How to Know if You’re Buying the Best Air Purifier

How to Know if You're Buying the Best Air Purifier

Deciding on an air purifier is a big decision, so you’ll need reliable information. You need the facts because you don’t want to buy an inferior product that won’t work as advertised. You also don’t want to spend a small fortune maintaining your purifier. Sadly, many purifiers end up costing more to maintain over five years than the original cost!

How to Buy the Best Air Purifier

In this article, you’ll learn a few critical facts about indoor air pollutants, how air purifiers work and which is the best air purifier.

So whether you’re looking for the best air purifier for smoke, mold, VOCs, pet dander, allergies, dust or asthma, this is your best air purifier buying guide. By the time you finish this article, you should know which air purifier you’re going to buy.

Why You Want an Air Purifier that Removes Both Types of Indoor Pollutants

Indoor air pollutants fall into two categories. For your health, it is important to control both types. And, it’s good to remember, indoor air is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air (EPA.GOV).

  • Fine & Coarse Particulate Matter (PM) – includes dust, cooking and tobacco smoke, pollen and plant spores, animal dander, dust mites, molds, bacteria, and viruses. Exposure to Fine PM has been linked to many health risks including premature death (EPA.GOV).
  • Gaseous Pollutants or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – These can come from flooring, gas cooking stoves, carpets, upholstered furniture, paint, adhesives, cleaning products, pesticides, new construction, electronics, and sadly enough air fresheners. One of the most prevalent VOCs in the home is formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Results from research show that VOCs from materials and finishes, cleaning products, personal care products and other consumer products result in increased risk of asthma, pulmonary infections, and allergies (Mendell 2007). Some chemicals may have health impacts at extremely low levels; studies have found that exposure to very small traces of VOCs in homes and schools can disrupt the endocrine system (hormones), gene activation, and brain development.

The best air purifiers reduce PM and VOCs. Reducing these in your home is important to your health.

Isn’t My HVAC System Filtering My Indoor Air?

You’re probably thinking that your HVAC system has air filters that you change every 1-3 months, so aren’t they filtering your indoor air?

While it is true that your HVAC has in-line air filters, these filters were really designed to protect your furnace and air conditioning system from dust and other large airborne particles. They will not remove fine PM or VOCs.

How to Remove Dangerous PM From Your Home

The best solution for removing indoor PM is a HEPA filter. In order to trap the finer, more dangerous particles that can travel deep into the lungs and cause health problems, you need a filter that incorporates a High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filter. True HEPA medical filters remove at least 99.97% of all airborne particles 0.3 microns in diameter or greater.

When buying an air purifier look for true HEPA medical filters. If the description doesn’t say HEPA medical filter, don’t buy it. Pay attention to the number of sq. ft. of HEPA medical filter. The higher the sq. footage of filter, the longer the filter will last and the higher the value to you.

How to Remove Unhealthy VOCs From Your Home

VOCs are generally so small they cannot be removed by HEPA filters. To remove these pollutants, you need a material called a “sorbent” which is a highly porous substance that can adsorb or bind with VOCs on a molecular basis across a large internal surface area.

The most common adsorbent (not a typo – there really is a word adsorbent) material used in air filters is activated carbon. One pound of activated carbon has a surface area equal to about 125 acres. Another adsorbent is the alumino-silicate crystal structure known as “zeolite”.

Activated carbon and zeolite have different pore sizes and structures, and when used together, they can adsorb a greater range of chemicals. Finally there are “chemisorbents” that are designed to remove specific chemicals and impregnated into the filter.

When evaluating air purifiers, pay special attention to the adsorbents. Adsorbent materials have a finite capacity, so the more activated carbon and/or zeolite present in your filter, the greater the capacity to remove VOCs and the longer the life of the filter.

Compare the number of pounds of activated carbon in air purifier filters. Determine if the filter has added adsorbents and chemisorbents. The best air purifiers have many pounds of activated carbon along with adsorbents and chemisorbents.

Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story (so don’t be fooled)

The CADR is flawed. CADR measures (1) an air filter’s effectiveness at removing specific particles-dust, pollen, and smoke; and (2) the volume of air cleaned during a 20 minute test.

Sounds great, right? Well, there’s more to the story.

There are good reasons to look beyond these numbers when deciding which air filter to buy. First, the CADR standard only tests for particle filtration and does not consider VOC removal which is critical for clean air.

Second, the range of particles tested is from 0.1 to 11.0 microns, but it does not specify results at removing smaller particles vs. larger particles, just overall removal. And, we know that the Fine PM are the most damaging to our health, it is important to know the air filters efficiency at removing these finer particles.

So, when comparing air purifiers, don’t bother using the CADR to decide. Why? Because an air purifier could have a very good CADR, but it could be failing to remove the most dangerous contaminants like Fine PM and VOCs.

What Does CFM Mean for Clean Air?

CFM is a measure of how many cubic feet/minute the air purifier handles. The higher the CFM, the more air changes per hour and the cleaner your air.

Here’s the formula to understand how many times an hour your air is changed/cleaned based on the air purifier’s CFM cleaning rate:

(CFM x 60 min) / (room height x width x length in feet)

Example: (400 CFM x 60 min) / (9′ x 40′ x 30′) = 2.2 changes/hour

Compare a lower CFM rating of 250:

(250 x 60) / (9′ x 40′ x 30′) = 1.4 changes/hour

The higher CFM rating of 400, cleans the air 36% more often than the lower rated version.

The air purifier you buy should have a high CFM to be most effective at cleaning your air.

Air Purifier Reviews – A Look at the Best

We searched the marketplace for air purifiers that could effectively remove PM and VOCs. We scoured the spec sheets on literally dozens of air filters and spoke with the manufacturers. We also looked at a lot of “best rated air filters” web sites (most are pushing one particular brand, certainly not the best). What we found was just a lot of plain old bad or misleading information.

Most of the companies that claimed their filters removed VOC’s were actually using filters “impregnated” with activated carbon and not a true carbon filter.

Kind of disappointing, right?

If you are serious about removing VOC’s and gases from your indoor air, you’ll want an air filter that measures their activated carbon in pounds, not ounces.

Ultimately, we found only a handful of companies that were making air purifiers that used significant amounts of both true HEPA medical filters and activated carbon in their filters. We included those in the final air cleaner rankings and reviews listed below.

Air Purifier Review

Look at the 5 Yr Filter Costs!

If you bought a Blueair 503 with SmokeStop, you’d pay a whopping $1490 in filters over five years. Compare that to the Austin Air Healthmate Plus at a fraction of the cost ($353).

Air Purifier Five Year Cost

Why We Recommend Austin Air Cleaners

Clearly, in terms of performance and long-term value, no other air cleaner manufacturer really comes close to Austin Air. As you can see from the chart above, the Austin Air Cleaners are ranked at the top in size of HEPA filter, number of pounds of Activated Carbon, added Chemisorbents, amount of air cleaned per minute (CFM), filter life and total five-year cost of ownership.

In fact, the Austin Air machines are the only ones who have a five-year filter cost LESS than the initial purchase price. That means the disparity in the total cost of owning those other machines is only going to INCREASE the longer you own them!

The more closely you look at Austin Air Cleaners, the more impressed you will become. In addition to having a large HEPA filter, pounds of Activated Carbon, additional VOC/gases removal capability, great air cleaning power and the lowest cost of ownership, the other benefits include:

  • Austin Air unit is well-designed. By vacuuming the outside of the case, you are also vacuuming the pre-filter. This allows Austin Air to project an overall filter life of up to 5 years
  • Only company to offer any type of filter warranty and it’s a full five years
  • Made in USA for more than 30 years
  • Made with highest quality materials certified to not off-gas; powder coated all metal housing
  • Designed and built for continuous 24/7 operation
  • Chosen by the US Government (after extensive independent testing) to fulfill the largest deployment of air cleaners in American history
  • Selected by FEMA and The Red Cross to address serious indoor air quality concerns after 9/11

Which Austin Air Cleaner is Right for You?

