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Guide to Best Air Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke

2020 Wildfires, 2022 Wildfires, And Beyond

In 2020, extreme dry spells were creating a drastic rise in the potential for wildfires across western North America. With 87% of the West Coast experiencing drought conditions, and now scorching heat, there was above average activity in the 2021 wildfire season, and 2022 was an even worse season. And there's not much relief in sight for the future of wildfires.

In 2020, the levels of wildfire smoke were higher than ever, spreading smoky air across many parts of the Midwest and even the South. To help provide relief from the air pollution, many people turned to air purifiers to clear the air.


More Drought, Heat, and Wildfires Expected

As more drought, heat, and wildfires are in the forecast for the future, it's never too soon to replace your air purifier's filters and ensure your devices are prepared for any emergency needs. It's also important to prepare your home if you have not yet selected a trustworthy purifier that can clean your air of smoke particles.

According to NPR, health departments in numerous states are taking extra precautions to make sure their residents aren’t affected. Yet, officials are concerned preventative efforts could be ineffective.

“It’s really bad,” said Janice Nolan, assistant vice president for national policy at the American Lung Association, about last year's outlook. “I hadn’t seen ‘code maroon’ days, which is the most hazardous air quality, in years.”

Beyond the lack of immediate resolution, a bigger concern might be that the spreading wildfire problem doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Extended drought and climate change mean more fires that burn longer year after year.


Health Issues from Wildfire Smoke

With the season getting longer every year and wildfires burning thousands of acres, it's important for people to take precautions in numerous ways.

That means indoor activities and limiting your outdoor activities when air quality levels are unhealthy.

Tiny particulates in smoke travel deep into the lungs, where they evade the body’s defense systems. That poses an especially big threat to people with asthma, cardiovascular disease or lung diseases.

Children are more susceptible to polluted air even if they’re healthy because their lungs are still developing.


How to Protect Yourself

Staying inside is the best defense and setting your air conditioning to recirculate air so the outdoor smoky air is less likely to get into your home. Running an air purifier with activated carbon that specifically targets smoke, like the TrueCarbon™ purifiers, will capture smoke that gets indoors.  

Check the local air quality index before heading out. If the rating is anything above a code green, people will be affected.


What makes for an Effective Air Purifier?

For an air purifier to improve your indoor air quality it needs to have sufficient air flow for your space AND have filters that can clean everything in the air.

This is harder than it sounds because highly effective air filters tend to reduce air flow. So, if you then use a super-powerful fan you can end up with too much noise.

For a smoky room you will want 4 to 5 air changes per hour. What this means is that for a given room you want all of the air to be circulated through the air cleaner 4 to 5 times per hour.

Some companies only list square foot coverage for 1 air change per hour, which is a misleading measurement. An air purifier that can clean 1,000 square feet with 1 air change per hour might sound like a good deal, but you really want the recommended 4.8 air changes per hour for effective air cleaning.

A purifier that claims to clean 1,000 square feet with 1 air change per hour only cleans 500 square feet with 2 air changes per hour and only about 210 square foot coverage with 4.8 air changes per hour. Paying attention to this coverage is important so you find a purifier that can properly clean your entire space. 

The TrueCarbon™ 200C can clean up to 375 square feet with 4.8 air changes per hour. It has heavy duty carbon filtration that specifically targets smoke. 


What to Look for in Air Filters to Clean Smoke Indoors

So, once you have enough air flow you will want to make sure the air filters are able to remove the smoke. This is not easy to do because smoke is made of of tiny particulate matter as well as smoke particles and gases.

Airborne particulates are solids that float in the air. Think of them like tiny dust particles. The best way to remove them is with a high efficiency air filter and a strong motor in an air purifier. Our award-winning Mod and Mod jr. are excellent at capturing smoke particles in the air with their combination filters. 

So, now that you have a great filter to catch the fine particles you need something more because the smoke gases and chemicals are so small. It's possible they could get captured temporarily however they will be re-released so your room will constantly smell smokey.

To get rid of smoke smell you are going to want a high quality activated carbon filter. The key to carbon filter effectiveness is the quality of the carbon and the amount of surface area.

Our Mod series will provide noticeable relief from smoke particles and gasses, but we recommend a TrueCarbon™ purifier because it has significantly more carbon filtration to filter out the worst kinds of smoke and will tackle any odors. 

We use coconut shell carbon which is the best available. In addition, rather than just have a lot of activated carbon by weight we focus on having the most surface area to give you the smoke smell removal ability you need without sacrificing the air flow of the air cleaner.

Even if you have poor air quality in your area from wildfire smoke, placing an air purifier in your home or office will provide an indoor clean air sanctuary, giving your lungs the clean air they deserve.