Can Air Purifiers eliminate Smoke and Smoke Odor?

How Air Purifiers for Smokers Can Help

Smoke pollution comes in a variety of forms, and each form comes with a different set of health concerns. Cigarette smoke, wildfire smoke, and cooking smoke are just a few of the common types of pollutants that can be harmful to your lungs.

According to the CDC, Cigarette smoke releases over 4000 harmful chemicals and gasses including 70 that cause cancer. Also, wildfire smoke can contain dangerous particles from burning building materials, plastic, and vegetation.

No air purifier is going to be 100% effective, but using one in your home will help to reduce smoke odor and smoke pollutants. Whether you are a smoker, you live next door to a smoker, or you suffer from the effects of wild fires, an air purifier will improve the quality of air in your home.

Air Purifiers for smokers will not only eliminate the carcinogens, chemicals, and gasses, but they will also clean the air of particulate matter and help to eliminate odor.

What Absorbs the Smell of Smoke? 

An air purifier is able to remove the smell of smoke odor by using an activated carbon filter. Activated carbon filters (also called charcoal filters) use extreme amounts of surface area to absorb volatile organic compounds from the air. Volatile organic compounds produce odor. When tobacco smoke releases volatile organic compounds, the tiny charcoal particles in an activated carbon filter act like a sponge and absorb them to remove the smell.

Best for Smoke odor
  • Pre-Filter
  • True HEPA Filter 
  • Activated Carbon Filter 
  • Clean Air Ionizer 
  • UV-C Sanitizer
  • Captures 99.97% of dust and allergens up to 0.3 microns in size
  •  16.5 x 10.3 x 10.3 inches
  •  5.35 pounds
  • 5 stage filtration
  • 5-speed fan
  • Easy-to-use push button display
  • Sleep function to turn off lights
  • Particulate matter sensor that automatically adjusts air flow
  • On/off timer
  • Filter change indicator alerts 
  • Auto mode
  • Quiet Performance
  • Lightweight design

The SilverOnyx air purifier was chosen as the best air purifier for smoke because of its unique design and its 5 stage purification process. The purification process includes a barrel type pre-filter, HEPA filter, and Activated Carbon Filter, and also utilizes technologies such as ionization and UV-C sterilization. Unlike many traditional air purifiers, the Silver Onyx filters out dirty particles before sterilizing contaminants and eliminating odor.

The product’s 360 degree tower style design takes up less space than comparable flat filter purifiers while still allowing for 60% more surface area. This increased amount of surface area allows for the 5 stage filtration process to be exposed to more cubic meters of air per minute than its competition. 

As smoke and other particles flow into the purifier, they are first drawn through the mesh pre-filter that catches nicotine residue and other large particles. The air then flows through a true HEPA filter that removes 99.97% of particles and odors under .3 microns in size (including smoke). After syphoning through the HEPA filter, the air enters the activated carbon filter, which subsequently absorbs all odors (including smoke smells). Next, the air contaminants enter the UV-C chamber, which zaps and kills any germs, bacteria, or living organisms with intense UV light. The final stage in the purification process (if turned on) is for any remaining air particles to acquire a negative charge in the ionic chamber. The ionizer spits out negative ions that attach to dirty molecules. These dirty molecules subsequently stick together until they become overweighted and fall to the ground.  

As you can see, the Silver Onyx’s advanced purification process combined with the increased level of surface area due to its 360 degree design results in the best purification process on the market. Smoke particles are eliminated from the HEPA, Carbon, and Ionic technologies, while smoke odors are removed from the pre-filter, HEPA filter, Carbon filter, and ionic chamber. 

CADR Ratings
  • Smoke: 233
  • Dust: 221
  • Pollen: 211
Positive Feedback

Within just 24 hours customers are able to see drastic improvements in their air quality as well as their allergies and breathing. Not only are customers satisfied with this purifier’s ability to eliminate smoke and smoke odor, they are also happy with its ability to remove pet dander, allergens, mold spores, dust mites, bacteria, and more.

Aside from its outstanding performance, customers are also happy with its auto control system that automatically adjusts filtering power based upon air quality. For example, a forest fire is in your nearby community, your Silver Onyx will automatically increase its power to combat the poor air quality that you and your family are breathing. 

