What is the Difference Between an Air Purifier and Ionizer?

Do you have asthma or allergies and trying to find an air cleaning device that can help you breathe easier while at home?

If so, are you comparing air purifiers and ionizers but not sure which one to buy?

Don’t worry, because you’re not alone.

Many people are on the hunt to find out what is the difference between an air purifier and ionizer, and in this post, we’re going to answer just that.

If you’re considering one of these devices to try and help you reduce your asthma or allergy-related symptoms, it’s critical that you know the difference between them. You want to get the device that’s best suited for your health, and choosing the wrong one could cause more issues than it’ll help.

So, read on to find out more.

Understanding Air Purifiers vs Ionizers

When it comes to removing airborne contaminants, both air purifiers and ionizers do an excellent job at performing this function.

Both machines can improve your home’s indoor air quality but they clean contaminants out of the air in different ways. These differences are what is important to understand when deciding on which type of air cleaner to get for asthma and allergy issues.

How Air Purifiers Work

Traditional air purifiers suck your indoor air into a series of internal filters. These filters trap the contaminants like pollen, dust, mold spores, bacteria, and pet dander.

HEPA filters are one type of air filter that’s capable of removing 99 percent of microscopic airborne contaminants because they’re much more dense than traditional filters. This is what makes them very efficient for asthma and allergy sufferers. You can find the top air purifier for asthma on this page.

Some of the best HEPA filters can also trap tiny particles down to 0.3 microns. That’s more than enough power to cleanse the air of contaminants that cause asthma and allergy symptoms to occur.

If you want to learn more about air purifiers and asthma, you can check out our other post onĀ What is the best air purifier for asthma?

How Ionizers Work

On the other end of the spectrum, you have ionizers. An ionizer also cleans airborne contaminants out of your home’s indoor air. However, it does this by releasing negatively charged ions into the air.

These negative ions attract positively charged particles like allergens, mold spores, and dust, and this causes the particles to stick to each other. Once this bond is formed, the sheer weight of the combined particles causes them to fall out of the air.

Some ionizers draw the charged particles that are falling out of the air onto a collection plate. This acts as a kind of filter but it’s not 100 percent effective. Some particles still fall onto the ground.

Ionizers are very useful for smaller contaminants like fine dust, smoke, and some bacteria, but they may not be as effective at removing the larger airborne particles like pet dander or dust. This can make them less effective than a traditional air purifier that is outfitted with a HEPA filter.

Air Purifier and Ionizer Limitations

Both types of air cleaning devices have different limitations attached as well.

Air purifiers can only remove airborne contaminants that are drawn through the filtration system. If the air doesn’t pass through, it doesn’t get cleaned. However, the longer the air purifier runs inside a room, the more chances all of the air inside it will get filtered.

Another thing to keep in mind about air purifiers is that if the filters are not routinely replaced or cleaned, the filters can clog. This can reduce the efficiency of the air purifier.

An ionizer can produce small levels of ozone when they run. Ozone can cause irritation to your respiratory tract and cause inflammation. For people with asthma, this isn’t good news, and it can actually make the asthma symptoms worse. To find out more about this topic, take a look at our dedicated post on “are ionizers bad for asthma?”

Not all ionizers produce ozone as a byproduct, so it’s good to read the manufacturer’s label before making a purchase if you do suffer from asthma.

Bottom Line

What is the difference between an air purifier and ionizer? Now you know. For people with asthma and allergies, a traditional air purifier is usually the better option rather than an ionizer. However, you can now make an informed decision on which one will work best for your situation.