How a Smoke Purifier Works
A good smoke purifier needs to have the right combination of filters and high CADR ratings. The most effective smoke air cleaners are specialist units that use a Hepa filter with an activated carbon layer.
Hepa filters remove the particle part of smoke. However, it is the associated odours that need to be adsorbed before they re-enter the room.
Activated Carbon is found in smoke eaters, air purifiers and modern vacuum cleaners to help remove unwanted chemicals from the atmosphere. It works by utilizing the principle of adsorption, which involves molecules clinging to the surface of something rather than soaking into it (think of those silica packets you find in new shoes and handbags). Carbon has a lot of tiny internal spaces or pores, which gives it a vast amount of surface area to trap particles and chemicals that pass through it in liquid or gas form.
It can be made from various natural materials, such as coconut shell, coal or wood, which is then heated to activate it. The heating process causes the pore walls to enlarge, which increases its effectiveness at bonding pollutants. This makes it useful for a wide range of liquid and vapor applications including dechlorination, odor control and gold recovery.
Activated carbon can come in several different forms, such as powder, granules or pellets. It can be impregnated with other substances to alter its properties, such as potassium permanganate which helps improve odor control by removing chlorine and hydrogen sulfide. Carbon can also be made with a varying degree of pore structure, ranging from smoke purifier micro-pores to meso-pores and even macro-pores to better serve specialized applications. Generally speaking, the higher the iodine number of the carbon the more effective it is at adsorption.
There are a lot of important terms, buzzwords, and acronyms you might hear in your daily life that you don’t necessarily understand: FDIC-insured, Big Data, Organic. But HEPA is one you should be familiar with, as it’s the technology that makes smoke purifiers work.
The HEPA standard is a filter that can remove airborne particulate matter down to 0.3 microns in size. That’s the size of many allergens, including dust mites and pet dander. These smaller particles are more hazardous than the larger, less harmful particles, and they can trigger allergy symptoms.
HEPA filters use a filtration process that involves passing air through a filter with a dense layer of smoke purifier fibers. As the air passes through, the dirty particles collide with the filter and stick to it. The clean air then exits the other side of the filter.
To make a smoke purifier effective, it needs to have a high smoke particle capture rate (airflow through the filter). The best HEPA filters for smoke can achieve this with very high smoke CADR ratings — 450+ is optimal. For instance, the Blueair Blue Pure 211+ boasts a three-step filtration system that uses a pre-filter to trap bigger particles and a carbon layer for odors and VOCs. This combination is enough to beat cigarette smoke and other odors in rooms up to 900 square feet.
UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that lies just outside the visible spectrum for humans and sits between X-rays on the one end and radio waves on the other. It can be found in the sun naturally and artificially in devices like arc welders, tanning beds and black lights. It’s also used to sterilize medical equipment and disinfect water.
This invisible form of energy destroys microorganisms like viruses, bacteria and mold spores. It also breaks down odor molecules into smaller fragments that no longer cause unpleasant smells. Many people with asthma, allergies or compound sensitivities find that this technology helps ease their symptoms.
Air purifiers with UV lamps use quartz tubes oated with phosphorus to emit rays that destroy air pollutants without creating harmful byproducts. They’re particularly effective at destroying smoke, paint fumes and chemical odors such as formaldehyde or ammonia.
These rays can also break down organic compounds in air, such as toxins released by volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and reduce the formation of fine particulates that are too small to pass through whole-house air cleaners. However, they have no impact on cigarette or cigar smoke. Estes Services’ NATE-certified technicians possess detailed knowledge of indoor air quality solutions. They can help you choose the right solution for your home. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
While the best way to deal with smoke is to remove it at source and ventilate, when this isn’t an option or does require too much effort, air purifiers are a great alternative. It is recommended that you select one with a high carbon filter saturation level, and electrostatic media (this may also be known as charged particle technology or PECO). This increases the surface area of the carbon and allows gasses to stick to it more easily, which in turn makes them less likely to escape the filter.
Air purifiers with these technologies will usually have a lower efficiency than those without them. However, they can still be a good solution for people dealing with smoke and other pollutants like dust and chemicals.
Typically, they are designed for bigger spaces and will be faster at removing smoke than small or compact air cleaners. For example, our #1 pick Medify MA-112 has a maximum 450+ smoke CADR rating and will quickly remove cigarette smoke from large rooms. For a budget-friendly but effective model that can do the same, we recommend Levoit’s Core 300. It has a similar smoke CADR to the MA-112 but is significantly cheaper. It will also clean smoke from larger rooms as well, even though it is advertised for a smaller space of 255 sq. ft.