Do Air Purifiers Remove Smoke?

You probably smoke or live with a smoker. Or your unfriendly neighbor smokes MJ the whole time they’re in their apartment. Maybe you live in an area that sees frequent wildfires. And you’re asking: Do air purifiers remove smoke, really? You might also be asking: Does a HEPA filter remove smoke?

In this article, I’ll try to answer your questions best way I can. Here, you’ll learn about firsthand smoke, secondhand smoke, and even thirdhand smoke. You didn’t know there’s such a thing as thirdhand smoke, did you? You’ll also learn why banning smoking in your home is the best thing you could ever do for your children. 


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Smoking Can Cause Cancer


Yea, nothing new there, really. 

When a person smokes a cigarette, they get satisfaction plus a lot more. According to the American Cancer Society, smokers get over 7,000 different compounds from cigarette smoke! Yes, 7, 000 potentially harmful chemical substances. 

It gets worse.

A whole 10 percent of these chemicals are cancer-causing agents. Every puff exposes the smoker to as many as 700 carcinogens. Now, that’s serious. If that’s not a substantial reason to quite smoking, nothing ever will be.

When you breathe in secondhand smoke, you get what smokers get minus the satisfaction. In fact, the smoke you get is more potentially dangerous than what the smoker inhales! So, always stay a safe distance so you can minimize your exposure to cigarette smoke pollution. 


Two Types of Tobacco Smoke 


Burning tobacco produces two kinds of smoke. These include mainstream smoke and sidestream smoke, according to the American Cancer Society.

Mainstream smoke is what a smoker exhales. Sidestream smoke, on the other hand, is what you get from a cigarette’s burning end. Sidestream smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke.


Sidestream Smoke More Dangerous than Mainstream Smoke!


Did you know that sidestream smoke is more dangerous than mainstream smoke?

Sidestream smoke contains much higher concentrations of carcinogens than mainstream smoke. Even worse, sidestream smoke contains smaller particles than mainstream smoke.

Due to their size, smoke particles from sidestream smoke easily find their way into people’s body cells and lungs. Secondhand smoke causes cancer and a whole range of other health complications.

Worst of all, secondhand smoke can cause death. But is there an air purifier for smoke that actually works? You’ll know that pretty soon.


Children Exposed to Secondhand Smoke Keep Getting Sick


While secondhand smoke affects everyone exposed to it, its effect on children is significantly greater. It’s certainly not a good idea to smoke at home if you have kids.

At least, don’t smoke when children are around. Here’s why. Research reveals that children whose parents smoke fall sick more often than children whose parents don’t.

Besides, exposed children see more lung infections including pneumonia and bronchitis.

It gets worse.

Children whose parents smoke get more ear infections than their counterparts whose parents don’t smoke. Additionally, such kids cough and wheeze more. And for them, shortness of breath is quite common.

Now, brace yourself. The next statement might scare you to death. Secondhand smoke can even lead to sudden death in very young children.

When it comes to protecting small children, using the best air purifier for cigarette smoke probably isn’t the best solution. Smoking outside is what works best.

I’m not saying don’t buy an air purifier, though. I’m saying buying one won’t solve your cigarette smoke problem completely. You’ll want to combine that measure with other highly effective strategies. But no strategy beats quitting smoking, or at least smoking elsewhere, IMO. 


What about Your Smoking Neighbor? 


You can stop smoking while at home to protect your loved ones. Unfortunately, there’s little you can do about your neighbors’ habit. Other than moving, that is. 

Cigarette smoke from neighbors in a different floor can still affect you and your family. Listen to what the American Cancer Society says about tobacco smoke multi-unit housing. Tobacco smoke in multi-unit housing where people are allowed to smoke can affect people in other floors. Smoke in such properties travels through cracks in the wall and floor, elevator shafts, along crawl spaces, and air ducts.

The American Cancer Society further says that ventilation and air cleaning are effective measures for controlling secondhand smoke. 


Ever Heard of Thirdhand Smoke?


