Do Air Purifiers Work for Smoke? Here’s The Truth

Here's a common scenario. When the residual smoke particles are difficult to remove and badly affect their health, many people instinctively turn to air purifiers for help. But the question remains: do air purifiers really work for smoke? The answer is yes but with a caveat. Let's find out why it is better than opening windows, but it is still not a one-size-fits-all.


Do Air Purifiers Work Help With Smoke?

Yes, it will help tremendously. Most mechanical air purifiers that use HEPA and carbon filters can effectively remove smoke particles in a timely manner. Even if you smoke somewhat close to the air purifier vicinity, the cigarette smoke will not linger far in the room.

Air purifiers typically have multi-layer filtration, including washable pre-filters to capture larger particles, like dust and hair in the air, while a HEPA filter that captures 99.97% of PM2.5, microscopic particles as small as 0.3 microns like mold, pollen, pet dander. The all-important carbon odor filters absorb smoke and toxic compounds like radon, VOCs, CO, CO2, and secondhand smoke. Many experiments have shown that cigarette smoke contains over 6,000 toxic substances harmful to our health, including nicotine, tar, hydrocyanic acid, carbon monoxide, acrolein, and nitric oxide. About 90% of smoke is gas, while the remaining 10% are soot particles.

For the best result, opt for a granular/charcoal-activated carbon filter with a high iodine value over a thin carbon sheet velcro to the pre-filter. The chemical absorption process involves the adhesion of smoke molecules to the ultra-fine pores surface of the filter, where the smoke odor dissipates instead of being released back into the air. Note that some HEPA filters (H12 level or higher) can also help decompose toxic gases and sterilize the air to prevent secondary pollution.

How To Choose an Air Purifier That Works for Smoke

Here are a few key parameters to consider if you’re looking for an air purifier that can effectively remove smoke odor.

  • CCM gas value – A key metric that indicates the life of the activated carbon filter before it becomes saturated and needs to be replaced. Since all activated carbon is susceptible to saturation from smoke odor, look for a CCM gaseous value of at least 3000 (the best value is over 10,000), so there is no need to replace the filter frequently to maintain its effectiveness.
  • CARD gas value – Calculated based on the maximum usable area, with a recommended value of about 10 times the room’s square footage. For example, a room that is 30 square meters would require an air purifier with a CARD gas value of at least 300.
  • The type of activated carbon filter – As mentioned earlier, Another critical factor to consider is the type of activated carbon used, mainly columnar and carbon cloth. Avoid air purifiers with inferior carbon cloth, as it tends to become saturated quickly and can be less effective for removing smoke odor.

In Conclusion

While air purifiers can be very effective at removing smoke, there will always be a small amount of residue left behind. To completely eliminate the smell, find out the smoke's root cause and deal with it. Do not smoke indoors, and avoid heavy cooking without a kitchen hood. Improve ventilation by opening windows and doors when the kitchen air purifier is not running. Incorporate air-filtering plants like spider plants, snake plants, English ivy, or aloe vera.

Max Fernandez

A loving father and a dedicated reviewer for airfuji.com with more than 1000 air purifiers under his belt. Max Fernandez is also one of the million patients currently suffering from asthma. Feel free to nudge him if you have any questions.
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