The Best Air Purifiers for Smoke in 2022

Avoid the adverse effects of smoke and other unwanted airborne pollutants with a quality air purifier. The best of these appliances can quickly clear the air, so you can breathe easier and protect your health.

By Mark Wolfe | Updated Apr 8, 2022 8:41 AM

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The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option

Photo: amazon.com

Sources of smoke—from wood-burning fireplaces to cooking accidents—can irritate the eyes, sinuses, and throat. This might seem like only passing discomfort, but the effects add up—particularly if lingering in the home. An air purifier can help filter out fine particles of smoke in addition to common irritants such as dust, pollen, mold spores, and other unwanted pollutants. It also helps relieve asthma and allergies and can reduce the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses, but not all models are equally capable. The best air purifier for smoke uses high-efficiency particulate air filtration and activated carbon filtration to remove odors. Keep reading for which machines work the hardest.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Medify Air MA-40-W Air Purifier with HEPA filter
  2. RUNNER UP: Levoit Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier LV-PUR131S
  3. BEST SMART TECH: RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet Air Purifier
  4. BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS: Medify Air MA-112 Air Purifier with H13 HEPA filter
  5. BEST FOR BEDROOMS: Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier
  6. BEST FOR TRAVEL: Westinghouse 1804 Portable Air Purifier
  7. BEST FOR SMOKERS: Hathaspace Smart True HEPA Air Purifier
  8. BEST BUDGET: Blueair Blue Pure 411 Air Purifier
The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing an Air Purifier for Smoke

If you’ve never owned an air purifier, finding the best model for your home is much easier if you first understand the technical features to compare as well as air and environmental ratings. Familiarizing yourself with the numerous acronyms makes comparison shopping much simpler. Below you’ll read about the considerations we used to determine which units made our list.

Filtration

The best home air purifiers use mechanical HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration to remove larger unwanted particles combined with activated carbon filtration, which targets smaller pollutants. HEPA filters are proven to trap 99.97 percent of particles with a size of 0.3 microns or larger, including pollen, pet dander, dust mite waste, mold spores, and smoke. Keep in mind that true HEPA filters trap particles, not odors and gasses. These last 6 to 12 months and then need to be replaced.

Tip: Look for an air purifier that uses “true HEPA” or “HEPA” filters. Be careful when shopping, though—purifiers labeled “HEPA-type” or “HEPA-like” often don’t have a real HEPA filter at all. These types of filters don’t always meet U.S. Department of Energy standards.

In addition to HEPA filters, air purifiers tackling smoke removal should also employ two other types of filtration:

  • Pre-filters capture large particles in the air before reaching and clogging the filtration system. While not a must-have, they are highly economical. HEPA filters are more costly to replace than pre-filters, so the inclusion of both saves money in the long run. Maintaining the pre-filter involves monthly cleaning and replacing it only if it gets damaged.
  • Activated carbon filters aid purifiers by capturing some of the gaseous molecules found in wildfire smoke and reducing the associated smell. Activated carbon filters remove contaminants ranging from unwanted odors to VOCs (volatile organic compounds) by absorption and adsorption. The carbon filter chemically attracts the unwanted elements and traps them in interior pores (absorption) or on its textured surface (adsorption). Carbon filters should be replaced every 3 to 6 months, following manufacturer recommendations.

Room Size

Air purifiers are labeled for specific room sizes, which are described in square feet. To find the size you need, calculate the square footage of a room by multiplying the length times the width. If you’d like to buy one air purifier to handle multiple rooms, add up the square footage for each room.

EPA Rating

Energy Star is a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). The program’s goal is to help customers, businesses, and industries save money and protect the environment using energy-efficient products and practices.

An Energy Star certification means that the unit uses less energy than standard products. These certified energy-efficient appliances usually have lower operating costs and create less air pollution than standard equipment. Look for the blue Energy Star logo to find certified products.

Air Quality Indicator 

If you live in an area associated with higher levels of air pollution—such as a city or town with industrial factories, power plants, or chemical facilities—awareness of the Air Quality Index (AQI) is especially important. The AQI is a national system managed by the EPA that is used to measure and report air quality based on five major pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: particle pollution, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.

AQI ranges from 0 to 500, with high values indicating greater air pollution levels.

  • 0 to 50: Good air quality conditions.
  • 100 to 150: Air is a moderate health concern for sensitive groups including people with lung or heart disease, older adults, and children.
  • 151 to 299: Air is considered unhealthy for everyone, with the risks of adverse health effects increasing until conditions are deemed hazardous between 300 and 500.

Certain home air purifiers feature an air quality indicator, which typically uses an infrared beam and sensor to detect particulate matter. Some smart air purifiers are capable of automatically adjusting in response to higher or lower detected air quality levels.

Noise Level 

Noise level can be an important consideration, depending on where you plan to place your air purifier.

  • Many large air purifiers operate at about 60 decibels (dB), at about the same noise level as a normal conversation.
  • Quieter air purifiers operate at a noise level of 40 to 55 decibels, making them a better alternative for bedrooms, living rooms, and home offices.
  • Models that are as low as 20 to 30 decibels are often made for bathrooms, small bedrooms, or even for traveling as they emit very little sound (as much as a muffled hum).

Portability

When in a new environment, air purifiers can help you sleep better and reduce exposure to airborne pollutants. As such, some air purifiers are designed for travel, with handles and caster wheels for added mobility. These devices perform the same function as larger devices but are sized for smaller rooms.

If you need an air purifier for travel, you may want to look for a purifier that boasts a minimum Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) of 217—representing efficiency and air flow—suitable for an average hotel room size of about 325 square feet.

Additional Features

Different comfort and convenience features can make a good air purifier even better. Popular features include smart technology, remote controls, operating modes, and easy access for filter maintenance.

  • Smart technology: Onboard air quality sensors can automatically adjust the output of the unit in response to the air quality in a home. Bluetooth connectivity, smart device apps, and compatibility with personal digital assistants allow you to monitor air quality conditions and control the unit while away from home.
  • Remote control: Most air purifiers come with a remote control, allowing users to operate the device without accessing the control panel. With smart air purifiers, an app functions as the remote control, allowing users to adjust the device from virtually anywhere.
  • Programs/settings: Many air purifiers offer variable speed settings, allowing you to increase or decrease filtration power in response to changing conditions, like when there’s a fire in the fireplace. Some include sleep mode, which runs the purifier at a lower, quieter setting, with or without a built-in night light. With some smart indoor air purifiers, these operating settings can be programmed to run at specific intervals.
  • Filter replacements: Filters need to be changed periodically, so it helps to have indicator lights that remind you when it’s time for a change. Filter replacement tends to be easier when filter covers and access points are located near the top or front of the machine and are fastened with magnets or sliding latches instead of screws.

A Note on CADR Ratings

In addition to the above call-outs and features, air purifiers are also labeled with a CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate). This value is influenced by filter efficiency and air flow in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The higher the CADR rating, the faster the unit can deliver clean air. CADR values can reach a maximum of 450 for smoke and pollen, while 400 is the highest score for dust.

While CADR is a standard for air purifier performance in the U.S., the values can be misleading for purifiers that contain filters other than standard HEPA filtration. Some manufacturers design air purifiers to circulate a lot of purified air at a faster rate, filtering only the larger contaminants. The CADR test does not take into account gasses, odors, or VOCs, which are targeted by carbon filters.

Another figure to keep in mind is the number of air changes per hour (ACH). This number shows how many times per hour the entire air volume of a room will be filtered. The rating may be shown for a different room size than the product’s “filters up to X square feet” statement, so be sure to read the fine print.

Our Top Picks

Now that you know more about air purifiers, it’s time to start shopping. These recommendations are among the best air purifiers for smoke in their respective categories for clearing toxins and particles from the air.

Best Overall

The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option: Medify Air MA-40-W Air Purifier with HEPA filter
Photo: amazon.com

The Medify Air MA-40-W air purifier uses three layers of filtration to purify air effectively for larger spaces. The true HEPA filter is key to removing wildfire smoke particles, while a pre-filter extends its usefulness by catchig the largest particles like hair and pet dander and an activated carbon filter removes smoke odors (as well as VOCs, formaldehyde, and other gasses).

