The Best Air Purifiers for Wildfire Smoke 2022

If you live in a part of the United States where climate change and gender reveal parties cause *very normal*, not-at-all-insane things to happen—say, the sky literally turning orange—you’re probably familiar with the effects of regional wildfires. Beyond the devastation that comes with being in the direct path of one of these fires, there are a slew of adverse health effects that can be felt from hundreds of miles away from the blaze. 

Wildfire smoke contains gases including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and particulate matter (PM), or soot. Once that smoke is released into the air, gases, such as ozone, can have adverse effects on respiratory health and the environment. If a wildfire manages to burn through buildings, the smoke can contain other serious pollutants, including heavy metals, which have multiple adverse effects on the body. All of the above can have a serious impact on the health of those in the vicinity of a fire, especially if you or a loved one suffer from any chronic respiratory illnesses. But one way to keep your home a safe place to live and breathe is to invest in an air purifier—and now’s the time to do it.

The most pressing issue at hand with wildfire smoke comes from how small soot, or PM, particles are. PM smaller than 2.5 micrometers in size, which is the major component of wildfire smoke, can travel through the air and settle deep into your lungs. Breathing in all of the junk within wildfire smoke can, eventually, cause pulmonary and cardiovascular distress. Thus, being proactive about purifying the air in your home is vital if you are living in a region impacted by wildfires. 

“A primary consideration for buying an air purifier would be to remove PM2.5. A secondary consideration would be to remove ozone and other acidic gases,” says Joel Thornton, professor of atmospheric studies at the University of Washington. “A good measure is to track the outside levels of PM2.5, which is regularly reported by local, state, and federal air quality monitoring agencies. If this metric rises above about 30 micrograms per meter cubed on a daily average, sensitive individuals should purify their home air and shut the windows as much as possible.”

The key to using an air purifier, no matter if it’s a budget model or it’s made by Rolls Royce, is making sure you close off the room that’s being purified as much as possible to ensure efficiency. If an air purifier is stationed in a properly sized room for the device, it isn’t hard to greatly reduce the amount of PM2.5 in your home. But be careful: Avoid using air purifiers that employ ozone in an effort to reduce odors—instead, focus on devices that filter out PM2.5.  

Beyond taking air-purifying measures, Thornton doubles down on the importance of installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home if a wildfire is brewing nearby. “Usually, carbon monoxide from wildfires is a concern only very near the fire, but it should be monitored. It is the most likely component [of a wildfire] to cause death in the short term.” 

To prepare your home for wildfire season, check out these easy ways to step up your air purifier game and lock down a clean air fix before things get smoky. 

~Across the air quality budget universe~

Is it just me, or does this Mooka True air purifier look like a beloved pet waiting for food in the morning? This air purifier gives you the most bang for your buck by cleansing up to 323 square feet of living space for around $70—and it’s ozone-free. 

$79.99 at Amazon

This Toshiba Smart WiFi Purifier is compatible with Alexa, turns on rapidly, and can cleanse a 222-square-foot-room. It also comes with its own light show—a UV-light sanitizer helps to kill airborne viruses. 

$119.99$112.69 at Amazon

Molekule is the Cadillac of air purifiers. The design is sleek, smooth, and even has a vegan leather handle so you can tote ~air purity~ around with you. The Air Mini does not emit ozone, cleanses up to 250 square feet of space, and has an app! (We’re patiently waiting for an adult night light feature to lull the user to sleep.)

$399 at Molekule

Not only does this Bissell air320 harken back to vintage 1950s radio vibes, but it has a PM2.5 sensor to take on any soot from wildfire smoke. It cleanses up to 308 square feet of space, so it is ideal for larger bedrooms, living rooms, or basements. Plus, it has a lot of aesthetic personality for such a practical appliance. 

$339.89$237.92 at Amazon

If you’re wildly unimpressed with air purifier options that only cater to cleaning one room at a time, there *is* a one-stop solution for your entire apartment, studio, or a large swath of your home. While it is a financial commitment, this Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier cleanses a whopping 1,560 square feet (!!!) of space. It also has an LED ring that monitors the quality of your indoor air 24/7. 

$579$382.50 at Amazon

The don’t-sleep-on-it solution

If  buying a standalone air purifier isn’t an option right now, you can still be proactive and protect you and your loved ones from wildfire smoke. All you need to do is get a little crafty with it—duct taping an air filter to the intake side of a fan will be surprisingly effective at cleaning out pesky pollutants from the air. (Just remember to replace the filter every three months.) Professor Thornton even adopts this method in the Pacific Northwest. “It made a great improvement in my own bedroom and lasted for many weeks.” (If you have a respiratory illness or are severely experiencing wildfire smoke, do not depend on this option alone.)

This Lasko 20-inch purple box fan adds a whimsical lil’ pop of color to your bedroom. Plus, keeping a fan running only costs two cents per hour. 

$23.96 at Walmart

Pair this 20×20 MERV pleated air filter with your new fan. (BYO duct tape.)

$25.63 at Amazon

Time to get serious now 

Per Professor Thornton, one of the most acute threats during wildfire season is carbon monoxide. Exposure to carbon monoxide, especially if you live very close to a fire zone and don’t have any ventilation, can cause loss of consciousness… and can kill you. You need to be able to monitor dangerous gases in case of an emergency and act quickly if carbon monoxide in your home reaches dangerous levels. 

We never said these solutions would be cute. Yes, this Kidde carbon monoxide alarm slightly resembles a baby monitor, but it plugs into the wall and has battery backup just in case you lose power. Even if you grumble over having to buy a particularly Not Fun Thing, once you get this bad boy, you can just stick it in the wall and relax. Due diligence: done. 

$71$17.97 at Amazon

Remember that Disney channel movie Smart House? Me too. This First Alert carbon monoxide detector is Alexa-enabled and will straight up yell at you (or, really, announce, but yelling is more fun) if there is a threat of carbon monoxide in your home. The kicker is that the detector also has an app that tracks its battery level, so there’s no more staring at the ceiling and waiting for that little green light to flash.

$264$215 at Amazon

It’s a sad truth that climate change is creating a surge of hazards—including wildfires—all over the world. But no matter your budget, it’s vital to dip your toes into the waters of being proactive against our changing environment and how it impacts you, even within the walls of your home. 

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.

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