What Is an Ionizer Air Purifier?

There are many air purifiers available.

And one specific air purifier that’s been causing a lot of controversies is the ionizer air purifier.

When I bought my first air purifier, almost all of the guides and forums I read advised against getting an ionizer air purifier.

But what are these air purifiers, and why are they so controversial?

I’ll explain all of that and more in this article.

That way, you’ll know if an ionizer air purifier is right for you, why they aren’t recommended, and a better air purifier option for your home.

Read on to learn more.

What Are Ionizer Air Purifiers?

As the name suggests, ionizer air purifiers are simply air purifiers with ionizers.

Ionizers go by many different names nowadays, and manufacturers may use their marketing terms for these air purifiers.

An ionizer air purifier releases negative ions into the air to reduce the contaminants in the room.

Negative ions bond with specific contaminants and viruses when released, causing them to fall to the floor or stick to other surfaces.

The key benefit of this process is that you won’t end up inhaling any harmful contaminants that float around the room.

And even if you don’t notice it, many contaminants in the air goes your lungs every day.

These include mold spores, viruses, and other particles that cause complications.

Additionally, ionizer air purifiers usually utilize ionization in different ways.

For example, one of the ionizer air purifiers I saw uses ionization as the last step in the purification process.

So, this air purifier still has HEPA and carbon filters to target specific particles.

On the flip side, other ionizer air purifiers don’t use filtration and instead rely solely on ionization.

While ionizer air purifiers sound like effective appliances for cleaning the air, I would advise against getting one.

I’ll get into the details of why I don’t recommend these further down.

But for now, it’s essential to know that these air purifiers aren’t as effective as other models. In fact, they can be dangerous in certain situations.

Do All Air Purifiers Have Ionizers?

Ionizer air purifiers may not be the best option for keeping indoor air safe.

However, rest assured that not all air purifiers have ionizers.

Many of the best models only use different filters to clean the air, leaving out ionization as a whole.

These air purifiers use HEPA and carbon filters to capture different particles floating in the air.

The downside to these air purifiers is that you won’t be able to eliminate contaminants and viruses in the air.

But they are made for capturing large particles that cause allergies and breathing problems.

On top of that, you won’t have to deal with any issues that people who own ionizer air purifiers have.

So, if you’re looking for an air purifier that eliminates particles and pollutants from the air, get an air purifier without an ionizer.

What Do Air Ionizers Target?

Air ionizers typically target smaller particles in the air that a filter can’t catch.

The main benefit of this technology is that it can eliminate and reduce strong odors.

That way, the room, and indoor air feel and smell fresher and cleaner.

Some of the particles that air ionizers can target include:

  • Mold spores
  • Bacteria

This offers many benefits, especially if you’re in a room with low-quality air.

Some evidence suggests ionizers can help relieve stress and improve focus and sleeping patterns.

That said, air ionizers cannot target larger particles in the air that cause allergies and other complications.

On top of that, while air ionizers target smaller particles, they don’t precisely eliminate them.

While filters capture the particles and keep them away from you, ionizers simply cause the particles to fall to the floor or stick on other surfaces.

That’s one of the reasons I don’t recommend air ionizers for air purification.

Types of Ionizers

An air ionizer isn’t necessarily the same as an ionizer air purifier.

This is because different air ionizers release negative ions in unique ways.

Here are some of the most common air ionizers you can find:

Air Purifier Ionizers

The most common type of air ionizer is the ionizer air purifier.

These devices use ionization and other technology to capture and eliminate particles, cleaning the air in the process.

Typically, these air purifiers will have a HEPA filter, carbon filter, and maybe a pre-filter on top of an ionizer.

That way, the air purifier eliminates small and large particles in the room.

These air purifiers claim to provide more comprehensive protection as they capture more particles than regular air purifiers.

While this is true, there are definite cons to using an ionizer that balances the benefits.

So, ionizer air purifiers have an upside and a downside that you must consider before getting one for your home.

Fan Ionizers

These are more straightforward kinds of ionizers.

This device works like a regular fan, circulating the air and cooling the room.

On top of that, the fan releases negative ions to eliminate small particles from the air.

That way, it accomplishes two jobs at once.

Bipolar Ionizers

Bipolar ionizers are a relatively new technology commonly integrated into HVAC units.

These ionizers release both positive and negative ions to purify the air.

But since this is a new technology, there hasn’t been enough research on the benefits or potential drawbacks of using it in your home.

Are Ionizer Air Purifiers Worth It?

I wouldn’t recommend ionizer air purifiers if you were to ask me.

It’s easy to think that these air purifiers are more effective than their counterparts at a quick glance.

However, if you dig deeper, you’ll find that ionizer air purifiers could cause more harm than good.

The most effective way air purifiers clean the air is through filtration.

The pre-filter, carbon filter, and HEPA filter on most modern air purifiers are made to capture large particles and improve air quality.

