Tobacco Odors
December 3, 2004 5:25 PM   Subscribe

I am a smoker who works at home. Now that the cold weather is here there isn't much air circulation and I stink the place up good. Have you had any success eliminating tobacco odors short of buying an expensive air purifier?
posted by Cryptical Envelopment to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I used to leave little open bowls of baking soda around the room. I thought it worked pretty good, everyone else thought I was an idiot.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:50 PM on December 3, 2004

Smoke outside. (not sarcasm - I used to)
posted by tr33hggr at 5:56 PM on December 3, 2004

I agree with tr33hugger. It's the most effective method. If you have a balcony or a porch, then it's perfect. Plus it'll help cut down on your smoking habit.
posted by degnarra at 6:02 PM on December 3, 2004

I appreciate the suggestion and I can and do do that sometimes, but I'd rather not when I'm very busy and it gets near -40ยบ. I seem to remember someone mentioning that they had a bag of odor-eating rocks (or rock chips, or something) that was amazingly effective. Google isn't helping.
posted by Cryptical Envelopment at 6:41 PM on December 3, 2004

Sara Lee corp do an air freshener called Ambi Pur . My Stepdad is a chain smoker, so when he's home my mum swears by it. They do a special plug in one with an 'after tobacco' refill - and it works. You can change the dial to frequent sprays while you're in the office, then just unplug it when you're not.

As I say, my mum swears by it - and it's the only thing that seems to have worked.
posted by lemonpillows at 7:15 PM on December 3, 2004

posted by dobbs at 8:31 PM on December 3, 2004

If you can just open two windows a teensy bit at opposite ends of the apartment, every once in a while, a ventilation effect is created (especially when it's cold outside). It's not perfect and it's short-term, but it helps.

Incense is also nice.
posted by bingo at 8:49 PM on December 3, 2004

I am having a related problem. It seems that my downstairs (could be next door?) neighbor has taken up smoking, or taken a lover who does. When I walk into my apt., it reaks! What can I do?
posted by picklebird at 9:44 PM on December 3, 2004

Your question has been asked here before, picklebird, and I feel for you. At least I have only myself to blame, and as a former ex-smoker I know how awful the stink of second-hand smoke is for a non-smoker. All I can suggest (obviously) is to find out which air passages carry the smoke into your place and block them, or at least find out how the cigarette smell is invading your space and let your neighbour know. If you can't sort it out yourself I see nothing wrong with letting your landlord know that "smells" from a neighbouring apartment are bothering you on a regular basis. I hope you get smoke free soon.
posted by Cryptical Envelopment at 10:22 PM on December 3, 2004

Sometimes I come to AskMe because I'm completely at the end of my rope and don't know what to do. It's like a last resort, in a way, and that's good, because people definitely should resort to Google first, etc. But we must accept that sometimes we wind up at the end of our rope because we are asking for too much. Your list of requirements is daunting.

The real answer, of course, is to quit. Barring that, you should smoke outside. Barring that, you should open the windows or smoke less. These aren't options you're willing to entertain, and it's not surprising that your home stinks. You don't even want to invest in an air filter. Magic rocks aside, you're shooting for the moon, here.

I'm not saying this to be a jerk. I work at home. I've been a smoker, and I loved to smoke in my house. You're not going to find a cheap odor absorber better than baking soda, or maybe Febreeze for fabrics. Try it. Minimize odor-absorbing furniture / curtains / rugs if possible. Keep your place very clean. Floors mopped, rugs vacuumed. If that doesn't work, I suggest you save for an ionizing air freshener, or accept that your heating bill is going to be a little high and open a window.
posted by scarabic at 2:06 AM on December 4, 2004

I'm contemplating a number of solutions, scarabic, including smoking outside, buying an air filter, etc., but my question here is not about those obvious solutions or quitting smoking, it is about deodorizing solutions that other people might have found affordable and effective. In this respect your last paragraph is helpful, so thanks.
posted by Cryptical Envelopment at 6:25 AM on December 4, 2004

