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Best Charcoal Air Purifiers in 2023: 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 exposed to a smell for prolonged periods, your nose becomes desensitized to that smell.

Best Charcoal Air Purifier
Best Charcoal Air Purifier

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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.

Our Recommended Charcoal Air Purifiers in 2023

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. 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.

Best Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

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.

Here are the top charcoal air purifiers you can buy in 2023 that will help safeguard your and your family’s health.

#8 Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0 SPA-625A Air Purifier

In addition to its odor-fighting charcoal filter, this good 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.

RabbitAir BioGS 2.0 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier (SPA-550A)
RabbitAir BioGS 2.0

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.

Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air...
  • The BioGS SPA-625A air purifier will filter all the air in a room up to 625 sq. ft. twice...
  • BioGS HEPA Filtration with 4 stages of purification and deodorization. The BioGS HEPA and...

#7 InvisiClean Aura IC-5018

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.

InvisiClean Aura II Air Purifier
InvisiClean Aura II

Inside the air purifier are a true-HEPA filter, an activated carbon prefilter, a germicidal UV-C light, and an ionizer.

Both filters last up to 12 months and provide coverage for a 300-square-foot space. You can select four fan speeds from the labeled soft-touch buttons, set the 8-hour timer, and activate the lights-out sleep mode. With a sound output of 55 decibels, the background noise it makes is always peaceful.

InvisiClean Aura II Air Purifier for Home...
  • Best-Selling Aura II UV Air Purifier: InvisiClean has designed its Aura II Room Air...
  • CARB Certified & SGS Tested Products: Our Air Purifiers for home went through elaborate...

#6 Levoit LV-PUR131

A combo HEPA/prefilter, an activated carbon air filter, and a CADR rating of 135 promise 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 convenient features, such as sleep mode, which sets the purifier to the lowest fan speed. You also can turn off the LED display and set the 12-hour timer.

If you prefer the air cleaner to choose the fan speed, you have to select auto mode and adjust the speed according to the results of the air quality sensor.

LEVOIT Air Purifiers for Home Large Room with...
  • REMOVE SMOKE&ODORS: The rapid clean air delivery rate and High-Efficiency Activated Carbon...
  • IDEAL FOR ALLERGIES: 3 Stage Filtration capture at least 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3...

#5 Germ Guardian AC4825E

This tower-style air purifier uses a charcoal prefilter to control odors and VOCs and 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.

GermGuardian AC4825E Air Purifier
GermGuardian AC4825E

The HEPA filter lasts nine months while the charcoal filter lasts six months; an indicator lets you know when to change them.

Simple controls make it easy to change settings. Toggle the UV-C 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.

GermGuardian HEPA Air Purifier for Home,...
  • ROOM COVERAGE: This GermGuardian air purifier circulates air 1x/hour in spaces up to 743...
  • ADVANCED FILTERING: With the true HEPA filter, this air purifier traps 99.97% of harmful...

#4 Germ Guardian AC4300BPTCA

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.

GermGuardian True HEPA Filter Air Purifier
Germ Guardian AC4300BPTCA

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 pushbuttons let you turn on the UV-C and choose from three fan speeds.

There are even fan-speed indicator lights that confirm your selection. The Elite draws 52 watts of electricity at its highest speed and achieves a 170 CADR rating.

GermGuardian Air Purifier for Homes with...
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE AIR PURIFIER: Circulates the air 1x per hour in 743 square foot rooms and...
  • GENUINE HEPA PET PURE FILTER: Our Pet Pure HEPA Filter is designed to tackle pet dander,...

#3 Bissell Air320

The Air320 by Bissell offers three-stage filtration that eliminates odors and airborne particles. The washable fabric prefilter stops large contaminants from clogging the subsequent filters.

Bissell air320
Bissell air320

The honeycomb-style activated carbon filter traps gases, cooking smells, and harmful VOCs, while a True HEPA Filter eliminates particles as small as 0.3 microns with 99.97% efficiency.

Thanks to the AirCirqulate System, the air320 constantly monitors indoor air quality to automatically turn the motor on when needed and off to save energy. This air cleaner is designed to clean the air in spaces of up to 308 square feet. The unit is rated 199 CFM against smoke.

BISSELL air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA...
  • 3-Stage Filtration for Simply Clean Air. Includes a fabric pre-filter, activated carbon...
  • Medical-grade HEPA Filter. Captures 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns and smaller when on...

#2 Blueair Blue Pure 211+

The 211+ is the flagship air purifier from Blueair. It has a maximum CADR of 350 CFM and covers spacious rooms of 525 square feet.

Blueair Blue Pure 211+
Blueair Blue Pure 211+

The air purifier comes equipped with Swedish Filter Technology, a HEPA-style filter that removes 99% of airborne particles. An activated carbon rests just behind the Swedish filter to capture nausea-inducing VOCs.

Many users appreciate the Blue Pure 211+ for its intuitive, no-nonsense design. The single-button setup means a hassle-free user experience. However, its simplicity comes at the cost of premium features (no air-quality sensors or timer)—the 211+ hums at a gentle 31 decibels on its lowest fan speed.