The HEPA filter captures small, fine particles like dust and pollen, and the carbon filter absorbs harmful gases and strong odors. At the same time, the pre-filter catches larger particles like pet fur and dander.

So, adding an ionizer to this system might not be worth the hassle anymore.

The only added benefit of ionizers is that you can force smaller particles to fall to the ground and stick to surfaces in your room.

On top of that, ionizers can produce a harmful gas called ozone which can cause various complications, so these air purifiers aren’t worth the hype.

At the end of the day, I will always recommend a regular HEPA air purifier over an ionizer air purifier.

Why I Don’t Recommend Ionizer Air Purifiers

I don’t recommend ionizer air purifiers because they aren’t as good at cleaning the air as regular air purifiers.

While they technically eliminate more particles, ionizers can cause more harm than good.

Here are some of the reasons why:

They Create Harmful Gases

The biggest drawback to ionizer air purifiers is that they create harmful gases.

When the ions bond with tiny particles and cause them to stick to other surfaces, they create ozone gas.

Ozone can give off a chlorine-like scent which some people perceive as fresh and clean.

But while the room might smell fresher, that is not the case.

When you inhale large amounts of ozone, you can experience health problems.

The most common side effect of breathing in too much ozone is difficulty breathing, which can be dangerous for people with respiratory issues.

Aside from that, breathing in ozone can also cause headaches, which can get in the way of productivity and be very uncomfortable.

They Don’t Remove Large Particles and Allergens

As I mentioned earlier, ionizers only target small particles.

This includes mold spores and bacteria, which can cause problems if you inhale them.

However, the downside is that ionizers can’t target larger particles, which can cause even more significant issues for some people.

My biggest complaint with ionizers is that they can’t eliminate dust.

This is an issue for me as I have severe allergies triggered by dust, pollen, and similar particles.

So, if you have allergies or asthma, an ionizer won’t be able to help you out that much.

In fact, since it releases ozone, it might make your condition worse.

One of the most significant benefits of owning an air purifier is that you won’t have to deal with allergies as much.

But if you’re using an ionizer, you won’t reap this benefit, which defeats the purpose of owning an air purifier.

Not Effective for Odors and Gases

Let’s talk about another critical benefit of an air purifier: the carbon filter.

Most of the high-quality air purifiers you can get come with an activated carbon filter.

This filter won’t be able to capture large particles like a HEPA filter, but it’s excellent at absorbing harmful gases.

For example, we regularly deal with and inhale VOCs wherever we are.

VOCs are organic chemicals and gasses released into the air, leading to various health risks, such as cancer.

While you can’t do much about VOCs in public, you’d want to avoid them at home.

A carbon filter is excellent at absorbing these VOCs that can cause problems over time, creating a safer environment at home.

Additionally, the filter can absorb foul odors like kitchen smells, pet odors, and smoke.

Ionizers won’t be able to do any of this.

In fact, they can make your air quality worse because ozone is harmful, even if it provides a “cleaner” scent.

What’s a Good Alternative to Ionizer Air Purifiers?

So, if I don’t recommend getting an ionizer air purifier, what air purifier should you get for your home?

Well, I highly suggest getting a modern air purifier with HEPA filtration.

They are considered the best type of air purifier you can get for home, office, or commercial use.

These air purifiers are much more flexible than HVAC systems since you can move the purifier around as needed.

And since these air purifiers use HEPA filtration, they can trap and eliminate many large particles like dust, pollen, pet dander, and more.

An air purifier with HEPA and carbon filtration can even target harmful odors and gases, creating a much more comfortable and safer environment at home.

There are many air purifiers on the market today.

The common consensus is that any air purifier that offers true HEPA filtration is a good option.

However, ensure you find an air purifier that offers true HEPA filtration.

Some air purifiers don’t meet the standards of a true HEPA filter, so they won’t be able to offer the same benefits and are best avoided.

That said, I have to admit there are still a couple of ionizer air purifiers on the market worth looking at.

But remember that the only reason I found these models worthwhile is that you can switch off the ionizer setting, which I highly recommend.

One of these models is the Coway Mega AP-1512HH(W).

While this air purifier comes with an ionizer, you can turn the feature off and leave it that way.

On top of that, it has a great set of filters that always work, so you can reap all the benefits of owning an air purifier without using the ion feature.

So, if you can turn the ionizer feature off on the air purifier, it can still be a good buy.

However, I highly suggest getting a regular HEPA air purifier over an ionizer air purifier any day of the week.


Ionizer air purifiers release negative ions into the air, which cause small particles to stick to surfaces in the room.

That way, you won’t have to inhale harmful particles that would otherwise enter the lungs.

While this is cool, these air purifiers aren’t as effective as HEPA air purifiers.

They can actually make the air quality worse by releasing ozone.

So, I suggest you opt for a regular HEPA air purifier over an ionizer air purifier when shopping for your new device.

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