What are Natural Air Filters and How Do They Work?
If the air inside your home seems a little less than clean, it’s probably not your imagination. The air quality indoors can be up to five times worse than outside.
There are so many unnatural things inside homes today, that it’s not surprising there’s serious concern about the air we breathe. Household cleaners, carpeting, paint, stains and furniture can off-gas, releasing toxins into the air. The last thing you want to do is add to the problem by trying to fix it with more unnatural products.
Experts recommend making a few lifestyle changes like removing shoes before coming inside and cleaning regularly to reduce the amount of pollutants that get in your home. But if the air quality inside isn’t great already, steps have to be taken to eliminate existing indoor air pollutants.
Don’t start searching for an air purifier just yet. Let’s go over four natural air filters that can be used in addition to your HVAC air filter without resorting to expensive air purifiers with HEPA filters for home use.
Plants That Are Natural Air Filters
Did you know NASA promotes the use of houseplants for natural air filtration? Plants are arguably the most natural air filters in existence. All varieties of plants draw carbon dioxide out of the air, convert it into food and then release pure oxygen. When a plant’s pores open to suck in carbon monoxide, they can also purify the air of benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and other pollutants. However, some plants are better at purifying the air than others.
The plants that NASA researchers believe are the best air purifiers include:
- Bamboo Palm
- Boston Fern
- Dragon Tree
- English Ivy
- Golden Pothos
- Lady Palm
- Peace Lily
- Snake Plant
- Spider Plant
To adequately clean the air inside a home, you’ll need to have at least one plant per 100 square feet – that said, including a few extra plants won’t hurt. It’s also a good idea to place the plants strategically to maximize air filtration.
For example, you should place spider plants in the kitchen because they are able to absorb xylene and carbon monoxide that can be released when you use a gas stove. Another example is putting orchids in your bedroom since they are more effective at removing pollutants like xylene and releasing oxygen at night.
Natural Negative Ion Air Filters
Negative ions are invisible, tasteless, odorless molecules that float around everywhere. The molecules are electrically charged. They’re known to draw in moisture from the air and neutralize air pollutants that are positively charged by binding to them. Research has shown that negative ions are connected to reduced depression and stress while reducing the presence of mold, bacteria and viruses.
While you can buy an ionized air filter, there are natural ionizing substances you can place throughout your home to get the same benefit:
Crystalized Himalayan salt is one of the most commonly used natural ionizers. When a Himalayan salt rock lamp is heated it releases negative ions. It’s best to put a Himalayan salt lamps on a table beside your bed or near your desk since the air closest to the lamp will be the cleanest.
Plants are another natural source of negative ions. The negative ions are generated during the normal growth process.
Some research suggests that burning a beeswax candle can release negative ions, but the supporting evidence is thin. However, if you are going to burn candles, beeswax is the best option. It burns cleaner (releases less smoke) and doesn’t produce harmful toxins like paraffin (petroleum) candles.
Bamboo Charcoal Air Filters
Charcoal is a known purifier that’s been used in water filters for years. Charcoal, also referred to as active carbon, is porous and has the ability to absorb moisture while purifying the air of bacteria, pollutants and allergens.
There are bamboo charcoal air purification bags that can be placed around the home. The more porous the charcoal is, the more effective it will be at filtering pollutants from the air. Porosity creates more surface area for particles to stick to, thus allowing the charcoal air filter to trap more pollutants.
Like ionization, activated carbon technology can be found in mechanical air filters and used in your HVAC system. The air particles actually stick to the surface of the carbon layer as air passes through the filter. Activated charcoal air filters are known to be effective at removing harmful gases and odors from the air; if you find you are frequently combatting unpleasant smells in your home, purchasing one is a good idea.
Ventilation by Opening Doors and Windows
Simply opening the doors and windows can provide excellent natural air filtration. As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the air inside is actually worse than the air outside in most cases. The reason for this is because homes are shut up tightly most of the time and fresh air doesn’t circulate inside.
All it takes is cracking one window open to freshen up the air inside your home. Ventilation also decreases the moisture level indoors, which can help purify the air. But before you ventilate your home check the local weather station for an air quality report.
READ MORE: The Importance of Filtration in Our Everyday Lives
All of these measures should be taken in addition to using HVAC air filters, not in place of them. HVAC air filters are a first line of defense for keeping particles out of the air you breath as well as heating and cooling equipment. Natural air filters can be used around the home as needed to provide additional purification for specific pollutants.