SG Haze - Low-Cost Odour Removal Without An Air Purifier

June 2013
Hazy Hazy Hazy

Having some spare time after completing her blogs for the Singapore Blog Awards, Merlion Wayfarer decided to catch up with her friends. She was on the line with a friend who used to work in the Housekeeping department of a hotel, when she heard about the "secret".

Apparently this hotel used to have smoking and non-smoking floors. In a move to promote non-smoking in their premises (Kudos!), this hotel faced a problem with removing the odour of cigarette stench from their rooms. After all, a hotel can not lease out rooms which are "non-smoking" and have a smoke odour.

(Source : TheOzoneMan)

So this Housekeeper asked around for ideas - friends from the industry, friends who are housewives, mahjong kakis, etc etc etc. And one of her friends shared with her this brilliant idea - to use charcoal.

Merlion Wayfarer read up some websites on this :

Charcoal is carbon. Activated charcoal is charcoal that has been treated with oxygen to open up millions of tiny pores between the carbon atoms.

The use of special manufacturing techniques results in highly porous charcoals that have surface areas of 300-2,000 square metres per gram. These so-called active, or activated, charcoals are widely used to adsorb odorous or coloured substances from gases or liquids. ­

Activated charcoal is extremely effective at odour control. The tremendous surface area of activated charcoal (1 teaspoon = a football field) quickly adsorbs unpleasant scents - not just masks them. So, while other odor control techniques just cover up the smells, activated charcoal actually eliminates them permanently.

Activated charcoal is good at trapping other carbon-based impurities ("organic" chemicals), as well as things like chlorine. Many other chemicals are not attracted to carbon at all - sodium, nitrates, etc. - so they pass right through. This means that an activated charcoal filter will remove certain impurities while ignoring others. It also means that, once all of the bonding sites are filled, an activated charcoal filter stops working. At that point you must replace the filter.

And Merlion Wayfarer questioned her further, "Is the the normal type of charcoal, or the special type?"

She replied simply, "Just ordinary charcoal will do. The BBQ type."

Next question she asked was, "How much do you need for each hotel room?"

"Just 3-4 pieces per room. It will take some time to be effective, maybe several days."

Now charcoal can remove stale cigarette stench, there is no reason why it will not help in absorbing the impurities from the haze. Merlion Wayfarer is game for a try!

She hadn't BBQ-d in ages, so she Googled for the cost of BBQ charcoal - 3kg at S$4.95 from NTUC:

Which is very affordable!

Think about it... despite the severity of the haze this round, if there are no at-risk members in your household, and it's just the "smell" with some mild symptoms, it's really no point getting an expensive air purifier to use only several days a year, right?

Now. Merlion Wayfarer has not tried this method yet. In fact, she is only going to try today. So do try this suggestion with an open mind!  

Oh yes. In case you prefer to use activated charcoal, your expired charcoal pills can be an alternative odour absorber, albeit on a smaller scale.

(Source :