Ionic air purifiers use negative ions to get rid of common airborne pollutants such as dust and allergens, but are they effective? There has been quite a debate going on about whether ionic purifiers are even safe. What is the true science behind it? And what do the experts say?
The best ionic air purifiers use a combination of filters and an ionizer to eliminate pollutants from your air. Are they worth it? Let’s find out.
What Is an Ionic Air Purifier?
An ionic air purifier comes in different variants. The most popular, and effective, is a filter purifier with a built-in ionizer. Here, the ionizer function is usually optional.
An ionizer works by emitting negative ions into the air. These electrically change the molecules present in the surrounding atmosphere. Negative ions bind to positive ions, such as dust, pollen and bacteria.
When the two bond together, they form dense particles that can’t float in the air. Next, the heavy particles will fall to the ground or the nearest object, such as the couch or bed. You can then remove them by vacuuming, sweeping or wiping the areas (1).
Manufacturers claim that ionizers are highly beneficial for individuals with severe allergies and asthma. But is this true?
There’s quite a lot of debate on whether ionizers are beneficial or not. Manufacturers claim high effectiveness, but scientific studies have shown otherwise.
Disadvantages of Ionizers
The promises of ionizers are enticing. Particles such as dust, odors and even smoke are weighed down, eliminating them from the air we breathe. But what happens then?
Creates Dense Particles
As the ionizer releases negatively charged ions, these will be attracted to any positive object. This includes computer screens, TVs and even tabletops.
What the ionizer actually does is it eliminates particles from the air and then drops them on a nearby surface. This means you have to spend more time cleaning the “dropped” particles. After all, they will now be lingering on any positively charged surface.
Although ionizers can remove some airborne particles that can trigger asthma, there are other harmful effects (2). Some ionizers have been shown to produce certain amounts of ozone. You might know ozone as the protective layer of gas that keeps us safe from the strong rays of the sun.
However, ozone can also be harmful. When inhaled, it can cause respiratory issues, and worsen asthma or trigger attacks.
Ionizers are often marketed towards individuals with allergies with the claim that allergens will be gone. However, when actually put to the test, these devices fall sort of flat.
Ionizers can remove smaller particles such as smoke, but they’re less effective on larger particles like pollen. It turns out, though, that pollen and dust are very common household allergens.
Benefits of Ionizers
As there are disadvantages to ionizers, there are also benefits. We strongly believe that whether you’ll find an ionizer beneficial depends on your needs.
Improving Mental Health Conditions
Ionizers are shown to have certain positive effects on our mental health. Research suggests that exposure to negatively charged ions improved certain conditions, such as anxiety and depression (4).
The studies are currently incomplete and inconsistent. Still, it could be a few steps towards helping individuals with mental health conditions.
Use in Hospitals
Ionizers have been shown to have great benefits when it comes to controlling the spread of infections in hospitals. Studies show that these devices significantly alter the electrostatic environment. Moreover, the negatively charged ions also caused bacteria and viruses to be repelled from plastic surfaces (5).
How to Find the Best Ionic Air Purifier
Once you’ve settled on the decision to get an ionic air purifier, here are a few things to consider:
Size plays a significant role in where the unit can be placed and how strong it is. Small air purifiers with ionizers are generally meant to cover small areas. Typically, this means areas ranging between 100 and 200 square feet.
Larger units can cover areas of up to 1000 square feet and more. However, these are also quite cumbersome and require more room.
Ionic air purifiers can be found as simple machines or high-tech cleaners. Here are a few features we appreciate in an ionic air purifier:
- Fan speed: Different fan speeds are a must-have option, whether it’s two or four speeds to choose between. A faster fan will extract more air at a time, cleaning more efficiently. On the other hand, a lower speed will be quieter and suitable for night use. However, make sure the unit is effective at every speed.
- Air quality detector: This feature is very useful since it can be difficult to know how much or if your air is polluted. Units with this feature will usually have a color-changing light that indicates how polluted your air is.
- Filter change indicator: Guessing when it’s time to change the filters can be tricky. Luckily, most units have a solution. Many ionic air purifiers with filters will have a filter replacement indicator to let you know when it’s due.
Ionizers produce negative ions, but how many it produces can be helpful to know. The more negative ions a unit provides, the higher its effectiveness. This can be tricky to figure out as not all manufacturers mention these numbers.
The number is usually displayed as per second, such as 10 million negative ions per second. For an effective ionizer, choose a unit that produces over 3 million ions per second. Although 1 million sounds impressive, it won’t be doing much to clean your air.
