How Well Do Water-Based Air Purifiers Work?

How Well Do Water-Based Air Purifiers Work?

Did you know that your indoor areas may harbor five times more aggravating pollutants than are found in the air outdoors? For a supply of fresh air indoors, a water-based air purifier is quite the tool to get the job done. 

How well do water-based air purifiers work? Water-based air purifiers work to effectively remove most allergens. Air purifiers using the more natural purification capabilities of pure water as a filtration method, however, may be less effective than conventional air purifiers that use chemicals and replaceable filters.  

Water-Based Air Purifiers

Air purifiers with water filtration work well enough for use in small areas such as targeted rooms inside the home. More extensive industrial requirements would benefit from purifiers intended for industrial demands. 

For the home, these air purifiers provide the living spaces with fresh, humidified air, albeit not entirely ridding it of micro-particles of pollutants. 

Water-based purifiers effectively remove the majority of allergens from the household air. The water purification process effectively traps pet hair, second-hand smoke, dust, dirt particles, and even dander. 

Its efficacy is such that a household might be free of allergy-inducing particles, odorous smells, and air-borne spores. 

The beauty of this type of air purifier is in the water. Given that the air passes through agitated water during the purification process, it stands to reason that the clean air expelled back into the room will hold elements of moisture. 

As a result of this moisture, the room becomes slightly humidified during the purification process. 

The purifiers have the added benefit, depending on the model and type, of humidifying the room and filling in simultaneously as a diffuser. This added feature contributes to masking odorous issues. 

These bonus uses are particularly welcome in dry regions and homes shared with smokers. 

What Are Water-Based Air Purifiers? 

Water-based air purifiers decontaminate indoor areas and improve the air quality by filtering the air through water rather than through traditional filters. 

We all use water to clean every day in so many ways, so why not the very air we breathe?

The purifier cleans the air of your home as it runs the dirty air inside the house through a spinning vortex of water. The cleaner contains the pollutants and releases clean air.

Using water to purify the air does away with the use of potentially harmful chemicals in the purification process. 

In this way, it clears second-hand cigarette smoke, spores, dust, and similar irritants safely from the indoor environment without swapping them for potentially harmful artificial substances. 

Through this process, the purifier captures house dust, pet hair, dander, spores, and traces of smoke and dirt, releasing clean air back into your indoor spaces. 

What Does a Water-Based Air Purifier Do?

Take your mind to a time in your life after a rainstorm. What do you feel? Smell it, feel it, touch it. Feel the air on your skin. Remember the coolness of it. Smell the freshness of the cleansed air. Feel the refreshing experience of it as a complete experience. 

As the song says, you can see clearly now; the rain has gone. This clarity is because the rain has cleansed the air of pollutants, and left it watery fresh and clean. So much so that you can see further and breathe easier.

Essentially, an air purifier that uses water as its filter brings the benefits of a refreshing, cleansing rainstorm indoors. Water-based air purifiers do more than just spin your dirty air into clean air, which it does naturally and without much maintenance. 


More than just clean air, it humidifies too. Water-based air purifiers double as room humidifiers, inhibiting not only skin dryness but also chapped lips and scratchy throats. 

This added moisture is especially conducive to dry environments where air humidity is naturally low. Similarly, some air purifiers draw water vapor out of the air in extremely high humidity situations.  

Aroma Diffuser

Image by Jaron Whelan via Unsplash

Water purifiers can double as oil diffusers too. What purpose do oil diffusers serve? Not only do these aromatize the indoor environment, but by merely adding a drop or two of the right essential oil to the water, the benefits increase exponentially. 

Essential oils purify indoor air effectively, exhibiting antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties.

Dispersing essential oils through the household air purifier removes toxins in the indoor space, including harmful bacteria, antigens, and dust particles effectively. 

An important aspect of using essential oils for ambient inhalation when vaporized into the air is to do so intermittently rather than continuously. For the wellbeing of all, stick to diffusing your selected essential oil between half an hour and an hour at a time. 

Should you wish to diffuse more than once in a day, have breaks in between of the same length of time — for example, 30 to 60 minutes on and 30 to 60 minutes off.

Using this system will allow the body and nervous system to adapt without the danger of contraindications.

