My concerns about indoor air quality led me to investigate a number of natural, healthy options to clean up my air.
Read: Homemade Air Freshener.
Because I am scared of changing the furnace filter, I considered making filters to put inside the central air ducting vents in rooms I use the most.
In my research, I learned that baking soda really does work for absorbing odors.
Natural fabrics such as cotton and wool (think: using an old wool sweater) are also pretty good passive air filters. Activated carbon is different from grilling charcoal.
Activated carbon has been oxidized and is clean (you can eat it) giving it an immense surface area that attracts and captures impurities. Charcoal is not oxidized, processed with pretty toxic chemicals (unless you buy the natural stuff or make it yourself), and just makes a mess. It won’t do the trick.
HEPA means High-Efficiency Particulate Air, and is a medical-grade filter that has extremely small “holes”, capturing impurities by not allowing them to pass through.
I did end up purchasing a HEPA air purifier. I chose the Honeywell 17000 and I love it.
A note on Air Purifiers: actually measure and calculate the square footage of the room you plan to put it in. Don’t estimate. Buy one that can handle a little more square footage. Be sure to buy one with a HEPA filter. The box should say “True HEPA”. If it says “HEPA-Type”, you will be wasting your money. Might as well turn on a fan.
Anyway, much to my delight, my air purifier came with an activated carbon/charcoal pre-filter that the new owner must install. I think this is because the activated carbon must be changed every month or so, while the main HEPA filter lasts 1-3 years, so they want to make sure you can and will actually remember to do it.
So the activated carbon filter had quite an overlap, which inspired me to make my own air filter for a central air vent. Even though I have the air purifier, I hope this will work doubly good as well as save energy so I can run my purifier less, and also extend the main filter’s life.
The activated carbon pre-filter is a black, clean by charcoal-y long rectangle that is meant to be wrapped around the outsider of the cylindrical main filter. Mine overlapped by about 14 inches. My central air vent is 4 x 12 inches, so I cut it down to just the size I need.
You can easily buy these activated carbon filters at Sear’s, Lowe’s, or Home Depot. Mine happens to be Honeywell Pre-filter “A”, but I’m sure any comparable product will work.
Commercial vent filters like the one I am making actually exist, but this good fortune occurred before I had the chance to run to Home Depot to look for such a product. Twelve Cheapie Vent Register Filters & Nine Feet of Pricey Vent Filter.
So, I’ve got my 4 x 12 inch activated carbon pre-filter. I considered sewing a two pocketed sack with two layers being cotton and the top wool, and putting the activated carbon sheet in the “bottom” pocket and loading some baking soda in the “top” pocket.
I didn’t end up going all the way, but I bet this would work great.
What I did do was take an “allergen filtration” vacuum bag I found and cut a 4 x 12 rectangle out of it.
Now, considering how a vacuum works and which side the sucking and filtering would need to be on, and which side the clean air blowing out would be on, I layered my activated Carbon pre-filter on “top”, so it would be the first thing the furnace air hits. Then I put the vacuum bag “in-side” up, so that the direction the air is blowing is the same as it would be in a vacuum.
The pieces were just a little larger than the vent hole, which was perfect because I could “catch” the edges of the carbon filter and vacuum bag when I screwed the vent back on so any air coming out of the vent would be forced through.
This filter is working great so far! All I smell is fresh air coming out of my vent. The heat still blows in just as effectively, too.
Now, I’m a big advocate of using what you have on hand. If you have vacuum bags that don’t fit any of your working vacuums, this is a perfect way to re-purpose them.
Likewise, perhaps you have leftover clean aquarium filter medium or activated charcoal supplement capsules lying around. I’d say, make or find a little sack and dump some in!
Did you try making an air filter? How did it go for you? Did you incorporate any other ideas I didn’t include here? Tell me: Missy@melissa.miko.com