- Top 5 Best Charcoal Air Purifiers: Buying Guide
- How Do Activated Carbon Filters Work?
- Is Activated Charcoal Different From Activated Carbon?
- What Materials Are Used to Make Carbon Filters?
- How Is Charcoal Activated?
- How Is Carbon Activated?
- What Are Volatile Organic Compounds?
- How Long Does a Carbon Filter Last?
- The Top Five Charcoal Air Purifiers
- A Quick Guide to Shopping for a Charcoal Air Purifier
Top 5 Best Charcoal Air Purifiers: Buying Guide
Are you sure your home smells as good as you think it does? Unpleasant odors can rear their ugly heads when you least expect them, but you may not notice them due to a common nose-related issue called olfactory fatigue. When you are exposed to a smell for prolonged periods, your nose becomes desensitized to that smell.
While a HEPA filter in an air purifier can trap airborne allergens like dust and pollen, it is unable to obliterate the gases that cause odors or volatile organic compounds. For these contaminants, you need an air purifier with an activated carbon filter.
How Do Activated Carbon Filters Work?
To create a carbon filter, manufacturers use coal or other substances, putting them through the activation process. Once that process is complete, a vast number of microscopic pores form, providing a significant amount of surface area for capturing gaseous particles. In fact, a single pound of activated carbon has enough pores to cover 100 acres.
When used in an air purifier, a carbon filter traps odor-causing particles via adsorption, which causes the particles to adhere to the exterior of the filter. This is not the same as absorption. With absorption, a substance is contained within an object.
Is Activated Charcoal Different From Activated Carbon?
Carbon filters, charcoal filters – Many people believe that these are not the same type of filter. This belief stems from differences in carbon’s and charcoal’s activation processes. In spite of that distinction, they share similar properties. Therefore, you can correctly interchange for activated charcoal for activated carbon in the scope of filtration because both terms refer to the same filter.
What Materials Are Used to Make Carbon Filters?
Manufacturers of carbon, or charcoal, filters can choose from many sources to create their products. Coal, charcoal, and wood are the three most common sources as they are readily available and cost-effective in terms of production. However, some manufacturers opt for other materials such as bamboo, coconut shells, peat, petroleum or sawdust.
The creation of activated carbon does not solely depend on the above-mentioned raw materials. Manufacturers have experienced success with olive stones, palm kernels, and walnut shells. However, these materials are harder to obtain in bulk.
How Is Charcoal Activated?
For charcoal, there are two methods that manufacturers employ. The first method involves steam, which envelops the charcoal as it’s heated to a temperature as high as 2,192 degrees Fahrenheit. The second method uses phosphoric acid in place of steam, which is injected into the charcoal. Then, the charcoal is heated to a temperature of up to 1,652 degrees Fahrenheit.
With acid, it doesn’t take as long for the charcoal to complete the activation process. However, steam-only activation eliminates the minute risk of trace elements. Either way, the charcoal’s pores shrink after activation, leading to a larger adsorption surface.
How Is Carbon Activated?
The activation process for carbon is a little different. Like one of the methods used for charcoal, steam is involved. Instead of surrounding the carbon with steam, manufacturers inject the steam into the carbon, which creates extra-small pores needed for adsorption. Often, carbon undergoes a chemical treatment after it’s activated to boost its contaminant-trapping ability.
What Are Volatile Organic Compounds?
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases and vapors that come from a staggering number of sources. Many indoor sources may be products that you use regularly. For example, burning wood in your fireplace releases VOCs into the air. If you are a DIYer, you can be exposed to VOCs when painting, laying carpet or using certain building materials. Art supplies, air fresheners, and cigarettes are three more common indoor VOC culprits.
Whether or not you may experience symptoms related to VOCs depends on several factors, including the toxicity level of the VOC, the volume of the VOC that’s airborne, the length of exposure and your personal health. Symptoms of VOC exposure range from mild ones like headaches, throat irritation, and nausea to life-threatening ones such as cancer, organ failure and nervous system damage.
How Long Does a Carbon Filter Last?
Even though the adsorption area on a carbon filter is rather extensive, it’s not limitless. When all the pores are filled with pollutants, the filter can no longer do its job, and neither can the air purifier. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof method of determining whether an activated carbon filter is saturated, and the lifespan of a carbon filter varies due to filter size and surrounding air quality.
A strange odor is indicative of a full carbon filter; however, a smell is not always present. The best practice is to follow the air purifier manufacturer’s instructions for filter maintenance. If your air purifier often detects poor indoor air quality, you should change the carbon filter sooner.
The Top Five Charcoal Air Purifiers
Foul odors do not make for a pleasant home environment, and they can cause embarrassment when company comes. Then, there are VOCs, which pose major risks to your health. Here are the top five charcoal air purifiers you can buy today that will help safeguard the health of you and your family.
