Three Air Filters That Remove Odors In The Home

The most filter effective filter we’ve found is the Healthmate HM-400. This filter lasts five years and requires virtually no maintenance.

Also available is the junior version, which is smaller and less expensive.

Another reliable budget choice is the Winix 5500-2 — this inexpensive filter is designed for odor removal.

Most air purifiers are designed to remove particles like dust, pollen, and pet dander from your home. However, the technology that makes for a good allergy machine is not similar to what you’ll need to remove odor.

Odors are gas molecules smaller than 0.3 microns, and many are as small as 0.001 microns. This means that particle filters (HEPA filters) will not trap the gas molecules because they are too small.

So basically, almost all the air filters on the market will remove little or no odor from the air.

These are the products that eliminate odors:

  • An air filter that contains a lot of activated carbon, which is very good at adsorbing odors
  • An air filter with zeolite, which is a natural mineral that is very good at adsorbing things
  • For very problematic odors, you can use an ozone generator — ozone is active oxygen that breaks up odors quickly — but ozone is dangerous to inhale — so this generator should only be used in vacant homes when necessary

Other filtration methods work more gradually:

  • You can put bowls or satchels of activated carbonzeolite, or binchotan in a room — these raw materials will slowly absorb odors over time
  • You can grow indoor plants in a room — they will clean the air gradually — see the book How To Grow Fresh Air for more information

But, if you want to remove odors quickly, these are my filter recommendations:

The Most Effective Odor Filter: Healthmate HM-400

Healthmate HM-400 

I recommend the Healthmate HM-400 as the most effective filter for removing indoor odors. This filter uses 15 pounds of activated carbon and zeolite to remove odors and gases. It also includes another HEPA filter certified to remove 99.97% of all particles in the air over 0.3 microns.

Many filters remove particles from the air but are ineffective at odor removal. The Healthmate HM-400 is designed to remove odors, chemicals, and gases from the air. It incorporates 15 pounds of activated carbon and zeolite into the filter media. The sheer size of this material allows this filter to remove odors from the air quickly.

The Healthmate is also one of the cheapest to run in the long term because the replaceable filter is designed to last five years (most air filters require annual filter media replacement).

The filter inside the Austin Air Healthmate.
The filter inside the Austin Air Healthmate.

These filters are made in Buffalo, New York, and come with a 5-year mechanical warranty.

I’ve tested the Healthmate HM-400 in my home using a TES Air Quality monitor. This monitor measures VOCs or “Volatile Organic Compounds”. Put simply — VOCs are all the odor-producing chemicals suspended in the air. In my few informal tests, I found that the Healthmate could remove all traces of smoke odors from a room in about 45 minutes. I will be conducting further tests in the coming months.

The Best Budget Air Filter For Odors

If you need a budget air filter, consider these reliable filters that you can find for under $300:

  • Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier: this filter contains carbon granules for odor removal and also produces ions for odor reduction — Winix is a reliable filter brand that has been in business since 1973 — the filter costs about $180
  • Winix NK105: A WiFi-enabled filter from Winix that also contains a carbon-filter element — costs about $220

Best For Removing Embedded Odors

If you need to remove stubborn odors such as deeply embedded cigarette odors, I recommend using an Ozone Generator. These generators produce ozone gas which permeates everything in a room and effectively eliminates any odors present.

These devices sell for about $70. Important note — an ozone generator should not be used as a general air filter. Ozone will damage your lungs. They should only be used for odor “emergencies” and when a house is vacant.

Link: Ozone Generator

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