Smoke is a well-known pollutant. We deal with it every day in traffic and the air we breathe. To add to that, there’s smoke from cigarette, tobacco, pipes and other products. Not only are the chemicals in smoke harmful to our lungs and overall health, they also make your home smell.
The best air purifier for smoke is a good way to protect yourself from it harmful health effects. Unfortunately, not all air cleaners are made equal when it comes to smoke and odor removal.
In this article, we go into detail how smoke pollution and that from cigarettes and tobacco affect your home and health. We also go into detail on how to choose the right air cleaner for smoke.
Our Top Choices: Quick Overview of Smoke Air Purifiers We Like
- Rabbit Air MinusA2, SPA-700A – Top Pick for Large Areas/Rooms
- Philips Air Purifier 2000 – Top Pick for Small to Medium Sized Rooms
- AeraMax 300 Air Purifier
- Holmes HEPA Type Desktop Air Purifier HAP242-NUC – Affordable option for small rooms
- Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier– Affordable option for medium to large room
What is Air Pollution?
We all know or have heard about. But what is air pollution anyway?
Air pollution is caused by pollutants in the air that are harmful to human health. These pollutants may be man-made or naturally occurring. Among the different types we experience everyday are dust, smoke, smog, fires and gases.
For the most part, air pollution is categorizes as visible and invisible.
- Visible air pollutants: These include dust, ash, and pollen.
- Invisible air pollutants: This is where most air pollutants fall under. Among them is carbon monoxide. As their name suggests, they’re not visible to the human eye. But, when they accumulate enough, they can be seen as smog.
One of the most prevalent forms of air pollution is smoke. You experience it every day the moment you step outside. There’s smoke from factories, vehicle exhaust, fires and other events happening around us.
Smoke consists of a mixture of different gases and particles. It is produced due to some sort of combustion. This can come from your car’s engine, stoves, wood fires and industrial machines.
Among the biggest contributors to smoke pollution are passenger vehicles. These include cars, SUVs and trucks. Of which, passenger vehicles and heavy duty trucks are the worst offenders.
Carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide are two of the negative by products our cars produce. They come out of your vehicle’s exhaust. And, are caused by fuel burning in order to produce power. Industrial plants use the same concept for electricity and powering their machines.
Indoor Air Pollution from Cigarette Smoke & Tobacco Products
In addition to air pollution, smog and smoke outside, there’s also cigarette and tobacco smoke. Cigarettes are made from tobacco. And the smoke they produce with each puff contains many harmful chemicals.
Cigarette and tobacco smoke contain over 7,000 harmful chemicals. When mixed together, they form a sticky tar. This is why you smell like smoke after puffing a stick or being near someone who did. Smoke sticks to your skin and clothes. Worst of all it also sticks to your lungs.
When you breathe in tobacco smoke, it sticks to your lungs’ cilia. These are tiny hair-like structures in your lungs that clean out dirt and germs. When the cilia gets covered with tar, it prevents them from functioning properly.
As a result, this allows dirt, dust and germs to accumulate in your lungs. Eventually, you get sick because of this.
Even worse, the tar consists of chemicals known to be harmful to health. Over 70 of which are proven to cause or be associated to cancer. Some examples include nitrites, carbon monoxide and ammonia.
Categories of Smoking
Smoking can be divided into 3 main categories.
- Mainstream smoke: This is the smoke inhaled by the person smoking.
- Sidestream smoke: This is smoke that comes from the lighted end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe. In contrast, mainstream smoke comes from the other end of the stick, which often has a filter. This makes sidestream smoke more harmful to your health. It is more toxic because it contains higher concentration of cancer causing chemicals.
- Secondhand smoke: This is where most people fall under. It involves someone who isn’t a smoker inhaling cigarette or tobacco smoke from the surrounding air. As such, it is often called passive or involuntary smoking.