Some of the other highlighted aspects of this air purifier are its sleek look, high tech operation, compact design, and breadth of room coverage. With 90% of customers rating above 4 out of 5 stars on amazon, this air purifier has had very few negative reviews and is known as one of the best purifiers on the market. Follow the link above to see the reviews for yourself. 

Negative Feedback

Although this product has a 360 degree design that allows for 60% more surface area, many say that the purifier does not reach its full potential. It lacks the proper amount of breather holes surrounding the air inlet, hampering its ability to pull in air. 

Another drawback of the air purifier seems to be the noise level of some faulty units. Although these customers have been able to get a refund right away, there have been a small number of customers who have received faulty units that are very loud.

Best for Second-hand smoke

Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier

Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier
Click to See Price & Reviews
  • Washable AOC (advanced odor control) Activated Carbon Filtration
  • True-HEPA Filter
  • PlasmaWave Technology 
  • Width 14.9”/ Height 23.6“/ Depth 7.8″ / Weight 17.6 lbs
  • Medium to large rooms of 360 sq. ft.
  • Smaller version (Winix 5300-2) is also available for room sizes of 200 sq. ft.
  • 3-stage cleaning process
  • VOC Smart Sensor
  • Air quality visual indicator & Filter Replacement Indicator
  • Remote control
  • 4 fan speeds
  • Sleep mode & Auto Mode to adjust the fan to filter the air as needed
  • Quiet Performance & Sleek design
  • LED Auto Dim Feature
  • AHAM CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) certified
  • CARB certified (California Air Resources Board)
  • Energy Star certified

This purifier was chosen as the second best air purifier for smoke because of its combination of an advanced carbon filter and Plasmawave technology as well as its ability to clean large areas. Also, Winix is a company with over 40 years of experience and rich history in the indoor air quality industry.

The 5500-2 model is an evolution of the older 5500 model. The new 5500-2 uses an improved activated carbon layer (better for smoke and smoke odor) and a new overall look. Also, the 5500-2 has several features that are very useful. There are three timer settings, four fan speeds, and several different operation modes to make life easier. 

The purifier first draws in dirty air through its activated carbon filter. Although many air purifiers use activated carbon, the Winix 5500 uses an advanced version. Most other brands use a thin and flexible carbon filter, while the Winix uses an advanced honeycomb design. This filter performs much better than other standard filters as it consists of a honeycomb designed technology wedged between two mesh sheets. The mesh sheets will essentially act as a pre-filter capturing nicotine residue and large particles while the carbon filter will absorb smoke smell and smaller smoke particles. The honeycomb design is made up of thousands of beads made from pure activated carbon (extremely absorptive). This allows the Winix 5500-2 to use many times the amount of activated carbon as a standard purifier resulting in a clean smelling house.

The next step of the purification process is for the air to flow through the true HEPA filter. The HEPA filter eliminates 99.97% of particles at least .3 microns in size including smoke, dust, allergens, mold, pet dander, bacteria, and more. After flowing through the HEPA filter, the air will enter the Plasmawave chamber. The Winix patented Plasmawave technology releases hydroxyls into the air. Hydroxyls reduce smoke smell and other odors by killing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that produce odors.

In addition, the Winix 5500 also provides an easy to use smart system with a polished look. The air purifier constantly monitors the air in the room and displays an air quality indicator to show the air quality. Also, there are 4 air speeds, a LED light auto dimming feature, sleep mode to eliminate sound and light, and a filter replacement indicator.

Positive Feedback
Not only is this air purifier affordable, it also has very high customer satisfaction ratings (well above 4 stars on amazon).

The key to its odor reducing capabilities lies in its advanced carbon filter. While many air purifiers only provide a thin layer of carbon, the Winix 5500-2 has a washable AOC (advanced odor control) honeycombed carbon filter with two mesh sheets on either side. It also includes PlasmaWave technology to further remove odor, VOCs, and other pollutants, and a 99.97% effective True-HEPA filter. The combination of these three odor-reducing technologies results in smoke odor elimination. 