BLUEAIR Air Purifier Large Room, Air Cleaner...
  • SIMPLE ONE-BUTTON CONTROL: Easily adjust fan as-needed with one button to ensure optimal...
  • CLEAN AIR IN MINUTES: Blueair's HEPASilent technology, delivers clean air, faster, and...

#1 Winix 5300-2

The Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier takes odor-removal in another direction. Instead of having a dedicated carbon filter, the carbon filter is firmly attached to the prefilter. While unconventional, this 2-in-1 prefilter setup works wonders at trapping VOCs and other nose-wrinkling odors like kitchen failures and pet smells.

Winix 5300-2
Winix 5300-2

Other than the prefilter and the True HEPA filter, the 5300-2 features PlasmaWave technology—an ionizer to further enhance airborne particle removal without producing ozone.

This air purifier has a maximum reach of 360 square feet and CADR ratings of 243 CFM, 232 CFM, and 246 CFM for dust, smoke, and pollen. Users were amazed by how little noise this device generates, even at its highest fan speed.

Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier with True HEPA,...
  • True-HEPA filter captures 99.97% of airborne pollutants; dust mites, pet dander, pollen...
  • 3 Stage cleaning, removes a range of allergens: dust, cigarette smoke, pollen, odors, pet...

Looking for bamboo charcoal bags? Check out this post about Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifying Bags!

Buying Guide

Regarding the space where you work or live, there are a couple of things you could make peace with. The way it looks, the lighting, etc., can be compromised, but an awful stench is very difficult to accept. For this reason, you need to consider getting a charcoal air purifier.

From basic to feature-laden, air purifiers come in various setups. For odor and chemical removal and overall excellent performance, we compiled a list of must-have features.

Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier
Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier
Did you Know

That according to the EPA, levels of indoor air pollution are typically far worse than outdoor air pollution levels.

Why Choose an Air Purifier at All?

Before understanding this type of appliance, it is crucial to decide whether you need one or not. The normal response would be yes!

Air purifiers are special appliances that help keep the air in your space healthy, whether it is an office or your home. It won’t keep the area tidy, but it could improve its air quality. Air cleaners are normally considered by people who smoke or keep pets.

Smoking in an area will spread a distinct and unpleasant smell in that particular area. Pet hair and odor could be an unpleasant shock for your hypersensitive visitors.

A decent air purifier, or even better, a charcoal air purifier, would be the ideal answer for issues such as these.

High Efficiency Particulate Air
High Efficiency Particulate Air

Distinction between a Normal and a Charcoal/Carbon Air Purifier

The normal type of air cleaner, usually fitted with a HEPA filter, is sufficient to address the air issues. If you have problems with other issues like pet hair/odor, mites, and dust, you probably need a charcoal air purifier. All the more so if you have a problem with smelly gasses and germs or organisms.

Blueair Blue Pure 211+

A charcoal air purifier utilizes an extra filter that goes by the name of activated carbon or otherwise an activated charcoal filter. If the charcoal or carbon is activated, many little holes open inside it. These little holes allow the activated carbon to “adsorb” the undesirable molecules in gas form.

Adsorption would imply that the molecules cling to the filter, which then holds them back from being spread in the area. When activated, the charcoal and carbon filters behave similarly, even though the activation process is quite different.

This is what differentiates the charcoal air purifier from a typical air purifier.

Regarding purchasing the correct charcoal air purifier, there are a few aspects that you should keep in mind.

True HEPA Filter
True HEPA Filter


The area where the charcoal air purifier will be used is important. You need to know your requirements, so you don’t overspend and buy something too large for your little area. Purchase a unit that is ideal for the area you need it for; otherwise, it is adaptable and can cover different spaces you might have.

Picking the correct unit for the area you have will not have the filters work too hard. They would then not need to be replaced regularly and thus reduce your cost.

Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier
Winix 5300-2 Air Purifier

Activated Charcoal Filter

It is inconceivable for an air cleaner to dispose of the undesirable scents and their source without using or considering a unit using activated charcoal or an activated carbon filtering system. This filtering system will also address and remove what is called “Volatile Organic Carbons (VOCs)” from the air, thus cleaning it properly.

HEPA Filter

A HEPA filtering system is just as important for general types of filtration requirements. High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) is a mechanical type of filter with a very fine mesh, typically with openings of about 0.3 microns.

When the air has gone through it, the mesh will capture every one of the particles greater than the size mentioned above. This is normally good enough to trap most dust, pollen, and pet odor particles.

Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier Review
Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier

Particle Sensor

The particle sensor is fundamental in any air purifier that works with charcoal as it would then operate automatically. This sensor determines how quick the fan ought to be. If you want to control it manually, the sensor will ask you whether you need the fan to move slow or fast or use the available turbo setting. This is when there are a lot of particles noticeable.