Effects of Tobacco and Cigarette Smoke on Your Health
Cigarette smoking causes nearly 20% of all deaths in the U.S. This amounts to around half a million people each hear. Studies also show that smoking is accountable for 90% of all lung cancer deaths.
It increases your risk of:
- Heart disease by 2 to times.
- Stroke by 2 to 4 times.
- Developing lung cancer by 25 times.
Additionally, long term smoking damages your lungs. It causes irreversible scarring which results in breathing difficulty as you get older.
This can lead to respiratory issues like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma.
Effects of Secondhand Smoke
Even when you yourself don’t smoke, you’re still at risk. As long as you’re around someone who does. Secondhand smoke is just as dangerous as smoking it yourself.
It has been linked to lung cancer as well as other forms of the disease. These include, larynx, pharynx, brain, stomach and breast cancer among others.
According to the CDC, secondhand smoke results in close to 34,000 deaths related to heart disease annually. It is also responsible for over 7,300 lung cancer deaths per year.
The Bottom Line on Smoke
Whether it’s mainstream or secondhand smoke, even a small amount is harmful. Smoke stays in the surrounding air for hours. Plus, it sticks to the walls and furniture. This is why smoking indoors is a bad idea.
Additionally, doing so exposes everyone else in the house. This is true even if you smoke in your room.
Besides cigarette smoke, there’s also other types of smoke that can cause indoor air pollution. This includes air from the outside, your fireplace and that from burnt cooking.
How Do Air Purifiers Help with Smoke and Cigar Odors
When it comes to choosing air purifiers for smoke and the odors they produce, you want a device that has these two components.
1. Active Carbon Filter
This is the most important feature when choosing an air purifier for smoke. Cigarette and tobacco smoke are miniscule. They range from 0.003 microns to 1 micron in size. This makes HEPA filters, which are capable of trapping particles up to 0.3 microns in size, ineffective. Smoke, odors and vapor pass right through HEPA filters.
Activated carbon filters on the other hand is extremely porous. This allows them to capture cigarette, cigar, and weed smoke. It also traps odors, fumes as well as gases.
This type of filter is made from a special type of carbon that has very fine pores. It goes through a process that opens millions of tiny pores and fissures to increases it absorption ability. Absorption in this case, refers to gas molecules sticking to a solid (the carbon), as opposed to the liquid getting absorbed.
Doing so also boosts its surface area. And, allows it to collect smoke from cigarettes and other sources.
2. HEPA Filtration
Another feature that’s essential in a smoke air cleaner is a HEPA filter. This is the most popular filter type. It is available is many products for good reason.
Because activated carbon filters rarely act as the main filtration system, you’ll want a HEPA filter to complement it.
HEPA filters are designed to capture particles up to 0.3 microns 99.9% of the time. This makes it very effective in purifying the air from almost all types of air allergens and contaminants. Among these are dust, mold spores, pollen and dander.
But, it isn’t very good at trapping the miniscule particles (odors, gases, chemical fumes and smoke). That’s what the activated carbon filter is for.
Together, they’re able to give your comprehensive air cleaning coverage.
Pre-filters come in many forms and types. But, they essentially work the same. As its name suggests, it comes before the other filters. Typically, it is placed in the front, before the HEPA filter.
Its main function is to catch the larger particles. This includes hair, dirt and other objects. Having them around lessens the work of the HEPA filter. It also prolongs its lifespan.
Some air cleaners come with carbon pre-filters. These help in neutralizing odors. They’re similar to the activated carbon filters above. But, because there’s so little of it in the pre-filter, you’ll want to get a device with large activated carbon filters to handle entire rooms.
Best Air Purifier for Smoke Reviews
It is designed to cover spaces up to 109 square feet. This gives you an area that’s around 10 feet by 11 feet. That’s about the size of a small bedroom.
We like that it is very affordable. In fact, it is among the cheapest options around. This lets you use an air cleaner in the room where smoke is. Besides cleaning cigarette and tobacco smoke, it also promotes cleaner air.
