The risk is declining, but smoke can still be a threat to your lungs and respiratory system. For many, this means using an air purifier for smoke. Either at home or at work, an air purifier that can remove smoke particles, resulting in healthier air and, hopefully, better breathing.
The Dangers of Smoke in the HomeIf you really want to remove smoke from your home, it helps to fully understand why smoke is bad for our health. You need to know, with specific details, why smoke from cigarettes, as well as wildfires and other sources, can be so harmful to not just our lungs, but our complete respiratory system.
Cigarette SmokeWhat was once a fashion and social statement now is a societal outcast. And for good reason, as cigarette smoke has been discovered to be one of the most harmful substances we have ever exposed ourselves to. It’s hard to image people smoking in buses, planes, and office buildings, but they simply didn’t have the information that we have today. (And don’t judge, because who knows what habit might be the health pariah of the next generation!)
Thanks to scientific research and the expansion of knowledge, we now understand the significant risks that come with not just smoking, but being next to people who smoke. For the sake of this conversation, we’ll focus entirely on secondhand and thirdhand smoke. (An air purifier can’t do anything about firsthand smoke.)
Secondhand smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control, causes a wide variety of health issues, including the heightened risk of lung cancer, stroke, and coronary heart disease. It can even cause reproductive harm in women, giving the air pollutant a significantly frightening element.
In children the risks of second-hand smoke can be staggering as well. It can give children middle-ear disease, cause respiratory issues, impair lung function, and has even been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or “SIDS.”
There is even a link between smoking and aggressive behavior in children, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health. This report found that children who were exposed to secondhand smoke at home were more likely to display aggressive behavior. To be fair, the causation of smoke and aggressive behavior was not established (in other words, there could be other factors at play that cause smoking in the home and aggressive behavior to increase simultaneously), but it does set a scary trend for homes with cigarette smokers.
Wildfire SmokeSmoke can, of course, come from other sources, and while it may not have the high levels of carcinogens and chemicals that are found in tobacco smoke, it can be harmful nonetheless.
Smoke from wildfires can create symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing and chest discomfort, and can worsen seasonal allergies, which are already a major concern for many Americans. If you live in an area with wildfires, your house doesn’t have to be near the flames to have the fires impact your life.
A study published in Epidemiology found a link between exposure to wildfire smoke and issues with respiratory systems. The researchers surveyed people as to whether they could smell smoke in their communities, then looked at any respiratory and eye symptoms. The results showed a clear association between smoke exposure and respiratory issues, with an increase in wheezing being the most common effect.
How Do Air Purifiers Remove Smoke?Air purifiers are one of the most trusted ways to remove cigarette smoke from your home. While there are certainly other methods, having an air purifier in your home will help you take a proactive approach to smoke removal.
You’ll have active smoke-removal technology in your home that is constantly working; as long as the machine in on, you’re getting air purification.
Air purifiers start with an internal fan that pulls the air into the machine. These fans are powered electrically, and the best units will have fans that are not only powerful, but are also quiet and don’t use significant amounts energy. Once the air is pulled into the machine, it will be forced through a series of filters. These filters can come in a wide variety of materials, but the most effective air purifiers usually have HEPA filters, activated-carbon filters, and for smoke removal you will want both.
HEPA filters are made from different materials, but they usually use fibers of glass that are shaped into a paper-like material. This material is then folded to increase surface space in a filter, giving greater air purification. To be classified as a HEPA filter, it needs to remove 99.97% of all airborne particles that are a certain size (0.3 microns or larger).
Activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal, is another material that is used to purify air. This is essentially high-carbon raw material, such as wood, coal, coconut shells, and even olive pits, that have been specially treated to have a high surface space and the ability to grab and hold microscopic gas or chemical particles. Activated carbon is used for numerous purposes, including the cleaning of water. It is even advertised as a cleansing substance that can be used to remove toxins from your body.
UV light is another technology used by air purifiers to remove airborne contaminants, but it doesn’t work under the same principles as filters. Instead of trapping contaminants, UV light can destroy organic cells, making it useful for mold mitigation and, possibly, the reduction of airborne viruses and bacteria.
When airborne mold spores go through a UV light air purifier, the UV light damage’s the spore’s DNA, rendering it ineffective for reproduction. So while it can’t actually remove the spores from your air, it can destroy the spore’s ability to create new mold colonies. In theory, this should reduce your chances of having mold growth in the future. However, UV light is not an effective way to remove the smell of smoke from your home, as it can’t actually remove the cells. It’s great to have a UV-C light air purifier in your home, but you can’t rely on it as an air purifier for smoke.
