Are you concerned about the air purification and smells coming out of your grow tent or grow space?
You should be! Indoor growing means you need to have excellent air quality. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.
Today, we’ll talk about how to combat undesirable smells by DIY carbon filters. Making your own DIY carbon filters will decontaminate and neutralize unwanted and nasty odors from your grow space.
Buying a ready-made carbon filter can be quite pricey. Depending on the size of your grow room or grow tent, a pre-made carbon filter will cost you anywhere from $40-50 and up to over $100+.
However, if we look at the cost of materials used in a good carbon filter, it is way less than what the whole setup retails for in the market.
A carbon filter is nothing but some activated charcoal placed between two interconnected metal sheets.
So, if budget is your concern, why not make a carbon filter yourself? It’s pretty easy to make a carbon filter and can save you from spending your hard-earned cash.
When we talk about the different types of carbon filters, there are two. One is used for water purification and the other for air.
We’ll focus primarily on carbon filters intended for air purification.
As you keep reading, you’ll earn valuable knowledge on what a carbon filter is, who needs a carbon filter, the essential parts of a carbon filter, and how it works.
Lastly, you’ll get to learn a step-by-step method of making a DIY carbon filter.
So, without any further ado, let’s get right into it.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Carbon Filter?
- 2 Are Carbon Filters Necessary?
- 3 What Are The Essential Parts Of A Carbon Filter?
- 4 How Does An Air Carbon Filter Work?
- 5 What is a Carbon Bed?
- 6 What Items Do I Need To DIY A Carbon Filter?
- 7 Directions on How to Make Your Own DIY Carbon Filter
- 7.1 Step 1: Get Two Mesh Pencil Holders
- 7.2 Step 2: Make The Inner And Outer Holders Rightly Permeable
- 7.3 Step 3: Get Both The Holders In Separate Socks
- 7.4 Step 4: Fill The Outer Mesh Holder With Activated Carbon
- 7.5 Step 5: Seal The Activated Carbon Between The Two Mesh Holders
- 7.6 Step 6: Adjust The Position Of The Inner Mesh Holder Sock
- 7.7 Step 7: Attach The Whole Setup To Your Ducting System Or 4-Inch Inline Fan
- 8 What Other Issues Should I Be Aware Of Before Making My Own Carbon Filter?
- 9 How Often Should I Change My DIY Carbon Filter?
- 10 Final Words on DIY Carbon Filters
What is a Carbon Filter?
We’ve established that carbon filters are made of activated carbon that helps trap odors. This activated carbon is also called activated charcoal.
A carbon filter, also called a scrubber, is an apparatus attached to a growing space’s exhaust system. It helps provide optimal growth conditions for the plants by purifying the air and managing odors.
Right now, you may be thinking, why not use another element in the filter instead of carbon? Well, there’s a reason why carbon is specifically used to promote plant growth.
Carbon has a unique ability of detoxification. It is used in purification filters to eliminate unwanted odors, mold spores, dust, pollens, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
It can also capture other airborne pathogens or contaminants.
Are Carbon Filters Necessary?
Not everyone needs to have a carbon filter. Carbon filters are designed for places that have a high concentration of harmful gases or VOCs.
Places like these require activated carbon filters. Carbon filters eliminate odors and control emissions from grow rooms, grow tents, or greenhouses.
As a result, you experience fresh air clear of any impurities and allergens. Foul odors and harmful gases reduce the livability of your plant growth area and can be uncomfortable and hazardous.
So, if you think harmful odors surround you, you should consider making a carbon filter of your own.
What Are The Essential Parts Of A Carbon Filter?
Before understanding how to DIY carbon filters, it is crucial to understand the physics behind them. Since we are dealing with air carbon filters, let’s look at their essential parts.
A carbon filter intended for air purification has three essential parts.
1. The Pre-Filter
The pre-filter is the outermost part. It’s usually a semi-transparent medium that is breathable. It is not resistant to air allowing the air to pass through.
Air passes through it, and air particles trap in the filter. Since this part covers the carbon filter, its chief purpose is to trap large-sized particles such as spores and dust.
2. The Activated Carbon
The activated carbon is the part of the filter that’s responsible for purifying the air. This carbon bed further purifies the pre-filtered air.