The unit comes with a HEPA type filter that’s designed to capture small particles. This gets rid of 99% of the allergens and smoke particles in the room. If you need better air purification, there’s an optional ionizer available as well.
In addition to capturing the dust and smoke particles form the air, it also comes with activated carbon filter. This complements the HEPA filtration to remove unwanted odors which is often the case with cigars and cigarettes.
The unit is compact. That makes it easy to set up on a table or the floor. It can also be positioned vertically or horizontally.
Two other features we appreciate with this smoke air purifier is it is quiet and comes with 3 speed selection. The low noise lets you use it even when you’re sleeping. And, the 3 speeds allows you to save energy.
Do note that the noise level is produces depends on how what level you use. In the lowest setting, it makes almost no noise at all. In medium, it produces white noise. High is a bit louder.
This lets you cover your entire living room and kitchen. Or, a substantial area of the home. The unit comes with True HEPA and carbon filtration. Both are ideal for dealing with smoke from tobacco products and pollution.
We like that this air cleaner works well not just for smoke. It is certified for asthma and allergy by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). And, it works well for getting rid of dust mites, germs and mold spores as well.
An additional feature that further eliminates smoke and pollution is its plasma ionizer. This gets rid of airborne particles like smoke and pollutants with a press of a button.
We like that the AeraMax 300 runs quietly. And you can select between 4 fan levels. The controls are all lined up on the right side of the device. This makes it easy to find and control.
Should you want something smaller, Aeramax offers smaller units. These work well for rooms that are 100, 200 and 400 square inches big. The links to these models are on the product’s page.
Honeywell 50250-S True HEPA Air Purifier
Ideal for medium sized rooms, this Honeywell air purifier works for rooms up to 390 square feet. It is equipped with HEPA filtration as well as a carbon activated pre-filter.
- The HEPA filter catches nearly 100% of the particles and pollutants in the air, including smoke. We like that it captures even the smallest ones up to 0.3 microns. This makes it effective for tobacco and cigarette smoke as well as dust, pollen and dander.
- The addition of the carbon activated pre-filter gets rid of smoke and unwanted odors in your home. It also catches the bigger particles. This lessens the work for the HEPA filter, prolonging its use.
We like the unique 360 degree design of the Honeywell 50250-S. This lets you place it anywhere and be able to work in all directions. This results is more even air collection and distribution.
The unit runs in 3 modes: low, medium and high.
- You can use the low setting while sleeping. This is a quiet mode.
- The medium setting is ideal for day use.
- The high setting is useful in situations when you need to clear out odors, smoke or dust.
As with many of the products in our review, cleaning the filter is easy. The filter is located in the middle of the unit and accessible when you unlock and pull out the cover.
This is another favorite of ours. This air cleaner is designed for medium to large rooms. It is verified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) for use in areas up to 360 square feet.
We like that it works very well with different particles, allergens and pollutants. This lets you get rid of not only smoke but other irritants as well.
We like that the unit has 3 stages of purification.
- Stage 1 is the carbon filter. This gets rid of smells and odors from pets, smoke and even the kitchen. It also aids in prolonging the life of the HEPA filter by catching a lot of the particles beforehand.
- Stage 2 is the True HEPA filter: This captures airborne particles in your home. This layer gets 99.97% of all allergens in the air. As a result, you get cleaner air. And, you home is free from germs, mold spores, pet dander, smoke and pollen.
- Stage 3 is the PlasmaWave technology. This extra addition works on the molecules within these dust particles. They break down vapors, smoke, odors and allergens.
For use, the Winix 5300-2 offers 4 fan speed options. This includes a quiet mode that you can use during sleep. This way you can just set the unit and forget it till the morning.
In addition, it also has smart sensors. These constantly monitor the quality of the air in the room. There’s an LED display that tells you if it is good or bad. The best part is, it once the sensors notice a change in air quality, it automatically turns up the fan speed to get it back to the desired level.