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Best air purifier for wildfire smoke

Which air purifier is best for wildfire smoke?

When wildfire smoke gets into your home, it creates a serious and immediate threat to the health of your household. If you don’t have to evacuate, the most important thing you can do is create a clean space that keeps smoke levels to a minimum. An air purifier can then help keep the air you breathe as clean as possible.

The best air purifier for the job needs a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. For example, the Alen BreatheSmart Large Room Air Purifier removes smoke from the air and reduces odors.

What to know before you buy an air purifier for wildfire smoke

Exposure to wildfire smoke is dangerous

According to the EPA, wildfire smoke has a mixture of gaseous pollutants, hazardous air pollutants, water vapor and particle pollution. The smoke from a wildfire can irritate your eyes and your respiratory system. According to the CDC, it can worsen illnesses like chronic heart and lung diseases. Additionally, breathing wildfire smoke can cause long-term respiratory difficulty. In some instances, exposure to wildfire smoke may require immediate and urgent care.

Who is at the greatest risk from wildfire smoke?

Older adults, children under the age of 18, pregnant women and individuals with chronic heart and lung disease, such as asthma, are at the most significant risk from wildfire.

How to stay as safe as possible from wildfire smoke

  • Monitor local reports on air quality.
  • Close all windows and doors to keep the indoor air as clean as possible.
  • Avoid any activity such as smoking, burning candles, cooking with gas or vacuuming, increasing indoor air pollution.
  • If you have an air conditioner, make sure the fresh-air intake is closed before operating.
  • Have a designated clean room where you can go for relief from the wildfire smoke.
  • Use an air purifier to help filter out harmful particles in the air.

What is a cleanroom?

A cleanroom is any room in your home that you can set up to keep wildfire smoke levels to a minimum. This room should be large enough so everyone can comfortably fit inside and have easy access to a bathroom so you can stay in the room for extended periods. You should be able to seal off wildfire smoke entry points quickly without making it difficult to leave in the event of an emergency. Also, the room should be cool, but do not use a portable air conditioner or an evaporative cooler because they will add wildfire smoke to the room. Lastly, the room should contain some sort of an air purification system that does not produce ozone.

What to look for in a quality air purifier for wildfire smoke

Filter type

The most important aspect of an air purifier is a HEPA filter that clears out the smoke. The most dangerous element of wildfire smoke is particle pollution. These particles are roughly 2.5 microns in size. A HEPA filter removes 99.97% of particles that are as small as 0.3 microns in size. Additionally, an air purifier with an activated carbon filter will absorb hazardous volatile organic compounds and the unpleasant odors associated with wildfire smoke.

Fan speeds

If you are using your air purifier to combat wildfire smoke, you will want a model with various fan speeds so the unit can be placed on high as needed. You will also want to have the ability to set the unit at a lower speed for periods when the highest speed is not necessary. 

Easy to clean

Since you may constantly be running your air purifier during a wildfire event, it will need to be cleaned more often than usual. Look for a model that has a washable filter so you can clean it as needed quickly. 

Particle counter

A particle counter uses a laser that can detect and identify the contaminants in the air. A particle counter lets you know how healthy the air inside your home or your cleanroom is. Many control the fan’s speed so the unit will automatically adapt to better combat the changing air quality levels. 

How much you can expect to spend on an air purifier for wildfire smoke

While it may be possible to get an effective, no-frills air purifier for a smaller room for less than $100, it’s better to budget at least $200 for a low-end model. An air purifier loaded with impressive features can handle a larger room; however, it may cost $800 or more.

Air purifier for wildfire smoke FAQ

My house is hot. Can I open a window when there is wildfire smoke in the area?

A. No. If there is wildfire smoke in your area, one of the worst things you can do is open a window because that will allow contaminated air to enter your home. If you have an air conditioner and keep the fresh air intake closed, run your air conditioner to stay cool. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is unsafe to stay inside because of the level of heat, travel to a designated clean air shelter for relief.

Will a cloth mask protect me from wildfire smoke?

A. No. A cloth mask will not protect you from the gases and fine particles resulting from a wildfire. If you have access to an N95 mask, that can help with the particles but not the vapors, but only if there is a good seal. If you have a respirator mask, that can help filter out both the particles and vapors, but only with a proper seal. The best strategy is to limit your exposure to wildfire smoke in any way that you can.

What’s the best air purifier for wildfire smoke?

Top air purifier for wildfire smoke

Alen BreatheSmart Large Room Air Purifier

What you need to know: If you want the best filtering capabilities and quietest option, this is the air purifier for you.

What you’ll love: This impressive air purifier can filter out particles down to 0.1 microns, and it comes with an activated carbon filter specifically designed to filter out toxins found in wildfire and other smoke. The intelligent sensor detects airborne particles and the machine automatically adjusts to remove those particles. It is powerful enough to clean up to 1,300 square feet in 30 minutes.

What you should consider: This model is top-rated but also priced considerably higher than other air purifiers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top air purifier for wildfire smoke for the money

Blueair Blue Pure 311 Auto Air Purifier

What you need to know: This is an affordable air purifier that is best for rooms up to roughly 400 square feet.

What you’ll love: On high, this model is capable of filtering all the air in a medium-sized room in about 12 minutes. The built-in particle sensor allows this model to adapt to real-time readings immediately. The combination filter removes airborne particles down to 0.1 micron as well as odors.

What you should consider: This product works best on high, but that setting is considerably louder than other speeds.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier

What you need to know: This model is designed for individuals looking for a competent air purifier that is simple to operate and practical.

What you’ll love: The three-stage filtration system includes a pre-filter, an activated carbon filter and a HEPA filter which effectively removes pollen, dust, smoke, pet dander, volatile organic compounds, odors and more from the air. The automated CirQulate system monitors the air quality and automatically adjusts to offer the optimum fan speed for air-purifying needs. This model is the only model to feature legs that allow for easy cleaning around and under the unit.

What you should consider: Since there are no handles, this model can be awkward to move.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Wayfair


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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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