Want to give essential oils a try in your water air purifier? Start off erring on the safe side with these mild scents: lavender, lemon, and frankincense. The options are exciting once you have the hang of it (source)

Below are a few options:

LAVENDER Calming. Soothing. Relieves stress. Peaceful sleep. 
EUCALYPTUS Decongestant. KIll bacteria. Combat fungal yeast and mold. 
PEPPERMINTCurbs appetite 
THYMEKill bacteria
TEA TREE Kill bacteria
CLOVE & LEMONGRASSRepel mosquitoes 
LEMON, SAGE, ROSEMARY, GRAPEFRUITReduce the chance of colds and flu

Does Water Purify the Air?

To answer this question, we need to understand a little more about water as a substance, as well as the purification process involved in water-based air purifying.

A little known fact about water is that it is actually sticky by nature. This stickiness is a plus side to its carrying out the properties of a filter. Sticky water can attract the dirt, pollen, smoke particles, and such in the air, and so trap them all the better.

By creating a vortex with the water, the collection capabilities of water increase exponentially.

Suffice to say that the surface area of the water increases when you make waves. The waves of water doing its thing in the air purifier allow for more water to trap the dirt and unwanted particles in the air. 

So how does water purify the air? Water purifies air through a less than convoluted process. It pulls the air into the cleaner through a vent. 

It then draws the air into the vortex of water, where pollutants are extracted, remaining behind in the water while releasing the purified and humidified air back into the room.

Water-based air revitalizers use water as a natural filter to remove common household air pollutants. Still, water-based air purifiers are decidedly less efficient at ridding the air or the tiniest particle than are conventional HEPA air purifiers. 

Purifiers using water to filter the air are rather more so intended for keeping the air in the home more refreshing and cleaner to breathe. 

The Process of Water-Based Air Purification

Light Humidification

With the light humidification process, the machine releases only a small amount of moisture into the air. 

Light Air Purification

Because water is the only filter used, the water-based air purifier only lightly purifies the air when compared with conventional air purifiers.

Through this process, common air pollutants in a smallish area are effectively removed, creating fresher breathing space.


In aromatization, through the introduction of a few drops of essential oils into the system’s water basin, the air purifier becomes a diffuser. 

Advantages of Water-Based Air Purifier

The air purifier working through a water filter carries many inherent benefits dependent on the specific needs of the user. 

The obvious positives are cost-effectiveness and ease of maintenance. Both of these advantages stem from not having to replace an expensive filter regularly. 

Water is available at the turn of a tap and is, at this point, really not very expensive at all — certainly not when compared with carbon filters and other filtration alternatives.


Any unfortunate who has ever suffered from any of a wide range of allergic respiratory diseases will attest to the benefits of air filtration or purification to control the personal environment. 

The most obvious indicator to air filtration as a benefit would be in the failure to replace filters timeously. Air purifiers may indeed create a reservoir for triggers in such cases. 

Researchers have pointed out that the efficacy of such air purifiers, including water-based ones, are limited to a single room rather than an entire house. 

Ionic electrostatic air purifiers offer little or no benefit in comparison to HEPA PRACs. The reason for this lies in their production of ozone, which is a respiratory irritant. 

Given that water-based purifiers use water as a filter, it is easy and virtually free to replace the filter daily. Ozone is not a by-product of this purifier, which further enhances the water-based option as an ally in the allergy-sufferers armory (source).


Many people with asthma or people with respiratory difficulties find an air purifier beneficial while others do not. The reason for this discrepancy may lie in the types of allergens the various air purifiers capture. 

We must recognize that asthmatics experience very personal or individual asthma triggers. What might trigger an asthmatic attack in one may not affect another, despite both being asthma sufferers (source).

Choosing an Air Purifier for Asthmatics

Asthma is a respiratory condition that involves a narrowing and swelling of the airways in the lungs. Exposure to allergens in the environment triggers asthma attacks, leading to constricting of muscles around the airways. 

Since there is no cure for asthma, it stands to reason that reducing exposure to allergens is imperative for quality of life. An air purifier can help eliminate any environmental triggers.

Air and Room Capacity

Determine the clean air delivery rate (CADR) of the purifier, which indicates its effectiveness relative to the size of the room. The purifier must be able to work effectively in the space required to be of any benefit.

Ozone-Free Purifiers 

Purifiers that emit even low levels of ozone may exacerbate rather than minimize asthma symptoms.

Know the Size and Type of Irritants

Nasal hairs capture small particles of allergens so that they are not breathed into the airways, where the potential to be harmful presents (source).