Austin Air HealthMate™

Austin Air HealthMate™ Standard comes with 60 sq. ft. of certified medical grade true HEPA filtration that removes 99.97% of all particulates as small as 0.3 microns, and 95% of all particulates 0.1 microns and smaller.

In addition to an impressive HEPA filter, they use a full 15 lbs. of a proprietary blend of activated carbon and zeolite, the only company using such a blend in that large a quantity. Austin Air uses a powder coated all metal housing and is rated to 400 CFM.

Austin Air unit is well-designed. By vacuuming the outside of the case, you are also vacuuming the pre-filter. This allows Austin Air to project an overall filter and pre-filter life of 3-5 years, and they are the only company that offers a 5 year pro-rated warranty on their core HEPA/Carbon filter so if it does have to be replaced before 5 years, you will get a pro-rated cost reduction. This means that the long term cost of ownership for Austin Air is much better than their competition.

The standard size cleans up to 1500 sq. ft. while the Junior size cleans up to 700 sq. ft.

Austin Air Clean HealthMate


Austin Air HealthMate Plus™

In addition to the HealthMate™, Austin Air offers the HealthMate Plus™ developed for people suffering from chemical sensitivity as well as for people who have remodeled or are have future remodeling planned. Like the HealthMate™, the HealthMate Plus™ uses 15 lbs. of activated carbon/zeolite but the Plus air cleaner is impregnated with potassium iodide to offer even greater gas and VOC removal.

We think everyone needs the expanded gas and VOC removal capabilities since just about everything you bring into your home off-gases. Furniture, flooring, paint, wall and window coverings, cleaners, pesticides, air fresheners and more all release chemicals into your indoor air that are simply not good for you.

For those people suffering from extreme chemical sensitivities, selecting the HealthMate rather than the Plus is a good idea. Highly chemical sensitive people can smell the potassium iodide and are better off with the standard version.

The standard size cleans up to 1500 sq. ft. while the Junior size cleans up to 700 sq. ft.

Austin Air Allergy Machine™

Austin Air also offers the Allergy Machine™ designed for people struggling with severe allergies, asthma, and those living in areas prone to high amounts of seasonal pollen and dust issues. Austin Air developed a unique HEGA (High Efficiency Gas Absorbtion) filter for the Allergy machine. The HEGA filter combines a high-tech Military Grade Carbon Cloth filter for removing gas, VOC’s and odors with their medical grade true HEPA filter to deliver a filter especially well suited to removing airborne allergens.

The standard size cleans up to 1500 sq. ft. while the Junior size cleans up to 700 sq. ft.

Why Do We Only Sell Austin Air Cleaners?

We only sell Austin Air Cleaners for two simple reasons: first, we know we are selling the best product with the best value and second, it’s our mission to make your life easier. Having to check different choices and read a lot of comparisons and research makes your life hard. So, we’ve kept it simple. We’re fanatics about details and research so you can relax, buy an air purifier and move on with your life. Sound good?

Still have questions or are curious about another model? We’ll be happy to answer your questions or give feedback on other brands. Contact us. Check out the Austin Air Cleaner FAQs.

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11 Brilliant Gift Ideas Under $50 for a Healthy Life

11 Brilliant Gift Ideas Under $50 for a Healthy Life

Need some gift ideas for women? Especially the women you know who would like to be healthier and happier? This list is sure to solve your problem.

Healthy Gift Ideas Under $50

On the Go Water Bottle Filter

Water Bottle FilterThis water bottle filters water as you drink. Perfect for travel, gym, office or camping in the backcountry. Great way to reduce bottled water waste!

Its activated coconut shell carbon reduces toxic chemicals, heavy metals, microscopic pathogens, chlorine, sediment, and dirt. So it’s safe to use everywhere from the backcountry to the office. Whether you’re using tap OR river water, you’ll be drinking the freshest water around.