The activated carbon contains pores that adsorb the pathogens and odors from the pre-filtered air. As a result, all the unwanted odors and airborne impurities are removed from the air.
3. The Air Passage
The air passage is the space in the center of the filter. It connects the two openings, called flanges. The diameter of these flanges can range from 4 inches to 8 inches, depending on your ducting system or the inline fan.
The diameter of both the flanges and your ducting system must be equal, as this is what will make the carbon filter functional and give it a tightly-sealed fitting.
How Does An Air Carbon Filter Work?
Air carbon filters work by removing pollutants from the air through a process called “adsorption.”
Adsorption is a process whereby molecules attach to the surface of other molecules, but they do not dissolve or soak into each other, which happens in absorption.
The key point to remember here is that during adsorption, the contaminants stick to the outer surface of the carbon. Whereas in absorption, the two substances become chemically bonded with each other.
In adsorption, the substance you want to remove (which in this case is a contaminant) is adsorbed into the structure of the adsorbent (which in this case is the activated carbon).
Keep in mind that the contaminant doesn’t become part of the activated carbon on a molecular level. It just fills in the pores of the activated carbon.
To further understand carbon’s physical properties, you should have a vision of what a carbon bed looks like.
What is a Carbon Bed?
A carbon bed is a lattice of carbon atoms connected to each other. Activated carbon has pores that adsorb unwanted odors and airborne pathogens.
The more porous the activated carbon will be, the better will be the air purification process.
Carbon activation is important because it will increase the amount of surface area of carbon atoms for impurities to attach with them. Consequently, clean and fresh air will be released into the environment.
What Items Do I Need To DIY A Carbon Filter?
We’ve listed the items you need to make a carbon filter below. Like most DIYs, the items required for this project are readily available in regular households.
If not, you can always check for options on the internet to make the best DIY carbon filter!
We’ve also linked two of our favorite products in the list below in case you’re in the market for materials!
|• Knee-high socks
• Polyester Filter Media
|• Mesh wastebasket
• Mesh pencil holders
• PVC Drain Pipe
|The Activated Carbon Bed
|Activated Charcoal Premium Activated Carbon
|A pair of scissors Drill machine Drill bit (5/32) Measuring tape Zip ties
Directions on How to Make Your Own DIY Carbon Filter
Now that you’ve gained some knowledge about carbon filters, how they work, and the materials you need to make your own filter, you’re ready to jump onto the primary purpose of this article – how to DIY carbon filters.
Below, we’ve given a detailed guide on creating a DIY carbon filter. Before getting started, keep in mind that this step-by-step guide is designed for a 4-inch ducting system or inline fan.
However, if you’re looking to make a larger carbon filter compatible with your larger grow space, don’t worry!
The items you require and the procedure for making the filter will remain the same. All you need is to use a bigger diameter pencil holder to get your work done.
Step 1: Get Two Mesh Pencil Holders
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The mesh pencil holders will act as the pre-filter for your DIY carbon filter. It’s crucial to make sure that the two holders are similar but not equal in size.
One mesh pencil holder should be smaller than the other so that it can easily fit into the bigger one. However, the difference in size shouldn’t be too large.
An ideal set of mesh pencil holders should follow the rules given below.
- Height – the height of the smaller holder must be ¾th the height of the bigger holder.
- Diameter – the smaller holder’s diameter should be equal to the diameter of your ducting system to ensure tightly-sealed fitting.
- Distance – the distance between the two holders should be between 12 to 24mm.
Step 2: Make The Inner And Outer Holders Rightly Permeable
Since we’re using mesh pencil holders in this DIY, their sides will already be permeable.
However, it is possible that the bottom part may not be permeable and may be made of a simple thin metal material. In that case, you will have to drill holes into them.
Drilling holes will ensure complete permeability of the outer surface, allowing air to easily pass through all sides of the holders.
We recommend using small 5/32 drill bits because the metal is thin and delicate, and you don’t want to make massive holes. A set of 8 to 12 small holes on the bottom will make the holders permeable.
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Step 3: Get Both The Holders In Separate Socks
In this step, all you have to do is insert each mesh holder into a sock. Make sure to get a pair of stretchable and high-quality socks for your DIY filter to last longer.
