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How Activated Carbon Filters Work

W hen it comes to efficient air or water filtering, most systems will include an activated carbon filter or a variant of it. This layer’s main purpose is to neutralize bad smells and volatile organic compounds that make the air harder to breathe and can pose a danger to health. Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised if you find it in an air purifier for pet owners, as we all know what a heavy smell can remain after a cat or a dog.

The process behind these filters is called adsorption, and we should mention that their efficiency depends on the surface of the carbon layer. Thus, for larger rooms, you will want to purchase a larger air purifier that uses a bigger carbon filter.

So how do they work? Stay with us as we present the components and the technology behind these types of filters, and find out if you need one for your home.

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How are they built?

They are basically blocks of granular or powdered carbon, which has been previously treated to become porous. The porosity allows it to cover large surfaces and remove a higher quantity of contaminants. Unlike absorption, which implies the material absorbing a substance, adsorption, which stands behind carbon filters, is the process in which organic compounds in the water or air interact with the activated charcoal and are attracted to the filter where they get stuck. Thus, specific contaminants, like for example oils that persist into the air after frying fish, are captured and neutralized, so they don’t get the chance to deposit on upholstery or clothes and persist days afterward.

See full review of Honeywell 50250-S and discover a device that can provide air filtering for medium rooms with excellent purification rates. It comes with a HEPA, a carbon filter, and PlasmaTRUE Technology, and offers 360-degrees air intake for quicker air cleaning cycles.

How do they work?

They are parts of complex purifying systems and they usually double a HEPA filter. They go inside an air purifier, in the chamber designed for filters, which is usually placed at the back of the unit. Once the system starts working, the polluted air is drawn inside with the help of the fan and filtered through the multiple layers. The prefilter will capture big particles like lint or dust mites, whereas the HEPA will remove small contaminants, namely dust, mold spores, allergens, or even bacteria. The carbon filter is the one in charge with odors and VOCs, that chemically interact with the charcoal and stick to the filter.

For complete air filtering, smoke and odor removal, and, on top of that, efficient air sanitation, check out GermGuardian AC5350B. With a slim design, it is a nice option for travel as well, as you can easily find a place for it in your travel bag.

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What are the benefits?

Whether they are used for air or water purification, these filters are essential additions, especially if you are living in an area where the level of pollution is high. If placed inside an under sink alkaline water ionizer, it will capture bad odors and tastes, ensuring that the taste of the water is neutral. On the other hand, if placed inside an air cleaner, it can help remove the following contaminants:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Pet odors
  • Cooking odors
  • Benzene and Toluene
  • Chlorinated compounds

Therefore, these filters are the best solution if one of the family members is a smoker or if you are living in an area where smoke produced by wildfire is a serious problem. At the same time, if factories are functioning nearby your home, you should consider that they can release harmful substances. In this case, an air purifier that is specialized in dust removal would be the best choice.

Keep pollution away from your nursery. Take a look at our best air purifiers for baby room and discover quiet models with multiple filtering stages. Pick one that comes with a charcoal filter and allow your little one to breathe air that has been first cleaned of smoke, VOCs, and bad smells.

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How long do they last?

If the filter is part of an odor removal system, then it is usually larger and thicker, so will last more than regular charcoal layers. Nevertheless, if used for this purpose, it means that it is often exposed to heavy pollutants which will reduce its lifespan. Most charcoal filters last for 3 months, but once again, we must stress that this may vary depending on how polluted the air is.

Bottom Line

Whether you purchase an air cleaner or a water ionizer, make sure it comes with an activated carbon filter. As you have seen, the benefits are considerable, and, although you will need to pay some extra money every a few months to replace it, its action will show in the quality of the air or water. Just make sure you buy a high-quality product and use it in a performant purification system (for air filtering, a HEPA filter is a must). Only this way, you can rest assured that the air in your home is safe to breathe and that you can safely enjoy a glass of clean tap water.

Lillian Davies
Lillian Davies
Lillian is a fresh college graduate who has lived in Tucson for most of her life, battling the torrid heat ever since she was a child. She is quite versed in the topic of thermal comfort and what solutions work to make conditions more bearable when the temperatures go haywire, which makes her knowledgeable in the topics she writes about here. Since she is a perfectionist, Lilian always takes time to polish her articles before release, which makes her an irreplaceable part of the team.

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