Everything You Need to Know About Odor Eliminating Charcoal Filters

Air filters come in what seems like an endless number of varieties. You can find filters in hundreds of different sizes, various MERV ratings, with numerous filter media. You can even find some specifically made to eliminate odors! Each one of these variables can impact your indoor air quality. Having so many choices can make it difficult to choose a filter that perfectly fits your home’s needs, but we’re here to guide you through the process.

Activated carbon filters are a great choice for any home, but if you have a busy household with children, pets, cooking, or any other odor-producing circumstances, we highly recommend investing in our Odor Eliminating activated carbon filters. Not only will they clean dust, allergens, and other pollutants from your indoor air, but they’ll also efficiently remove any unwanted, off-putting smells.

Read on to find out if our Odor Eliminating Charcoal filters are right for you!

What is a Carbon Filter?

A carbon filter is another name for a charcoal filter or an activated carbon filter. It is an air filter made with activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal. Carbon filters are similar to standard air filters since they both trap unwanted airborne particles and keep your indoor air clean, but carbon filters have an extra benefit. The nature of carbon makes carbon filters exceptionally effective at trapping odor-producing particles called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Filterbuy’s Odor Eliminator filters are made with activated carbon, which is why they’re the best at improving your home’s indoor air quality and keeping unpleasant odors away.

What Does a Carbon Filter Do?

Like other air filters, carbon filters trap airborne pollutants like dust, dust mites, dander, pollen, mold, and lint, but they also trap odors. Homes with potent cleaning products, pets, children, daily cooking, and active renovations likely have high levels of volatile organic compounds. VOCs produce odors and those odors can linger in your home for a long time. Some of these VOCs can be dangerous to your health so you want to remove them from your home as soon as you can. Using activated carbon filters to remove VOCs from your indoor air will make your home a more healthy environment for your whole family.

Why are Carbon Filters Important?

Carbon Filter - Filterbuy Carbon Odor Eliminator Filter

Our Odor Eliminating activated carbon filters are great at removing off-putting smells from your home, but they can do much more than that. They can also remove potentially dangerous compounds from your home air. Activated carbon filters are important because they can protect your family from harmful volatile organic compounds. This is important if you have children, elderly relatives, or immunocompromised family members in your home. They are exceptionally vulnerable to experiencing symptoms and developing long-term health problems.

Activated carbon filters are also important if you are renovating your home or using strong cleaning products. VOCs, especially those that off-gas from cleaning supplies and renovation materials, can cause a myriad of health issues. Without an activated carbon filter to trap and eliminate these compounds, these issues can become chronic or even fatal.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, many VOCs commonly found in households can be health hazards if left lingering in your home for an extended amount of time. Some are even carcinogenic. Below are lists of what the EPA considers to be the most dangerous sources of VOCs and their potential health effects.

Sources of Household VOCs

Sources of Household VOCs
Paints, Paint Strippers, and Other SolventsStored Fuels and Automotive Products
Wood PreservativesHobby Supplies
Aerosol SpraysDry-cleaned Clothing
Cleansers and DisinfectantsLint
Moth repellents and Air FreshenersPesticides
Cooking Oils 
Health Effects
Eye, Nose, and Throat Irritation
Headaches, Loss of Coordination, and Nausea
Damage to Liver, Kidney, and Central Nervous System
Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some suspected or known to cause cancer in humans
Conjunctival Irritation
Nose and Throat Discomfort
Allergic Skin Reaction
Declines in Serum Cholinesterase Levels

Charcoal filters are a phenomenal tool to keep your indoor air clean and free of harmful pollutants, but are not suitable for all homes. Our charcoal fitlers offer the same level of particulate filtration as our MERV 8 filters, but your home may benefit most from a MERV 11 or MERV 13 filter. Our MERV Match Quiz can help you determine what filter will best meet your needs so you don’t have to do any guesswork.

How Does a Charcoal Filter Eliminate Odors?

Charcoal filters eliminate odors by trapping VOCs in the filter media. When polluted air is pushed through the charcoal filter, VOCs suspended in the air are forced to come in contact with activated carbon particles. The surface of each carbon particle is very porous and VOCs get stuck on the surface. When this happens, they are unable to pass through the filter media and cannot re-enter your home air to produce odors. When you change your charcoal filter, these VOCs get discarded along with the filter.