The device cleans 420 square feet of purified air every 15 minutes and up to 1,600 square feet in an hour. Three different operating speeds make for moderate noise range of 46 to 66 decibels—versatile enough to work in a bedroom or living space.

This unit is Energy Star certified for energy efficiency, California Air Resources Board (CARB) certified for zero to minimal ozone emissions, and is Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) approved for safe operation. Other features include sleep mode, 8-hour timer, automatic night mode, tempered glass touch screen, and child lock.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: 3 layers, including pre-filter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 420 to 1,600 square feet
  • Noise Level: 46 to 66 decibels

Pros

  • Multiple settings included
  • Energy Star, CARB, and ETL certifications
  • Child lock feature
  • Tempered glass touch screen

Cons

  • Pricier option

Get the Medify Air MA-40-W air purifier on Amazon or at Walmart.

Runner Up

The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option: Levoit Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier LV-PUR131S
Photo: amazon.com

The Levoit smart air purifier offers proficient filtration capability and several convenient features. A cloth pre-filter and HEPA filter remove larger pollutants like pet hair, dust, and pollen, while an activated carbon filter removes VOCs and harmful odors. Operating on Max Mode, this Levoit purifier cycles clean, indoor air in a 900-square-foot room once per hour, or every 15 minutes for a 500-square-foot room. For individuals with allergies, the Levoit functions best in rooms up to 350 square feet.

This Levoit purifier has three operating speeds and runs at a quiet 27 decibels on the lowest setting. An air quality sensor automatically adjusts the operating speed in response to higher or lower air particulate content. The Energy Star-rated unit works by voice command with the Vesync app via Alexa or Google Home Assistant. The Vesync app comes with over 10 advanced features including direct control, scheduled air purifying, air quality display, cleaning modes, and filter life.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: 3 layers, including pre-filter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 350 to 900 square feet
  • Noise Level: 27 decibels

Pros

  • Smart home compatible
  • 3 built-in operating speeds
  • Comes with app for monitoring

Cons

  • Replacement filters are expensive

Get the Levoit air purifier onAmazon.

Best Smart Tech

The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option: RabbitAir MinusA2 HEPA Air Purifier w/WiFi SPA-780N
Photo: amazon.com

The RabbitAir air purifier uses an advanced six-stage filtration system to remove larger particles, wildfire smoke, odors, and VOC pollution from the air. This model provides two air changes per hour in spaces up to 815 square feet. This is our top pick air purifier for allergies because it functions well in rooms up to 350 square feet, with four air changes each hour. The sound range of 25.6 to 51.3 decibels is much quieter than most other air purifiers.

Air passes through a pre-filter, medium filter, and HEPA filter to progressively trap larger particulates. A customized filter reduces airborne bacteria, viruses, mold spores, and other germs. Air continues through an activated carbon charcoal filter to remove odor, chemicals, and VOCs, before finally passing through an ion generator to freshen the air.

This smart air purifier has integrated particle sensors that respond to changing indoor air quality by increasing or decreasing power as needed. You can adjust the RabbitAir’s LED light display, mood light, and air quality indicator to give off more or less light, depending on what you prefer. Connect it to Wi-Fi and use the RabbitAir app to monitor and control the device remotely, or to set a daily air purifying schedule. Other useful features include a removable base mount for tabletop or wall-mount applications.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: 6 layers, including pre-filter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 350 to 815 square feet
  • Noise Level: 25 to 51 decibels

Pros

  • Smart home compatible
  • Adjustable LED light display
  • Removable base mount; tabletop or wall mounting

Cons

  • Heavy; limited portability
  • Replacement filters are expensive

Get the RabbitAir MinusA2 at RabbitAir.com.