Such particles include pollen, dust, and sea salt. Even smaller particles result from the burning of such materials like coal, wood, and rubber.

Keep filters clean

Preferences for water-based purifiers are due to the easy and quick replacement of the water, which is effectively the filter. 

Occupants of Enclosed Spaces 

Indoor air pollution can be chemical, biological, or physical contaminants in the air inside small areas, such as vehicles, homes, schools, and offices.

Often occupants of these confined spaces do not even notice the quality of the air that they are breathing for most of the day.


We all know that pet hair, dander, saliva, fur, and skin dustings can be a problem in any living space. This fact does not, however, mean that we should not share our living quarters with our domestic animals. 

Air purifiers are effective in trapping and removing pet hairs and associated particles from the air that we breathe.

It is nevertheless a good idea to have a regular grooming routine for your household pets, which will reduce the likelihood of airborne hairs quite significantly. (source).


Ideally, with a smoker in the house, an air purifier should eliminate both the smoke particles and the associated odor.

While some water-based air purifiers do claim to tick these boxes, health professionals suggest banning smoking indoors as the best alternative. 

Failing outright banning, a water-based purifier that also includes a UV-C light is probably best. The bright, ultraviolet light destroys harmful bacteria and allergens (source).

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are both a form of fungus—the critical difference between the two lies in color. Color notwithstanding, you will be aware of both by their distinct and offensive odor. 

Mold and mildew are known to be the silent culprits causing certain ailments from within the living environment. It is important to recognize that air testing for mold spores can be falsely reassuring. 

While breathing in mold spores and the presence of mildew in a living environment may prove relatively harmless for most, asthmatics and those with impaired immune systems may well be at risk. 

A mold is a form of fungi known to negatively impact homes and health, causing coughing, wheezing, and general feelings of discomfort. When searching for an air purifier that targets explicitly mold spores, certain salient features apply, as noted herein. 

Basic water-based air purifiers are less effective at removing mold spores than are air purifiers with a 2-stage filtration system. Your best option is a HEPA and an activated carbon filter, which will eliminate not only the mold spores but also the associated odor (source).

To learn more about the difference between mold and mildew, take a look at “The Difference Between Mold and Mildew.” 

Pitting Water Air Purifiers Against Conventional Air Purifiers

There is an air purifier out there specifically designed for most needs. Depending on personal preferences, one type of purifier may be better suited to some than others. Cost is always a significant consideration, as is functionality. 

Water-Based Air Purifiers and HEPA Filters

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) is an efficiency standard for air filters.

To meet HEPA standards, certain levels of efficiency are mandatory. Any HEPA air filter must remove no less than 99.95% of particles whose diameter is equal to 0.3 microns. 

Water-based air revitalizers are not as adept at reducing the smallest of particles from the air and cannot compete with HEPA air filters in the battle against removing microscopic particulates. 

Water-based systems should, however, not be discounted as an affordable option for efficient dust reduction. 

Humidifies the air Dries out the air 
Cost-effective Expensive 
Larger coverage ara Smaller coverage area
Water filtration carries no additional costExpensive filters requiring replacement
QuietBackground noise 
Cleans, deodorizes  and humidifiesCleans optimally, especially HEPA filters 
Water filter Replaceable traditional filter
Does not capture microparticles HEPA filters target microparticles 
Minimal maintenance Requires maintenance and filter replacement
Odor remover Highly effective odor remover
Fresh airClean air 
Potential breeding ground for bacteria and microorganisms

Water-based air purifiers work well enough to freshen and enhance the air in smaller living spaces. These air purifiers trap only larger airborne particles and most odors. 

To eliminate all traces of smoke particles and odor in a smoker’s home, a unit that combats smaller particles may be required. 

What’s more, you can count on this simple air purifier to eliminate odors and naturally occurring contaminants and pollutants quietly. The purifier is largely maintenance-free, simple to set up, and gets the job done using little more than tap water. 

Final Thoughts

Particularly beneficial to households with smokers, allergens, and anyone with a keen sense of smell, this cost-effective alternative to contemporary air purifiers is a breath of fresh air. 

With the confidence to make an informed decision, your decision on the best air purifier for your individual needs just got simpler. 


I'm a Pharmacist and a passionate researcher into clean air and pure water for the home. I believe these 2 elements play a significant role in our health and overall wellbeing.

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