Best of all, there’s no need to squeeze the bottle to force water up thru the filter to the straw. Also, throw it in the dishwasher to clean. The filter is good for 100 gallons of pure drinking water.
• Safely cleans tap or river water
• Micron 3 rated activated coconut shell carbon filter
• Made in the USA
• Free of BPA, phthalates, lead, leaching chemicals
• 9.5 inches tall – 25 oz capacity
• $24.95 BUY NOW

All Natural Scents by Givescent

GIVESCENT All Natural Perfume

So many perfumes and colognes contain ingredients like phthalates and formaldehyde which are harmful to inhale or absorb. But, it’s hard to give up wearing a scent, isn’t it? What’s the solution?

We found GIVESCENT, a company that makes products that are free of alcohol, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and sulfates. And, they support wonderful organizations that aid women including Women for Women International and Every Mother Counts. Five percent of each purchase goes to these worthy organizations.

GIVESCENT Signature Scent is a captivating blend of sun-ripened citrus and spicy vanilla inspired by the first sultry summer days in Italy.

Ingredients: parfum oil, essential oils, and sweet almond oil.

GIVESCENT Azure is a tranquil beach scent with subtle notes of amber and musk inspired by long summer days on the coast of Southern California.

When GIVESCENT azure mixes with your skin, the scent comes alive! The magic happens then…

Ingredients: parfum oil and fractionated coconut oil.

$49.00 BUY NOW

Wool Dryer Balls with Lavender

Dryer Balls with LavenderThese wool dryer balls are handmade, felted, unscented, and 100% wool. Includes a 1 oz. vial of pure lavender essential oil. The balls will dry your clothes 15-20% faster, soften your clothing, and help reduce static. The lavender scent is calming.

Dryer Balls work by circulating the air in the dryer which allows the air to reach more of the laundry more quickly, causing the clothes to dry faster. Using more balls increases their effectiveness.

You’ll need a minimum of 3 balls (4 or 5 is really better for larger loads) to get the benefits.

Simply place several drops of lavender essential oil on the wool balls for a relaxing and fresh laundry scent.

$33.99 BUY NOW

Nirvana Oil Bath Salts

Nirvana Oil Bath SaltsPurest bath salts to help you relax, detox, and rejuvenate your soul.

Each ingredient was chosen for quality and to enhance your experience. Packaged in an eco-friendly bag.

Five ingredients that will lead you to bliss:

1. Nirvana Oil: A specially handcrafted blend of bliss including lavender, sweet marjoram, ylang ylang, roman chamomile, sandalwood, coconut oil, and vanilla bean extract. Creates the perfect aroma of transcendence and peace.

2. Pink Himalayan Salt: These salts can improve the texture, tone, and appearance of your skin, help combat water retention, promote sinus health, prevent muscle cramping and soreness, and even decrease stress.

3. Epsom Salt: Epsom salts are not actually a salt but rather Magnesium Sulfate. Sulfates help improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins, and help ease migraine headaches.

4. Dead Sea Salt: These special salts contain 21 minerals that naturally occur in our bodies, but must be replenished because they are lost throughout the day. Known for treating, detoxifying and cleansing our bodies.

5. Baking Soda: Bicarbonate of soda or baking soda makes your skin silky smooth, soft and removes toxins.

$24.99 BUY NOW – Sorry – Out of Stock

Organic Hydrating Mist

Hydrating Mist

Tones and hydrates with a refreshing blend of rosehip, ylang ylang, resveratrol grapeseed oil and organic juices for a fresh, radiant complexion.

The perfect pick me up for dry winter months. Works for all skin types. Simply spritz Hydrating Mist on your face for a hydrating boost.


  • Tones & refreshes with resveratrol from organic grapeseed
  • Aromatherapeutic with pure essential oils of ylang ylang & rosehips
  • Hydrates with organic aloe

Free of parabens, petroleum, propylene, sulfates, pesticides, phthalates, anything artificial and synthetic fragrances.