Best for Large Rooms

The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option: Medify Air MA-112 Air Purifier with H13 HEPA filter
Photo: amazon.com

The Medify Air air purifier uses three-stage filtration to purify air in large open spaces or multiple rooms. It features an upgraded H13 HEPA filter that clears the air of wildfire smoke, odors, dust, pet dander, and other large particles. The powerful Medify Air MA-112 cleans 1,250 square feet of air in 15 minutes and up to 3,700 square feet in one hour. Note that this model does not contain an activated charcoal filter, and does not clean the air of VOCs, gasses, mold, and other smaller pollutants.

Using one of the four operating speeds, the machine has a unique 360-degree air distribution, releasing clean air in all directions to maximize efficiency. The operating noise range of up to 70 decibels, which is on the louder side, but comparable to other machines of its size and operating capabilities.

This unit has Energy Star certification, CARB certification, and ETL approval. The unit contains hidden wheels for easy positioning, a tempered glass touch screen, and child lock. Other features include a filter change indicator, an 8-hour timer, sleep mode, and automatic night mode.

Product Specs

  • Filtration: 3 layers, including pre-filter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 1,250 to 3,000 square feet
  • Noise Level: 70 decibels

Pros

  • 4 operating speeds included
  • 360 degree rotation
  • Multiple certifications
  • Portable

Cons

  • Large unit
  • Activated charcoal filter not included
  • Does not filter VOCs, gasses, mold, or small pollutants

Get the Medify Air MA-112 air purifier on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best for Bedrooms

The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option: Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

The Bissell air purifier uses three-stage filtration, including a cloth pre-filter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter to remove smoke, VOCs, odors, dust, and other large contaminants from the air. This model can filter up to 1,000 square feet in one hour, with features that are particularly well suited for bedrooms. The smart purifier monitors the air quality to automatically adjust speed when pollutant levels change, maintaining air quality as you sleep.

The Bissell Smart Purifier includes five air cleaning settings and a pleasantly quiet operating range of 34 to 51 decibels, and an automated night mode dims the LEDs on the unit. The Bissell air220 includes elevated legs for easier cleaning beneath the unit, with convenient front panel filter access.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: 3 layers, including pre-filter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 1,000 square feet
  • Noise Level: 34 to 51 decibels

Pros

  • Adjusts air purification automatically
  • 5 operation speeds
  • Convenient front panel filter access
  • Elevated legs under unit for easier cleaning

Cons

  • Heavy; limited portability

Get the Bissell air purifier at Amazon, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond.

Best for Travel

The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option: Westinghouse 1804 Portable Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

The Westinghouse portable air purifier uses a combination of HEPA filtration and nano confined catalytic oxidation (NCCO) technology to remove and decompose airborne pollutants. Incoming air passes through an oxygen generator, HEPA filter, and NCCO reactor. In the patented NCCO process, activated oxygen particles and polluted air pass through a nano tunnel where transition metals vibrate the air, reducing pollutants to harmless materials that include carbon and water molecules.

This portable, personal air purifier is ideal for car, plane, and train travel, as well as compact spaces including bathrooms and small offices. It’s incredibly quiet and weighs only 2 pounds, with a leather strap for easy transport. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides 8 hours of runtime per charge on low power.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: 3 layers, including HEPA filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 100 to 300 square feet
  • Noise Level: 38 decibels

Pros

  • Affordable model
  • Rechargeable; 8 hours of run-time per charge
  • Lightweight at 2 pounds
  • Includes a leather carrying strap for easy transport

Cons

  • Limited coverage

Get the Westinghouse air purifier at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Target.

Best for Smokers

The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option: Hathaspace Smart True HEPA Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

The Hathaspace model boasts a 5-in-1 filtration system, making it the best air purifier for smokers and cigarette smoke. The combination of a washable pre-filter, polypropylene pre-filter, H13 medical-grade HEPA filter, activated carbon filter, and cold catalyst filter together eliminate over 99 percent of allergens and pollutants down to 0.1 microns. (That targets pollen, dust, pet pander, mold, bacteria, VOCs, smoke, and odors.) This powerful Hathaspace purifier cleans the air in a 1,500-square-foot room up to 24 times per day, with Energy Star, CARB, and ETL certifications for energy efficiency and safety.

