Can ethyl alcohol fumes be suppressed by a household air purifier/filter? In general, how are the fumes suppressed? How is it done?

Can somebody direct me to some information regarding this? I've been searching but do not have the strongest background in chemistry (I'm a mechanical engineering student). I've done some research on filtering media as well as ethyl alcohol itself.

  • $\begingroup$ Generally one would use activated charcoal for organic vapors. You would have to check with your local IH folks to be sure your filter was appropriate for the application. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    May 24 '17 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster Thank you for your response. What is IH? $\endgroup$ May 24 '17 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ Industrial Hygene $\endgroup$
    – airhuff
    May 24 '17 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ Ethanol fumes can reach explosive limits. Note that the motors that power the fan in home air purifiers are not explosion proof. Explosion proof fans require very special designs. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Apr 25 '18 at 20:35

No home air purifier removes alcohol vapor from the air. There are a number of ways it can be eliminated, though, depending on quantity, purity and other factors.

Bakeries have to comply with clean air standards for VOC (volatile organic compounds), primarily ethanol, which can cause smog. One way the alcohol is removed is by catalytic oxidation, similar to the way an automobile catalytic converter works. Even hot copper is sufficient to oxidize alcohol.

Another way to remove ethanol is by condensation, which allows the alcohol to be saved for resale, or by washing (scrubbing) the oven gases with water.

Sadly, though this regulation of ethanol emission is necessary, it also removes the sublime aroma of baking bread from the vicinity. sigh...


IH = industrial hygiene. Gas molecules can be reacted or absorbed. I assume your education is sufficient so that we don't have to explain that ethanol in the vapor state is a gas. No "standard household" filter will remove ethanol. The volumes of air that say a 3M Organic Vapor mask could process is inadequate for all but very short exposures. Activated carbon, and possibly some zeolites (molecular sieves) might be used in industrial processes. But for removal from room air? Refrigeration/condensation. Of course, the process selected depends on cost - rather than condensation for example, you could always heat and oxidize it. That type of air treatment is very expensive.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi @alphonse thank you for your response, very helpful. $\endgroup$ May 24 '17 at 17:47

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