How Do Air Ionizers Work?

air ionizer

An air ionizer is an air purification system that uses negatively charged ions to clean the air. However, unlike an air filter, they do not capture contaminants and trap them at the source. So what is ionized air, and how does an ionizer air purifier work?

Air ionization is the process of releasing negative or positive ions to add an electrical charge to the ambient air. Ionizers use electricity that reacts with oxygen and water molecules and creates charged ions

When a positive or negative ion comes into contact with the ambient air, it will electrically charge air molecules, causing air pollutants to stick together. This is the same process that generates static cling in clothes fresh out of the dryer. 

As the charged particles group together, they become heavier than the ambient air and fall to the ground, leaving your air cleaner. Once they fall, you can easily vacuum up the contaminants. 

While your HVAC system will use filters to remove airborne particles, they typically aren’t designed to handle smaller air pollutants. Air ionizers provide an additional layer of protection. Approximately 8% of adults in the US have asthma, and for them, air quality makes all the difference. 

If you’re considering improving your indoor air quality with ionizers, you’ll need to understand the pros and cons to ensure you make the choice that’s best for your space.

Key Air Ionizer Benefits  

Air ionizers can remove up to 97% of small particles after 30 minutes of use. These are often particles too small for your HVAC filter to address. They can help treat contaminants such as allergens, pollution, mold, and even pathogenic microbes from the air. They can also remove some of the harmful particles associated with smoke. 

Ionizers can run continuously with little maintenance. They require no filter changes, and many of them are self-cleaning for optimum performance. Ionizer fans, however, may require additional care. So what is an ionizer fan?

Ionizer fans are equipped with additional features to improve air quality. For example, the tower fans on some air ionizers can help by moving air to dilute pollutants. In addition, units with UV lights and HEPA filters can address other air issues your ionizer may miss. 


Learn More About Keeping Indoor Air Clean:


Cons (and How to Avoid Them)

Air ionizers do have their drawbacks. Here are the common issues to consider before purchasing an ionizer.

  • The “Black Wall” Effect – Excess negative ions can create black stains on the wall near the ionizer where smaller particles clump together. When larger particles like dust or pet dander stick to each other, they may fall on surfaces around the room. You can clean both the smaller and larger particles, but people with pets or excess dust may have issues. 
  • Creating ozone – Traditional air ionizers produce ozone. Ozone is a powerful oxidizer that can damage your lungs if inhaled in large quantities. As it builds up in the ambient air, you may notice its signature antiseptic smell, similar to the air after a thunderstorm. 
  • Static Buildup – If you’re running a negative ionizer in your space all day, it can lead to excess levels of static electricity. In some areas, this can create the danger of sparks igniting volatile substances. This can cause respiratory irritation, especially in people with asthma. 


These drawbacks are avoidable with a proper setup. 

Ionizers equipped with a HEPA filter can trap dust and dander to prevent buildup. 

Choosing bi-polar ionization can also eliminate the Black Wall effect. These units use both positive and negative ions to neutralize the charge of the air. Bi-polar ionization will also prevent static buildup. 

Finally, choosing an air ionizer designed to produce less than .05 ppm of ozone will prevent issues with ozone. 


air ionization

Finding the Best Air Ionizer for Your Space

People spend a lot of their time indoors, where poor air quality can affect their health. On their own, ionizers can’t address all of the issues that affect indoor air quality. However, the benefits they offer combined with HEPA filtration and ventilation can provide a safe atmosphere in indoor spaces. 

The top ionizer units use these and other features that work hand-in-hand with air ionization

Some of the most notable brands include:

  • Medify Air
  • Dyson
  • Ionic Breeze
  • Molekule
  • IQ Air


Trust the Air you Breathe

AirFixture offers a unique air purifying solution. Clean Air Tower uses ozone-free bi-polar ionization to provide a safer indoor space. In addition, CleanAir Tower comes with UV lights and HEPA filtration. You can run these features simultaneously or use each as needed.  

The flexibility also extends to the design. Consumers can easily install other types of ionizers or UV lights that meet the needs of their space, and the units come in custom colors and finishes to blend with your interior design. 

To learn more about indoor air quality or get started with air ionizationcontact our experts today.