Best Ionic Air Purifier Reviews of 2021
Using an ionic air purifier has its benefits and disadvantages; however, it depends on your situation. To find our three best ionizers, we researched the top choices thoroughly to ensure unbeatable quality. Our experts discussed which features were important and how the individual units would perform.
Here are the best ionic air purifiers:
1. Biota Bot Ionic Air Purifier MM208
For larger rooms, we highly recommend the Biota Bot purifier. It’s equipped with a three-stage filtration system as well as UV-C light and an ionizer. This device effectively removes airborne pollutants and kills bacteria and viruses present.
If you have pets or are dealing with unpleasant odors, this unit will help. The activated charcoal filter absorbs odors, smoke and chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene.
The pre-filter captures larger particles such as hair and lint, while the HEPA filter removes allergens. It’s easy to maintain and the HEPA filter can be vacuumed when needed.
There are three fan speeds, a timer and sleep mode. The unit is also fitted with an air quality sensor that alerts you when your air is polluted.
Why We Love It
When needed, you can vacuum the HEPA filter to get it working as new again. It’s easy to remove and put back into place. Biota Bot recommends that you place the activated charcoal filter in direct sunlight to clean it.
In saying that, the manufacturer also recommends that you replace the filters every six to 12 months.
To keep your air clean, the UV-C light will kill any bacteria or viruses present. It does so by breaking down the molecules — eliminating them from your air.
This feature is optional, and you can turn it on or off as you like. Some users worry about ozone production, but air purifiers with a UV-C light shouldn’t produce harmful levels.
Keeps Dust out of the Air
Dust can sometimes feel overwhelming. It can feel like no matter how much you clean, it won’t budge. Thankfully, by utilizing the ionizer option on this purifier, you can keep dust out of the air.
The ionizer releases negative ions that bind to the dust particles. When bonded together, the particles are too heavy to float in the air, making them drop to the nearest surface. You can then easily clean by vacuuming or sweeping without the dust making its way back into the air.
It can be difficult to tell the quality of our indoor air. To help you, this unit is equipped with an automatic sensor that monitors the air and lets you know the results. The small indicator will change color to show the quality — blue is excellent, purple is moderate and red is poor.
During the night, you can activate sleep mode for a clean and peaceful night’s rest. The unit will work on the lowest speed to minimize noise.
This purifier is excellent for large living spaces of up to 430 square feet. The ionizer will produce up to 10 million negative ions every second, so it will work effectively in larger rooms.
Keep In Mind
Too Much Light
The LED touch-display on top of the unit lights up brightly during dark hours. This has been bothering multiple customers.
|Size||21 x 14 x 7 inches|
|Recommended Room Coverage||430 square feet|
|Additional Features||Auto mode, sleep mode, UV-C light, timer|
|Types of Filters||True HEPA, pre-filter, activated carbon, UV-C light, ionizer|
2. AeraMax 300 Air Purifier
If you or another person in your house is dealing with allergies or asthma, this unit may help. It features a True HEPA filter that effectively removes up to 99.97 percent of airborne pollutants and allergens. Tiny dust mites and pet dander won’t escape the fine filter.
To keep dust out of the air, the ionizer releases negative ions that make dust too heavy to float. It also produces no ozone, so you and your family will only have clean air to enjoy. The purifier is certified by Allergy Standards as well as the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, so it’s likely more trustworthy against allergies than other air ionizers.
Why We Love It
True HEPA Filter
A True HEPA filter is the way to go if you’re dealing with allergies or asthma. It captures even the tiniest particles at the size of 0.3 microns.
The HEPA filter has been protected against the growth of mold or bacteria. It’s coated in an antimicrobial treatment that prevents any of the pollutants it captures from ruining the filter. This helps to extend the life of the filter as well.
Effective Carbon Filter
If you’re often bothered by odors in your home, the carbon filter can help. The activated carbon will effectively absorb odors from various sources such as pets, cooking and cigarette smoke.
PlasmaTrue Technology releases negative ions that bind to dust particles. The particles are then too heavy to float in the air and will fall to the nearest surface.
Many customers were pleased with this function since it keeps dust out of the air. It does require additional cleaning, but the dust won’t be inhaled as easily.
Good for Large Rooms
This purifier will cover an area between 300 and 600 square feet. It’s excellent for a living room or large bedroom.
For anyone dealing with allergies or asthma, AeraMax has created a high-performance mode. When in this mode, the purifier will work at high speed to quickly remove any impurities that could be bothering you.