What Other Technologies are Used to Remove Smoke?
Ozone GeneratorsAnother technology that is often cited as a way to clean indoor air is an ozone generator. However, this is actually a controversial topic.
This is because ozone generators release ozone into the atmosphere. (Surprised?) This ozone is advertised as a way to destroy odor, mold, and harmful air pollution at the molecular level. Ozone is actually a combination of three oxygen atoms, and while two atoms will stay together, the third atom is able to attach itself to other atoms and alter chemical compositions. Being able to react with other substances is why ozone is so effective at eliminating smoke odors, but also why it is harmful to our health. When inhaled, it can damage lungs and cause chest pain; it can also worsen chronic respiratory issues.
Numerous studies show there are dangerous levels of ozone after use of an ozone generator. If you want to eliminate smoke, there seems to be better options.
The California Air Resources Board approves air cleaners for sale within the state of California and this includes verification that the machine does not produce excess levels of ozone.
The general rule of thumb with an ozone generator is that if you do not want to be in the room while it is running or shortly after it has run. It is meant as a one-time shock to the room to remove any odors and then for the room to be fully ventilated. It is mainly used in commercial spaces such as if someone smokes in a hotel room and they need to get the smell out. We don't suggest this for normal home air cleaning.
IonizersOne option you might consider is an ionizer, which uses an electrical charge to clean air. Using essentially the same principles of static electricity that make your clothes stick to your skin, ionizers create negative ions using electricity to positively and negatively charge plates that are held inside the unit. Using electricity, particles stick the plates, filtering the air as it passes through.
The issue with these machines, however, is that they can create ozone. Instead of creating ozone intentionally, these appliances create ozone as a byproduct of the ionization process. Once again, this can impact the health of people living in the home, especially people with respiratory issues.
The better solution for smoke relief is to buy an air purifier that uses both a true HEPA and activated carbon filters.
How Well Do Air Purifiers Remove Smoke?We get a lot of inquiries about the best way to rid a home of smoke. The last thing we want to do is sell you an air cleaner and not have it meet your expectations.
It's important to understand that smoke is made of a hundreds of airborne particulates and gases/chemicals. We find that many people judge the effectiveness of an air purifier by it's ability to remove the odor.
So, to remove the smell you will need a high quality carbon filter. In order to do a decent job you will want a high number of air changes. This means you should lower your expectations for the room size coverage.
To get rid of the particles you also need a high efficiency HEPA air filter.
The best air purifiers with carbon for smoke we have are the EJ120 and ERIK650A.
What Can You Expect to Pay for an Air Purifier That Removes Smoke?
EJ120: $899When you need a powerful, efficient, and effective air purifier for removing smoke particles from an indoor space, the EJ120 is a great option. This unit uses a proprietary carbon pre-filter, which helps trap the microscopic particles that create the smell of smoke.
This filter is also a great choice for gas control in the home, thanks in large part to its size. This pre-filter is 1-inch deep, which provide outstanding surface space for trapping and controlling particles in the air. In addition to the 3-inch deep HEPA filter, the EJ120 is an effective air purifier for smoke, but it can also be used for the removal of methane gas, sulfur, and many other harmful substances. In fact, in a 48-hour test, it removed over 99% of formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.
While the EJ120 is extremely powerful and effective, it is also quiet and efficient. It uses a Germain-engineered motor that delivers excellent flow while being quieter and using less power than many competing models available on the market.
The EJ120 air purifier can be used in numerous locations. It is ideal for bedrooms, living rooms, basements, and even large open areas. Thanks to the powerful yet efficient motor, this purifier is capable of effectively cleaning a space roughly 1,500 square feet for large airborne particulates such as pollen, pet dander or dust. For smoke odor removal we suggest it be used in a room up to 500-600 sq ft so you get the added air changes per to remove the pesky smoke particles.
It is also simple and easy to use, as the 5-speed digital functions give you simple control with no distracting lights that will keep you up at night. The filter is easy to access, and you won’t need a complicated manual to operate the machine.
The EJ120 also uses a medical-grade HEPA filter which has a MERV filtration rating of 17. It has been tested to remove 99.99% of all airborne allergens and particulate matter, so it’s effective for removing airborne pollution both large and small. This means smoke, but can also include mold, bacteria, dust, pet dander, and many other allergens and pollutants.