Most reviewers have reported that the Winix 5500-2 does exactly what it is suppose to do and have recommended the product to friends and family. Also, many customers have purchased several for themselves. Everyone seems to be satisfied with its performance, and customers consistently rave about the Winix 5500-2’s ability to eliminate smoke, odor, dust, germs, and pet dander.

Customers have also been impressed with its quiet operation and easy to use auto mode. The automatic setting makes this air purifier great for people who want to set it and forget. One customer even noted that the purifier air quality indicator changed from blue to orange after detecting his daughter’s fart! Gross, but funny.

Also, three HEPA filters are included in the package so your initial investment goes further than other brands.

Negative Feedback

Although the air purifier is known for its quite operation, some customers have had issues with the noise while operating on highest speed level.

Another drawback of this purifier is its lack of handling ability. The purifier itself is not very heavy (only 15 lbs.), but there are no handles to help carry and maneuver the purifier

Best for low budgets

Coway AP- 1512HH​

Coway AP air purifier
Click to See Price & Reviews
  • Pre-filter
  • Activated Carbon Filter
  • HEPA Filter
  • Ionizer (optional usage)
  • Recommended Room size : 49 square.m (360 feet²) 
  • Noise level : 24.4 – 53.8 dBA
  • Airflow rate is 7.6 CMM (Cubic Meters per Minute)
  • Covers up to 361 sq.ft.
  • 4 Stage Filtration System (Pre, Carbon, True HEPA, Vital Ion)
  • Air Quality Indicator
  • Auto Mode
  • Eco Mode
  • Compact size
  • 3 Speed Air Flow Control
  • Timer 1/4/8 hours
  • Filter Replacement Indicator
  • Quiet Operation
  • Energy Star Certified 

This air purifier is manufactured by Coway. Coway is dedicated to researching and developing environmental solutions to enhance general living standards. They are a well-respected company that specializes in products that range from water and air care to life care.

The Coway AP 1512 HH (Coway AP for short) was chosen as the third best air purifier for smoke not only because of its advanced technology features but also because of its wide popularity on Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart. This air purifier is one of the most highly purchased purifiers on the market and has hundreds of positive reviews just about smoke and smoke odor alone, not to mention the thousands of positive reviews about its other capabilities. 

With a CADR for smoke of 233, CADR for Dust of 246, and a CADR for Pollen of 240, the Coway AP 1512 will outperform the majority of air purifiers on the market. This air purifier is great for smokers as it uses all the best technologies for smoke removal. It’s four-stage filtration system includes a pre filter, activated carbon filter, true HEPA filter, and ionizer. The washable pre-filter will capture sticky nicotine residue, the activated carbon filter will absorb smoke odor, the HEPA filter will filter smoke particles, and the ionizer will eliminate smoke form the air. The combination of these four filters allows for effective smoke and smoke odor elimination.

Positive Feedback

Similar to machines above, the average amazon rating is well above 4 out of 5 stars for this product and it has positive reviews on every air purifier site available. Customers testify that this air purifier will eliminate cigarette, cooking, and wildfire smoke in their home if kept on at least level 2 or 3. Customers are also happy with its ability to eliminate pet dander, dust, allergens, mold spores, and germs. 

Negative Feedback

Although most customers are pleased with this performance of this air purifier, some have negative experiences. It seems as though all of the negative reviews for this product are linked to the air flow level setting of  1. Customers say that the lowest airflow level for this purifier will not effectively eliminate smoke and smoke odor.

Also great

AeraMax 300

AeraMax 3-in-1 Air Purifier - activated carbon air purifier
Click to See Price & Reviews
  • Four-stage Carbon Filtration
  • True HEPA Filter with Antimicrobial Treatment Safely 
  • Ionizer (optional usage)
  • Antimicrobial Treatment


  • Capable of reducing odor and cleaning rooms from 300-600 sq. ft. 
  • Aero Max 200 (200 – 400 sq. ft.) and Aero Max 100 (100 – 200 sq. ft.).
  • Special High Performance Mode for Allergy, Cold, and Flu Seasons
  • Auto Air Quality Detecting Technology
  • Ultra Quiet Performance
  • AAFA Certified

Manufactured by Fellows under the name of AeraMax, this product is great for smokers as it will remove cigarette smoke and smoke odor. Fellows is well respected in the air purification industry and provides a full range of air purification systems for improving indoor air quality for every type of environment.

