Charcoal Air Purifier: Does it Work?

This post is everything about a charcoal air purifier. Do they work? What is a charcoal bag? Can it purify the air? We have all the answers.  This quick read is for the charcoal air purifier skeptic, stinky car owner, anyone with kids, or someone who just wants to help out the environment with something less toxic to get rid of odors. 

A spoon filled with powered activated charcoal.

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Does charcoal purify the air?

Yes. Charcoal or activated carbon can help to purify the air. According to an article published by the National Library of Medicine, activated carbon is highly porous, making it a good option for absorbing violent organic compounds (VOCs), gases, bacteria, and liquids.

Air that is passed through carbon aids in the removal of airborne particles, and purifies the air. 

Do air-purifying charcoal bags work?

What Charcoal Bags Absorb Odors Bacteria Pollutants (VOCs) Allergens Moisture from the air. learn more about Charcoal Air Purifiers at

Yes, charcoal air-purifying bags work. According to the Centers for Respiratory Health, air-purifying charcoal bags work and can absorb the following from the air:

  • Allergens
  • Bacteria
  • Moisture from the air
  • Odors
  • Pollutants (VOCs)

Are charcoal deodorizers good for deodorizing?

Yes. Charcoal deodorizers are good at deodorizing without bringing toxic chemicals into your home. But, how efficiently the odor is removed will vary based on the type of deodorizer; charcoal bags, or air purifiers.

Charcoal Bags

products 4 future brand activated charcoal bags. four bags that are different colors and shaped like pyramids.

Charcoal bags contain activated carbon to remove odors from the air. This approach is all-natural, doesn’t require electricity, and is good for small areas. If you want to deodorize a space larger than a closet or a car, you may need a less passive approach, like an air purifier with a charcoal filter.

Air Purifiers

Levoit air purifier in a bedroom. The humidifer is in front of a plant, and is white.

Air purifiers or HEPA filters, remove 99.97% of particles floating in the air by pulling air through a HEPA filter. Some air purifier units have a charcoal pre-filter attached to catch odors and pollutants from the air.

This approach of circulating air through filters and pushing clean air around the room is a better bet for small, medium, or even large rooms.

Ensure that you get the properly rated air purifier for the size of the room you are trying to purify.

Our family uses the WINIX 5500-2, which has a carbon pre-filter. You can check out the complete review here: 

WINIX PlasmaWave 5500-2 True HEPA Air Purifier Review

Does charcoal absorb odor?

infographic of a piece of charcoal that states: activated charcoal absorbs unwanted odors, naturally.

Yes. Charcoal absorbs odors, it doesn’t mask them. All forms of activated charcoal have great odor-absorbent properties.

It is not recommended to use the charcoal from the grill, as it may contain other chemicals (i.e. lighter fluid) and you do not want to bring that into your home.

How do I naturally purify the air in my house?

The inside of a clean, well lit home with lots of windows.

There are a few different techniques you can try when naturally purifying the air in your house. recommends trying the following tips and tricks.

Remove the Source of Contaminated Air

By getting rid of the cause of poor air quality, you are ahead of the game for clean air. For example, if you have a dust mite allergy, you can remove the source by dusting, and limiting the number of surfaces that collect dust (trinkets, rugs, curtains).

Also, ensure you are changing your heating and cooling unit’s filters often to catch any large particles floating around.

Use a Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifier Bag

Majime lofe brand bamboo charcoal bags. Contains 4 bags that remove smells, absorbs moisture, no fragrance, resuable.

These little sachets are filled with activated carbon, and made from bamboo (a renewable resource). Charcoal absorbs most organic contaminants like allergens and odors. If the area you are trying to purify is small, these little bags might be the best choice.

Open a Window

Open a window to improve indoor air quality naturally in your home

Letting in some fresh air through an open window can drastically change the air quality indoors, and it’s a completely natural approach. Check that the air quality in your area is healthy or “safe” before opening the window, you wouldn’t want to make the air worse!

Check the Local Air Quality

air quality index infographic. Color coded from green to red. 0-50 good (green), 51-100 moderate (yellow), 101-150 unhealthy for sensitive groups (orange), 151-200 unhealthy (red), 201 -300 very unhealthy (purple), 301 - 500 hazardous (red).

You can look up the air quality in your area at any time through

They even have a forecast so you can plan on a “green” day to get clean air into your home.

AirNow air quality index guage. Showing current air quality in your area.

