What is an Air Ionizer? Are ionizers good for you?

Some air purifiers don’t have the common True HEPA filter; instead, they will use an ionizer to support the physical air filter or work as the only air filtration method alone. An air ionizer is a device that uses high-voltage electricity to create negative ions and electrically charge the molecules of the air.

In real-world use, the air ionizer is one important air filtration system used in air purifiers. However, are ionizers good for you? Do air ionizers really work, especially against smoke, smells, and odors? You have read a lot of reviews about the air ionizer being bad and dangerous and need a trusted source to buy it.


At Breathe Quality, we know all about your problems with indoor air quality and air purifiers. We know that you need the best air purifier to improve your quality of life. We are the experts in the field of air purifiers, but more than that, we are just like you, a human. We also have serious problems with airborne allergies and asthma, and we know your struggle to learn how to use the air purifier and put an end to your misery. Today, you will know everything about the air ionizer in our in-depth guide.

If you have concerned about other air filter types as well, we hope that the below guides can help you.

1, True HEPA filter.

2, Activated Carbon filter.

3, UV-C light filter.

4, PlasmaWave.

Now, we will find out if the air ionizer do really work, and answer the most important question: “Are air ionizers safe?”

What is an ionizer?

Air ionizers (also known as the “ionic filter” or “ion generator”) are one of the most popular air filters used by air purifiers. Instead of using the fan to pull in the polluted air into a physical air filter, the standalone air ionizer uses the electricity to emit a cloud of negative ions (or anions) to electrically charge the air molecules. As a result, the negative ions charge and attract the airborne particles, which fall onto the nearby charged collector plate or mechanical air filter, or simply the walls and ceilings.

Unlike the True HEPA filter, which is capable of dealing with 99.97% of all particles down to 0.3 microns in size, the air ionizer can reduce the size of the allergens to as small as 0.1 microns. Microns, which are one-millionth of a meter, are how particles are measured. To help you know the size of a micron, we are unable to visually see anything smaller than 10 microns. Also, the sizes of particles such as dust, pollen, bacteria, viruses, and many more are listed below.

Particle Particle Size
Atmospheric Dust 0.001 – 40
Bacteria 0.3 – 60
Beach Sand 100 – 10000
Burning Wood 0.2 – 3
Cement Dust 3 – 100
Clay, fine 0.5 – 1
Coal Dust 1 – 100
Combustion 0.01 – 0.1
Dust Mites 100 – 300
Fly Ash 1 – 1000
Grain Dusts 5 – 1000
Household dust 0.05 – 100
Human Hair 40 – 300
Insecticide Dusts 0.5 – 10
Lead Dust 0.1 – 0.7
Mold Spores 10 – 30
Pet Dander 0.5 – 100
Pollen 10 – 1000
Smoke 0.01 – 0.1
Tobacco Smoke 0.01 – 4
Viruses 0.005 – 0.3

In our list of the best air purifiers, we have the Rabbit Air MinusA2, Coway AP-1512HH, Alen BreatheSmart 75i and Blueair Classic 480i which have an additional air ionizer to support the powerful True HEPA filter.

Some ionizers work in another way, just like the PlasmaWave technology of Winix or the Plasmacluster of Sharp.

Are ionizers good for you?

The answer is not clearly yes or no. In short, the air ionizer is okay for you if it meets the standard of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is to have ozone emission concentrations less than 0.05 parts per million (ppm). Otherwise, the air ionizer may be dangerous for your health.

The air ionizer plays an important role in the air purifier industry, as you can maintain the air ionizer without the annual filter replacement and still get the best result in air filtration. In fact, the ionizer is one of the most effective filtration mechanisms, especially when it combines with a physical HEPA filter.

However, when the ionizer purifies the air, it also creates ionized air, and we humans don’t normally breathe this type of air into our lungs. Moreover, the charged ions will produce an amount of ozone that is unwanted. Though the air ionizer is not a type of ozone generator, the amount of ozone it produces can irritate asthma or many other breathing issues. If you don’t know or if you experience the side effects of using an air ionizer, you should turn this ionic function off as soon as possible.

To help you learn which air purifier is certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to be safe to use, even with or without the air ionizer, you should check this California Certified Air Cleaning Devices list. Or else, you only need to read our air purifier reviews to see if you can trust one air purifier or not.

What is the difference between air purifier and ionizer?

There are many differences between one classic air purifier and one pure air ionizer. You should see this table to know how to differentiate them.

Classic air purifiers Air purifiers with ionic feature Air ionizers
Fan Yes Yes No
Annual filter replacement Yes Maybe No
Power Consumption Normal Higher Very high
Sound Silent at low speed Highest Inevitable noise
Performance High High Random

List of the best air purifiers

Pros & Cons of Ionizer

You have learned everything about the ionizer, but you still don’t know if this air filter is flawless or not. Below is the pros/cons of the ionizer.

  • Maintenance free, without filter replacement
  • Great performance, can even remove some bacteria and viruses
  • Small amounts of ozone as a byproduct which can irritate asthma and respiratory issues
  • Doesn’t remove odors and smell
  • Higher power consumption
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