Erik 650A: $1,595For people who need even more power and smoke-cleaning potential from their air purifier, the Erik 650A is the best choice. This is the most powerful unit in our lineup, but it maintains a focus on efficiency and quiet performance that is found in all our machines.
Despite the efficient motor, the Erik 650 can clean a space measuring roughly 1,700 square feet for the larger airborne particles such as pet dander, pollen and dust, which makes it useful for most offices, open living-room/kitchen areas, and open basements. It can be effective for mold remediation, industrial uses, and can even be used in healthcare facilities.
For smoke and related odor removal we suggest the room sizes be reduced to about 600-700 sq ft to allow for additional air changes per hour to be highly effective.
Despite all these excellent qualities, the best use for the Erik 650A just may be as an air purifier for smoke.
The Erik 650A can optionally use the Erik V-Bank carbon filter. This filter uses 14 pounds of activated carbon that is shaped into multiple Vs to increase overall surface space. This gives you nearly 12 inches of carbon-filtration depth, and allows the air to have maximum contact with the filtration medium. It has a life of two years, so you can count on this filter to deliver excellent smoke removal month after month.
To remove a high percentage of smoke and other airborne pollutants, the Oransi Erik 650A also uses a HEPA filter with a MERV 18 rating, which means it can remove over 99.99% of all airborne contaminants down to a certain size. While this machine is an effective air purifier for smoke, it can also remove a wide variety of other contaminants.
It can be used to control mold spores, reduce airborne dust, and stop pet dander from being a common allergen in your home. It is used to clean rooms and hospitals, and has some of the most outstanding filtration you can imagine.
Other Ways to Get Smoke Out of Your HomeAir purifiers are without a doubt a great way to get rid of the annoying, potentially harmful smell of smoke lingering throughout your home. But it’s not the only way. Even when using an air purifier, it helps to have a comprehensive strategy that will result in cleaner air and a pleasant-smelling home.
Improve Indoor VentilationPerhaps the easiest, and one of the most effective, methods for reducing the smell of smoke and other substances in your home is to simply increase ventilation.
The easiest way to do this? Open the windows!
If the weather allows, you can open the windows to increase the amount of fresh air flowing into the home. This will not only dilute the smoke particles in the air, if you have windows open on multiple sides of the home, a natural breeze can actually take many of the harmful particles away. While outdoor air pollution is a problem in many areas, indoor air is generally considered to contain more pollutants than the outside air in even the most industrialized cities.
Another way to increase indoor air ventilation is to install and use a whole-house fans. Installed in the ceiling above the top living space (between top floor and attic), whole house fans gently pull air though the home and expel it through vents in the attic. They are an effective way to cool the home on warm (but not excessively hot) days, and can help with indoor air ventilation to remove pollutants like smoke and indoor air pollution.
Clean or Replace Curtains, Carpet, and Other FabricsWhen a house is exposed to smoke, either from an internal fire, tobacco, or drifting wildfire smoke, the fabrics can often act like a sponge, smoking up the smell (and the chemicals) and allowing the smoke to linger long after you can’t see it. This generally means you’ll need to clean or replace most of the fabrics.
Drapes and curtains are the most obvious culprit, and they are fortunately the easiest to clean or replace. However, you’ll also want to consider having the carpets shampooed, and if that doesn’t do the trick, they may need to be completely replaced. Any other fabrics on the home that hold cigarette smoke need to be addressed.
Repaint the WallsSmoke particles will also cling to the walls, only to be released at a later time. To reduce the lingering smell of smoke in the home, one of the best strategies is to completely paint the interior. This will essentially create a barrier between your lungs and the surrounding air, allowing you to enjoy your interior without the annoying smoke smell.
Use Creative Smell-Removal TechniquesIf you can’t remove the smoke smell, you may want to at least mask it. While it won’t remove the potential harms of smoke, it can help you have a more pleasant smell in your home. There are many techniques you materials try, including baking soda, vinegar, cotton balls, and even apples. Get creative, but avoid air fresheners that release harmful chemicals and air pollutants such as VOCs.
Get Rid of Smoke Smell with Oransi Air PurifiersIf you have a lingering smoke smell in your home, you need a comprehensive strategy to remove it as quickly as possible. With an air purifier for smoke from Oransi, you’ll not only remove smoke particles, you’ll give your home long-term air quality.
From offices to bedrooms, we have the best air purifiers to fit your specific needs!