Does Air Purifier Remove Food Smell?

Who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked bread on Sunday morning or the pot pie from Saturday night dinner? It feels good every time you enter the kitchen.

However, each time you cook another dish, its smell adds to the existing smell of last night’s dishes. And it is as annoying as it is unhealthy. Clean air is important if you want relief from the stress of cooking. So, an air purifier to the rescue?

Not so fast. Does air purifier remove food smell? People have found the hard way that their air purifier isn’t getting rid of the food and cooking smell. It’s not the fault of the air purifier either.

The main purpose of an air purifier is to get rid of pollutants and allergens, not smell. To remove food smell or any other smell, the air purifier has to have a carbon filter along with the existing HEPA filter.

How Does an Air Purifier Operate?

The simplest form of air purifier can be found in old factories. You’ll see large exhaust fans on the walls of the factory. Just in front of the fans, there are grills with little holes that work as a filter.

While those aren’t exactly “air purifying” devices, they used the exact same model as your average air purifier on the market.

An ideal air purifier will have a fan inside a cylindrical chamber, and it will suck air inside the chamber. While another fan will be in the exit, and it will push the air out. In between the fans, there will be a filter that will trap the pollutants and clean up the air.

The most common filter used in purifiers is a HEPA filter. But this filter isn’t going to help you out regarding food smell, as you’ll find out shortly.

Do Air Purifiers Help with Food Smells?

The answer is simple yet a bit complicated. Yes, an air purifier can clean your air and get rid of the nasty persisting smell. However, it’s not the job of any air purifier.

If you have an existing air purifier, it most likely won’t remove the smell since the average purifying device doesn’t take smell into account. Those have a HEPA filter inside them to remove dust and allergens, and this filter can’t trap small particles.

On the other hand, if you type in an air purifier with an activated carbon filter for food smell, you’ll find costlier air purifiers. These usually have either both HEPA and carbon filters or only carbon filters.

A couple of things to understand here are smell particles, activated carbon filters, and HEPA filters.

  • What Are Food Smell Particles?

How do we know what food and fragrance smell like? And how do we know when something is rotting? It’s through these small particles. These are volatile molecules that come out from different things—everything from food to garbage transfers these molecules into the air, especially from chemical components like sulfur.

They are called Odorants which is derived from “Odor,” another term for the smell. These odorants float around in the air. We smell things through our olfactory receptors when they get inside our nostrils.

Now, are they quite different from dust particles?

Yes and no. Odorants and dust particles have similar sizes, but they are built differently. Odorants are less dense and float around more. And that makes them harder to catch for normal HEPA filters.

  • Activated Carbon Filter

An activated carbon filter is simply carbon in its powdered form and made into a bed. It’s also known as a charcoal filter.

How does it work, and what makes it so good at removing small particles? It’s one of the characteristics of activated carbon to absorb moisture and other components in the air that are volatile.

Activated carbon or charcoal is a porous material with lots of little gaps in it, and all the gas molecules and odorants get trapped and absorbed in these holes. This retaining of the odorants makes sure that the air exiting is odor-free.

It’s also being used in water filters to remove impurities from sources of water.

The filter is simply a bed of activated carbon, and it’s sometimes placed along with the HEPA filter, and sometimes it’s the only filter inside the purifier.

Tips: The activated carbon filter collects the particles, and after a while, the porous structure slowly diminishes and reduces its efficiency. And you’ll be required to replace the filter. The recommended timeframe for filter replacement is 6 months to 1 year.

Theoretically, you could extend the period by washing and reusing it.

Why Can’t HEPA filters Get Rid of Food Smell?

HEPA is the short form of High-Efficiency Particulate. So, the natural question any audience of mine would ask is, why doesn’t it remove the food smell?

It’s simply because it’s not designed to handle such volatile particles. The odorants go past the filter easily.

A more powerful air purifier with a HEPA filter may remove the food smell, but it takes a lot of time with much better airflow.

Boost Air Purifier’s Effectiveness to Remove Food Smell

You can take other measures to help your air purifier get rid of the food smell if there’s urgency. The old traditional Indian way of refreshing the air is a diluted vinegar spray. Spray the solution in the air, and it will help reduce the smell.

If you have cinnamon sticks, simmer them in the morning in an open pot. You could also use lemon peels and ground ginger.

Final Words

So, does air purifier remove food smell? I think you got your answer. To sum up, if the air purifier contains an activated carbon filter, it will significantly reduce the odor from last night’s food. But if the smell has been lingering for days, you will need to take additional steps like the vinegar spray solution.

Last Updated on January 1, 2023

Richard Hicks

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