You’re searching for the best air purifier for smoke, but everywhere you turn all you find are marketing gimmicks and sales pitches. So many sites are telling you that they’ve cracked the case and have the latest technological breakthrough wrapped up in the perfect air purifier for smokers. What most fail to convey is that the only scientifically viable way to address smoke is with an activated carbon filter. And, to some extent a HEPA filter. It’s that simple…
Austin Air HealthMate™ Jr.
Why we chose it…
Bottom line; activated carbon is the key to fighting cigarette smoke. And, in the world of purifiers, not many beat the 6.5 pounds of activated carbon Austin Air packs into this filter. The boxy unit also gives you 60 square feet of medical-grade HEPA filtration. This purifier is also the best value in what we would classify as “premium” air purifiers. No matter what you smoke; we think you’ll love Austin Air’s Healthmate JR.
Why does the best air purifier for smoke need Activated Carbon?
The majority of airborne compounds found in tobacco smoke range in size from 0.01 microns up to one micron. There are gasses produced, but we’ll get to that shortly. Back to the particulate matter that can be measured… a lot of smoke particles are smaller than .3 microns in size. Which renders pretty much every filtration media useless. Even medical grade HEPA filters.
The reason activated carbon is a great smoke purifier is that it’s extremely porous. And, that captures the gasses, odor, and particles from cigar, cigarette, and weed smoke. Basically, anything smaller than .3 microns can be trapped through the process of adsorption.
Do you need a HEPA filter in an Air Purifier for Cigarette Smoke?
Technically, you don’t need a HEPA filter for the smoke itself. However, since some of the particles are larger than .3 microns a HEPA filter will help. But, the biggest reason to combine activated carbon with a HEPA filter is that the two effectively remove a vast range of common pollutants.
Therefore, a solid purifier that combines HEPA and carbon will address everything from chemicals and VOCs… to pet hair and pollen. So it’s not a matter of “do I need a HEPA filter in a cigarette smoke machine?” It more a question like: “Why wouldn’t I enlist the help of a HEPA filter in my purifier?”
Does it make sense to get a purifier for smoke… if you don’t even smoke?
First, a lot of people don’t realize how easily smoke creeps into your home or apartment. Granted, the most obvious is cigarette smoke from smoking inside the house. However… smoking neighbors, fires, factories, and smoke from chimneys can invade your home. Thus creating a health risk, and stinking things up a bit. Even burning candles in your home can introduce unwanted smoke into the air you breathe.
Second, the best all-around purifiers combine HEPA filtration with activated carbon. So, even if you do not smoke you’ll be able to see improvements in indoor air quality through the use of a good purifier.
Best Air Purifier For Smoke Comparison
What Works and What to Avoid in a Purifier for Smoke
There are several types of air purifiers available for purchase. A simple Google search for “best air purifiers” or any one of several similar terms, will produce more information than you can handle.
Fortunately, we’re here to help you find out what works, so you don’t have to weed through all of that data yourself! Plus we’re actually into evaluating these machines.
First, as we said earlier, activated carbon is the key to success when it comes to tackling odor and smoke.
Second, a HEPA filter is a scientifically proven, federally regulated way to improve indoor air quality.
For everyday air cleaning in your house, a simple HEPA/activated carbon filtration system is almost always the best option. It has the highest efficiency and doesn’t emit any ozone. The one drawback of a filtration system is that it has the highest cost of operation, due to the amount of electricity it uses, and the fact that it requires replacement filters periodically.
“Air-purifying” sprays, candles, and deodorizers do not work for removing cigar and cigarette smoke. It should be noted here that, despite the claims that some manufacturers make, there is not any spray that will actually remove smoke from the air. There are many sprays that are marketed as eliminating smoke smells and even cleaning the air. There is no science to back up these claims, so avoid them! They’re basically just perfume, to “cover up” the smoke smell and separate you from your hard-earned money. Plus, many of them are just introducing a bunch of chemicals and gasses into the air you’re breathing.
What to avoid…
Ozone generators work well but are not safe if people or pets are in the room. They’re mostly useful for removing odors after a flood or house fire. And, should be used by professionals. Or at least well-informed consumers. Ozone generators are also not proven to have more than a negligible effect on overall air quality. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, they can actually increase the health risk. Too much ozone in a combined space is almost as hazardous as the presence of smoke!
Purifier Manufacturers that Make Safe and Effective Units
- Guardian Technologies (GermGuardian Line is an affordable choice)
- Blue Air
- Rabbit Air
- Austin Air
Reviewed below are some of the best air purifiers for smoke. There are many other great options, but these represent a solid range for smoke removing power and price points.
Austin Air HealthMate™
Austin Air’s Healthmate Standard is one of the best purifiers for smoke you’ll encounter. This product also handles a wide range of airborne pollutants, from odor and bacteria to VOCs and gases. Best of all these units have up to 15 pounds of smoke eating activated carbon.
