Ionizer Air Purifier: This is How it Works

ionizer air purifier
An air purifier is sometimes equipped with an ionizer. © Canvas

There are many different types of air purifiers for sale today. They often differ not only in design: also in the field of filters and whether or not there is an ionizer.

Such an ionizer is somewhat controversial: various studies have shown that it can even be harmful to people and pets. In this article I tell you everything you need to know about an ionization air purifier.

How does an ionizer work?

All around us in the air are tiny invisible particles that can contain pollutants. The invisible particles are also called ions. Ions are electrically charged. Negatively charged ions are very important to keep the air quality in order: when there are many pollutant particles in the air, there are fewer negatively charged ions.

An ionizer is a type of air purifier that cleans the air using negatively charged ions. An ionization air purifier can use two methods for this: cleaning the air via ionization or via an electrostatic precipitator.

Clean air through ionization

The most common way is via ionization. With this method, the ionization air purifier shoots negatively charged ions into the air1Ionization, Contaminated particles in the air adhere to this, after which the particles become heavier and settle on the floor.

how an ionizer works
This is how air cleaning works via ionization. © Purifiertester

You can then vacuum the floor to remove the contaminated dust particles.

Air cleaning via electrostatic precipitator

Another method of how an ionizer cleans the air is through an electrostatic precipitator. Pollutants are attracted by means of an electrically charged plate in the air purifier2Electrostatic Precipitator Definition, This air then passes through filters, where dust particles are filtered out of the air.

electrostatic precipitator
Air cleaning via electrostatic precipitator. © Purifiertester

These electrically charged plates must be wiped regularly to maintain good cleaning performance. They become full of pollutants that adhere to these electrically charged plates.

What does an ionization air purifier do?

Now that we know how such an ionizer works, it is also interesting to see what this type of air purifier does exactly. In other words: what can an ionization air purifier clean? Let me list the main pollutants:

  • Dust particles
  • Bacteria
  • Allergens (pollen)
  • Smoke
  • Fine dust
  • Mold spores

It is important to know that an ionizer does not immediately mean that you can never contract a virus again. As I mentioned in my article about how an air purifier works, you can of course also carry bacteria on your hands.

It is important to know that an ionizer does not immediately mean that you can never contract a virus again.

Advantages of an ionizer

But, why would you actually choose an air purifier with an ionizer? Well, there are some advantages compared to air purifiers without ionization. Let me list the main advantages:

  • Low maintenance costs
  • Don’t have to replace or clean air purifier filters
  • Effective against airborne bacteria and virus particles

Vaak is een ionisator wel een stukje duurder dan een normale luchtreiniger.

Is an ionizer bad for health?

A big question that arises with ionization is whether it is harmful. In many cases a small amount of ozone is released during ionization. Ozone is not harmful to humans in small amounts3Ionizing Radiation,, but it is still recommended not to be in the same room as the ionizer when ionization takes place. And will you go into space afterwards? Then it is wise to ventilate the room well.

And although ozone is not so harmful to humans in small quantities, people with asthma may get respiratory complaints from it.


Bram Tigchelaar

Bram Tigchelaar

Bram is the co-founder of Together with his brother, he gives advice for cleaner air quality in your home. He combines decades of experience in the world of air quality products with a passion for product testing. Questions about his approach? Feel free to send him a message!

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