The Best Ways to Clean a Carbon Filter in a Grow Room

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What is a carbon filter? -How to Clean a Carbon Filter

A carbon filter is often used to remove odors from grow tents, smelliness from pets, kitchens, basements, laundry rooms, or anywhere where damp air is stagnant. It works by using activated carbon: activated carbon adsorbs scent molecules on its surface because activated carbon particles are full of micropores while having large surface areas. Carbon filters remove organic compounds from the air, but it does not remove particulate pollutants (for example, from factories or exhaust—the particles are just too small).

Clean a Carbon Filter in a Grow Room

When air is forced through our VIVOSUN carbon filters larger particulates such as pollen and dust will remain on the surface pre-filter, while smaller particulates will be forced through the activated caron (“activated” refers to an electromagnetic charge that helps attract materials) and those smaller particles catch or get stuck in the porous, magnetic charcoal.

In order for this to properly work, you’ll have to use an inline fan to circulate the air—the best practice (if you are growing cannabis and wish to reduce smells), is to force the “dirty” air through the filter rather than bringing in fresh “clean” air from outside your tent.

How to clean a carbon filter?

Before we learn how to clean a carbon filter, we will go through some factors that can affect the efficiency of a carbon filter.

  • The quality of carbon: As we said before, activated carbon can absorb a variety of smells, but their ability to absorb different particles depends on the quality of the carbon. The size of carbon molecules in the filter is the key in capturing contaminants. The larger the size of molecules, the more micropores it has, and the better able it is to capture scent molecules. Simply, better quality carbon will filter more smells for longer.
  • The plants you are growing: Some plants produce stronger odors and more pollen. The smellier and dirtier your plant is, the shorter the lifespan of your carbon filter will be.
  • The humidity of your grow tent: If the humidity is too high in your grow tent, your carbon filter will be capturing water vapor/H2O molecules rather than scent molecules, which will increase the smells emanating from your tent. In this situation, your best bet is to control for humidity by using a dehumidifier. Proper humidity levels are important for your plants, too, so a dehumidifier/humidifier both will help!

How to clean a carbon filterHow to clean a carbon filter

Step 1 How to Clean a Carbon Filter: Washing/replacing the pre-filter

The pre-filter is the white fabric case on the outside of the filter, which works to stop any dust or large particulates from getting into your carbon filter. Naturally, like all things in your grow tent, it will get dirty over time so be sure to machine wash it periodically. If you do not wish to wash it, you can replace it with a new one. They are an inexpensive addition to your set up.

Step 2 How to Clean a Carbon Filter: Dust the Outer Casing

Pre-filters are not able to prevent all dust from getting into the filter. Over time, some dust will naturally accumulate on the outer casing of your filter but cleaning it is easy: use a soft brush or a microfiber cloth to dust off all the icky buildup from the surface. If some dust is caught in hard-to-reach areas you can use a toothbrush to clean it. ’We recommend wearing a face mask while cleaning to prevent breathing in any pollen or excess dust. Finally, you can also use a damp cloth to clean the outside of the filter—just make sure that you don’t get the carbon wet.

Step 3 How to Clean a Carbon Filter: Replace the new activated carbon

Regular cleaning cannot extend the service life of the carbon inside of the filter since carbon cannot be washed—getting carbon wet will only ruin it. So while the charcoal will, over time, collect scents, it will eventually stop being able to collect more molecules because, essentially, the holes in the carbon will be filled with other molecules.

Some people may say you could clean it by forcing air through the filter but we have not seen much improvement by doing so. You might also wonder if there is a way to replace the carbon in the filter, and theoretically, it is feasible, but you need to ensure that you can “activate” the carbon before putting it in as the filter will not be nearly as effective if it is not magnetized.

How often should you clean a carbon filter or change?

So, now we’ve laid out the ways you can clean your filter, how often should you clean it and how often should you replace it? We recommend cleaning the pre-filter and the exterior of the filter as often as they get dirty. Be sure to check it monthly. For the carbon filter, there is no “perfect” change period since it depends on how hard/often you use it.

On average, carbon filters last about 1 grow cycle–it is just the nature of how activated carbon works by attracting scent molecules to the spaces between the carbon structure. Sometimes, your filter can last a little longer but usually once a grow cycle is sufficient. There is a simple way to know if you need to replace the entire filter: if you or your family can smell scents from the tent, it’s probably time to replace the filter.

There are four main advantages to regularly cleaning your carbon filter: improving the efficiency of your carbon filter; extending the service time of your filter; it is better for the health of your plants; it reduces the chance of a fire hazard

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