Clearing The Smoke- Everything You Need To Know On Purifying Your Home From The Stench Of Cigarettes
The Importance of Smell
Smell is one of the most essential elements to get right in any situation. There is a reason all those good colognes cost a fortune– the sense of smell is one of our most primal instincts, something which affects everything from how food tastes to how we judge certain people. In this LA Times article from 1992, titled The Sweet Smell of Success, gamblers were found to drop “45.1% more coins into slot machines in an area that was scented with a pleasant odor.” Clearly, smell is a strong part of marketing and, judging by these results, justifiably so. This all goes to show the high potential of smell in certain situations, if done right.
While yes, smell can be done right, it can also be done very, very wrong. Take the smell of cigarettes, for example. It is absolutely disgusting! Cigarettes have a dingy, unpleasant scent which repulses nostrils and scrunches faces. The last thing anybody ever wants to reek of is tobacco.
Cigarette Smell And Homes
Nobody wants their home to smell like cigarettes. People want where they live to have a pleasant scent, almost anything which runs counter to cigarette smell. There is nearly nothing worse, as the stench clings to people, even once they leave, ensuring that they smell like cigarettes, too. So, the question must be asked: How do I make my house stop smelling like cigarettes?
Short answer: STOP SMOKING INDOORS.
This is the easiest, most cost-effective manner to rid yourself of a smoke-smelling home.
However, for those who have a member of the household who refuses to abide by this rule, then this situation might get a little tricky. For some, this rule might be impossible to actually implement.
At this point, most people think that it is not a big deal to have a house which smells like cigarettes. What’s the big deal, they ask. Yes, cigarette smell is annoying, but it’s not that big of a deal. Right?
The Dangers Of Indoor Smoking
The smell isn’t the only problem with indoor smoking, unfortunately. Smoking indoors allows for nasty particles to enter the home airspace. Unlike the great outdoors, where those particles quickly disperse into the skies, these harmful particles stay trapped within the house, often entering into those who associate with the smoker in question. Once inside your body, these particles do not play nice.
Again, the short answer is to stop smoking indoors. It is the best way to get rid of the dangers those particles pose to your respiratory system, among other issues that they may cause. However, for many people, that answer is unfeasible. They live with a smoker who just won’t quit smoking indoors, or some other situation that makes it impossible to stop all of the indoor smoking.
That is what the long answer is for.
While it is true, you can never knock out the cigarette smoke from the house completely, you can take some measures to lower the harmful particle levels, and even do something about the smell.
Secondhand Smoke- Getting Rid Of It
Regarding indoor cigarette smoke, again, the main problem is the harmful health effects that it brings to the occupants, which interferes with their well-being.
First and foremost, there is the problem of the harmful particles that impact the household members. The official term, according to the United States Centers of Disease Control, is secondhand smoking.
Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers.
According to them, secondhand smoking has numerous negative health effects on the people within the vicinity. For adults, secondhand smoking can cause coronary heart disease, stroke, and even increases risk for lung cancer.
For infants, secondhand smoke causes many health problems, including birth defects, and even SDIS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) which refers to the “sudden, unexplained, unexpected death of an infant in the first year of life.”
Nobody wants secondhand smoking in the house. It is not good for any occupant, especially the younger ones. Luckily, there is a way to rid the house of most of the secondhand smoke.
A way to get rid of many of these harmful particles would be to purchase Pleated HEPA Filters. Regular air filters cannot remove cigarette smoke, as it is too tough for them to handle. Tobacco smoke has many different particles within it, all with scary-sounding names like acetaldehyde hydrogen cyanide which cannot be removed through normal filters.
Fortunately, Pleated HEPA Filters are specially equipped to remove those particles and can cover the particle range which they reside at. These particle ranges are small, sitting at most around 0.5 Micron according to the PubMed National Library of Medicine.
This is what they said specifically about the tobacco particle range:
Accurate measurement of cigarette smoke particle size distribution is important for estimation of lung deposition. Most prior investigators have reported a mass median diameter (MMD) in the size range of 0.3 to 0.5 micron, with a small geometric standard deviation (GSD), indicating few ultrafine (less than 0.1 micron) particles.