Knowing how polluted your air is can be tricky. We often end up wasting energy by running the high speed when not necessary.
The auto sensor function will monitor the air quality and then adjust the fan speed. This ensures clean air without wasting energy.
Keep In Mind
High Pitched Noise
When the ionizer is on, you might notice a high pitched noise coming from the unit. Several customers have also noticed this, and although it’s not too loud, it can be annoying. Turning off the ionizer will help.
|Size||8.1 x 16 x 25.1 inches|
|Recommended Room Coverage||300 to 600 square feet|
|Additional Features||PlasmaTrue Technology, AreaSafe filter treatment, High-performance mode, auto mode, ionizer|
|Types of Filters||True HEPA, carbon|
3. Airthereal Pure Morning 7 in 1 Air Purifier
For medium-sized rooms, the Pure Morning APH260 is an excellent unit. It features a three-stage filtration system, plus a UV-C light and ionizer.
The display panel features seven touch-buttons to help you set the desired fan speed and mode. There are three fan speeds to choose between, and you can set a 12-hour timer if needed.
Both the UV-C light and ionizer are optional and can be activated from the panel. The ionizer will help to eliminate allergens and dust from the air, while the UV-C light kills bacteria and viruses.
There are a couple of smart modes to choose between. The unit is also fitted with an air quality sensor that helps the purifier to set the fan speed to suit the pollution.
Why We Love It
Although this purifier will only cover 355 square feet, it still has excellent coverage. It draws air in through the sides and front and emits clean air from the top. Airthereal claims that the unit will clean the air of the room in 10 minutes, making it highly efficient.
The APH260 comes with a few smart features to make it even more effective. When needed, you can activate the auto mode — here, the unit will monitor the air and adjust the fan speed accordingly. This feature ensures you get the most out of the unit without wasting energy on high speeds when not needed.
You can always check on the air quality thanks to the Real-Time Air Quality Indicator. The PM 2.5 sensor monitors the air and gives you a number. Numbers below 20 are clean but when it rises above, speed up the fan.
During the night or quiet hours, activate sleep mode. In this mode, the unit sets the lowest fan speed to clean your air quietly. It’s excellent for people who like to sleep in a dark room as there are no bright LED lights.
We can all be a bit forgetful from time to time — luckily, this purifier can help. As you activate it, set the timer to automatically turn the unit off anywhere between one and 12 hours after.
If needed, you can also set the unit to turn on automatically when you need it. This can come in handy if you want it to clean your air before you come home from work or school.
UV-C Light and Ionizer
This purifier will remove a significant amount of impurities from your indoor air. The UV-C light will kill bacteria and viruses by breaking down their molecules.
The ionizer helps to keep dust and allergens out of the air by bonding them with negative ions. You can then easily vacuum or sweep the dust away.
Keep In Mind
Not Super Quiet
Although this purifier is quiet when on low speed or sleep mode, it isn’t as quiet as we’d like. It produces a white noise that is definitely noticeable.
|Size||13 x 6.7 x 21.2 inches|
|Recommended Room Coverage||355 square feet|
|Additional Features||UV-C light, air quality monitor, auto mode, sleep mode, timer|
|Types of Filters||Preliminary, True HEPA, activated carbon, UV-C light, ionizer|
Detailed Comparison Chart
|Product||Best||Size||Recommended Coverage||Types of Filters||Filtration Stages|
|Biota Bot Ionic Air Purifier MM208||Air Quality Sensor||21 x 14 x 7″||430 sq ft||True HEPA, pre-filter, activated carbon, UV-C light, ionizer||3-stage|
|AeraMax 300 Air Purifier||Two-Stage Filtration||8.1 x 16 x 25.1″||300 – 600 sq ft||True HEPA, carbon||2-stage|
|Airthereal Pure Morning Air Purifier||Medium-Sized Rooms||13 x 6.7 x 21.2″||355 sq ft||Preliminary, True HEPA, activated carbon, UV-C light, ionizer||3-stage|
Creating Positivity With Negative Ions
The best Ionic air purifiers come with advantages as well as disadvantages. They work by producing negative ions that bind with positive particles. Once bonded, the particles become dense and too heavy to float. The particles will then fall to the nearest surface.
Despite often being marketed towards individuals with allergies or asthma, studies show that they aren’t as effective as claimed. However, if you don’t have allergies, but a lot of fine dust flying around, you could benefit from an ionizer.