Get Air-Purifying Plants

six varieties of potted indoor plants that have air purifying properties.

Plants do clean the air, but it takes a long time (or a massive amount of plants). Even though plants take their time cleaning the air, and it’s not much of an impact overall, plants are still a joyful addition to any home. Here is a list of air-purifying plants to consider:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Bamboo Palm
  • Broad Lady Palm
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Dragon Tree
  • English Ivy
  • Ficus
  • Fittonia ‘Frankie’
  • Flamingo Lily
  • Gerbera Daisy
  • Lemon Button Fern
  • Mass Cane
  • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
  • Parlor Palm
  • Peace Lily
  • Philodendron
  • Pot Mum
  • Pothos
  • Rubber Tree
  • Spider Plant

Use Essential Oils

An assortment of different essential oil bottles with many different colors of oil.

There are essential oils that can kill germs and fungus, which you could use to diffuse into the air to aid in air purification.

Some oils do need to be diluted, so please do your research.

Essential oils can be made into a cleaner as well. Using a natural cleaner versus harsh chemicals can keep the air in your home from being polluted with violent organic compounds (VOCs).

Clean With Force Of Nature Cleaner

image of force of nature cleaner and disinfectant bundle pack. This cleaner can remove odors, similar to Charcoal Air Purifier bags

To reduce air pollution from cleaning agents, use an EPA-approved, natural disinfectant instead. I recommend Force of Nature cleaner because it is all-natural, made at home, non-toxic, and safe around your pets and children.

We have been using Force of Nature Cleaner for over 4 years, and we haven’t used any other daily cleaners since. Force of Nature Cleaner is Legit!

How do you use activated charcoal as an air purifier?

You can use activated charcoal as an air purifier, by placing it in the room, area, or item you are trying to absorb odors from.

Step 1 – Obtain Activated Charcoal

A 2-quart container that contains 100% virgin activated coconut charcoal that can be used for odor control or as a natural air purifier.

You might be able to get activated charcoal locally at a home improvement store, or even a pet shop. When in doubt, the internet has your back. Ensure you choose high-quality charcoal.

This charcoal air purifying kit comes with the charcoal and 5 refillable sachets.

Step 2 – Place Charcoal in the area to be purified

A bright bedroom that is neatly organized with clothes hanging in the closet.

If you have loose activated charcoal, you can place it in a sachet, an old (clean) sock, or even as a decoration piece around items in your home. Since charcoal is a beautiful black color, you can create centerpieces, decorate around plants, etc.

You will just want to ensure there is some airflow to the charcoal so it can work its magic.

For stinky items like trash bags, litter boxes, and diaper pails, you can apply the charcoal directly.

Items and areas like gym bags, shoes, closets, cars, refrigerators, and drawers, you will want to contain the charcoal in a bag of some sort so you do not end up with a mess.

Types of Charcoal Air Purifiers

There are many classifications of activated carbon, but only two types of charcoal air purifiers. The two types of carbon air purifiers are forced air and passive air purifiers.

Forced Air Charcoal Purifiers

A side by side image of the Winix 5500-2 Plasmawave HEPA air purifier next to the Levoit Core Mini HEPA air purifier.

Forced air purifiers use a fan to pull air through an activated carbon filter. Typically these air purifiers are attached to another filtration system, like a HEPA filter. The combination of the carbon and HEPA filter will remove the particles and smells from the air effectively.

Forced air purifiers are great for larger areas, or when you need to circulate odors or VOCs constantly.

Passive Charcoal Air Purifiers

Moso natural charcoal bamboo bags

A passive charcoal air purifier is, passive. This means that the purifier isn’t hunting the odor, but if it stops by, it will trap it! Passive air purifiers are usually sold as loose carbon or in sachets that you can hang around the house or car.

Charcoal Air Freshener

A charcoal air purifier is essentially an air freshener without chemicals. Air fresheners typically work by masking up a scent with a better-smelling scent. These cover-ups are extremely scented and unhealthy. When you use charcoal as an “air freshener” you are absorbing the odor from whatever is causing the stink.

Final Thoughts

A container of ground activated charcoal used in charcoal air purifiers and filters.

Charcoal air purifiers whether as a whole-home air purification unit or a sachet that hangs in your closet, might be what you are looking for with getting some fresh air.

For those of you who are interested in charcoal air purifier bags, check out my review of the Best Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifiers.