Informational Guide

What Is An Ionizer & What Does It Do? (Benefits)

by Josh M

Having cool air is one thing, but you also need to think about the quality of the air in your home. Dust, bacteria, smoke, and pollutants can all negatively impact you and your family, and it can get even worse in the summer months. Ionizers can help improve your air quality, but you may not even know how they work or what they do. But don’t worry, because in this guide, we’ll help explain what an ionizer is and the benefits it can have in your home.

An ionizer is designed to help filter unwanted particles from the air in your home and provide you with access to cleaner air. They work using ions, which are tiny molecules with an electrical charge. There are two types of ions: positive and negative. Positive ions are attracted to negative particles, and negative ions are attracted to positive particles.

An ionizer releases negative ions into the air, where they attach themselves to particles. These particles are impurities in the air, and once the negative ion attaches itself to them, it causes them to clump together and land on surfaces like walls, floors, or ceilings. These impurities are then out of your air supply and can be cleaned up separately.

Ionizers come in all shapes and sizes, but many look like small air conditioning units. They use high voltage electricity to create negative ions, which are then released into the air. Most ionizers use a fan to help circulate the air and disperse the ions so that they attach themselves to the air particles. Often ionizers are part of an air purifying system and are used in conjunction with a filter to remove more impurities from the air. You can use a standalone ionizer without a fan, but it will be less effective and take longer to remove particles from the air.

There is some debate about the effectiveness of ionizers, and they certainly don’t work on all rogue particles in the air. However, studies have shown that they can help to remove some airborne particles like smoke, and that they can deactivate certain viruses rendering them harmless. Ionizers became more popular during the pandemic to help protect individuals and families, but they remain ineffective against certain types of pollutants and dust.

Portable AC Unit

Related ArticleAre Ionic Air Purifiers Safe

How Does An Ionizer Work? (Different Types Explained)

Ionizers work using a high voltage electrical current within the system to create negatively charged ions. These negatively charged ions are then released into your air supply and circulated around your home, usually with the help of a fan.

These negative ions are naturally attracted to positively charged particles, like smoke or other pollutants in the air supply, and attach to them. They keep attaching to more and more of these particles until they form a clump of pollutants. This causes them to land on surfaces, usually your ceiling, walls, or floors, and come out of your air supply.

When the negative ions attach themselves to positive particles, ozone is created as a by-product. In large quantities, ozone can be dangerous, but in very small amounts, it can be useful because it deactivates certain bacteria. This effectively neutralizes some viruses and stops them from being harmful to you or your family.

There are 3 main types of ionizers:

Bipolar Ionization

Bipolar ionization is a very new technology that is yet to be properly tested in real-life conditions. Essentially, both positive and negative ions are created and released into the air, which in theory would lead to a more significant reduction in pollutants.

The risk is that more ozone is created, and while that would mean more viruses could be deactivated, it can also pose a risk to your health. Bipolar ionization is new, and you should handle this type of device with care.

Ionizer On Fans

This is by far the most common type of ionizer. A fan system is set up to circulate the air and improve ventilation around the room. Negative ions are then released into the air, allowing them to travel around the room and attach to more positive particles and remove the impurities from the air.

Ionizer On Air Purifier

Air purifiers are designed to improve the air quality in your home. There are a few different types, but they typically use a series of fans to move your air through a set of filters that get rid of specific impurities.

Many modern air purifiers have an ionizer built-in, which has been shown to improve the efficiency of the air purifier by up to 40%. Many people question the effectiveness of an ionizer on its own, but when combined with a purifier, it can have a noticeable impact.

Why Get An Ionizer? (Benefits Explained)

Some people are still skeptical of ionizers and question their effectiveness, but there are some clear benefits to using them:

Effective Against Smoke

Ionizers don’t work against every type of pollutant, but they have been shown to work well at removing smoke and smokey odors. The negative ions actually change the structure of this type of contaminant as it comes into contact with them and completely removes the particles. So if you smoke or are frequently exposed to smoke, then an ionizer can be a real asset.

Related ArticleDo Air Purifiers Help With Smoke?

Effective Against Bacteria

Ionizers help to deactivate bacteria which can stop viruses from forming in the first place. This helps keep your home more hygienic and protects you and your family from infections. If anyone in your home has a weakened immune system, this can help to keep them safe and healthy throughout the year. Plus, ionizers have been shown to be effective against SARS viruses, and even though there isn’t enough research to prove it yet, it’s thought that they are effective against COVID-19.

Related ArticleBest Ionic Air Purifiers

Quiet And Economical Cleaning

Many air purifying systems can be loud, and that can be really annoying in a small home. Ionizers offer a quieter alternative that neutralizes bacteria without disturbing you.

This is particularly useful if you’re using it at night or have small children you don’t want to disturb. Ionizers are also really cheap to run compared to full air purifying systems. In addition, they use a fraction of the electricity so you can save a lot throughout the year.

Related ArticleBest Air Purifiers for Babies

Health Benefits

Use of ionizers has been shown to help regulate sleeping patterns, decrease stress levels, and increase your immune functions. All of this helps keep you mentally and physically well and improves your overall mood.

What Are The Things That An Ionizer Is Ineffective For?

Ionizers can be useful in many situations, but there are some limitations. Ionizers won’t remove bad odors from the air. Ionizers don’t destroy gasses and won’t remove the smell from paints, cleaning supplies, or other sources. They are completely ineffective against this type of pollutant, so you’ll need to find an alternative solution.

Ionizers are also ineffective at dealing with asthma and allergy triggers. In addition, they won’t remove dust or pollen from the air, so you shouldn’t expect an ionizer to prevent you or your family from having asthma attacks.

Ionizers are also unsuitable for people who have any respiratory conditions. The small amounts of ozone released can impact your breathing and cause throat irritation, chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath. Prolonged exposure for those with pre-existing conditions can lead to long-term lung issues and even worsening asthma. If you have any kind of respiratory issue, we’d suggest avoiding ionizers.

Guy Asking for a Moment Due to Allergy

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Below are questions that are asked frequently with regards to ionizers.

What does the ion button do on a Lasko fan?

The ion button on a Lasko fan releases the negatively charged ions so they can remove some impurities from the air.

Can you be in the room with an ionizer?

Most ionizers are perfectly safe to use in the room with you, but it’s recommended that you open a window or run it when nobody is present.

What is better, HEPA or ionic?

HEPA filters are generally more effective at removing small pollutant particles, odors, and dust, but ionizers are cheaper and quieter to run. An air purifier with ionic functionality combines the best of both worlds and usually gives the best results.

Do ionizers remove odors?

No, ionizers will not remove most odors from your home.


Ionizers use modern technology to help improve the air quality in your home. As a standalone appliance, they can have some impact, but if you use them in conjunction with an air purifier, you can really help to improve the quality of the air around you. Hopefully, this article has helped explain ionizers, and you now have a good idea of the benefits and limitations.

Related ArticleAre Air Purifiers Worth It?

Last Updated on January 9, 2023

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.