Even if you don’t have a member of your family that smokes, vapes, or uses a hooka, merely living in the western United States can mean that you are exposed to smoke during fire season. No matter the air treatment you choose, carefully review the filter cleaning and replacement requirements so you can keep the machine in good working order. Both smoke eaters and air purifiers move and filter air, but the methodology may be different.
1) Creating a Charge
Both smoke eaters and air purifiers draw in air, clean it, and send it back into the environment. There are options to increase the particle filtration, including a smoke eater machine design that first adds an electric charge to some particles before capturing them.
An electrostatic smoke eater will need regular cleaning to remove the particles built up over time. A smoke eater or air purifier that eliminates particles by layered filtration will need those filters replaced. No air cleaning machine is maintenance-free.
2) Look for a HEPA Filter
Look for a High-Efficiency Particulate Air or HEPA filter unit when buying an air purifier. Be aware that a true HEPA filter will probably be louder as it moves the air because it has to draw air through multiple layers, and there may be a movement of air from side to side through the filter.
HEPA filters capture particles of nearly any size via three steps.
Impaction: big particles hit or impact the top layer of the filter
Interception: medium particles are drawn in further and cling to the filter when they touch it
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Diffusion: small particles are moved through the filter in a zig-zag pattern and are captured
While a HEPA filter can reduce dust and pollen exposure, it isn’t fine enough to capture the chemicals released by smoking certain products. If you have an air purifier to cut down on the smell of cigarette smoke and aren’t getting good results, it could be you’re asking the filter to do something it’s not designed for.
3) Check the Volume Capacity
If you allow smoking in only one section of your house, the right smoke eater may be all you need. To get the best results, review the clean air delivery rate or CADR. The CADR has to be high enough to move the full volume of air through space.
It should be noted that the smoke from cigars and cigarettes contains many components that cause it to cling, and vaping or hooka smoke include these components and extra humidity. If you’re using an air purifier to remove smoke smells and not having any luck, it could be because the smoke, and the odor, are clinging to surfaces in the room.
4) Portable Vs. Permanent
Multiple smoke eaters are countertop friendly and easy to move. If you’ve got a smoker in a space and they like to entertain, such as when having friends over for cigars and brandy, put several smoke eaters around the space and lower the temperature in the area if possible.
Lowering the temperature offers a simple benefit. As your AC runs, it will filter the air in the space and run it through your furnace filter. Consider adding a charcoal or HEPA filter to your HVAC unit. Additionally, cool air holds less moisture, giving smoky air less opportunity to cling. A cool room, multiple smoke eaters, pulling down, and neutralizing smoke particles will reduce the smoke odor that builds up over time.
5) Keep an Eye Out for Carbon
Carbon filters are ideal for unwelcome odors. If you ever get a skunk odor in your home, a carbon filter in your HVAC unit will help a lot. To that end, if your smoke eater or air purifying unit has a filter slot that you can fill with your media, add carbon.
The fundamental difference between a smoke eater and an air purifier is the electronic capture of smoke particles. Even the finest air purifier won’t capture all the chemicals in cigarette/cigar smoke or a vaping pen, so if you need to capture smoke, get a smoke eater with an electric charge. If you need to remove old smoke smells, get the items out in the sun, and get the fresh air moving. For those who need to remove pollen, a HEPA filter on an air purifier may be enough.