Best Homemade Activated Carbon Filter for A Grow Tent

Last Updated on April 21, 2022 by Gary Stephen

There are plenty of reasons why one chooses to grow various plants inside a grow tent or room. A major advantage of this is the ability to cultivate under a more controlled condition. Temperature, amount of light, and hydration allow the growers to develop healthier end produce. One of the fundamental elements in establishing a DIY grow room, or grow tent, is air purification (or carbon filter). This is where the use of a carbon filter comes into play. It provides decontamination and neutralization of any unwanted odor from the inside of the room.

Today, pre-made filter kits are readily available in the market. Nevertheless, a good quality unit may easily cost you around $100 a pop. So if budget is of concern, making your own carbon filter is also a great and viable alternative. It is simple to make and costs way cheaper than the commercial ones sold.

There are actually two kinds of carbon filters. One is intended for water purification and the other for air. In this article, we will focus on the carbon filters made for air purification. This sort of 101-guide will provide you with valuable knowledge. It will explain what a carbon filter is, the different types, and how it works. And as well as a step-by-step procedure for making a DIY carbon filter for your grow room.

What is a carbon filter?

The best way to start the body of this article is to understand what a carbon filter is.

Also called a scrubber, it is a piece of equipment attached to the exhaust system of an isolated room. These isolated rooms could be a grow tent or room, or a greenhouse. It’s designed to remove impurities from the air. Thus, this helps to promote an optimal growth environment and odor management.

The carbon filter consists of activated carbon material. For ages, carbon or charcoal is widely known for its superior detoxification properties. It is capable of eliminating or filtering out the odor, dust, mold spores, pollens, and volatile organic compounds. Also, airborne pathogens and other contaminants that linger around the atmosphere.

How does a carbon filter work?

From the word itself, carbon is the superstar on this device. To be precise, it is the activated carbon type that is utilized for this air purification project. What differs this from regular carbon is that it’s treated with oxygen.

The said process increases the carbon porosity. Hence, it results in the expansion of the surface area. Given the larger space, carbon is now more capable of adsorbing airborne contaminants. This feature is what makes the activated carbon an efficient type to use for filtration processes.

Now that we know why activated carbon is the ideal material to use. Let us now understand its mechanism of filtration.

The carbon filter works by drawing in the unclean air. It passes it through the pre-filter first to remove dust and larger particulates. After the pre-filtration, the air is coursed next towards a layer of activated carbon. It’s for the elimination of odor, pathogens, moisture, and other contaminants. In the end, the processed air then comes out of the room purified and subdued from any smell.

Having a carbon filter in your own grow room or tent is very important. It allows you to get rid of anything that interrupts the health and safety of the plants you are growing. In that effect, it will help you secure a more conducive environment for your cultivars.

Furthermore, carbon filtering enables you to eradicate the release of unwanted indoor smell. This is a popular solution for growers cultivating regulated. Or prohibited plants that come with a distinct aroma such as marijuana in particular. Neutralizing the emitted odor allows them to stay discreet. It also wards off unwanted attention from outsiders.

Read Also: King LED Grow Light Review: Is This Grow Light Worthy?

What are the types of carbon filters for grow tent/room?

Carbon filters are classified according to their filtering medium. From the filter-fan combination or based on the diameter. The various categories will help you sort out and come up with the most suitable version, which will depend on the needs of your grow room.

Types based on Filtering Medium:

1. Carbon Air Filter for Grow Tent/Room

This type is the most common, convenient, and efficient among all the carbon filter types.

This air filter is basically made of beds of activated carbon. The porosity of the material causes the expansion of the surface area to as much as 2,000 up to 4,000m2per one gram. The smell, moisture, and contaminants are usually sucked into the formed pores.

2. Non-Carbon Air Filter

There are also filters that are not necessarily made up of carbon.

Alternatives like the Particulate Cabin Air Filters are also available in the market. This type is limited to removing dust particles only. Thus they are known to be less efficient and even pricier than their carbon-based counterparts.

Types based on Filter-Fan Combination

This refers to the use of a carbon filter with or without the assistance of a fan.

Using a carbon filter along with an extraction fan further increases the efficiency of purification. The fan helps by forcing the unclean air in the environment to pass through the activated carbon bed. In this manner, more air can be filtered out leaving the facility less and less contaminated.

On the other hand, using a carbon filter together with an extraction fan further increases the efficiency of purification. The fan helps by forcing the unclean air in the environment to pass through the activated carbon bed. In this manner, more air can be filtered out leaving the facility less and less contaminated.

Given the advantages of the carbon filter and fan combo, the majority of the growers favor this option more than using a solo carbon filter. Furthermore, the filter-fan duo also provides more flexibility. Certain models of the device may include an option to control the fan speed according to preference.

Types based on the Diameter

Depending on the size of the grow room, the diameter of a suitable carbon filter also varies. The usual size ranges from 4 inches up to 12 inches in diameter and it comes with a CFM rating between 150 up to more than 1,400.

On a side note, a CFM rating or cubic feet per minute rating pertains to the capacity of the fan to induce air movement. This measurement determines the sufficiency of airflow usually within a confined space. In that sense, it’s expected that the larger the room, the higher the CFM rating will be required. This will achieve the desired level of ventilation.

Back to the discussion about diameter, the table below shows the comparison between different sizes of carbon filters.

Size 4-inch 6-inch 8-inch 10-inch 12-inch
CFM Rating 150 – 250 400 600 – 700 1,100 – 1,200 More than 1,400
Grow Room Size (in Feet) 4 x 4

4 x 7

or 4 x 8

8 x 8

10 x 8

12 x 12 More than 12 x 12 More than 12 x 12

What are the fundamental parts of the DIY carbon filter for grow tent/room?