When was the last time you heard someone talk of thirdhand smoke? You likely haven’t heard of thirdhand smoke, also known as residual tobacco smoke.

Long after someone smokes a cigarette or cigar, the smoke can linger in their home for months.

Good news: no studies show that lingering odors or residual cigarette smoke can cause cancer.

Bad news: studies show that dust samples from homes of people who smoke contain lung cancer causing carcinogens.

Particles from lingering tobacco smoke end up combining with certain gases from the air, forming cancer-causing compounds. These compounds finally settle on different surfaces around the house. That’s another compelling reason not to smoke at home.


Do Air Purifiers Help With Tobacco Smoke?


That’s a seriously important question. For that reason, don’t listen to people who might want to sell you something. And that includes yours truly here at

Instead, listen to researchers, experts, and scientists.

So, what do researchers think about the ability of portable air cleaners to remove cigarette smoke?

According to Mayo Clinic, an air purifier can help you reduce the level of airborne particles in your home. But such machines aren’t 100% reliable when it comes to removing smoke.

Mayo clinic further states that air purifiers aren’t designed to help people eliminate gaseous pollutants. Notably, though, Mayo haven’t expressly asserted that air purifiers don’t help with smoke. They’re simply saying that these products aren’t as effective for smoke removal as they’re often said to be. 

And according to NCBI, it’s more difficult to remove gases from your indoor air than to eliminate other particles. Sure, air purifiers might remove some small-sized airborne particles from the air. But they neither eliminate ALL of them, nor do they eliminate the harmful effects of cigarette smoke. 

Here’s what these two authoritative sources are saying. If you want an air purifier that removes smoke COMPLETELY, you won’t get one.

Now, I’d love for you to buy an air purifier right now. But I’d be dishonest if I told you there are PERFECT air purifiers for smoke. Yes, these devices remove smoke, but don’t expect spectacular performance.


How Big Are Smoke Particles? 


To better understand whether air purifiers actually remove smoke, you should know how large smoke particles are. In this air purifier buying guide, you’ll find a table showing different particles and their sizes.

Tobacco smoke particles range between 0.01 and 4 microns in size. What does that mean? Smoke is a smorgasbord of particles ranging from 0.01-micron particles to 4-micron particles.

Depending on the source of smoke, the smoke you’re getting might have more 0.01 particles than 4-micron ones. If the vast majority of smoke molecules seeping into your home are larger than 0.01 microns, you can most of them.

There’s a bunch of air purifiers designed to offer highly effective air filtration.

But they typically don’t come cheap.

I’ve seen air purifiers that cost as much as $2,600! And I’m talking about standalone portable room air cleaners rather than whole-house filtration systems.

Fortunately, the air purification market also provides more affordable deals. With a budget of $250 to $1,000, you should find a device that satisfactorily meets your needs. 

But are more expensive options always better than more budget-friendly ones? Well, not exactly.

Sadly, some manufacturers sell exorbitantly priced products whose air purification punch compares closely to what  considerably cheaper models offer.

For that reason, make sure to read air purifiers for smoke reviews on Amazon before forking out. You never want to end up with an obscenely expensive product that works more or less like a much cheaper one. 


Do Air Purifiers Remove 0.01-micron Particles?


The best question to ask at this point is: do air purifiers filter down to 0.01 microns? I spent hours scouring the net looking for answers.

And I found at least 2 people who tested several air purifiers from different brands and published their results. I’ve included their findings in this article: Do HEPA air purifiers remove PM2.5?

According to these two sources, air purifiers can remove some of the tiniest particles, even 0.01-micron ones. Admittedly, these were very small studies. Actually they were tests done by ordinary scientists like you and me. Oh, I’m assuming you studied a science degree like I did.

As you might expect, the findings weren’t published in any journal. Still, it’s hard to argue when real numbers from a real, repeatable experiments are shown. These findings suggest that air purifiers can actually remove smoke. 


Some Air Purifiers Capture Particles as Small as 0.1 Microns


While researching for my readers, I’ve encountered all kinds of air purifiers. But I’d like to bring to your attention one fact. The air purification market offers certain air purifiers that filter down to 0.1-micron particles.

