Do All Air Purifiers Have Carbon Filters? 

Activated carbon filters can enhance your air purification experience. In addition, they tackle certain air pollutants that may not yield to a regular air purifier’s impact. So you might want to know if all air purifiers available in the market today come with carbon filters?

It’s almost unlikely to find recent air purifiers without carbon filters as carbon filters are integrated into them for better results. Even though you could use carbon filters alone, most air purifiers are configured to have carbon filters.

It’ll help if you understand that carbon filters target specific types of harmful substances in the air. This article sheds more light on the functions of carbon filters and what makes them different from regular air purifiers. You’ll also learn what type of air filtration system is best suited for different environmental conditions.

Are HEPA and Carbon Filters the Same?

There are different air purifiers available in the market, and most of them perform different functions peculiar to them. It’s unlikely to find a single air purifier that serves all manner of filtration. While some focus on physical particles, others filter foul odors and chemicals.

Both HEPA and Carbon air filters belong to the category of highly proficient air purification systems. They’re suitable and are the safest for homeowners. However, both aren’t the same. 

They serve different purposes and apply different mechanisms to perform their duty. They also have their pros and cons. Nonetheless, most air purifier companies integrate both techniques into their products due to their unique filtration functions.

Having both forms of filtration can be reassuring, knowing that the air purifier will perform a complete purification process. That way, you’re also confident that your system will eliminate undesirable particles from your indoor air.

Let’s look at both filtration systems to better understand what makes them different.

What Is a HEPA Filter?

HEPA is the abbreviation for High-efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA filters use a mechanical mode of operation. This is because air has to be passed through it for filtration to happen.

It doesn’t work the same way as an ozone generator which generates an ionizer or ozone to eliminate airborne particles. 

Here the HEPA filters clean up the indoor air by drawing them in and trapping any encountered impurities. The trapped airborne microbes are held in by the woven fiberglass and eventually destroyed. 

Microorganisms remain in the system until it’s wiped or cleaned. Therefore, you should clean your unit outside to prevent the microorganisms from escaping into the air.

I want to stress that HEPA filters are majorly designed to remove airborne particles. This type of air purifier is highly effective for combating microbes floating around your indoor air. In addition, some HEPA filters are efficient for airborne viruses and bacteria elimination.

These purifying systems are best suited for screening particles bigger than 0.03 microns. This means that they’d experience no challenge filtering out matters like mold spores, pollen, and dust. 

HEPA filters are recommended for those vulnerable to allergies. They’ll also work great if you have bronchitis issues or if you’re asthmatic.

How efficient and durable your unit stays is determined by the effectiveness of your maintenance. HEPA filters have permanent and washable types. Whichever you go for, you’ll need to clean and service them at least once in a quarter.

Failure to perform the needed regular maintenance could cause your unit to get damaged or break down. Also, you risk building up impure particles in the unit, which would instead worsen your air quality.

What Is a Carbon Filter?

These filter types utilize activated carbon to eliminate microorganisms and contaminants from the atmosphere. Contrary to HEPA filters mode of operation, these filters use carbon to absorb microbes into their permeable membrane.

This technique is commonly used in treating water. However, it can also be used for gas processing and air filtration. Although efficient in removing airborne microbes, carbon filters are unlikely to be used in special facilities like the hospital.

It helps to note that carbon filters are primarily applied and more suitable for removing foul odors. They do a different job from a HEPA filter altogether. Reasons it’s recommended to incorporate an activated carbon filter alongside your HEPA system.

Activated carbon filters use an entirely different technology from HEPA filters. They’re designed to curb or eliminate foul smells and odors from a room’s air.

HEPA filters use a set of woven fiberglass to intercept and catch impurities flowing into the system. That’s not the case with carbon filters; they don’t trap dirt. Instead, the carbon is activated to react with foul smells in the room and absorb it. 

Doing so frees the atmosphere from smoke and gas smell and all other offensive odors in general. This is how activated carbon filters work to keep your air fresh and void of irritating smells. However, there’s one major challenge with this system of air purification.

It’ll require a large-sized activated carbon filter to remove all kinds of harmful chemicals and foul smells effectively. Unfortunately, small carbon filters cannot absorb and eliminate significant amounts of bad smells from your air. This is the reason air purifiers with miniature carbon filters seem inefficient, unable to rid a room of odors thoroughly.

For instance, using an activated carbon filter 3 lbs in size won’t give you satisfactory filtration performance. Even for small rooms or offices, such an amount of activated carbon will be insufficient. You’ll need carbon filters up to 10 Ibs or more to guarantee an optimal and satisfactory filtration operation.

In all, carbon filters alone are somewhat less efficient compared to the HEPA filter option. The amount of microbes and impurities removed from your air or water solely depends on the carbon filter’s size. So, the more activated carbon, the better and more effective the filtration process.

Remember, this filtration system works best if you have problems with bad smells and gases rather than physical impurities. Carbon filters are durable and can even last for a few years before they’ll require replacement.

Do All Air Purifiers Have Carbon Filters?

I doubt that there are air purifiers that come without carbon filters. So while it’s possible to use only carbon filters, it’s unlikely that an air purifier is designed without a carbon filter.

