If you were growing up during the 60’s you’ll remember the ad slogan for spearmint gum, ” Some call it a spear – some call it an arrow”, which simply meant no matter which view you take the product is the same or the end result is the same. This phrase is not used much anymore but was popular at that time. It does, however, fit some circumstances where people may know a product or service by one term or name and not recognize that it may be called another name and still provide the same performance.

The the use of two different names or terms for two systems or products that  perform the same function can be applied to carbon or charcoal and air purification and air filtration.

Carbon is a very commonly used product for both the air and water filtration industries. In most cases the carbon or charcoal is heated in an oven to enhance or activate the charcoal so that both its surface area and adsorptive capacities are expanded. Thus the term activated carbon. For the most part, the air filtration industry uses the term “carbon” rather than charcoal as carbon is more often used in marketing the filters or holding devices that contain carbon.

In the area of air filtration or air purification there are many similarities with these terms but there are also some differences. Air filtration is the more commonly used term as this term to designate products that filter out airborne dust, dirt and contaminants has been around since the early 30’s. There are a wide variety of filter medias and filtration systems using these varied medias used in the market today.

In the 1970’s other forms of non-mechanical ( filter media is considered a mechanical method of dust removal) came into the market that used electrically charged plates ( using a positive/negative capture process) or charged the incoming air to create ozone to purify the air. Thus the term air purification was coined.

Electronic air cleaners or air purification devices do trap and collect airborne dust and dirt particles but are limited to the size of the particle they can collect and the amount. Electronic air cleaners have to be cleaned regularly to keep the plate surface clean and allow for the electrical charge process to be effective. And, unlike air filters that have a collection surface that also uses the filter cake for collection of finer particles, the electronic air cleaners become less effective as the plates collect more dirt.

Air purifiers like ozone generators and Ion generators rely on totally different technologies than air filtration systems. Ozone generators produce O3 or Ozone which reacts with odor and gaseous molecules and changes them by giving up one of its oxygen elements to change the gas molecule. They do nothing for removing airborne dust or dirt.

Ion generators basically generate an electrical charge to charge airborne particles so that when they come in contact with any surface they will stick or “plate out.” This means the dust particles will stick to the walls, floors, furniture, etc. until the charge is diminished. Again, these operate differently that air filters.

For more information on the similarities and differences in air filtration and air purification please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems. com.




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About the Author: Don Musilli

My name is Don Musilli. I started Pure Air Systems in 1985 and then sold it in 2006. I continue to consult for PAS and write their blog and control their Twitter account. I also, on occasion, make changes to the website. The company is now almost 26 years old and has been a major player in offering commercial grade, high performance HEPA and Carbon based filtration systems for the commercial, institutional, industrial and residential markets.

I currently reside in Englewood, Florida where I write blogs and do social media marketing for a number of clients.


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