxygen inhalation to thirty (30) minutes at a time, just to be safe. There have been no reported instances of injury from oxygen use from oxygen supplied at an oxygen bar or spa. Aviation oxygen is only used in emergencies.
Oxygen for welding or other non-medical use and not for human consumption can be obtained from an industrial compressed oxygen and gas supplier. The oxygen is not tested and is assumed to not be for human use. The compressed gases are filled into and stored in metal tanks. The metal tanks are color coded for quick and accurate identification. The industrial oxygen supplier assumes no responsibility for your safety. Understanding how each compressed gas works and at what temperatures they burn at is very important before you purchase oxygen from an industrial oxygen supplier.