How to Create a DIY Air Purifier

September 17, 2020 By

Considering all that’s happened so far in 2020, the past few months have been incredibly difficult for the west coast as locals live with dangerously unpredictable wildfires and the fear of evacuation. Nearly 500,000 Oregonians were forced to evacuate their homes over the past two weeks as firefighters battled flames across 900,000 acres of dry land.

As the immediate threat of structural damage lessens, locals are left with another life-altering issue: smoke. A lack of rain or high winds to help disperse the thick smoke puts even those in the best health at risk. According to the CDCbreathing in smoke can have immediate health effects, such as:

  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Increased heart rate

To make matters worse, air purifiers were quick to move off department shelves, leaving those at risk wondering what to do next. The good news, if there can be any to come from this situation, is that there are options to create your own air purifying system for much less than you would pay in-store.

Create Your Own Air Purifier

We recommend doing your own research to find a filter that best fits your needs, but from what we can tell, most DIY purifiers function comparably despite using different filters.

Gather Your Materials

Depending on where you live, in-store shopping may not be an option for you, or your local stores are already sold out. It happens. Unlike the toilet paper fiasco of Spring 2020, only a few states have been heavily impacted by smoke, so online inventories are holding firm.

To make a DIY air purifier, all you’ll need is:

  • Multipack of Air Filters (Look for options with a high MPR— the higher the MPR, the more microparticles can be caught in the filter)
  • Box Fan
  • Clear Packing Tape or Rubber Bands

Assemble the Purifier

On an average day, when the air quality level hasn’t been set to hazardous, using rubber bands to attach the air filter to the box fan will do the trick. However, with conditions such as these, you’re better off using tape. That way, smaller air particles don’t flow from the open spaces between the filter and the fan.

To assemble, simply attach the filter to the front of the fan using clear tape along the edges, like the picture below. (To watch the full tutorial, check out this video from Wirecutter.)

And that’s pretty much it! We do advise purchasing a pack of filters to prevent overusing one filter. DIYers should also be aware that this is a temporary solution for emergencies. Whereas this setup is cheap and useful on a short-term basis, it’s not as effective as an actual air purifying machine.

Alternative Options

As we mentioned above, there are still plenty of online options available to purchase an actual air purifier. These machines can cost anywhere from $100 to $500, depending on your needs. Those not directly impacted by the smoke, just the box fan alone will help keep air circulating around your house and help prevent dust and mold from settling.

If you’re looking for every day, natural remedies to help purify the air in your home, consider:

  • Purifying candles (Look for candles made from beeswax)
  • Himalayan salt lamps
  • Increasing your indoor plants
  • Diffusing oils (rosemary, thyme, clove, or lemon)
  • Switching to non-toxic cleaning supplies

Additional Resources

Air conditions are currently hazardous for healthy people and especially for those at risk. Monitor the air quality in your area here.

For those interested in donating or sending supplies to wildfire victims, start here.

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