5 Star Rating.

$22.00 BUY NOW

Perfect Shower Filter

Sprite Shower Filter

You might be filtering your drinking water to remove chlorine and other contaminants, but did you know that 50% of your daily chlorine exposure occurs in the shower? In a hot shower, chlorine is a liquid that can be absorbed through the skin and a gas which can be inhaled which is why you need a shower filter.

This filter is designed to remove up to 99% of chlorine keeping your shower time healthier.

Plus, with the filter’s large shower head, it makes the most of the water saving feature, creating a luxurious rain shower effect.

The filter installs easily without a plumber. Available in Chrome and Brushed Nickel. Filter lasts for six months.

Sale Price $37.99 BUY NOW

Pure Beeswax Aromatherapy Candles

Beeswax Aromatherapy Candles

Everyone loves these long burning, naturally scented pillars made of pure beeswax.

In this set, you’ll get two aromatherapy blends (3 x 3.5 in pillars). Each candle burns up to 60 hours!

  • Harmony (Pure Lavender) – A calming floral aroma that promotes balance and relaxation.
  • Enlightenmint (Bergamot + Mint) – A fresh energizing union that invokes wisdom and clarity.

Each aromatherapy blend combines only the finest essential oils with the purest beeswax. Absolutely no fragrance or synthetic scents are used.

Why Beeswax?

Beeswax candles are naturally dripless and smokeless and tend to have a longer burn time than candles made from other waxes. The candles burn clean and clear the air at the same time. Unlike paraffin candles that are made from petroleum-based wax, beeswax candles have a completely clean non-toxic burn.

$45.00 BUY NOW – Sorry, out of stock.

Organic Cotton Verbena Chemise

Organic Verbena Chemise
Light and soft, with a body-skimming fit and stretchy spaghetti straps, the Verbena chemise is a dream to sleep in. A V-neck and above-the-knee hem make it flattering, too.

Made from Organic cotton jersey in great colors – White, Lagoon (shown) & Camellia.

GOTS certified.

Women’s sizes S, M, and L.
100% organic cotton is grown and knit in India.

$48.00 BUY NOW Sorry, out of stock

Meditation Zafu Cushion

Zafu Meditation Cushion

Make meditating easier on your back and knees with this Meditation Zafu Cushion.

It’s 15″ in diameter and 6″ high. Just perfect to keep your knees in place without straining your back.

The cover is made of heavy cotton twill with handle. It’s filled with 100% pure, natural cotton.

Includes a side zipper to add/remove/replace cotton to keep it comfortable. Lots of designs and colors.

Buy at YogaAccessories on Amazon. Around $32.

Fashion-Inspired Glass Water Bottle

Bkr Water Bottles

An amazing water bottle that just might change your water drinking habits for the better!

It’s made out of soda-lime glass and the sleeve and gasket are silicone. The silicone sleeve is perfectly soft and grippy–and non-toxic. It protects the glass, insulates whatever’s inside it and it’s dishwasher safe! So, you can easily put this in the top rack of your dishwasher.

The cap is made of food grade, recyclable polypropylene.

Comes in 3 or 4 sizes and lots of fashion-inspired colors.

Why is this water bottle superior?

This luminous beauty essential will motivate you to drink 10x more water and love it. Buy at Prices range from $28-$45.

Anti-Aging All Natural Night Creme

Anti-Aging All Natural Night Creme

This anti-aging nighttime treatment will make you feel like a princess. Concentrated blends of essential oils formulated to minimize the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone.

Made with super-absorbing oils (Apricot Kernel, Rosehip Seed, Argan, and Meadowfoam) that penetrate deep into your skin leaving it feeling smooth and moist and never greasy.

Organic beeswax and soothing aloe vera gel juice combine with the oils to create the perfect skin cream for your face and decolletage while you sleep.

Effective and free of harmful ingredients like phthalates, parabens, sulfates and formaldehyde.