The AeraMax 300 is the largest size offered in its AeraMax product line, and has the ability to purify rooms from 300 to 600 square feet. This machine can also be purchased in different sizes for small and medium rooms.

With over 500 reviews on amazon and an average rating above 4 stars, this purifier has made many people happy. It comes equipped with a true HEPA filter, a four-stage carbon filtration process, and an ionized field that can be turned off and on. Each of these technologies are important for removing smoke and smoke odor. The AeraMax 300 is an affordable option for an air purifier that will eliminate the majority of smoke in your living room, bedroom, or kitchen.

Positive Feedback
Aside from a few select customers, this air purifier has received mostly all positive reviews. Many smokers, per owners, and allergy sufferers have found that this air purifier really helps with keeping symptoms at a minimum.
Aside from its exceptional performance, customers enjoy the auto detect smart sensor, sleek design and look, easy filter change, and low noise level. The auto detect sensor can detect smoke levels in the room and automatically increase purification power to combat pollutants. 
Negative Feedback

Inevitably, as with any highly purchased product, a small number of customers have left negative reviews. 

One complaint has been made about the purifier’s indicator lights that cannot be turned off. This can be an issue for people who like to have a completely dark room while sleeping (can cover the light with tape if needed). 

Another fairly common complaint is the expense of the replacement HEPA filter as it is slightly more expensive than other HEPA filters. 

How we decided on the best air purifier for smokers

After reading through over 50 websites in a search for an effective but reasonably priced air purifier for smoke, we could not seem to find a satisfactory guide. Many websites either suggest buying air purifiers that cost anywhere from $600 to $1000 or did not provide an in depth analysis. Therefore, after many hours of research we have developed the most comprehensive review of affordably priced air purifiers for smokers on the web.

To find the best air purifier for smokers, we first grasped an in depth understanding of customer needs and the types of air purifiers that best match those needs. The next step was to decide on our initial list of 20 air purifiers. In order to decide on the top 20, we searched through all of the air purifiers for smokers and smoke odor on,,,, and We then narrowed this list down to the top 10 air purifiers through an analysis of customer satisfaction levels, average rating, CADR performance metrics, and other Air Quality Metrics.

The next step was to spend hours reading through each air purifier company’s website to find more information on the 15 selected Air Purifiers. After that we combed through hundreds of product reviews, ratings, comments, forums, websites, blog posts, and guides to narrow the list down to the top 4 air purifiers for smoke and smoke odor removal.

What is Cigarette Smoke?

 As a cigarette burns, it releases over 7000 harmful chemical compounds in the form of particles and gasses. Some of these notable compounds include nicotine, tar, benzene, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide.

When removing tobacco smoke, it is important to eliminate both the particulate matter (smoke particles) and the released gases. If these toxins are not eliminated, they can create issues with both smoke odor and second hand smoke.

Do Air Purifiers Work for Cigarette Smoke?

Yes. Air purifiers that use activated carbon and True HEPA filters can work for cigarette smoke. An activated carbon filter uses extreme amounts of surface area to absorb smoke particles, while a HEPA filter captures them. It is also important to invest in an air purifier with a washable pre-filter. A pre-filter will capture much of the smoke residue (odor creating) and allow for frequent cleaning. 

What is Second Hand Smoke? 

Second hand smoke is the excess discharge released from burning tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars. This excess smoke consists of both the smoke exhaled from the person smoking and the smoke burning from the end of the tobacco product. There is actually more smoke released into the air than inhaled by the smoker. As the excess smoke drifts through the air, other people inhale it. Consequently, these people are exposed to the same harmful chemicals and gases as the actual smokers themselves.

What is Wildfire Smoke?

Similar to tobacco smoke, wildfire smoke is made up of a mixture of gas and particulate matter. As a result, these gases and fine particles can also be harmful if inhaled. Carbon Monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOC), and fine ash are just some of the common elements that make up wildfire smoke.

The longer you are exposed to these air pollutants, the more respiratory related issues can arise. To make matters worse, pollutants from wildfire smoke can travel thousands and can potentially affect people who live at great distances downwind.

