Smoke contains two types of pollutants that most air purifiers cannot filter.
One is the particle type, and the other is the gaseous type. Most air purifiers can only filter particles, not odors. Another challenge for finding an air purifier for filtering smoke is the cleaning efficiency. Your air purifier might have the proper filters, but it won’t effectively remove smoke without adequate airflow. No more waste of your MONEY!
Here we make it easy for you. In 3 easy steps, you will learn how to find the right air purifier to filter smoke.
Composition of Smoke
Let’s learn something about smoke before we start.
Any smoke contains two types of elements: particulates and gases. Smoke particulates are mainly a mixture of solids and liquid droplets. Based on smoke types, smoke particles range in diameter from 0.1 to 10 microns. (The average diameter of human hair is around 75 microns)
The average particle size of different types of smoke:
- Tobacco Smoke: 0.2 microns
- Vehicle Emissions: less than 1 microns
- Wildfire Smoke: 0.4 to 0.7 microns
The most common gases in smoke are carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The composition of gases in smoke varies based on the fuel type in the burning process.
The primary gases in different types of smoke:
- Tobacco Smoke: Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, and others.
- Vehicle Emissions: Carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
- Wildfire Smoke: Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Sources: Sciencedirect, EPA, CCOHS.
How to Choose an Air Purifier for Smoke in 3 Easy Steps
Here are the 3 simple steps to select an air purifier for smoke:
1. Higher-grade Particle Filter
Now you know the smoke particles and their sizes. Currently, the best technology to filter these tiny pollutants is the HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arrester) filter. A standard HEPA filter can remove 99.97% of particles that are sized down to 0.3 microns. Higher-grade HEPA filters such as H13-grade HEPA can remove 99.9% of pollutants of 0.1 microns.
Theoretically, a True HEPA filter will remove almost all types of smoke particles that are airborne. The technology is safe to use for everyone and doesn’t produce any ozone.
- Select only True HEPA, H13 HEPA, or higher-grade HEPA filter-based air purifiers.
- A deep bed filter will be more effective and durable.
- HEPA-type or HEPA-like filters are less effective in removing ultrafine smoke particles.
- Avoid ionizer air purifiers or ozone generators.
2. Effective Gas-phase Filter
The most reliable method to remove gases, chemicals, and VOCs from smoke is by using adsorbent materials such as activated carbon, zeolite, activated alumina, and others. These porous elements can safely neutralize gaseous pollutants.
Another proven technology is PECO, a hybrid electro-mechanical filter, can also break down the chemicals from the air without releasing ozone or other harmful byproducts. However, the filtration process is a bit slower than the conventional activated carbon-based air purifiers.
- Select granular activated carbon-based filters.
- Ensure adequate carbon pellets in the filter.
- Activated carbon impregnated with zeolite or potassium iodide would be better.
- Impregnated activated carbon-based flimsy sheet filters are not helpful to filter smoke.
3. Find the Required CADR
The final step is the most significant part. You may have the right air purifier for smoke, but it will not remove smoke efficiently if you use it in an oversized room. Make sure your air purifier has enough cleaning power to remove smoke from your space.
The cleaning power of an air purifier is also known as the CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate). Every air purifier has a CADR number (at maximum fan speed) in cfm or m³/h.
To calculate the required CADR, you need two things:
- Room Dimensions: Your room dimensions with ceiling height.
- Desired ACH Number: ACH or Air Changes Per Hour determines how many times your air purifier will filter the whole volumetric air of your room, theoretically. Select at least 8 ACH (higher is better) to remove smoke efficiently.
Here I am guiding you on how you can calculate the required CADR.
Go to the CADR Calculator on our website.
Step 1: Enter your room dimensions and ceiling height.
Step 2: Select your preferred ACH.
You will find your required CADR both in cfm (cubic feet per minute) and m³/h (cubic meter per hour).
Follow the screanshot below:
You might have to use more than one air purifier to meet the required CADR for your room.
Now you know the secrets to finding an air purifier for smoke.
Check out our top recommendations >>> The 9 Best Air Purifier for Smoke.
Not every air purifiers are a one-stop solution to trap all kinds of pollutants as advertised. You have to select air purifiers based on your real-world conditions. We hope this guide helps you find a perfect air purifier to remove smoke from your room.
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