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 at all similar to what you’ll need to remove odor.
Odors are gas molecules that are 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 actually eliminate odors:
- an air filter that contains lot of activated carbon — activated carbon is very good at adsorbing odors
- and air filter with zeolite — another natural mineral that is very good at adsorbing things
- for very problematic odors you can use a ozone generator — ozone is active oxygen that breaks up odors quickly — but ozone is dangerous to inhale — so these generator should only be used in vacant homes when necessary
Other filtration methods work more gradually:
- You can put bowls or satchels activated carbon, zeolite 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 basically if you want to remove odors quickly, these are my filter recommendations:
The Most Effective Odor Filter: 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 that is certified to remove 99.97% of all particles in the air over 0.3 microns.
Many filter remove particles from the air, but are not effective at odor remove. The Healthmate HM-400 is specifically designed to remove odors, chemicals and gases from the air. It does this by 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).
These filters are made in Buffalo, New York and they come with a 5-year mechanical warranty.
I’ve been testing 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 that suspended in the air. In my few informal tests, I found that the Healthmate was able to remove all traces of smoke odors from a room in about 45 minutes. I will be conducting further tests in coming months.
The Best Budget Air Filter For Odors
What if you need an air filter that costs less than $375 Healthmate Jr
Basically, there are not many good options in this price range. These are the best ones I know:
- Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier: this filter contains carbon granules for odor removal and also uses 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 really 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 sells 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