What Is an Ionic Air Cleaner?

An ionic air cleaner or air ioniser is a device using high voltage electrical charges to ionise air molecules. Ionization converts an atom or molecule into an ion (an atom or molecule which is either missing or has extra electrons). This gives the particle a charge (creating an electrode), which is supposed to attract other free-floating particles in the air, much like static electricity. Dust particles seek earthed conductors, which might be the walls or ceilings in your room, or might be a device attached to your ionic air purifier.

Do not confuse ionic air cleaners with ozone generators, even though both are used for similar purposes. Ozone generators collect oxygen ions to form O2 molecules. Ozone can be toxic to air-borne bacteria, so an ozone generator can kill some infectious germs in the air. Unfortunately, these levels are also toxic to humans and animals in your house, and there the FDA has taken actions to stop ozone therapy for these reasons. Even ionizers produce certain amounts of ozone, so if you use an ionizer in your bedroom at night, avoid placing it too close to your head, because you may be breathing in toxic particles if you do so.

Consumers Reports vs. Sharper Image


Consumer Reports wrote an article claiming that ionic air cleaners sold at The Sharper Image and similar stores were dangerous due to ozone particles, and furthermore did not do their job of cleaning the air (except when used in combination with a fan unit to move the air being ionized). Sharper Image sued Consumer Reports for defamation, and their products were later shown to be within the FDA-regulated ozone limits and to use the aforementioned fan units. Because Sharper Image could not prove that Consumer Reports statements were false, though, the court case was struck out by a California judge (defamation is hard to prove).

How To Build Ionic Air Cleaners

When building your own ionic air cleaners, you have to ask what is an ionic air cleaner (or what makes an ionizer) and collect the essential parts. In this case, you need an ionizing motor, which is 90% of what you need to have an ionizing air purifier. You’ll also need a fan to run air through the air cleaner, to make certain ozone particle levels don’t build up in one area in an unsafe amount. I would also suggest adding an earthed conductor strip to collect dust particles more efficiently.

Remember, if you have an ionic conductor, you will need to clean it regularly. If not (or even in case you do), remember to clean the walls and ceilings of your house regularly, to remove dust particles that collect there. Keep in mind that ionic air cleaners charge particles and they find a conducting surface nearby, so dust will collect on your walls and ceilings when you use an ioniser.

What is an ionic air cleaner and do they work?

Finally, you might be asking if you ionizer actually helps you collect dust particles or not. Many scientists (and the people at Consumer Reports) say that ionizers don’t have an appreciable effect on the air of your home, while they may introduce greater levels of toxic ozone into your house. I personally have used an ionizer before, and I felt like the device worked when I washed it regularly and kept it functioning properly, but after reading further about ionizers, that may well have been a placebo effect.

A more important way to help your allergies is to keep your house free of dust particles. This means dusting your rooms regularly (once a week), while also vacuuming your carpets regularly (once again, once a week). Vacuuming frequently is probably the single best way to rid your house of dust particles and dust mites, because these things collect in huge quantities in your carpets.

Also, change the sheets in your beds frequently (at least once per week), while you should change the pillows you use at least every two years. Dust mites collect in pillows at a high rate, so your head will be sleeping on a dust-filled pillow if you do not.

One more step many people forget is to dust and vacuum under your bed as frequently as possible. The underside of your bed naturally collects huge amounts of dust, so if you don’t clean these particles out frequently, you’ll have a greatly increased amount of dust in your bedroom as you sleep.

Follow the above steps to keep dust particles and dust mites out of your living area and you’ll do wonders for your allergies. And if you want to top that off with an ionic air cleaner just to make yourself feel better, then I’m not going to stop you. Just keep it on the other side of the room, so you don’t breathe in the ozone it’s producing as you sleep.