Ingredients: Apricot Kernel Oil, Aloe Vera Gel Juice, Rosehip Seed Oil, Organic Beeswax, Vegetable (kosher) Glycerin, Organic Argan Oil, Organic Meadowfoam Oil, and essential oils of Frankincense, Carrot Seed, Egyptian Geranium, and Ylang Ylang with Rosemary Extract.  1.7 Fl. Oz./50 ML

$30.00 BUY NOW – Sorry – Out of Stock

Happy Shopping!

How to be a Smart Shopper and Avoid Toxic Upholstered Furniture

How to be Smart and Avoid Toxic Upholstered Furniture

How to Avoid Toxic Upholstered Furniture

Upholstered furniture has several issues you’re trying to avoid – formaldehyde, chemical flame retardants, and synthetic cushion off-gassing.

To get the healthiest upholstered furniture, you’ll need to understand three components – the frame, cushions, and California’s latest flammability standards.

Frame – Opt for solid wood:

A lot of lower cost furniture is made with plywood, particle board or MDF. These engineered wood products are manufactured using adhesives that release formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a substance you’d rather not have in your home. Learn more about the dangers of formaldehyde.

Instead of engineered wood products, look for a frame made from solid hardwood like ash, maple, poplar or oak. Pine is a softer wood and is less desirable. Investing in a solid wood frame means your furniture will last, and it’s healthier without the formaldehyde.

If it’s not practical to buy solid wood upholstered furniture, then check out the article for how to reduce formaldehyde.

Cushions – Your best bet is to choose 100% natural latex:

Your best bet is to choose furniture with 100% natural latex cushions.

Why? Because natural latex is long-lasting and mold, mildew, and dust-mite resistant. And, the cushions do not off-gas like synthetic latex or polyurethane foam cushions.

100% natural latex is also naturally flame resistant. What does this mean? It has never required chemical flame retardants to meet earlier or current flammability standards, so it’s always a safe option.

Cushions – How to find cushions untreated by chemical flame retardants:

If purchasing 100% natural latex isn’t practical, then look for cushions made without chemical flame retardants. Most cushions are made with polyurethane or soy foam. These cushions can emit hazardous compounds and may also be treated with harmful flame retardants.

So, how do you know if the cushions have been treated with flame retardants?

It’s a long story. Here are the highlights.

In 1975, California passed laws requiring upholstered furniture to withstand an open flame. As a result, manufacturers started using large amounts of toxic flame retardants to meet the standards.

Since California is such a large market, the manufacturers used the same standards for the other 49 states. Luckily, effective Jan 1, 2015, the law was changed to require only smolder resistance.

This changed everything! Now, many fabrics and materials can pass the new standards without the use of chemical flame retardants.

Here’s how to decode the new labels.

You need to check the labels carefully. Look for the new flammability label. Flammability TagAs of January 1, 2015, the law requires all manufacturers to add the label. People in the other 49 states, as well as Canada, should start seeing these labels as well.

Since the only furniture built after January requires the label, you probably won’t find it on the majority of pieces you see in the stores. Look for labels with a check mark that the upholstery materials in the product “Contain No Added Flame Retardant Chemicals”. See the new label on the right.

To sum up, opt for 100% natural latex for long-lasting cushions without chemical flame retardants and nasty cushion off-gassing.

If natural latex is not practical, then look for furniture with the new flammability label that proves it has not been treated with flame retardants.

Buying New Furniture Not an Option?

Buying new furniture may not be an option for you. So, what can you do about flame retardants in your upholstered furniture?

You can replace your foam cushions with chemical flame retardant-free foam cushions. This will remove the bulk of the flame retardants from your furniture.

Here’s a list of places from the Green Science Policy Institute where you can get foam cushions without added flame retardants.

Cushion Works

Foam Order

House of Foam

Kay Chesterfield

Michael’s Custom Upholstery

Just Curious

How much of this was news to you? Some? or most of it?

If so, sign up for Zen of Pure Living 12 Week Email Series. You’ll learn how to create a toxic-free home easily and without the hassle. Subscribers call it a “must read”.  Sign up!

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How to Be Smart and Avoid Toxic Upholstered Furniture