Let’s quickly define some of the terms here. A Micron is a small unit of measurement, with 1 Micron being about .00003937 inches, or 0.001 mm. The particles described within the 0.3-0.5 range range are typically defined as coarse particles, which are harmful health-wise and can cause serious damage. Smaller than those particles are the fine and ultrafine particles, which also must be taken under consideration. More information about these particles, and their particular health effects, are discussed in this article, which elaborates in detail regarding what you need to know about buying HVAC filters.
HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air [filter] and the filter itself is especially good at weeding out those smaller micron particles. The United States Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA for short, has this to say about the efficacy of HEPA Filters:
This type of air filter can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (µm)… Particles that are larger or smaller are trapped with even higher efficiency.
Basically, the HEPA Filter can take care of most of the harmful tobacco particles which emanate from secondhand smoke, mitigating most of the negative health effects and making the air safer to breathe overall.
Of course, when buying a HEPA Filter, it is important to take into account the MERV ratings, (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) which determine a filter’s overall efficacy versus coarse and fine particulate. A MERV level 3 would be a much, much different filter than a MERV level 8 or 10. To learn about the MERV system, check out this article which takes a deep dive into all of the specifics regarding MERVs and what all the different levels mean.
Again, though, HEPA Filters cannot remove all of the dangerous particles from secondhand smoke, though they do take out a significant amount of them.
Unfortunately, they do nothing regarding the smell of cigarettes. While yes, they take care of most of the particles, they cannot remove the stench of smoke from your home.
The Smell! Is There Anything We Can Do?
Yes, thankfully, there is a solution to rid your home of most of the smell. The solution can be found in the form of an Activated Carbon Air Cleaner, which is actually EPA recommended for specializing with gasses.
Activated Carbon, or Activated Charcoal, (the terms are interchangeable) on its own, is very cool. The material can be used as a filter in many different ways in combination with many different substances, from purifying water to even being an ingredient in some toothpastes. Luckily for our purposes, it can also turn its purifying talents towards the air.
Let’s understand what exactly we’re up against, first.
Cigarette smoke is made out of a few nasty substances called Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs for short. In this case, the National Library of Medicine documented the bulk of the chemicals coming in the form of smoke.
These chemicals, on the basis of weight, account for most of the mainstream smoke. In order of prevalence, these chemicals include N2, O2, CO2, CO, nitrogen oxides, and the sulfur-containing gaseous compounds.
Basically, the job of the Activated Carbon Cleaner is to absorb the contaminated air (with all of these chemicals getting taken out by the Activated Carbon) and let out better, purer air on the other side, without the smell.
The cleaners do their job and do it well– yes, while they cannot actually take care of the harmful particulate which the HEPA Filter is specialized for, they mitigate most of the smell and leave your home with a much cleaner scent than otherwise.
The Long Answer
The short answer to removing the harmful effects smoking brings to your home is, again, to stop smoking in the house. Of course that might not be possible, so our long answer sort of covers both bases.
The Pleated HEPA Filter will get rid of the health-adverse particles which, if left unattended in the house, will likely cause serious problems to the occupants, especially infants. The Carbon Activated Cleaner will rid your house of that dreadful cigarette stench and make it more pleasant to guests, creating a much more stellar atmosphere overall.
Both of these utilities will not solve all of your cigarette problems, but they will mitigate the damage and seriously reduce the negative health risks that secondhand smoke and smoking in general brings.
The general rule of thumb regarding air filters is to buy the one which best fits your situation. Let’s say you have a home with people who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, then you should buy an air filter with them in mind. Click here to learn more about buying an air filter for the immunocompromised in regards to COVID-19.
Regardless of your situation, the point is this: The air that comes into your home is both the most overlooked aspect of your household– and the most essential. In the case of cigarette smoke at home, people who come in and sense the smoke automatically take it into account when talking about the cleanliness and atmosphere of your house. Air, and breathing should not be something that most people take into account. Nobody wants to think about the breaths they take and contemplate whether they are contaminating themselves.
Take care of your air so people don’t have to think about what they are breathing in, and buy the right utilities for your situation to ensure that your air is the best it can be.