Assuming your air purifier uses HEPA filters, it would likely have a carbon filter. On the other hand, having a carbon filter doesn’t imply that it has a HEPA filter.

Air purifiers designed solely to eliminate foul odors and provide fresh and breathable air don’t require HEPA filters. Instead, using activated carbon air filters alone can help you achieve that, whether at the office or home.

Here’s how home air purifiers with integrated carbon filters operate:

1. Activated Carbon filters Can Work Alone

The activated carbon for indoor air purifiers configured to tackle foul odors is usually mixed with other minerals substances. An excellent example of such minerals is zeolite. Zeolite can be employed to suck in specific molecules and ions from the room’s air. 

This way, it can screen toxins gases and ultimately help control odors.

2. Carbon Is Used to Tackle Certain Chemicals

Although activated carbon effectively eliminates various odors and chemicals, it doesn’t absorb everything. In addition, some substances appear resistant to the impact of activated carbon. Examples of such chemicals are hydrogen sulphide and formaldehyde.

In a situation like this, you’ll need to infuse different minerals into your carbon for effective performance. For example, you can use minerals like active aluminate or potassium iodide to enhance the carbon’s absorption ability. These infused minerals will then react with and ultimately nullify atmospheric hydrogen or formaldehyde.

3. Remedy for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is a condition present in some people prone to allergies. These people have a susceptible body system which makes them vulnerable to several airborne chemicals. Their allergic reactions can be triggered by building materials to cleaning solutions or perfumes.

Activated carbon can be a blessing for treating the home’s atmosphere of irritants for those with MCS conditions. This helps to keep the air breathable and healthy for all occupants, especially for allergy sufferers and asthmatic folks. It’s also recommended for a population with sensitive immune systems like the elderly, children, and infants.

Are Carbon Filters Better Than HEPA?

It isn’t easy to crown either of the filtration technologies as better as the other. They aren’t the same, so neither is necessarily better.

Carbon filters are more proficient at eliminating chemicals, foul odors, smoke, and other gaseous impurities. In contrast, HEPA filters are designed to remove larger airborne materials like mold spores, dust mites, pollen, and other airborne allergens.

Neither activated carbon filters nor HEPA filters can remove 100% of the microbes and contaminants present in the air. Therefore, combining both filtration systems is recommended to get the best results. Fortunately, most home air purifier brands integrate carbon filters into their units.

This makes the job easier and helps to ensure that the atmosphere in your home stays fresh and clean. Also, your lungs and entire aways are covered and protected from all possible harmful airborne substances.

Which Air Purifiers Have the Most Activated Carbon?

It makes much sense to incorporate activated carbon filters with home air purifiers. The apparent reason is that where carbon filters are deficient, HEPA filters will make it up and vice versa.

So let’s explore some of the air purifiers with the best-activated carbon available for you.

1. Levoit Home Air Purifier 

This sleek and smart home air purifier is one of the most activated carbon filters sold in the market. It comes in white and black options, and its spherical form ensures it doesn’t consume more space than necessary. With an average price range and excellent smart features, this unit can help achieve your quality air goals. 

Levoit air purifiers can efficiently filter the atmosphere in a room up to 224 square feet. This unit is verified with the Energy Star Certification and is designed with three-stage particle filtration. It also combines a preliminary filter, a True HEPA filter, and an activated carbon filter. 

This brand provides customers with custom filters that one can use with the device. Therefore, it’s pretty suitable for environments with high levels of VOC and pet owners.  


  • Triple-phase filtration including pre-filter, HEPA filter, and activated carbon
  • Elegant and stylish design
  • Energy-star certified
  • The portable size will fit into any room


  • Not suitable for larger spaces

2. Blueair Blue Pure 411+ Indoor Air Purifier

This is another great option if you’re looking for a well-activated carbon air purifier. This unit is not only space-efficient; it’s also mobile compared to other large-sized alternatives in the market. In addition, its cylindrical design enables it to draw in and filter the air from all angles, making its positioning more flexible.

The Blueair Blue Pure 411+ is configured to function optimally in about 190 square feet smaller room sizes. It utilizes both activated carbon and HEPA filter mechanisms to absorb and remove airborne bacteria, VOCs, and bad smells.

The pre-filters come in assorted colors, and can be washed and reused.


  • Suitable for smaller spaces
  • Sleek and Stylish design
  • Smart design with a single on/off button which also regulates the airflow speed


  • The brightness of the LED indicators can be discomforting

3. Winix Air Purifier Plus True HEPA

This air purifier is designed to accommodate larger room spaces. It can effectively filter the air in rooms about 365 square feet, thus, providing owners with quality airflow.

This product comes with a triple-filtration system to ensure better air quality. The filtration layers comprise a woven fiber pre-filter, an activated carbon case, and a HEPA filter.


  • Energy-efficient
  • Triple-layer filtration including carbon and HEPA filtering
  • An excellent option for larger sized rooms


  • Poor aesthetic appeal consideration
  • Its large size limits placement options 

Bottom line, installing either an activated carbon filter or regular air purifiers is a great idea. However, if you want to double the standard of your indoor air, I’ll recommend that you use both methods.

It’s almost impossible to determine what type of airborne impurities your air is charged with using the naked eyes. So it would be best if you took all necessary measures to guarantee your air is safe and healthy.