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Which Air Purifier is Best for Cigarette Smoke?

Smoke from a cigarette.

Can an air purifier get rid of cigarette smoke entirely?

Simply put, the only air purifiers that can claim to remove smoke particles and compounds must have both of the following air purifying components:

Combined, these two elements increase the purifier’s ability to remove cigarette smoke (both particles and the smell of cigarettes).

We’ll explain how these components work to improve your home’s air quality and remove stubborn odors. But first, let’s talk about the unique nature of cigarette smoke in homes and why it’s difficult to remove.

Interested in an air purifying system that fights cigarette smoke and odors?

Just contact the professionals at George Brazil today by clicking the link below or calling us at (602) 842-0009. During an appointment, one of our HVAC and air quality professionals will perform an in-home assessment and chat with you about your needs. From there, we’ll recommend air purification systems that will help keep your home’s air fresher and cleaner.

First, a fair warning about cigarette smoke …

A cigarette broken apart in the center.

Cigarette smoke has both particulate matter and VOCs in them.

Tobacco smoke consists of particulate matter and toxic gaseous compounds like acetaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, etc. These are called VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Only a few types of air purifiers can remove particulate matter and VOCs from cigarette smoke. However, even the purifiers that can remove both can only reduce the amount of particulate matter and gaseous compounds in the air. No air purifier can remove 100% of cigarette smoke.

Another important thing to consider is whether someone has smoked in the house for months or years. If so, there is likely no air purifier that will fully remove the smell of cigarette smoke. Typically, in these cases, only professional remediation will remove this smell.

The bottom line? There’s no real solution to the negative effects of cigarette smoke other than to not smoke in the house.

But, of course, we understand that if you’re asking this question, you may not have control over this, or you may have moved into a home where the former occupant smoked indoors. That said, we’ll point you in the right direction of air purifiers that can help to reduce the harmful effects and odor of cigarette smoke.

For cigarette smoke removal, look for an air purifier with these 2 components …

A HEPA Filter

A close-up photo of a HEPA filter.

A HEPA filter can remove particulate matter from cigarette smoke.

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and refers to pleated air filters that can trap at least 99.7% of fine air particles as small as .3 microns. Note: A micron is a unit of length. For context, the diameter of a single strand of human hair is equivalent to 70 microns.

Studies have found that tobacco smoke particles can range anywhere from .01 to 1 micron, with the average-sized smoke particle being around .3 microns. That said, a HEPA filter is designed to remove most particles from cigarette smoke.

However, as we mentioned before, tobacco smoke is actually made up of more than just dangerous particles. Cigarette smoke also is comprised of hundreds of different toxic gases. And a HEPA filter is only designed to trap and remove particles from the air, not gases.

That’s why it is important to find an air purifier that also has an activated carbon filter, which helps remove those toxic gases from the air. Let’s take a look at how an activated carbon filter works.

An Activated Carbon Filter

A close up photo of an activated carbon filter.

Activated charcoal filters can trap VOCs from cigarette smoke.

Activated carbon filters use a bed of activated carbon to trap VOCs released from common household products (or from smoking tobacco products). These filters use a process called “adsorption” to remove gases, chemical vapors, and odor molecules.

During this process, contaminated air flows through the activated carbon filter. Vapors, gases, and certain molecules get trapped in the porous surface of the filter. Those contaminants then stay in the filter while the cleaned air is pushed back into your home.

How HEPA and activated carbon filters work together

A dog in a home's doorway.

Keep your home’s air cleaner with a HEPA and activated carbon filter.

Keep in mind that an activated carbon filter is designed only to remove gas molecules, not particulate matter. On the other hand, a HEPA filter can remove particulate matter but not gas molecules. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your air purifying system incorporates both a HEPA filter as well as an activated carbon one.

When working together, these filters can remove different aspects of tobacco smoke from your home’s air. The activated carbon can remove the toxic gases and compounds responsible for odors, and the HEPA filter removes the dangerous air particles that can irritate your lungs, throat, etc.

Another concept to keep in mind is that both filters need regular replacements in order to help your air purifier work at optimal levels. Depending on your home’s unique conditions, you will want to check both filters every 3-6 months and replace them as needed.

Room vs. Whole-Home Air Purifiers

A woman laying on a couch with an air purifier next to her.

Should you get a room air purifier to get rid of cigarette smoke?

In the market for an air purifier? Another factor you’ll also want to consider is the coverage needed to best remove cigarette smoke from your home.

Air purifiers typically come in two different sizes:

  1. Room air purifiers: Designed to purify the air in 1-2 rooms
  2. Whole-home air purifiers: Designed to purify the air in your entire home

Many times, homeowners only consider room air purifiers. However, regardless of how long you run a room air purifier, it will never be able to clean air at a rate fast enough to keep the air throughout your entire home fresh.

If you’re primarily concerned with cigarette smoke which affects the entire house, we suggest considering a whole-home air purifying system. These systems typically cost more than a room air purifier, but they are more cost effective than buying multiple room purifiers.

A whole-home air purifying system is typically installed in the HVAC system by a professional. Because of its location, a whole-home system is often less noisy than room air purifiers. A professional can help you pick the air purifying components that satisfy your air quality goals.

Need a professional to help you choose an air purifier that’s right for you? Trust George Brazil

At George Brazil, we’ve helped hundreds of Arizona homeowners improve their home’s air quality with powerful air purifying solutions.

To get started, schedule an appointment with one of our trusted HVAC technicians by clicking the link below or calling us at (602) 842-0009. We’ll visit your home to give you honest advice on the system you need. Plus, we can give you an accurate installation estimate for different air purifying systems based on your ductwork and clean air needs.

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