There are smoker's candles that are supposed to help eat the smells. Not sure they do.
The special smoker's ashtrays that suck the fumes into themselves don't work - or the ones I tried ten years ago didn't. Maybe they have updated ones now.
I just keep the window cracked and I get a nice draft through my apartment that keeps it from getting too funkalicious. But I don't have to pay for utilities.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:54 AM on December 4, 2004

My parents are both heavy smokers and you can't smell it in their house, which I credit to my mother's constant cleaning. I am not as good at that sort of thing, but it makes a huge difference if I vacuum/mop frequently and dust the walls and ceilings (I have one of those hedgehog-y looking things on a telescoping stick, which is easy to wash frequently by dunking in a sink of warm slightly soapy water) very regularly.

I find running at least a little fan, or the ceiling fan on low, keeps the smoke from just hanging in the air.

Also, dump your ashtray constantly into a covered receptacle, and use snuffers instead of crushing out your cigarettes. This is my mother's secret weapon, I believe - she even uses a snuffer in her car and it doesn't stink either. I find mine at the Discount Cigarette shop for about a buck a piece. Scam an old mascara wand from somewhere and clean it up to use as a snuffer cleaner, and clean them often along with your ashtrays.

I'm still deciding if discretely-placed bowls of white vinegar actually work or not. My cats keep trying to drink it, though, so it's hard to test.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:07 AM on December 4, 2004

I read recently that the EU has done a study on the toxic effect that air fresheners have on indoor air. Apparently, by using them you can pollute your air to the same levels as exhaust fume choked streets in big cities. Something to think about.

Of course as a smoker you are already ingesting sweet sweet poison in huge doses, so maybe it's worth it.
posted by sic at 7:07 AM on December 4, 2004 [1 favorite]

OK, I'm officially sorry I asked. Baking soda it is.
posted by Cryptical Envelopment at 7:23 AM on December 4, 2004

And thanks all for the helpful suggestions. This Volcanic deodorizer is the stuff I was thinking about. Apparently very effective and I'll give it a try.
posted by Cryptical Envelopment at 8:05 AM on December 4, 2004

What about an ozone generator?

You can DIY if you're so inclined, though there are high chances of fire hazards.
posted by geoff. at 9:48 AM on December 4, 2004

Hey, thanks CE. I'm going to buy a bag of that to try in my smoke stinky car.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:33 PM on December 4, 2004

I, too, used to smoke indoors. Nothing I've tried really did the complete job. Dumping (and washing) the ashtray will help a lot.

Found this air freshener that was made from orange peels that worked ok (can't remember what it was called - it was something generic (or maybe even homemade) I bought on impulse from the drycleaner's). Non-smokers could still tell that there had been indoor smoking going on, but they claimed that the orange stuff made the stale smoke smell less offense. I guess you could save orange peels, juice them, and use an atomizer, or even a vapourizer, to dispense

I smoke outdoors, now. My neighbours must hate me since they always have their windows open year-round. I have no idea what they think about my smoking the other stuff all the time (or if they even know that's what it smells like).

oh no, I'm getting addicted to the [small] tag
posted by PurplePorpoise at 1:54 PM on December 4, 2004

Febreeze, febreeze, febreeze. That will take care of odors clinging to furniture, which matter more than you would think. Clean often. Think about opening a window ocassionally. They make air deodorizer sprays but those usually smell pretty bad in themselves.

If you are desperate you could try the old dorm room trick (for smoking pot, not cigarrettes - I don't know if it will work for you) - exhale through a paper towel tube stuffed with fabric softener sheets. You will look silly but hey, addictions make you do silly things. That and a smokeless ashtray should eliminate most of the smoke escaping into the room.
posted by mai at 9:12 PM on December 4, 2004

These are all great responses, thanks, and I am experimenting under the cover of Febreeze. I will experiment over the winter and fashion a MeFi smoker-solution FPP in time for the spring. ;-)
posted by Cryptical Envelopment at 6:26 PM on December 11, 2004

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