The question, “Do air purifiers work for smoke?” is a common one, especially for those living in areas prone to wildfires or for those sharing their living space with smokers. The answer is yes. Air purifiers can indeed help reduce smoke particles in the air, but their effectiveness can vary based on several factors. This article will delve into the specifics of how air purifiers work to combat smoke, the types of smoke they can handle, and how to choose the right one for your needs.

Understanding Smoke and Air Purifiers

Smoke, whether from wildfires, cigarettes, or cigars, is a complex mixture of gases and fine particles produced when organic matter burns. These microscopic particles can get deep into your lungs and cause health issues such as bronchitis, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and strokes. Air purifiers work by forcing air through filters that trap these harmful particles and gases, effectively reducing their concentration in the air.

Air PurifierTypeBest For
Coway Airmega AP-1512HH MightyHEPALarge Rooms
Molekule Air PurifierPECO and HEPAVOCs and particles
Austin Air HealthMate HM400HEPA and Activated CarbonVOCs
Blueair Blue Pure 311 AutoNon-HEPA and ElectrostaticSmall Spaces
Levoit Core 300HEPABudget Option

Types of Air Purifiers and Their Effectiveness Against Smoke

Air purifiers are essential tools for maintaining a healthy indoor environment, especially in homes where smoke is a concern. Whether it’s from cigarettes, wildfires, or cooking, smoke can significantly degrade air quality and pose health risks. This article will explore the different types of air purifiers and their effectiveness against smoke.

Types of Air Purifiers for Smoke

There are several types of air purifiers that can effectively combat smoke. The most common types include those with True HEPA filters and activated carbon filters.

True HEPA filters are designed to capture 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns in size, making them highly effective at neutralizing smoke particles, which typically range between 0.1 and 1.0 microns in size.

Activated carbon filters, on the other hand, are excellent at adsorbing foul odors and other chemicals that may evade the HEPA filter, making them particularly useful for applications involving smoke.

Effectiveness of Different Air Purifier Types Against Smoke

The effectiveness of an air purifier against smoke largely depends on its filtration technology and the size of its filters. Air purifiers with high-quality True HEPA filters and large, pellet-based carbon filters have shown excellent performance in neutralizing cigarette smoke.

For instance, the Winix 5500-2 air purifier, which uses a 4-stage filtration technology consisting of a pre-filter, True HEPA filter, activated carbon filter, and PlasmaWave technology, has been highly praised for its performance against smoke.

Similarly, the Coway Airmega 400, which uses 3-stage filtration technology, is another great choice for smokers.

However, it’s important to note that filters exposed to smoke can get dirty very quickly, reducing their effectiveness over time. Therefore, regular maintenance and filter replacement are crucial for maintaining the air purifier’s performance.

Real-Life Examples of Air Purifiers Combating Smoke

Real-life testing of air purifiers in homes with smokers has shown that these devices can significantly improve indoor air quality. For example, the Levoit Core 600S, which uses a 3-stage filtration technology, has been found to be very effective at eliminating smoke in rooms up to 635 sq. ft.

In another example, the Alen FLEX air purifier, which features a carbon filter that holds as much as 2lb+ of carbon, has been found to be a great choice for combating both cigarette and second-hand smoke.

Activated Carbon Filters for Smoke Odors

Activated carbon filters play a crucial role in smoke removal. These filters work by adsorbing foul odors and other chemicals that may evade the HEPA filter. This makes them particularly useful for applications involving smoke, as they can efficiently remove particulate matter and other foul-smelling constituents of cigarette smoke.

HEPA Filter and Its Importance

HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are a critical component of air purifiers. These filters are designed to capture 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. Given that cigarette smoke particles are between 0.1 and 1.0 microns in size, an air purifier with a True HEPA filter should be very effective at neutralizing a high percentage of them.

Choosing the Right Air Purifier for Smoke

In recent years, wildfire smoke has ravaged large swaths of the United States, compromising air quality in major cities such as San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. . This has led to an increased demand for air purifiers, devices designed to clean the air in a single room, using filters or electronic air cleaners to remove particles and gaseous air pollutants or kill microorganisms.

How Do Air Purifiers Work?

Air purifiers work by pushing air through a fine mesh to trap particles. The best purifiers have a HEPA filter and a large fan. Models with a carbon filter can absorb odors and reduce the smell of smoke indoors. Studies have shown that the fine particles known as PM2.5 — which make up most of the particles in the wildfire smoke — can be reduced by the use of portable air purifiers.

What to Look for in an Air Purifier

When choosing an air purifier, consider the following factors:

  • Filter Type: According to the EPA, a HEPA filter is the most effective filter type for filtering smoke. If you want to combat odors as well, an activated carbon filter in combination with the HEPA filter may help.
  • Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR): The higher this number, the more particles the purifier or cleaner can filter and the larger the area it can serve. The EPA recommends devices of a minimum CADR of 65 for a 100-square-foot room.
  • Room Coverage: Consider the size of the room you want to purify. The cost of an air purifier for smoke varies depending on the type and number of filters it uses, its recommended room coverage, and whether or not it has additional Features.
  • Price: The air purifiers in U.S. News ratings range from about $220 to $430.

Caring for Your Air Purifier

It’s important to clean air purifiers periodically and make sure the filters are not clogged. “The most important thing is to keep it dust-free. If the air intake and exhaust grills are clogged, it’s not going to be able to do its job,” says Carolyn Forte, executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Home Care and Cleaning Lab.


In conclusion, air purifiers can be an effective tool in reducing the concentration of smoke particles in the air, improving indoor air quality, and protecting your health. However, it’s important to choose the right type of air purifier based on your specific needs and the type of smoke you’re dealing with. For more information on how air purifiers work, check out our comprehensive guide here. To understand more about the impact of smoke on indoor air quality, visit this page.


Can air purifiers effectively remove smoke particles?

Yes, air purifiers can effectively remove smoke particles from indoor environments. Air purifiers equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are particularly effective in capturing small smoke particles that could otherwise be harmful to your health.

What type of air purifier is best for removing cigarette smoke?

Air purifiers with activated carbon filters work best for removing cigarette and tobacco smoke, as they are designed to absorb odors and chemicals present in the smoke. However, HEPA filters are also important for capturing tiny particulates that may be present in the smoke.

How often should I replace the filter on my air purifier when using it to remove cigarette or wildfire smoke?

The frequency of replacing the filter on your air purifier will depend on how often you use it and how much pollution is being filtered out of the air. If you’re using an activated carbon filter to capture cigarette or wildfire smoke, it’s recommended that you change your filter every three months or more frequently if necessary. For HEPA filters, replacement should occur once a year on average but may need more frequent changes depending on usage levels and outdoor conditions.


Hey there, I'm Kevin, editor of Xievo. I'm passionate about air purifiers and providing accurate information to help readers make informed decisions. In my free time, I love hiking and experimenting with air purifiers in my own home. Thanks for visiting Xievo!