We’ll now proceed with the how-tos in making your own carbon filter. Let us first familiarize ourselves with the three basic parts of the device we are going to work with.

1. Pre-filter for DIY Carbon Filter for Grow Tent

As the name implies, the pre-filter is the front line of this air purification system. It is a breathable and usually semi-transparent medium with minimal air resistance. This allows the air to pass through. The main task of the pre-filter is to trap bigger size particles such as dust and debris.

2. Activated Carbon Bed

In the activated carbon bed is where all the magic happens.

The pre-filtered air is further purified in this layer of treated charcoal. Pathogens and chemical fumes get drawn into countless pores of the activated carbon. As a result, the impurities and odor from the air are thoroughly eliminated.

3. Air Passage

The air passage is the cylindrical space in the middle of the filter’s two flanges. These flanges or openings must have the exact diameter with the ducting or the inline fan. For it to be able to have a tightly-sealed fitting.  

What are the materials needed to make a DIY Carbon Filter for Grow Tent?

Below is the list of supplies that will be used in making your own carbon filter. And since this is somewhat a DIY project, the items we included here are those that are common. Also, you will find them in any of the local stores. Better yet, check if you might already have them in your household.

Common Supplies for DIY Carbon Filter
Pre-Filter Polyester filter media

Knee-high socks

Body (Outer Mesh) Mesh wastebasket

Mesh pencil holder (4.75 inches)

Body (Inner Mesh) PVC drain pipe

Mesh pencil holder (4 inches)

Activated Carbon Bed Activated carbon
Other supplies Measuring tape


Zip ties

Drill machine

Drill bit (Preferably 5/32)

How to homemade a DIY Carbon Filter for Grow Tent or Room?

Now onto the very highlight of this article.

Here is the step-by-step guide in building a DIY version of the carbon air filter for your grow tent. For reference, the setup below is for a 4-inch ducting system. If you plan to make a bigger carbon filter, the nature of supplies and as well as the procedure is still similar. You can opt for a bigger diameter of the materials instead.

1. Ensure the size of the inner and outer mesh complement each other.

The mesh pencil holders will stand as the skeletal frame of your entire filter. Thus, it is imperative that the size of the two meshes fit accordingly one over the other. The important factors to consider are as follows:

  • Height – The smaller holder must be around 3/4 of the height of the bigger holder.
  • Diameter – The diameter of the smaller holder must be equal to the diameter of the ducting. You can do this to ensure tight-fitting.
  • Distance – The space between the bigger holder and the smaller holder inside must be at least 12-24mm.

2. Establish permeability of the inner and outer meshes.

Both of the pencil holders used are permeable because of their mesh construction. But, its bottom parts may not yet be. In that case, you may need to drill holes into them to ensure that the air can pass through on all sides of the holder.

Most often, these mesh pencil holders consist of thin metal material. They tend to be not as hard so be extra careful when drilling holes into them. Drill bits as small as 5/32 might work best for this.

3. Insert both of the meshes in separate socks.

You have to use one sock per pencil holder. Stretch out the sock opening and insert the cup, bottom part first. Pull the socks up to have full coverage on all sides. Do the same with the other pencil holder.

4. Fill the outer mesh with activated carbon.

Be careful in pouring the activated carbon inside the outer mesh or the larger pencil holder. Fill it only up to half of its length. Make sure to use finely ground activated charcoal especially for smaller carbon filter projects. This would warrant the efficiency of filtration.

5. Secure the activated carbon between the meshes.

To prevent the carbon to spill over and get wasted, put the inner mesh on top of the layer of carbon inside the larger cup. Pull the sock of the larger cup all the way up to include the coverage of the smaller cup.

Now that the activated carbon is all sealed in, be careful in turning the setup upside down. This will help for an even distribution of the carbon all over the gap between the two meshes. Nonetheless, you also have to leave an even layer of carbon between the bottom areas of the cup.

Once the even distribution of carbon is complete, turn the setup back to an upright position. Next, you have to ensure that the rim of the inner mesh gets aligned with the level of the rim of the outer mesh. Make appropriate adjustments if necessary.

6. Position the inner mesh socks.

Once both of the meshes are in its proper places, secure now the positioning of the smaller cup’s sock. To do this, stretch out the opening and bring it all the way over to the exterior of the larger cup. Adjust accordingly to keep things completely equal on all sides.

7. Attachment to the ducting or inline fan.

After the carbon filter setup is complete, you may now attach it to the ducting, a 4-inch inline fan in this case. Make sure that the filter is snugly fitted into the ducting. That means it cannot be further twisted and is already locked in place, fasten it with a zip tip. Double-check the connection again.

How often should you change your DIY carbon filter?

Of course, like any other air filtration systems, carbon filters are also bound to lose their effectiveness over time. Most often, it’s expected to last 12 up to 18 months on average. Though, it depends on how heavy is the demand for filtration within your grow room. You may need to change it earlier than usual to maintain the best air purification.

So there you go, those are the basic steps in creating a do-it-yourself carbon filter for your grow room. A simple project that offers tons of benefits. It contributes to the health of the cultivars among many others. It is inexpensive and very easy to make even for the amateur growers out there.

Gary Stephen
Gary Stephen

Hi, I am Gary Stephen. I have been gardening for a long time. Gardening gives us much benefits and pleasure. Many of us desire to have a garden, but it cannot fulfill the desire for the proper guide or instruction of gardening. So, I am eager to help them. For this purpose, I have developed the website to make a garden with the proper guide. So, you will get me beside you if you want to know anything about gardening.