What is Smoke Odor?

When it comes to tobacco smoke, even frequent smokers are aware of the effects of smoke odor. Smoke odor is no only unpleasant, but also ruins the value of your property and can be a massive headache to eliminate.

If not cleaned from the air, tobacco smoke will leave brown and yellow stains on the walls, ceilings, and carpets. These stains are the result of sticky nicotine residue released from cigarettes and cigars. This residue can soak into the walls and furniture creating a strong odor that reeks of tobacco. Not only is this residue very difficult to clean, it can also contribute to allergies and second hand smoke concerns.

If you are trying to get rid of smoke odor, follow these easy steps:

  1. Start smoking outdoors
  2. Open windows and doors to naturally ventilate the room
  3. Wash windows and mop floors with odor eliminating products
  4. Clean the walls and furniture with odor eliminating products
  5. Strip the wallpaper if necessary
  6. Change the air filters
  7. Use an air purifier to absorb odor

Do HEPA Filters Remove Smoke?

HEPA filters are able to remove 99.97% of air particles that are at least .3 microns in size. Cigarette smoke generally ranges from 20 to 100 microns in size while wood smoke is around 1 micron is size. Because both wood and tobacco smoke are larger than .3 microns, a True HEPA filter will be able to capture 99.97% of smoke particles that flow through the air purifier.

What to Look for in an Air Purifier for Smokers

Choosing the right air purifier can be a lengthy process. There are many different kinds of air purifier technologies, and each type of technology is designed for a different purpose. As a result, it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each air purifier before making a decision.

When looking for an air purifier to smokers, it is important to make sure the purifier has a pre-filter, activated carbon filter, true HEPA filter, and optional ionizer. The pre-filter will capture large particles and sticky nicotine residue that causes much of the smoke odor. It’s important to make sure that the pre-filter is washable so the nicotine residue can be cleaned regularly. Next, the activated carbon filter will absorb the smoke smell released by tobacco/wildfire smoke and also remove smoke particles and toxins. Activated carbon is arguably the most important technology for combating smoke odors. A true HEPA filter will subsequently remove smoke particles and carcinogens that are at least .3 microns in size (the majority of smoke particles). The final technology to look for is ionization. Using an ionizer should be the final step to eliminating smoke and smoke odor. An ionizer will give any remaining particles a positive charge. This charge will cause the particles to stick together in the air and fall to the ground to be vacuumed. Although ionizers can be useful for eliminating smoke and smoke odor, you should keep in mind that they will produce ozone and should not be used all the time. This is why you should look for a purifier with an option ionizer. 

As explained below, it is also important to determine the correct air purifier size, CADR, and technology before making a decision.

The Right Air Purifier Size

When choosing the size of an air purifier, first determine where you want to place the purifier, and then determine the square footage of your room. To determine the square footage, simply measure the 2 ends of your room and multiply the numbers together.

After finding the square footage of your room, look for an air purifier that can clean at or above this number. It is important to understand that there are different sized air purifiers designed for different sized rooms. Square footage cleaning ability can generally be found in the product description or features sections.

How to use CADR Rating

The CADR rating is a common indicator of air purifier performance. CADR stands for clean air delivery Rate. This metric originated with the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, and is an effective way to determine how well an air purifier performs in an enclosed area.

The CADR rating reflects the cubic feet of air that a purifier can clean per minute. CADR ratings are measured based on different particle sizes. The particles used to test filtering effectiveness are smoke, dust, and pollen.

In general, the higher the CADR rating, the more quickly and effectively an air purifier can filter indoor air pollutants. According the, the clean air delivery rate is an indicator of the airflow amount times the particle removal efficiency. For example, if an air purifier has an airflow rate of 150 CFM and an efficiency rate of 96%, then the CADR would be 144.

It is important to keep in mind that larger air purifiers have higher airflow (CFM) rates, and therefor inherently have larger CADRs. Due to this reason, it is only beneficial to compare air purifiers that are similar in size and airflow rate.

In order to determine the best choice for you, it is important to tailor the CADR to the size of your room. To do this, multiply the square footage of your room times .75. This will give you a baseline for the CADR that your room will need. For example, if your room is 205 square feet, then you should purchase an air purifier that has least a 153 CADR (205 sq. ft. x .75).