The Healthmate pulls dirty air through four highly effective filtration stages. First, a large particle filter protects subsequent stages from getting clogged with pet hair and dust bunnies. Next, a medium particle filter takes removes things the first filter misses. Third, an activated carbon provides a ton of smoke handling and odor killing surface area. Finally, a HEPA filter takes care of things like pollen and fine dust.
The machine measures 23” tall x 14.5” wide… and the machine is mounted on easy roll casters. Austin Air purifiers are not the sleekest looking purifiers, but they are one of the best values in high-performance air purification systems.
Rabbit Air MinusA2 SPA-700 AIR PURIFIER
Rabbit Air’s MinusA2 line offers a wider range of filter and design options while providing a surprising level of performance. In fact, it’s among the most popular among cigar aficionados. The MinusA2 looks great too. It features a flat, sleek design that uses stand on the floor or you can mount it on a wall.
It features a light sensor/auto mode. And, even has a mood light. The light sensor/auto mode recognizes a dark room and automatically enters sleep mode. The mood light displays a wide array of colors to soothe and relax. One of our favorite features is that the MinusA2 is also available with customized panels that can match, contrast, or blend into any decor.
Germguardian is one of the most popular and affordable options. It does everything very well! Not only does it filter the air through a high-efficiency HEPA system, but it also tackles smoke and odors through an activated carbon layer. And, as if that’s not enough, it even has the UV light to kill off bacteria and viruses.
This is a medium-sized model, best for individual rooms, such as a bedroom. Two minor drawbacks to this model; it produces a plastic smell for the first few hours running, and it is a little bit loud. Read the detailed GermGuardian AC4825 air purifier review here.
- HEPA filter with activated carbon technology for smoke removal
- 22-inch tall – best for medium and small size rooms
- Purifies 155 Square Feet
The best thing about this purifier is that it’s designed for large spaces. Its round shape gives it a larger surface area, which means that it is adequate for larger spaces, or even an entire apartment or small house if there is enough airflow between rooms. Replacement filters are expensive, but only need replacement every two years. This one is also a bit loud! For more information, read the detailed review of the Honeywell 50250-S air purifier. We think of it as a slightly cheaper alternative to Austin Air’s healthmate line. It filters odor and small particles very well… just not as well as premium models.
- Round HEPA filter – useful for large rooms up to 390 sq. feet
- 360-degree flow with 3 speeds
- Measures 18 x 18 x 19 inches
Regardless of which model you choose, the best air purifier for smoke removal is something any smoker should consider. While there is no way purifying filters can instantly remove all of the smoke in a room, they do help. Just imagine… how much air would you need to circulate if you have an air purifier filtering the air in a room while you enjoy a cigarette. To remove everything you would essentially need to construct a wind tunnel.
Remember, though, that it is part of an overall strategy; it is also important to have adequate ventilation and to avoid having a source of smoke present in your house, to begin with, if possible. And, while we aren’t here to judge we do think it’s important to briefly discuss the health impact of smoking indoors.
Health Risks of Smoke in the House
Exposure to smoke increases the risk factors for many diseases. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke can cause lung cancer or heart disease in adults who don’t smoke. This kills approximately 3,000 otherwise healthy adults every year!
The risk caused to children by exposure to smoke is more substantial. The serious health risks to children include:
- Onset of asthma in children who previously exhibited no symptoms
- Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in otherwise healthy infants
- Increased risk of lower respiratory infections
- Some studies point to greater risk of ear infections
- Increased risk of triggering asthma attacks in children already diagnosed with asthma
Also remember that if you have pets, it is harmful to them as well.
Wouldn’t you say that it’s worth getting the best air purifier for smoke removal to help your family’s continued good health?
What about Vaping Smoke?
Vaping receives very polarizing responses when you ask people about its impact on health. For the most part, the ingredients used in vape pens and mods are commonly found elsewhere in common products. The vaporized vegetable glycerine (most common type) is what creates the “vaping smoke” which is not smoke at all. Propylene glycol (an ingredient used in asthma inhalers) carries the vaporized flavor and nicotine. Back to the “is it a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes” question. Is it safe? We aren’t completely sold on it being 100 percent safe, but we do tend to agree that it’s safer than traditional cigarette smoke.
There’s a great article on Gizmodo that explains the contents and safety surrounding the vaping trend.
Now, the important question… Should you still get an air purifier if you’re vaping? We think you should. First, because purifiers benefits go far beyond removing tobacco odor and smoke particles. There are a ton of things floating around in the air that you don’t want to breathe on a regular basis. Second, there could be some nasty stuff in e-cigs (electronic cigarettes) and vape juice. It appears to be much less than cigarettes, but better safe than sorry. Finally, air purifiers (like those mentioned above) are great at battling pollen and minimizing dust.