Medify air purifiers, for example, have been found to remove particles ranging from 0.1 microns. You can read detailed Medify air purifier reviews here.

I recommend the Medify MA-40 Home Medical Grade H13 HEPA for 800 Sq. Ft. For some reason, the readers of this blog prefer this air purifier over others when it comes to smoke removal.

In addition, some air purifiers use air filtration technologies with the ability to handle even smaller particles. Ionizing and UV filtration air purifiers come with this capability. These machines can tackle particles with a diameter as small as 0.01 microns.

Unfortunately, these machines spew out ozone into the air. And ozone can inflame the airways, worsening asthma symptoms. It’s not a good idea to use such smoke eliminators if you have asthma or battle allergies.

Lest I forget, most air purifiers that generate ozone have been tested and found safe to use even in states such as California.

Pro Tip: Always insist on CARB-certified air purifiers. In the Medify air purifier reviews link shown above, you should find several CARB-rated options. 


How Air Purifiers Remove Smoke


smoke removal in air purifiers
The prefilter captures fibers, pet hair and other large particles. The HEPA filter removes 99.97% of 0.3-micron or larger particles. Smoke removal is the chief role of the activated carbon filter. The more carbon it carries, the better.


Air purifiers designed for smoke removal ALWAYS use a substantial carbon filter. This filter contains loads of activated carbon. And as you might know, activated carbon offers great odor and gaseous pollutants removing ability.

Through adsorption, this filter neutralizes smells, making your indoor air smell cleaner, fresher, and healthier. This filter is normally found right behind the HEPA filter which mainly removes particulates.

Be vigilant as you shop for an air purifier. Some air purifiers offer nothing but a very thin layer of activated carbon. Such air purifiers are usually unbelievably cheap. But I’m not suggesting there aren’t cheap options that work. These 5 air purifiers under $100 certainly work. 

So, if smoke is your biggest concern, insist on an air purifier with a substantial carbon filter. Such a device will reduce odors, VOCs, and smoke considerably. It’d also be a great air purifier for car exhaust since it’d easily remove the extremely toxic fumes in traffic pollution. 

I’ll also advise you to pick an air purifier that features a prefilter. Usually made of carbon, the prefilter stops larger particles such as fibers and pet dander from reaching the other filters.

As a result, the other filters have much less work to do. And that prolongs their life. 

Pro Tip: when it comes time to buy an air purifier for smoke, choose a device with a high CADR for smoke. Make sure this number is greater than 100.

CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) represents an air purifier’s efficiency and air flow rate. 


Before You Whip Out that Card…..


Stop smoking in the house. Of course, that’s a personal decision. And nobody should dictate how you should lead your life. But, seriously, there are tons of reasons you should quit this pernicious habit the earliest possible.

All researchers and medical experts agree that stopping smoking offers many great benefits. You’ll enjoy improved health and possibly a longer life.

Besides, you’ll protect your loved ones from the dangerous effects of tobacco smoke.

Understand the following. Even the best air purifier for smoke won’t remove ALL smoke particles in your indoor air. Nor will they effectively eliminate all the carcinogens that linger in the air long after you smoked.

In my opinion, the best air purifier for smoke is called “Stop Smoking in the House.” And the second best smoke eliminator is an air purifier that’ll remove 0.01-micron particles, such as Medify air purifiers. 


Air Purifiers May Help With Smoke, But……


They’re not perfect. Yes, they may reduce smoke pollution considerably. But no one should expect smoke removal miracles. You can buy the best air purifier for smoke now, but you’d still be exposed to carcinogens to a certain extent.

Cigarette smoking is a dangerous habit. You probably should quit this habit. But tobacco smoke from others can also affect you. And kids get affected significantly when they smoke passively. Obviously, you want to avoid exposure to firsthand, secondhand, and thirdhand smoke. So, buy the best air purifier your budget allows. But while it’ll reduce smoke and odors, it comes with certain limitations. 



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