Types of Air Purifiers for Smoke

Activated Carbon

When searching for an air purifier for smokers and smoke odor, you’ll want to look for an air purifier with an activated carbon filter. Activated carbon filters use extreme amounts of porosity to absorb particles and contaminants as they flow through the purifier.

These filters are commonly known for their ability to remove odors, but they can also eliminate smoke particles. They are equipped with large amounts of crushed charcoal that have the ability to absorb gases, toxins, odor, particles, and VOCs.

Although activated carbon filters are great for eliminating smoke and smoke odor, they do not effectively remove germs and other living organisms. Also, it is important to be aware that some air purifiers are advertised as activated carbon, but only have a thin layer applied to a filter.

Rule of thumb: The more activated carbon the better 


A HEPA or High Efficiency Particulate Air filter is also a common filter used in air purifiers. These filters can remove 99.97% of particles at least .3 microns in size.

HEPA filters are great eliminators of allergens, mold, dust, and dirt. Although these filters are extremely effective at eliminating large particles, anything under .3 microns in size cannot be eliminated with such efficiency. Smoke particles generally range from 1.0 to .01 microns in size and therefore cannot be completely eliminated by HEPA filters alone.

Rule of thumb: HEPA filters are not the best for smoke, but are still decently effective


Home air purifiers also use a technology called negative ionization to remove pollutants. Ionizers are effective smoke removers because they attach negatively charged ions to particles as they flow through the purifier. As smoke particles acquire a negative charge and are released back into the air, they begin to stick together. Eventually these particles become overweighed and fall to the ground leaving the air free from smoke.

The benefit is that these purifiers remove smoke particles from the air, which in turn reduces odor and second hand smoke. The drawback is that they cause more upkeep. As air pollutants fall to the ground, they must be vacuumed regularly. If not vacuumed, nicotine residue may absorb into the floor and create odor.

Rule of thumb: Ionizers are effective at removing smoke particles form the air, but require frequent vacuuming and surface cleaning           

UV (Ultraviolet) light

Ultraviolet light purifiers use UV-C light to kill pollutants as they pass through the air purifier. These air purifiers can quickly destroy living organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and mold from an indoor environment. They also remove most contaminants that cause allergies, asthma, and other respiratory issues. Due to their ability to eliminate bacteria and living organisms, UV-C technology can effectively remove odors.

Although UV-C light air purifies have many benefits, but are not well known for eliminating smoke particles.

Rule of Thumb: UV-C light purifiers are not great for smoke removal but effectively eliminate other pollutants and odors (including smoke odor).

The Best Type of Air Purifier Technology for Smokers

As stated above, the best type of air purifier technologies are activated carbon and ionization. Activated carbon is commonly used to reduce both smoke odor and smoke particles/gases, while ionization is known to effectively remove smoke particles. Using these two purifiers together will produce the best results for smoke and smoke odor removal.

While using an activated carbon and ionizer together will produce great results, adding a HEPA and a pre-filter will even further improve performance. HEPA filters are the best all around filters and will only help to remove smoke particles and odor. Placing a washable pre-filter before all of these filters will also improve efficiency. A washable pre-filter will collect large particles and sticky nicotine residue allowing the other filters to perform more efficiently. We will also help you find vape air purifiers.

Air Purifier Pricing 

Air purifier prices depend on size and features. Most air purifiers on our list are around 50$-200$, but those prices can change based on the size needed.

3 thoughts on “Can Air Purifiers eliminate Smoke and Smoke Odor?”

  1. Hello, my neighbor smokes and the smoke is starting to smell in my apartment. Is nicotine residue the main cause of smoke odor? I am looking to buy an air purifier for smoke

  2. Hi Joe, nicotine residue is one of the many causes of smoke odor, but is arguably the worst. Nicotine residue will soak into your walls, furniture, and flooring and will become extremely difficult to remove. The best way to prevent nicotine residue from destroying your personal property is to use an air purifier with a pre-filter. The pre-filter will trap most of the residue as it enters the purifier. Although this will result in the need to clean your pre-filter on a regular basis, this should help prevent smoke odor from spreading throughout your home.


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