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Now, start by stretching the opening of one sock and placing the mesh holder into the sock, with the bottom part getting in first.
Encase the entire holder with the sock all the way above, making sure that all sides are covered. Next, do the same for the other mesh holder.
Step 4: Fill The Outer Mesh Holder With Activated Carbon
Start pouring the activated carbon carefully into the outer pencil holder. Fill this holder up to halfway.
In this step, make sure to use finely ground-activated carbon to ensure the proper working of your filter.
Large pieces of activated carbon can hamper the whole process of air purification. So, it’s best to avoid using them.
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Step 5: Seal The Activated Carbon Between The Two Mesh Holders
Secure the activated carbon to prevent it from spilling over by putting the smaller holder on top of the carbon layer inside the larger holder.
Now pull the sock of the outer holder all the way up, covering the length of the inner holder as well.
Once you’ve secured the activated carbon in place, invert the holders. This step will make sure that the activated carbon is distributed evenly throughout the setup.
Make sure not to disturb the carbon layer in the bottom part of the holders. Now that the activated carbon is evenly distributed revert the setup back to its original position.
Step 6: Adjust The Position Of The Inner Mesh Holder Sock
In this step, you have to make sure that the smaller mesh’s rim aligns with the level of the rim of the bigger mesh. To keep this alignment intact, secure the position of the inner mesh holder’s sock.
You can do this by stretching out the sock’s opening and bringing it down all the way to cover the entire setup. The adjustment and encasement of the sock will keep the setup in place.
Step 7: Attach The Whole Setup To Your Ducting System Or 4-Inch Inline Fan
The last step is the placement of the DIY carbon filter for it to work. You can attach it to your ducting system or inline fan.
Secure the filter properly into the ducting because you can no longer change its settings once it’s fitted. Lock the whole setup in place with a zip tie, and you’re good to go!
What Other Issues Should I Be Aware Of Before Making My Own Carbon Filter?
Before you jump onto making a carbon filter yourself, keep the following things in mind:
- Always use pencil holders with complementary diameters to ensure tight-fitting.
- When securing the activated carbon between the two mesh holders, ensure that it is distributed evenly around the whole perimeter.
- Align the central axes of both the holders together and make sure that the two openings are on the same level.
- If you face trouble securing the two holders together, consider using some duct tape to keep things intact.
- Make a new carbon filter once you start smelling foul odors in your gardening area.
How Often Should I Change My DIY Carbon Filter?
This is one of the most common questions among gardeners and farmers. Luckily, the answer to this is pretty straightforward.
You should change your DIY carbon filter once you notice that your plant growth area has started to stink. This is a strong sign that the activated carbon in the filter is no longer effective.
Carbon loses its effectiveness when it loses its ability to adsorb. As studied earlier, carbon traps pollutants and organic chemicals from the air through the process of adsorption.
However, with time the activated carbon used in carbon filters becomes saturated. It means all the pores of activated carbon get filled up with air impurities.
Once the pores become permanently filled up with impurities, the activated carbon loses its ability to purify the air. Ultimately different chemicals and pollutants start to release from the filter.
It is the reason your grow space starts stinking because your carbon filter has expired.
Usually, carbon filters lose their efficacy in almost a year.
Although it depends significantly on the extent of filtration your garden area requires. It’s best to change it earlier than late to maintain a comfortable and apt growth environment for your plants.
Final Words on DIY Carbon Filters
So, that was it for DIY carbon filters! Creating a DIY carbon filter is a simple and easy project that all indoor growers can undertake.
Having your own carbon filter will guarantee you the best air purification and getting rid of smells from your indoor growing area.
Alternatively, there are other ways to get rid of smells in a grow tent or grow room such as inline fans or odor neutralizers.
As we said before, these filters have a lot of benefits and are essential if you want to make sure your plants grow up healthy.
A DIY carbon filter is also the most budget-friendly and easy technique for beginners in the world of gardening.
Fortunately, this guide can help you make your own carbon filter and save you a bunch of money in the process.
Once you’ve learned how to make this filter, you can keep your garden area free from contaminants and foul odors!
After reading this article you think you might just buy a carbon filter, check out our most recommended carbon filters to buy.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.