How Does Activated Carbon Work?

Activated carbon filters are air filters made with a form of manufactured carbon material that has been built into the filter media.​ This material is called activated carbon and is made from charcoal that has been powdered and purified. Activated carbon is processed in a way that makes each granule highly porous. Activated carbon is a common and effective material to filter both gases and liquids because each carbon particle has hundreds of micropores that trap pollutants. These micropores vastly increase the surface area of each particle, which is important due to the nature of carbon itself.

Carbon is such a good filter media because it has a lot of surface area compared to the size of the particle. This is important because, contrary to popular belief, activated carbon is not actually absorbent but adsorbent. Ecology Center US explains that a material is absorbent when atoms can enter the inside of the material itself, like a sponge. When a material is adsorbent, on the other hand, it has the ability to trap and hold atoms on the surface of the material, like breading on a piece of chicken. According to Water Tech Online:

“[Activated Carbon] has more useful surface area per gram than any other material available for physical adsorption. In fact, a teaspoon of activated carbon has more surface area than a football field.”

This is why activated carbon’s exceptional proportion of surface area to size makes it such an effective filter media. More surface area means atoms have more space to attach to and therefore the media has a higher capacity to trap pollutants.

How are Charcoal Filters Made?

Charcoal Filter - Filterbuy Activated Carbon Filter Diagram

All charcoal filters are made differently depending on the manufacturer. Filterbuy charcoal filters are the best on the market because we make ours with efficacy, longevity, and durability in mind. Our charcoal filters offer the same level of particulate filtration as our MERV 8 filters, meaning they easily filter out dust, dust mites, debris, pollen, mold, lint, dander, and debris with the added benefit of odor removal.

Each charcoal filter is made with wire-enforced backing for durability, a heat and humidity-resistant frame for safety and structural integrity, and pleated media to increase surface area. Each filter is coated with a layer of activated carbon on one side to ensure that VOCs and other pollutants are trapped at maximum capacity. That means you can trust that each charcoal filter is effectively cleaning your indoor air for a full 3 months. Plus, all our filters are 100% made in the United States and with recyclable materials.

We never use fiberglass in our charcoal filters or regular filters so you can rest assured that the air you’re breathing is safe. Our filters also last 3 times longer than the standard fiberglass model. Read more about our Odor Eliminator charcoal filters here.

How Long Does a Carbon Filter Last?

All air filters should be replaced at least once every 3 months, including activated carbon filters. If you don’t change your air filters regularly, your HVAC system will pump dusty, dirty air back into your home. Using a dirty air filter might even make your indoor air quality worse than having no filter at all.

If your air filter is over 3 months old, it will make your entire HVAC system less efficient. An inefficient HVAC system works harder and longer than it needs to to move air through your air ducts. Clogged air filters force your HVAC system to stay active for longer and you will see that reflected in your monthly energy expenses. You might think you’re saving money by changing your filters less frequently, but you actually end up paying just as much or even more on your energy bill.

Activated Charcoal Filter - Upclose view of many pieces of charcoal

If you’re still unsure if you need a Odor Eliminator charcoal filter or if our standard MERV filters will suffice, we highly recommend taking our MERV Match Quiz. Choosing the right MERV rating can make you all the more comfortable at home. With just a few quick questions about your filtration needs and lifestyle, we can determine what MERV rating will suit your home the best.

With Filterbuy, you’ll never have to worry about clogged filters again. Our auto-delivery subscription program allows you to get filters regularly delivered to your door as soon as you need them. We make ordering air filters easy. With over 600 filter sizes across 3 different MERV ratings, custom sizing, and free shipping on all U.S. orders, buying filters will never be a chore again.

If you’re looking for other ways to save money and make your HVAC system more efficient, Filterbuy LOCAL offers both professional dryer vent cleaning and air duct cleaning services. Our technicians are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency and our pricing is guaranteed. Click here for a free dryer vent cleaning quote and click here for a free air duct cleaning quote.