Charcoal Filter
Charcoal Filter

Noise Control

Many air cleaners have to run nonstop to guarantee cleaner air, particularly in the evening. For this reason, the amount of noise it makes ought to be taken into consideration. You should also be aware that the noise levels would also differ depending on which mode you have selected.

Filter Replacement Indicator

Many factors are considered to indicate if the filter needs to be replaced. Factors like the level of air contamination, the daily working hours, and how good air quality there is in general.

It is quite impossible to determine all of these factors, and that is why an indicator makes light work of it, as it will simply tell you that it needs to be changed.

Filter Replacement Indicator
Easy-to use touchscreens and filter replacement indicators make air purifiers convenient

Air Quality Indicator

The best air purifier has an indicator to let you know how clean or dirty the atmosphere in your house is. With just a glance, you can monitor the performance and see if anything needs more attention.

Extra Features

Aside from the previously mentioned built-in features, the purifier may well have some more features like the following:

  • Ultra Violet-C light, to eliminate germs
  • An Ionizer to improve the collection of molecule
  • A timer for programming
  • Capability to connect via Wi-Fi or an App
  • Automatic and Sleep programs

Those mentioned above could make one of these air purifiers much better than their counterparts.

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 across the room, the same functions are accessible via the onboard panel.

Top Charcoal Air Purifiers

Below are a couple of manners in which air purifiers manufactured with a filter made from carbon could be utilized in the home:

Carbon Can Be Treated to Target Specific Chemicals

Activated carbon can soak up many different smells and chemicals, but it can’t eliminate all of them. Carbon isn’t great at eliminating some regular synthetic substances like Hydrogen Sulfide or Formaldehyde.

In these circumstances, the carbon could be saturated with Potassium Iodide or otherwise mixed with Active Alumina to improve the retention capabilities.

This would imply that the tiny spaces and cracks inside the carbon would now have an added compound that would react and neutralize the Hydrogen Sulfide or Formaldehyde instead of just relying on the carbon to eliminate it.

Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Review
Blueair Blue Pure 211+

As A Treatment for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Some people suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), which means that they are hypersensitive to some chemicals in the air. Things like some cleaning chemicals, perfumes, and even gas released from materials used for building can seriously bother somebody suffering from MCS.

For these individuals, an air purifier with a lot of activated carbon can be utilized to eliminate these nuisances from your home. The air quality will be much better for everybody, particularly for those who have a problem with Asthma, problems with dust, and those with a compromised immune system like infants, kids, and some older people.

Alen BreatheSmart FLEX
Alen BreatheSmart FLEX


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, nor can the air purifier.

Unfortunately, there is no foolproof method of determining whether an activated carbon filter is saturated. The lifespan of a carbon filter varies due to filter size and surrounding air quality.

Top Charcoal Air Purifiers

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.

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 airborne VOC, the length of exposure, and your 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.

Clean Air
Clean air at home with a charcoal air purifier

How Is an Air Filter 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, creating extra-small pores needed for adsorption.

Often, carbon undergoes a chemical treatment after it’s activated to boost its contaminant-trapping ability.

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 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 slight risk of trace elements. Either way, the charcoal’s pores shrink after activation, leading to a larger adsorption surface.

Activated Charcoal
Activated Charcoal

What Materials Are Used to Make Carbon Filters?

Manufacturers of carbon, charcoal, and 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 for 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.

Charcoal Air Purifier
Charcoal Air Purifier

Is Activated Charcoal Different From Activated Carbon?

Carbon filters, charcoal filters – Many people believe that these are not the same filters. This belief stems from differences in carbon’s and charcoal’s activation processes. Despite that distinction, they share similar properties.

Therefore, you can correctly interchange activated charcoal for activated carbon in the scope of filtration because both terms refer to the same filter.

Best Charcoal Air Purifiers
Best Charcoal Air Purifiers

How Do Activated Carbon Filters Work?

Manufacturers use coal or other substances to create a carbon filter, putting them through the activation process. Once that process is complete, many 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.

Air Recommended Air Purifiers

Our Pick Perfect for bedrooms, playrooms, and living rooms, the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH is one of the best-performing, most durable, and most economical purifiers we’ve tested.

Most Popular The Levoit Core 300 air purifier has some strong suits, but in our opinion it falls short of carving out a meaningful niche for itself. Its ideal use would be in a small bedroom occupied by someone who is sensitive to noise.

Also Great With high end air cleaning performance and a whisper quiet fan, the Winix 5500-2 is the perfect combination of power and finesse. It cleared airborne particulates out of our smokey testing room faster than any other model.

Best of the Best If you have a large space you want to remove irritants from, We recommend the Airmega 400S. All of Coway air purifiers do an excellent job of attacking indoor pollutants, and we highly recommend any of them. The 400S is designed to accommodate large room sizes.

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Last Update: 2024-04-14 | Affiliate links/Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the author

Hi I’m Alex, founder of HouseholdMe.com and I’d like to say thank you for dropping by. Like most of you, the first thing I look at before buying something online is reviews or buying guides. By reading what other people say will help me gauge whether or not a product is good or not.  I am trying to help people find answers, solve problems, and get inspired.

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