Using the sleek touch panel, users can enable Auto Mode or a quiet Sleep Mode and choose from five operating speeds. The Hathaspace includes an air quality sensor based on AQI; when the device is on Auto Mode, this monitoring feature will automatically adjust the fan speed to meet indoor air quality needs.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: 5 layers, including pre-filter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 1,500 square feet
  • Noise Level: 30 decibels

Pros

  • Purifies 24 times per day
  • Energy Star, CARB, and ETL certifications
  • 5 operating speeds
  • Includes air quality sensor

Cons

  • Replacement filters are expensive
  • Limited portability

Get the Hathaspace air purifier on Amazon.

Best Budget

The Best Air Purifier for Smoke Option: Blueair Blue Pure 411 Air Purifier
Photo: amazon.com

While some larger indoor air purifiers are bulky and difficult to move from room to room, this model by Blueair is lightweight and portable, weighing just 7.98 pounds. Despite its small size, it’s extremely effective at filtering clean air in rooms as large as 185 square feet every 12 minutes.

The purifier uses HEPASilent filtration technology, which purports to be quieter and more energy-efficient than true HEPA filters while still filtering 99.97 percent of particles of 0.3 microns or larger. An activated carbon filter also helps to eliminate odors. It’s extremely quiet, operating at 17 dB on its lowest setting and 46 dB on the highest.

Product Specs 

  • Filtration: 2 layers, including HEPASilent filtration technology and activated carbon filter
  • Room Size Recommendation: 185 square feet
  • Noise Level: 17 to 46 decibels

Pros

  • Filters every 12 minutes
  • Energy-efficient unit
  • Quiet operation
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • Limited coverage

Get the Blueair air purifier on Amazon and at Target.

Our Verdict

Designed for large area coverage and quiet operation as well as backed by Energy Star and CARB certifications, the Medify Air option is our first choice for the best air purifier for cigarette and wildfire smoke. If you’re not looking to purify up to 1,600 square feet an hour, though, consider the slightly smaller and less expensive Levoit pick instead—it’s meant for 350 to 900 square feet of coverage. Both top picks feature pre-filters, true HEPA filters, and activated carbon filters to trap the strong odors associated with smoke.

How We Chose the Best Air Purifiers for Smoke

Our selections for the best air purifier for smoke was selected for its filtration efficiency, area coverage, noise level, and range of operating speeds.

Above all, we prioritized filtration: Every recommendation features multiple filters, including an activated carbon filter to capture the lingering odors of cigarettes and flames, and all but one (the budget pick) features a true HEPA filter. The systems listed above act as smoke filters; remove allergens, gasses, and toxins from the air; and leave your home odor-free. Plus, many of these above picks cover areas ranging from 100 to 1,600 square feet depending upon the size of the space you want to purify.

The above selection is also conscious of not filling your home with noise as most systems are made to operate at under 60 decibels. Select options also come with multiple operation speeds depending upon how much purification is needed as well as automatic functionality day and night. Finally, some of these air purifiers are made with LED or glass screens, wheels, or wall-mounting capability to fit in your ideal space.

FAQs

Q: How do air purifiers work?

A typical filtration system includes a HEPA filter for larger particles including dust, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens. Some include an activated carbon filter for VOCs, gases, and odors. Additionally, certain air purifiers also include a fabric prefilter to trap larger particles before reaching and clogging the other filters.

Q: How well do air purifiers work for smoke?

How well an air purifier works is dependent on the type of smoke, which relates to particle size. The best air purifiers can effectively reduce particle concentration of visible smoke. For example, they remove wildfire smoke by up to 85 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Q: Does a HEPA filter remove smoke?

Yes, though only some types of smoke. A HEPA filtration system is the best solution for smoke available in purifiers, but certain forms of smoke contain particles that pass through the filter. Smoke particles can be as small as 0.001 microns, while HEPA filters trap 99.97 percent of particles between 0.3 and 10 microns. HEPA filtration traps visible matter, such as smoke from wildfires, cigarettes, and burning food.