5 Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier (SPA-625A) Review
In addition to its odor-fighting charcoal filter, this air purifier from Rabbit Air contains a BioGS HEPA filter that minimizes on-filter bacteria and allergen buildup as well as a pre-filter and an ionizer. The BioGS 2.0’s five-speed motor is powerful enough to cover a 625-square-foot room and quiet enough to produce a maximum of 50.4 decibels.
Rabbit Air saves you money with its 29-watt Energy Star rating and 3-year HEPA and carbon filter lifespan. The air purifier is equipped with a sensor that detects contaminants and odors, and you can run it in auto mode for hassle-free operation. You also get the convenience of an integrated holder for the remote and a timer function.
4 InvisiClean Aura Air Purifier (IC-5018 Model) Review
This lightweight air purifier only weighs 8.9 pounds, yet it has an impressive clean air delivery rate of 170 cubic feet per minute. Thanks to its DC motor, the InvisiClean Aura boasts a low electricity draw that ranges from 3 to 47 watts. Inside of the purifier, there is a true-HEPA filter, an activated carbon pre-filter, a germicidal UV-C light and an ionizer.
Both filters last up to 12 months and provide coverage for a 300-square-foot space. From the labeled soft-touch buttons, you can select from four fan speeds, set the 8-hour timer and activated the lights-out sleep mode. With a sound output of 55 decibels, the background noise it makes is always peaceful.
3 Levoit LV-PUR131 Air Purifier Review
A combo HEPA/pre-filter and an activated carbon filter along with a CADR rating of 135 promises solid performance. Made for rooms that measure 322 square feet, this Levoit LV-PUR131 air purifier is an energy-saver, using 40 watts of electricity on its highest of three fan speeds.
Each filter lasts 6 to 8 months, and the air purifier offers several convenience features such as sleep mode, which sets the purifier to the lowest fan speed. You also have the option of turning off the LED display and setting the 12-hour timer. If you prefer the purifier choose the fan speed, select auto mode, and it will adjust the speed according to the results of the air quality sensor.
2 GermGuardian AC4825 3-in-1 Air Purifier Review
This tower-style air purifier uses a charcoal pre-filter to control odors and VOCs as well as a true-HEPA to trap allergens. GermGuardian also added a UV-C light with a titanium dioxide catalyst to sharpen the purifier’s germ-killing ability. The HEPA filter lasts 9 months while the charcoal filter lasts 6 months; an indicator lets you know when it’s time to change them.
Simple controls make it easy to change settings. Toggle the UV-C light with the push button and select one of three fan speeds with the dial. This 7.5-pound air purifier has an average CADR of 117 cubic feet per minute and an Energy Star rating of 53 watts, and it’s ideal for 155 square feet of living space.
1 GermGuardian AC4300 PET 3n1 Air Purifier Review
The GermGuardian AC4300 PET 3n1 purifies the air in three ways. It captures allergens with its true-HEPA filter, which is coated with a Pet Pure antimicrobial agent, and it eliminates odors with its charcoal filter. There is also a titanium dioxide UV-C light that obliterates bacteria, mold spores, and viruses. The filters have an 8-month lifespan, and there is a handy filter change indicator on the control panel.
GermGuardian’s sleek, modern tower is designed for use in a 124-square-foot room. Two discreet push buttons let you turn on the UV-C light and choose from among three fan speeds. There are even fan-speed indicator lights that confirm your selection. On its highest speed, the Elite draws 52 watts of electricity and achieves a 170 CADR rating.
A Quick Guide to Shopping for a Charcoal Air Purifier
From basic to feature-laden, air purifiers come in various setups. For odor and chemical removal as well as overall excellent performance, we compiled a list of must-have features. If you want a few conveniences, we threw in a list of extras too.
You cannot get rid of unpleasant smells or dangerous VOCs without an activated charcoal filter. However, your air purifier should also have a HEPA filter for comprehensive purification. You also want the filters to last for a long time to avoid the cost of monthly replacements, and make sure the air purifier you choose is suited for the size of the room.
A particle sensor helps you select the correct fan setting on multi-speed models, and a low decibel output ensures the purifier won’t be a nuisance. Since several variables determine a carbon filter’s lifespan, a filter change indicator is extremely helpful.
Manufacturers integrate an ionizer or a UV-C light into some air purifiers. While an ionizer enhances the purifier’s particle-collection rate and an ultraviolet-C light kills germs on contact, neither is necessary if the air purifier has a HEPA and a charcoal filter.
Functions such as auto mode and sleep mode can save you a few minutes, but they don’t do anything that you can’t do yourself. A timer is another extra, but to get the maximum benefit from your air purifier, you should run it around the clock. Even though a remote lets you control the air purifier from across the room, the same functions are accessible via the on-board panel.
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